When I was in college, way back in the 1990s, my dad gave me my first laptop computer, which was the first time something even remotely like #vanlife for work became a possibility for me. Sure, it was a hand-me-down Toshiba with a tiny black and white monitor and zero storage. But, it was indeed a real portable laptop, that offered me my first glimpses of what the future of #vanlife for work might look like.
In this future, I dreamt of being untethered from home and office, working from some remote beach, whilst listening to the water lapping the shore and seagulls calling out to each other.
Fast forward 30 years and for many that dream has come true. And for some, untethering has had less to do with some crazy college-aged dream, and more to do with the reality of the 2020s.
A few years ago, prior to the pandemic, my wife and I bought a 2018 Ram Promaster high-roof van and worked with The Vansmith team to build it out, opting for their “Rack and Roll” layout. We named her Theodosia; this was our #vanlife moment. At the time, we were simply looking for new adventures and a comfortable base camp for everything from day trips to the ski hill to multi-day backpacking adventures. Like most people, we watched tons of YouTube videos, created by people who lived and worked out of their vans. For us, we saw our van as a beautiful, organic living space on wheels.
When the pandemic hit, we found ourselves in the perfect position to travel all over the western US, in short weekend and week-long bursts. At a time when most of our friends and family were locked down, we masked up and drove through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Montana. We stayed in some absolutely gorgeous places…and a few nice rest stops along the way (Wyoming’s are probably the best, by the way).
However, as life started to move back to some sense of normal, the time between those trips became longer and longer. We pined to travel again, our schedules always seeming to get in the way. But then we discovered how amazing it is to simply work from our van (i.e., #vanlife for work).
Though we, like most people, initially bought our van with visions of endlessly traveling the open road, today we use our van every week, not to travel to some remote part of the world, but to work from the beach…or the mountains…or even an awesome town square nearby.
This. Has. Been. AWESOME! Early in the morning (often on Wednesdays), we pack our laptops and dog, Herschel, into the van and drive to a nearby beach, like Crissy Field, in San Francisco (where we live). We typically find a nice spot on the lawn to park, then take our dog for a quick jaunt in the sand. When we get back to the van, we open our laptops, plug in our headphones, and connect to the hotspots on our phones. We take Zoom calls, write emails, make a pot of coffee, and do all of the other things normally required of us when working. The difference is that WE’RE AT THE BEACH! We’re untethered from our home and offices physically, yet tethered to the interwebz, enabling us to accomplish our work tasks and goals while also feeling a sense of personal fulfillment.
When we first picked Theodosia up and got the walkthrough from Aaron, at The Vansmith, we pictured ourselves taking long adventures, working when we needed to but mostly driving and living. But, where we’ve landed with our van is even better. We use our van several times a week and rarely have to pack anything more than ourselves. She’s perfectly equipped with all of the water, power, snacks, lighting, and space that we need to be comfortable. We – including Herschel – are more fulfilled and have something to look forward to every week. And…our co-workers are always jealous when they see the beautiful wood paneling and the waves lapping the shore in the background.
Sure, we still pine for more adventure. But, our van provides us with so much day-to-day happiness, especially when working from her, that we never regret not driving more. Plus, when we’re ready for the next adventure, we know she it too.