As you can tell by the recent influx of van life articles, I have been heavily inspired and excited by our own van life plans. In fact, I just got word that all my visa applications for Europe went through! Yippeee. So with that in mind, here is another awesome interview that I have with another van dwelling couple. As soon as I saw Hadley and Kamal’s Instagram account, I kid you not, I spent a good 20 minutes or so just scrolling down their feed.
I soon decided that it was enough
stalking looking so I soon got in touch with them to see if they would be down to do a quick interview. Luckily, they agreed. So, buckle on your seatbelts kids, if the photos of their van won’t make you want to quit your job and permanently just keep driving, I don’t know what will.
Names: Hadley & Kamal Fuller (& our dog, Thisbe!)
Van Name: Moby
Best thing about living in a van: The diversity of places and activities the lifestyle allows us to experience together. This trumps all negative aspects of living in a van in my opinion.
Worst thing about living in a van: Constantly worrying about the “levels” of everything to refill or empty – propane, gas, water, toilet tank, grey water, trash, recycling. It never ends! On a more serious note, being on the road full-time can be lonely and isolating. Having friends to share these experiences with, from climbing a mountain to emptying an RV toilet, is important and hard to find!
Getting to Know the Guys Over at From Our Vantage
How long did it take you to convert your van? What was the hardest part?
Our conversion took us from the beginning of May to the beginning of August, so about three months working on it part-time. We couldn’t have done it without my dad’s expertise, power tools and hours of free labor ;).
Installing the windows was the very first thing we did to our van after gutting it and the most challenging. The first time we took the jigsaw to the side of the van was certainly nerve-racking because there was very little room for error! Overall, our conversion went very smoothly thanks to the help of Always The Road’s conversion e-book.
We modeled our van after theirs and added elements according to our needs and style. If I had to answer this question in one word, though, it would be “patience”.
Total Cost of van renovation?
We found our van on Craisglist for ~$15,000 (but traded in our Honda Element and financed the rest) and the conversion including the six windows we installed cost us $12,500.
Where are you currently traveling around? Any favorite places so far?
For the last two months, we’ve been traveling between Northern and Southern California to avoid any extremely cold weather. I am writing this at a cute coffee shop in Santa Cruz but we will be heading to San Francisco tomorrow for Kamal’s work.
Our first month in the van was seriously epic and unforgettable; we visited six National Parks including Grand Teton for the solar eclipse, Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Olympic and Redwood National Parks. My favorite place we were able to stay for free and for several days was a turnoff near Fort Bragg, California close to Seaside Creek Beach. The beach was nearly private and the sunsets were unreal.
What do you do to fund your travels?
Kamal is the CEO of a company called NBA Math Hoops (nbamathhoops.org) that partners with the NBA, and we are able to sustain our nomadic lifestyle with his income. They designed a math enrichment tool for elementary- and middle-school aged children to make math more fun and engaging for kids. The organization currently has programs in 30 states nationwide and maintains partnerships with 15 NBA teams. This work consumes a lot of Kamal’s time and energy and often dictates where we have to be in the van, but we feel very lucky to be able to travel while he works.
I quit my job to travel with Kamal full-time so I am the Queen of Logistics. I am in charge of making sure all parts of the van are in working order, fulfilling Thisbe’s needs, travel planning and documenting the whole experience. Sometimes I call myself a “stay-at-van-home dog mom”. Ha!
This is how Thisbe butters me up when I won’t let her get on my lap. Traditionally lap dogs weigh 3-20 lbs but she’s a nonconformist and has no problem backing up her 49 lb booty onto my lap every time we set off in the van 〰 __________ #adventure #nature #outboundliving #vanlife #vanlifers #sprintervan #camper #vanlifeexplorer #conversion #roadtrip #camping #homeiswhereyouparkit #hiking #vanlifediaries #vanclans #vlecollective #vancrush #getoutstayout #sprintercampervan #vandweller #outdoors #getoutside #neverstopexploring #ontheroad #vanliferevolution #diycamper #customvan #exploremore #fromourvantage
What are your average monthly expenses living in the van?
We spend about $3200/month. This includes our student loans, van and motorcycle payments, insurance for our van and motorcycle, gas, storage unit in Denver, groceries, eating out, coffee (this is a big one) and activities/entertainment!
Favorite Van Life meal?
We recently adopted a plant-based diet which has changed our habits a little bit but our favorite vessel for food is a whole wheat tortilla. We will throw just about any concoction into a wrap. Our recent favorite is a tempeh, veggie, black bean scramble with some tomatoes, sprouts and sriracha sprinkled on top!
If there was one thing you could change about your van, what would it be?
Nothing huge comes to mind for this, but I would say if we were to add anything it would be more overhead cabinets for food storage. We have plenty of storage for other items but I’m always cramming food into odd places after we grocery shop!
What’s the one item in your van that you can’t live without?
Obvious ones are fridge and toilet but I personally couldn’t live without my camera. I have a Nikon D3200 so it’s nothing super fancy but taking photos is my favorite way to experience a new place.
Biggest Tip for those thinking of doing van life?
Just consider everything that will change about your life – the physical comforts, the routine, the predictability, the community – and whether or not you’re willing to trade those things for the wild and adventurous (and sometimes gross) lifestyle that is van life. Also, DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Follow Their Journey
Sweet! I hope you enjoyed this quick interview and gained some priceless nuggets of wisdom in regards to van life. What I love the most is beyond the pretty Instagram pictures, van life is becoming a movement of people who all want to live outside the box. This for me is the most inspiring part of reading interviews such as this one. So if you want to keep up with their adventures, follow their social media pages below!
Contact: hadley.unger (@) gmail.com