• Without Walls: Guide to Living on the Road

    The fantasy is that you can just quit your job tomorrow and peace out for the road trip of your dreams. The reality—at least according to Dylan Bellingan, who has been living in his van, “Pearl,” for the last 16 months—involves a bit more planning than that.

    “I wrote down on a piece of paper what I wanted in life, what my bills were, and how I was going to make it work. It had to make sense financially, and it had to make sense in the long run. I’m not 21 anymore. I’m 28, so you know, I think differently.”
    Photos by Dylan Bellingan and Luciana McIntosh. Words by Andrew Bisharat.

    Before hitting the road, Dylan worked for a year and a half selling home-security systems to save up the money he needed to follow his dream and move into a van full-time. He saved every penny, sacrificed a lot, often said no to a lot of cool opportunities, and even moved back in with his parents for the last few months of work—all to get him to where he is today.

    “And when I left, there was nothing holding me back,” he says, proudly. “Everybody says they want to be doing this. Everybody says to me, ‘I wish I could do that. I wish I could do what you do.’ And I kinda look at them, and it’s like, ‘Man, you can do that! It’s not hard and it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money!’”

    Well … In that case! We asked Dylan to share his observations, advice and tips for how to live in a van, travel full-time, and make the dream work for us, too.

    Hustle Hard
    “I planned for this trip for over a year and a half. The plan was to live in a van, surf, travel, explore, adventure, and just live off the grid. And I worked my butt off! I made sacrifices, saved a bunch of money, and got rid of everything. I said no to a lot of things because I had this trip planned. It was all because I wanted to travel.”

    Imagine a World With No Rent
    “For most people, rent is the biggest killer. If you ask people that question, ‘What would you do if you didn’t have rent?’ Their eyes kinda open wide and you watch them realize that the possibilities are endless. That’s what you’re doing when you travel on the road, living in your van. You have no rent. It’s just gas and food. More importantly, you have to get to a place where you’re going to be OK with not spending money. That takes a lot. But life becomes much less stressful when you can do it.”

    Forget The Car Payment
    “I sold my Camry, and bought my van with cash. I didn’t want a car payment. It’s a 1993 Chevy work van. Low miles. Well taken care of. I saw it on Craigslist and bought it off a dude who had just picked it up from an auction.”

    Save Room for the Important Stuff
    “I built out my van. It has wood floors with insulation underneath. Walls have insulation, with wood paneling on top of them. Nice, clean look. There’s a double bed in back with room underneath to fit backpacks and surfboards. Also, there’s a roof rack, so I can put surf boards on top of the van, too.”

    Embrace the Silence
    “A lot of times, I don’t listen to anything when I’m driving. I really like just being able to think and listen to the road, and listen to the van.”

    Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
    “A lot of people told me that I would get lonely being by myself. What’s interesting is that this journey has really made me step outside my comfort zone, and talk to more people and meet new people. You ask questions, they ask you questions, then all of a sudden you’re having dinner or a beer within an hour. You’re in a new place, no idea what’s going on, and you’re both strangers in a new place—it becomes an adventure together.”

    Keep that Third Eye Open
    “There are definitely crazy people out on the road. You kinda gotta have a third eye open and be wary of these personalities. Notice red flags. Back off of situations. It’s easy to get involved in something that you should’ve never gotten involved with. That said, most people are friendly and cool.”

    Document Your Journey
    “While I’ve been doing this, I’ve been writing about it, blogging about it, taking photos, and meeting up with other people that do the same thing. We’re creating a community. Because of that I have gotten quite a following through social media. All I can do now is continue to save money, keep traveling and keep living the dream.”

    If you missed it, be sure to check out our interview with Dylan from last week here!

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