It’s a bold decision and one that only a few make: to give up a steady nine-to-five job in the office and opt instead for a life in a van – and above all to use it as a mobile home office. Is that even possible? What do you lose if you swap the four walls of a fixed home for the van office – and more importantly, what do you gain?
Rob and Emily went all the way and they never regretted it. The two Brits gave up all their belongings and exchanged their rented flat for a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 906. Their motorhome is now their living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and office all in one. It takes is above all courage and curiosity, says the couple. You have to be prepared to question the conventional perception of work that prevails in our society. The couple was always plagued by the feeling that their alternative lifestyle and their regular office jobs simply did not fit together. Now they work, where and when they want – mostly from the Sprinter. They share their experiences, tips and advices on their blog “The Road is our Home”.
People are beginning to realize that time is actually more important than excessive amounts of money.
MYVAN: Vanlife and van work – how can they be combined?
Emily & Rob: It pays off to think outside the box, when looking for work. Your usual 9-5 office job is not necessarily the best for when living an alternative lifestyle, so better look for jobs that you wouldn’t usually look for. Do not be afraid to try something different. And finally, be open to try new things, if you end up not liking a certain job it doesn’t matter because you can just find something else, you can free yourself from the ties usually associated with living in bricks and mortar.
MYVAN: What’s the appeal of this kind of working life?
Emily & Rob: The best part of travel working is variety, not having to do the same job every day, it really keeps everything interesting, you have the flexibility to do whatever you want. If you’re like us and love learning new skills then working on the road can be super exciting, one day you could be working from the comfort of your van parked on the beach, the next you could be giving skiing lessons in the mountains, work really can be fun!
MYVAN: What has changed since you chose this lifestyle?
Emily & Rob: Our costs have fallen dramatically. Suddenly, we’re no longer under so much pressure to keep a well-paid job at all costs. The result: more freedom and the self-determination to do what’s fun, what gets you ahead, what you can learn from.
Probably the most important advice is always to keep in mind that you are not on holiday. Work remains work, whether in a van or an office – although it is certainly nicer if you can arrange it yourself or do it over a cup of coffee at the beach. Nevertheless, life in a van, travelling, also has its downsides – you should therefore get your too romantic expectations out of your head beforehand.
Turning your back on the office does not always mean having to give up the profession you love. Lucas and Kathryn, for example, have proven this. The couple travels through the west of the USA to photograph wedding couples in a special way. Their mobile home and photo lab: a Sprinter 3500 with camping set-up.
MYVAN: What advice do you give people who want to work from their van?
Kathryn: My best tip is take time to GO places to get away! That sounds a bit silly, but just because we are living in a van doesn’t mean we’re on vacation all the time! So, we usually look for places that are just outside of cell service (or farther if we can really get away) to create forced downtime. When we plan for times like this, our time back from it while we are working feels much more fresh and easygoing.
It’s not easy to find the right balance between work and travel.
MYVAN: What’s the greatest difficulty?
Lucas: Some days we find that we’ve been sitting in front of the screen too much and taking too few pictures or not being out enough. It’s not easy to find the right balance between work and travel. We actually had to learn not to work all the time – because suddenly we could work all the time and from anywhere.
Kathryn: It’s hard to get away from work work work! Even when we’ve had the best of intentions to get in a rhythm with getting long hikes in, or going for a bike ride even! So that has been a challenge. Another difficulty is having enough time for ourselves. I didn’t think I needed a lot of downtime alone, but it turns out, I do! So, finding ways to give each other a little space has proven difficult, but when we communicate those needs openly, it really helps!
Lucas: It is a never-ending learning process. We therefore consciously divide our work into phases and vary them individually. This allows us to consciously take time out from work, and to surf, to hike or simply to continue traveling.
A very rewarding work you can do while traveling: telling like-minded people about your life and making your van work-life a guide for others. Create a blog, shoot how-to videos and put them online. If you approach the issue correctly, blogging about living and working in the van can be a business model that makes this lifestyle financially possible for you in its entirety. If you land cooperations, become an influencer on Instagram, be creative in front of and behind the camera – from YouTube to Etsy. Use the possibilities of social media and your van as a mobile film set.
Meanwhile, the new working environment needs to be planned in detail. What you need, what you can do without, what the workplace should look like – these are questions that you have to clarify for yourself before you take the step. Mercedes-Benz offers the right van for every requirement. The Sprinter in particular can be excellently modified with the help of numerous body manufacturers.
The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.