Meet Our Home: Viva the Van

Meet Viva the Van. She’s a 2000 GMC Safari, with just over 125,000 miles… a little old, but certainly not past her prime. We bought her on Craigslist from a lovely Australian couple who took her on her maiden voyage around the states as a camper van.

She came pre-equipped a VERY minimal build. The bed frame is made out 2x4s, and there are a few plastic boxes for storage underneath. There’s also a small fold up table, a couple collapsible chairs, and a five gallon jug for water. We added a Yeti cooler (cooking is a must), a memory foam mattress topper (zzzzzzzzz), and a brand spankin’ new stereo system (cause TUNES!).

Initially, our intention was to stick with this build over the summer, then clean her out and start fresh with a new build this winter. We’d seen so many cool builds on YouTube, and we figured this one was just too stripped down to meet our needs.

We were wrong. It turns out, we don’t really need that many frills to be comfortable. We had plans to add solar planels, deep cycle batteries, a fridge, and new flooring… but really, we’re quite comfortable as it is. The YETI keeps ice cold for days (even more when you use dry ice). We have a couple inverters to charge our devices. Anything else feels like it would be excessive.

We’re about to park Viva in Colorado for the winter and head to Southern Europe to escape the cold. We’ll need to find a new (affordable) vehicle and do a fresh build – ALL IN 7 DAYS!! We’ll be sharing are whole process in the several episodes of Vanlifers Podcast. Any recommendations for vehicles in Europe welcome – we’re thinking about maybe a Toyota Land Cruiser or or Isuzu Trooper.

Who We Are and Why We Started a Vanlife Podcast

Hello world! We’re Chelsea and James – a couple of travel addicts who set off in a van to explore the world.

A little about us! Chelsea is originally from Texas; James is from London. We’ve been friends for years, and recently embarked on a cross-country adventure together in a campervan. Our travels have taken us from Miami, to Los Angeles, all the way up the Pacific coast to Canada, and now to Europe.

We started this podcast because we wanted to share a side of #vanlife you may not see very often on Instagram. When we first started thinking about doing #vanlife full time, we thought we were going to have to drop like $10K on a van, and spend at least six months on a build. Everything we saw of #vanlife looked AWESOME – but expensive and kinda glamorous!

What we’ve learned over the past few months is that it actually takes a lot less than you might think. We really believe #vanlife is doable for everyone, regardless of what you have to spend.

In our first few episodes, we’ll be covering things like how to choose a vehicle, plan a cheap (but effective) build, travel on a budget, and secure remote work from the road. And we’ll be doing it just we head to Europe and start from scratch there. New van, new build, new continent. We’d love for you to come along on the journey with us. we’ll be sharing our learnings, mistakes (there will definitely be a few), and tips along the way.

We’re new to this whole podcasting thing so welcome your suggestions and feedback! Shoot us a message if you have any ideas or episode requests. Really excited to be here and look forward to connecting with everyone. 🙂