Living to work or working to live? For Lexi and Cody, the latter is true. With their laptops open, the couple sits opposite each other in their converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the open rear doors reveal the lush green forests of Oregon. Originally, Lexi and Cody wanted to create an entertaining reality TV show with their YouTube channel “Dynamo Ultima” that realistically depicts life in a van while keeping their friends and family up to date. They describe their style as bizarre and humorous: “We take nothing too seriously and enjoy life to the fullest.”
MYVAN: You have been travelling full-time through North America in your Mercedes-Benz Sprinter since 2016. How did this come about?
Lexi: Before that, we drove through the States in a sedan. We had a great time and enjoyed every minute, even if sleeping on the reclining seats was not very comfortable. After we finished college, we decided to live in a van. We sold all the stuff from our studio apartment and our cars. Until then we were not even aware of how much stuff we had and downsizing was a very relieving feeling. Then we started with the van conversion and have not looked back since. Since then we live completely in our van and use our parental homes only for our mail and for a few sentimental objects that we couldn’t part with.
Our van is our mobile office.
MYVAN: What was the idea for your YouTube channel?
Lexi: We wanted to share with others how we decided to live. People are often stuck in a rather conservative view. By exemplifying our unique lifestyle, we can inspire others to break out of their everyday lives or even embark on their own lives as digital nomads. According to the motto “There are no rules how you should live your life.”
MYVAN: How do you earn your living?
Cody: Dynamo Ultima has two faces. On one hand, we focus on creative customer work. This means we support companies in the areas of branding, product design, web design and video production. On the other, we help individuals to go their own way as “digital nomads”. We create e-courses, workshops and templates for people who want to start their own business and make travel a part of their work.
Why has Vanlife become more and more popular in recent years? “Most standard jobs are not worth the pay for the time,” the unconventional thinkers find. The opportunity to experience so many different places through life in a van: Priceless for Lexi and Cody. They have also taken a liking to the minimalist lifestyle. They use their travels to go on a discovery tour through the USA. “We like to stay in the western states because they are much less populated. There are also many more public parking areas on the west coast.” Almost more important for the two vagabonds than the destinations are the people they meet on the way. “We often went to van conventions and we met many astonishing people. Most of them have a similar motivation for living in the van – so we’re a big community.”
MYVAN: Have you ever had any doubts about your plan of shifting your life to the Sprinter?
Cody: We never had any doubts about our lifestyle, quite the contrary. However, there are times when we miss life in a house. If we need a fixed place to stay in between times, we simply visit friends or family. But there were also setbacks now and then. For example, we got stuck in the sand a few times. But that was 90 percent user error and the remaining ten percent was due to bad tires. After initial despair, we finally found out that our doormats could serve us as tangible underlay. That was learning on the job!
Since restoration was out of the question for the couple, they chose a new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. They found it at a dealer in Oregon. Nevertheless, they wanted to take the conversion into their own hands. Existing expertise in matters of craftsmanship? Not a chance. But that was no problem for the all-rounders: Thanks to a tried and tested problem-solving strategy and some research on the net, the project was completed in no time. “If we didn’t know how to do something, we’d research and ask around until we figured out how to do it.” They had to acquire a wide variety of skills, from carpentry and electrics to plumbing. The biggest difficulty: Exact dimensions. Because the body of the van is slightly curved in many places. They would describe their van as “clean, modern and quirky”.
MYVAN: And last but not least, what are your plans for the future?
Lexi: Plans are constantly changing in our lifestyle. We are considering selling our van to convert another one. At the moment we want to make contacts and build up a network. The beauty of our way of life is that we don’t have to carve plans in stone – that’s the ultimate freedom.
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.