Why This Couple Switched From Tent Camping to Vanlife

by Simplify

Colleen and Jimmy are an adventurous couple living in a van with their cat. They bought the van with most of the structural work already done, and decorated it in a unique vanlife aesthetic, with lots of plants, little items from their hikes, and wildlife photographs taken by Jimmy.

Driving a van

The van is a 2002 Ford Econoline, and even the driver’s seat is surrounded by plants. The kitchen is described by Colleen as her “dream forest witch kitchen”, and it lives up to the name, with incense, dried flowers, and herbs.

There is a sink, a cooler fridge that works off of solar energy, and a propane double stove. The couple only uses one pan and one pot, and they get food for five days at a time.

The mattress was cut to fit in the van, and Jimmy admits it is a bit short, but they make do. In the back by the bed, they also keep Jimmy’s photography equipment.

The heater works off propane, just like the stove. For the propane to run out it takes around a month in the winter with the heater and half a year in the warmer seasons.

There are a lot of unexpected storage spaces, such as under the bench or the bed. That is where they store extra water, folding chairs, a tent, and hammocks.

For privacy in such a limited space, the couple uses several curtains, some sewn by Colleen. Jimmy and Colleen also have different sleeping schedules which allow for some extra alone time.

How do vanlifers make money? Colleen and Jimmy work in adventure guiding, and specifically recommend zipline guiding: this seasonal work allows them to save up and not work for 3-4 months in a row.


For more stories of home on wheels, discover how they turned a 4x4 snow plow into an overland tiny home or why this veteran chose to embrace solo female vanlife.

To see more videos, check out the Tiny Home Tours YouTube channel.

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