Hey, I'm Lisa and I'm from Austin Texas and this is my van Free Bird.
She's a 2012 Nissan NV 2500.
I found out about van life when I started researching ways to travel
around Europe that were gonna be affordable. It's so common in Australia
and Europe for people to rent vans and travel and I realized that people were doing
it here and I saw how beautiful these vans could be and, I just, it clicked.
I found out about it on a Friday night and by Sunday afternoon I was forcing a
deposit check into a guy's hand to buy Free Bird. The van used to be a chicken catering van.
I had a partner at the time. The two of us worked on the project for
four months, finished in October of 2017. We lasted for two weeks.
I decided to depart and be a solo traveler. I left in March and I've been doing it for six months.
I started doing law. I had such a narrow understanding of success.
I just was kind of told that that was what I was supposed to do.
I started flipping houses on the side to have some sort of creative outlet and I was really just
doing air streams and tiny homes, and then when I realized that I could have a
tiny home that moves, that was, that was the end of it for me.
I'd been working remotely for several years, just staying in one spot, and so once I discovered van life
it was pretty easy for me to transition into this.
To me, van life is a way to connect with my creative soul. I started taking some screenwriting classes.
I have a short screenplay that's in a film festival next month.
I started saying that I was a writer and now people are paying me to be a writer.
What else do I want to try to be in this world, you know?
And kind of see if I can make that happen.
This is Free Bird the van. She's a Nissan NV 2500 high-roof. V6 engine 2012.
Got these Hankook Dynamo ATM light off-road tires .
I'm able to go on all the dirt roads and check out all the hot springs.
One of my favorite solutions was fitting the Dometic fridge up here.
Not only can you get a snack if you're driving,
you also have so much more storage space in the rest of the van.
It's much more than I just need for one person. It's everything that I need and more.
I've started to document my travels up here right above the front seat.
Postcards and notes that people have written for me on the road.
A place to put them so I can remember them.
I bought some sound deadening spray and that actually has really helped a lot from the outside coming in.
I added this ladder for easier access to get up on the roof.
I have AC unit and my WeBoost cell repeater which helps for internet.
So for the first five months that I was traveling I did not have solar.
If I didn't drive every two days or so my fridge would turn off.
Right before I went to Burning Man a few weeks ago a friend of mine installed solar.
I have one two hundred and forty watt panel on the roof and that baby has changed everything.
I miss the space on the roof a little bit because I used to sit up there a lot and stretch,
but it's, it's worth it. I went ahead and added these two small slider windows in the back.
One more slider in the kitchen and then a fixed window in the sliding door.
When you're standing up at the kitchen cooking you can see outside.
And this is just so nice for air circulation. Didn't want to make
the windows too big because I didn't want to sacrifice storage space inside,
so this was a pretty good balance.
This is a 30 amp plug. If I have to run my AC I would need to be plugged in.
And then this is also solar here so solar charger, which is really nice.
Welcome to the inside of my tiny home on wheels.
This is a pretty luxurious three burner stove. I have used all three burners at once
and this has been really wonderful to have. I also, to have extra counter-top space, this folds out.
This is the kitchen storage I just really just have two of everything down here. I have
dedicated trash and recycling. If I want to cook outside that's always an option
because I've got this little counter-top right here. So this thing it sticks to
anything and then when it gets like this you just rinse it with water and it
becomes sticky again. Perfect for holding my plant in place. This is a pot that I
made back in the day when I used to just do some crafty stuff. Some hanger chips
from friends I've met on the road and things from Burning Man. It's nice to
have some mirrors in the van too. The insulation is wool and I really wanted
to do something that was going to be very insulating but also non-toxic and
chemical free. Wool is antimicrobial and water resistant so it's really good, it
lets the van breathe. All of this wood is from a barn outside of Austin, Texas.
This is my closet and all of my clothes fit in this space and usually I have a lot
of my clothing in separate bags so that I'm able to find what I need, but
sometimes it just gets a little crazy in there. This kind of acts as a little bit
more like my office. I have a lot of documents in here, camera gear, and then
all my bedding is stuffed in this last one here. Usually during the day I have
the table set up. This back piece here becomes a tabletop and so you can put
the table here or you can put the table back here depending on where you want to work.
So these little pieces here, these hinge pieces, I have this because benches
are really comfortable when they're at about a 15 degree angle,
so it may seem like a small little thing there, but it actually makes a pretty big difference
The back pieces just stack up in the middle and I have these velcroed on and they actually stay in place really well.
This is four inch latex, non-toxic material, and it fits pretty perfectly across and then I actually
have two more little cushions that fit right here so when I close the doors
they hold this in place and I'm able to have a queen-size bed back here.
I have more storage. This is some more cushions, an electric heater that I could use if I
was plugged in somewhere. It's really nice to have this side access for this
back storage here. You can just grab things like your yoga mat, pull it right
out and not have to lift up the benches. I have my propane tank here, some water.
These are the cartridges for my toilet and then these are extra window
coverings for the front. Got my inverter here, 800 amp battery, all my switches,
control panel. My solar panel is kind of stuck down here and I just got my sewing machines
I really like my little banana hammock. *Laughter* This is great, it's a really good storage for fruit and,
and everything. These tiles I got from my travels outside Guanajuato in Mexico.
Everyone's gotta have a junk drawer, right, so this is my junk drawer. This is
a Laveo dry touch electric toilet. It is the simplest, easiest way. The toilet was
I want to say it was six hundred dollars and then the cartridges are $50 for
three. If you use it more sparingly, it can last for a couple weeks. Since I have
no water bill and no electric bill, paying for toilet cartridges is not really that
big of a deal. A five gallon freshwater tank. This is metal,
plastic doesn't seep into my drinking water. It stays cool and it's
just like a really nice thing to have. The brand on this is Danube.
And then just a regular jerrycan for my gray water. I think the five gallons
probably last me about four or five days. Moen sink, I got it on Amazon, made for
RVs. I have a water pump that I turn on and off. This first switch here, this is
for the LED lighting, overhead lighting. This is for the outside light, I have a
little porch light outside and then this one is for the water pump.
I've got like, you know, cleaning supplies, tons of food. When I was doing the
storage, I actually measured my items. Like I measured like how tall is my tallest olive oil.
Be really cognizant of the
things that you use in your life to make sure that you're creating a space that's
perfect for what you do. There's so much storage space above the cab of most
vehicles and when van conversions don't utilize that storage I'm just like,
you're missing out on so much. I'm able to fit tons of stuff in here. I made
these to fit perfectly over every window. These have magnets on them, they're
for the back doors, but the other ones just fit right into the window frames
and you can feel the difference between inside/outside dramatically with these.
I made these curtains; this thermal fabric actually makes a really big difference.
I can have lights on in here, I can do whatever I want, and nobody has any idea that anyone's
in here. So having the door open this way, now I have a little vanity.
All my girly stuff here; my curling iron and makeup and I can brush my teeth and kind
of fix myself and feel like I have a real space for that. So I did get this AC setup,
I have never used it. I mean, since I live on the road,
if it's hot, I just go where it's not hot. My fantastic vent fan, if you open two of the
windows, the air circulation is awesome. Charge controller for the AIMS inverter
that I have. I have a 4000 watt inverter and it's also the charge controller that
shows how much the battery is charged from solar. Lights, the fan, the fridge are
all 12 volt so I only need to turn this on if I'm gonna be using the outlets.
The floor is marmoleum. Very, very, very thin which is great. It comes in these
long sheets and so I actually bought one whole sheet and cut to the exact
dimensions of the van floor so this is all one piece. This little guy just goes
with me everywhere. I bring him to the front seat, bring him to the back. I mean
it's just very convenient and this is my sound system in life.
I think the first thing is to start acting like you're living in a van. Stop spending money and
stop buying stuff. Just really become aware of what you consume in your daily
life. Think about your interactions with people. Become more intentional about
what you're doing now with your resources and start saving up in order
to shift over to this lifestyle. And for me it's much more about being in this
moment. It's not so much where I'm going or my destination. So for my first day I
drove for 30 miles and stopped. I didn't want to try to go to any destination, I
just wanted to start appreciating the moments that I'm in now.