Looking back I’m not quite sure how we even started the conversation of living in a van for a year. Maybe it was the allure of the open road, freedom from the norm, the unknown of what each new day would hold…
What I do know, is that early on in our relationship Joe and I decided that we wanted to set some big goals for ourselves. We talked and schemed of adventures to have and what we would do if we had the freedom and ability to do whatever we wanted, wherever we wanted to be.
I’m sure Joe started the discussion asking what my ultimate travel adventure would be and we joked about taking a motorcycle (with a sidecar) trip from Washington to Chile. Looking back, that sounds really uncomfortable.
After throwing out ideas, we somehow landed upon the realization that the US has so much to offer that we had never seen, and that we should probably start there before traveling outside of the US.
But, once we decided that the US would be our playground, how did we even begin to map out a route…
Before we get into that, let us tell you a little about why we would even consider something this out of the ordinary.
Here’s a little background on us…
I grew up in rural Washington and have been hiking and camping with my family ever since I was a little girl. As a result, I have developed a deep appreciation and love of the outdoors. I have many happy memories of being stuffed in a car with my three siblings and road tripping all over the West.
As for Joe, he also spent a fair amount of time enjoying the outdoors, snowboarding in the mountains, trail running, and has done a handful of ultra marathons & Ironman’s.
When we first started dating we spent a lot of time hiking, and snowboarding. And eventually (after some convincing) I took Joe on his first backpacking trip (he was scared!). 🙂
Since that first trip… we have completed the Wonderland trail (a 93ish mile trail around Mt. Rainer) in three days, explored many corners of Washington’s abundant forests and parks (including backpacking into Shi Shi Beach and snow camping in the Enchantments) and road tripped – exploring a handful of National Parks in Washington, California and Utah.
After talking it over and voicing what we wanted out of this “Great American Road/Van trip,” we established our plan… visit every National Park in the United States. This just seemed like a good place to start, so we went with it.
We did research on each of the National Parks, and compiled a list using a handy little app called Road Trippers to map out our route. This app will even calculate your gas milage, and give you cool places that you should stop along the way.
Next question, how would we pull this van trip off…
* Drive to every park and camp?
* Make a list and start checking them off as we went, chipping away at them over time?
None of these seemed quite right, and we decided we wanted to do this as one big trip.
So, what about this idea… we’d go on the road for a year, take our work with us, and find a vehicle that would make this dream a reality.
Did I mention that we are avid CrossFitters, and would need pretty much a whole gym to come along with us. Well, that happens to be the case. ?
So, we needed a vehicle that would allow us to live, work, workout, and get to all the National Parks without breaking down along the way…
That’s when we found the company Sportsmobile and started looking into converted Sprinter vans.
At first, Sportsmobile seemed like the perfect fit, especially with the new 4×4 Sprinter model which would allow us to go almost anywhere (and carry all our CrossFit gear).
We spent a lot of time researching vans and van conversion companies. For awhile we had settled on getting a Sportsmobile and even designed our own custom van on their website.
But something about the converted van just wasn’t feeling perfect, we weren’t quite sure what we needed to change, but one thing we were certain of… we knew we had found the type of van we wanted in a 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter, and had established the plan for our “Big Adventure.”
***Checkout our post on why we picked the van we pick by clicking here.***