Home is where the heart is; or for us, home is where you park it. My husband and I have parked our home in places with views only multi-million dollar homes could afford, but get this, we didn’t pay a penny for them. A lot of times my husband will use Google Earth to find some dirt road and follow it until it looks like there is a turnout spot at the top of a mountain. Then we just follow it and see what we find. The roads can be rough, bumpy, muddy with a water crossing deep enough that I’ll make him walk across in his underwear to make sure we can still get across (mid-thigh is fine if it’s a rocky bottom), steep pitches and tight turns. Usually, we set up camp in the dark and wake up to the most delicious surprise views in the morning light.
Vanlife is a simple life. It has to be! There just isn’t room for much stuff! We have to prioritize: bringing things that have more than one purpose and leaving others behind. I pack my most favourite full outfit and wear it whenever we come out of the bush. I laugh to myself when people compliment my outfit because they wouldn’t be saying that if they saw me wear it the day before and the day before that, which was the day after I had a bath in a sink. Also, good thing yoga pants pack up so small! I can usually bring a couple pairs and use them as my first layer of pants in cold weather!
A lot of what we choose to pack into the van is bicycle-related. My career hinges on the ability to train on the road wherever we go because I race bikes as a professional. In fact, we started living on the road during the winters because I needed warmer weather to train outside rather than being stuck in Northern Alberta’s snow banks. We saw it as an opportunity to achieve our goals in a unique way that we were passionate about. My husband loves to travel, take photos and make videos, and I really wanted to be outside and train to be the best athlete, the best cyclist, that I could be. Our first year we were on a really tight budget. After all the costs that it took to get us ready for life on the road, we were left with $30 per day which would include fuel and food costs. We would buy $30 of fuel one day, drive as far as we could, then buy $30 of groceries the next day and repeat. Our saving grace was meeting up with my parents for a week in Palm Springs while they were RV-ing!
As a professional cyclist, when I’m not living out of the van I am living out of a suitcase as I travel from race to race and country to country and time-zone to time-zone. I am happy to have a few things that pack small enough to bring with me everywhere I go: my e-reader that is fully loaded with books, a pair of knitting needles to knit myself neat souvenirs from yarn that I buy in different places, and my YOGO mat that folds up nice and small in the bottom of my backpack to be pulled out in airports or in the desert or in a race hotel. My yoga and creative time helps me to soak in all the fitness adaptations from training and all the rich memories of traveling. It’s really fun to travel and ride bikes – it takes a lot of hard work – but it’s also really fun! Find what you love to do, then work really hard to do what you love.
Written by competitive triathlete and van-adventurer, Allison "Action" Jackson. You can follower at actionjackson.blogspot.com or IG: @triactionjackson
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