It's funny how you connect with some people and then you can't stop talking about them afterwards. That's how I feel about Eva. We've been emailing for two weeks now and I learn something new each time we correspond or I look at one of her illustrations.
Eva & Victor follow the same story you've already heard before: a couple leaves the city to travel and live in their van. The difference is that they haven't stopped being dedicated to their crafts. Eva paints vans and illustrates a travel journal. Recently, she took a collection of painted vans from her travels and put them into a calendar that she is promoting through a Kickstarter. While Eva paints, Victor runs as a competitive mountain and ultra runner. He also surfs whenever they are close to the ocean.
The two of them are unstoppable and their photography speaks to that. Try to keep up with them as they use their talents to capture the world around them.
Square Feet: 50
Make, Model, Year: 2003 Dodge Ram Van 1500
Victor and I bought our van in 2014, and it was previously owned by a carpet cleaning business. I think we paid $3,700 for it because the owner wanted to get rid of it. It was a very good deal considering its good condition and low mileage. We were lucky to find it.
Months Living Mobile: 6
It's been more than a year since we started traveling with our van, but only six months that we’ve been living in it full time. It was a little hard to get used to in the beginning.
Currently Living: Berlin
We have been traveling around the US and Canada, but we just came to Berlin for two months to work on a project. We are going back to San Francisco in January, and we will drive down through Baja California in Mexico, and head south.
What were you doing before you went mobile?
We are originally from Barcelona, Spain, but we were living in San Francisco, California. We both worked at Internet startups: I am a graphic designer and Victor is a programmer. Our jobs were pretty flexible, allowing us to work from home when we felt like it or surf in the mornings. But we still felt pretty tied to our offices.
Why did you make the change?
Traveling and living in a van is something that had always been on our minds and in our conversations, but—and I think this happens to everyone—we never found the right moment to switch. Then after a year and a half living in San Francisco, we felt too crammed in the city, just working every day from the same office and doing the same things every day.
One of the reasons we wanted to leave was because we were tired of the San Francisco culture. The startup world is only about working, earning money and growing within a company.
What was the process like to move into your mobile home?
In San Francisco, we were already traveling a lot with our van. Because we converted the van ourselves, every trip was an opportunity to learn what things we needed to do to make it liveable and what construction was needed. We improved our van little by little, learning woodworking and electrical skills on the go.
When the van was (almost) finished, we were very excited about it. So one day when we were feeling down, the idea just came up. What if we move to the van now? We always handle these life decisions the same way: go to a cafe, discuss for 30 minutes and then make the decision. The next day we told our companies (which luckily were very understanding), and a few days later, we jumped into the van and started driving north.
The first weeks were hard. There's a contrast between living in an apartment in a city with all the amenities that you could dream of and living in a van, sharing a small space with your partner 24 hours a day and not having most of the things you are used to. It's harder than you think—especially at the beginning. But you end up learning a lot about how to handle each other and what you really need and what you don’t.
After a month of discussions and reflecting on our decision, we got used to it and now we are really happy. This is the best experience we've ever had.
How do you balance work and living in a small space?
We work for companies based in San Francisco, but just part time. We wake up every morning, have breakfast in our van and then we find a place with Wi-Fi. It can be a public library, a cafe or in the middle of the mountain—if we have enough 4G network coverage.
We also have a lot of side projects that we are working on. Our goal is to be self-employed and find projects that allow us to have enough income to keep doing what we're doing. Victor actually just quit his job to start his own product.
Where do you shower?
Ohhh...God! That's the worst part! I am still trying to get used to not having a shower every day. But little by little, we are finding new ways to clean ourselves. We mostly use campground showers, but there are also other places you can find a shower, such as Laundromats. Victor usually runs every day, so he ends up just swimming in lakes or rivers when the weather is good.
What are your hobbies on the road?
We hike wherever we go because we love mountains and we want to explore the US and Canada National Parks. Victor also runs a lot; he is a competitive mountain and ultra runner. He also surfs whenever we are close to the ocean, which he’s been doing since he was a kid.
I paint a lot. I am working on a cool project about the vanlife experience. I am using watercolors to paint vans we’ve been finding on our adventures. I just started a Kickstarter campaign to print the illustrations as a calendar.
I am also writing and illustrating a travel journal.
What has been your favorite travel destination?
Without doubt, Utah! Amazing natural landscapes! We didn't know that nature was able to create such beautiful and unique landscapes.
We also really enjoyed northern California, taking the Highway 1 from San Francisco up to Humboldt State Park. The road is simply beautiful, and it's easy to sleep anywhere along the road and wake up the next day in front of the ocean with great waves and no people.
We were also really surprised by Oregon. It's has beautiful land, with oceans, mountains, good beer and great people.
What are your top three go-to items in your tiny home?
Auxiliary Battery: It was essential for us to install an auxiliary battery to run electricity, our fridge and lighting. Our electrical system broke down after we started using it, so we’ve been struggling with it. We need to fix it, and I think a solar panel would be better.
Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker: It’s small, the battery lasts a long time and has powerful sound for its size. We carry music wherever we go. We used to have a vinyl record player, but we had to give it away because it was taking up too much space.
Laptop: Our MacBook Air is our daily working tool. We also use it for TV and music, and it weighs almost nothing.
What are some of your go-to meals in your tiny home?
Not having much storage makes us cook with what we find on the go—at roadside farms or farmers markets. One of our typical meals that we like to cook is fried eggs with fried potatoes. It has been one of our camping classics during the past year.
One of the other classics is couscous with fried vegetables. You can put whatever you have in it. We are really healthy people, so we normally cook a lot of vegetables. And of course—as Spaniards—we cook tortilla de patatas once every two weeks. It's the perfect meal for the van.
What we really miss though is an oven.
What has been the most rewarding thing about living small?
We’ve learned a lot! We've realized you can live with close to nothing—just the most essential things. We started with a van full of stuff, and every week we just threw away or gave away some of our things—clothes and books—trying to just carry the fewest things possible.
But of course, the most rewarding thing is the flexibility.
What is the most challenging thing?
It might sound funny, but being with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 30 days a month is hard. It's not because we are just talking to each other all day. It's because we miss having other people around us. If we could choose one thing that we miss, it would be close friends.
What is your advice to future homeowners who want to live small or hit the road?
Living in a small space or a van requires the right mindset. And the benefits come from sacrifices. You only see the cool parts of it on Instagram, and even though there are advantages, it's hard not having the things you take for granted (a tap with water? friends?).
Do you plan to go back to your previous way of living?
Absolutely not! We don't know if we will live in a small van for the rest of our lives, but for sure we will never have a 9-to-5 office job and live in a city, doing exactly the same thing every day.
What's next for you guys? Any news you want to share?
Our next stop is, for sure, Central America, and we are really excited about it. It means a big change for us, regarding the people, culture and environment. We also expect it to be easier to find more full-time travelers to hang with.
You can support my new project on Kickstarter by getting a vanlife calendar, postcards or some of my original paintings. You can also order a custom illustration of your van.