Setting Intention and Finding Direction: How Van Life Changed Me

Setting Intention and Finding Direction: How Van Life Changed Me

This summer, my husband and I spent a few months traveling full time in our van. Although our traveling days aren’t quite over, (we’ve still got one more van trip in the works before we settle down) these past several weeks we’ve spent on the road changed me in ways I could’ve never expected.

I expected to see some incredible things, which we did. I expected to go on lots of hikes and see billions of stars and cross state lines I never have before; all of those things we accomplished. After seeing all of those amazing places, it was honestly the thing I didn’t expect to get out of van life that had the biggest impact on me.

What I did not expect to gain from living in our van was a newfound desire for simplicity – a brooding need to have less. While we were on the road, we survived with everything we had in our van. That little bit of space was just enough to fit a warm bed for us to sleep in, a tiny kitchen to cook our meals, our two dogs that we love more than life, and everything else we needed to live for our time on the road. We didn’t have the stuff that’s sitting in our storage unit because we didn’t need it. We didn’t pack every article of clothing we own because we don’t need that many clothes. Literally, what we had in the van was what we needed to live and thrive in the wild corners of the country – and nothing more. And that was honestly the best, most freeing part of the whole trip.

I’d get caught up in the beauty of the places we saw. I’d savor every mile on every trail. But my mind would always come back to how great it felt to know that we had everything we needed with us all the time without the clutter of piles of clothes we never wear or mail we never read. I think that the scariest part of transitioning from van life back to “normal life” might be the fear of all of the stuff that comes with “normal life.” More than anything, I’ll miss the feeling of having everything I need and love an arm’s length away. But I started thinking, why did the freedom I found in the van have to end?

Was there anything that said that, even if I wasn’t living in the van anymore, that I couldn’t chase that profound simplicity that the van life kind of forced onto us? And I came to realize that the answer is, no. There’s nothing that says that having a permanent address means that you are forced to be weighed down by things you don’t need. Once I had that epiphany, the way I wanted to live my life became infinitely clearer.  As a bonus, once my life had that added intention and added purpose, I was inspired to take this blog in a new direction as well.

If you’ve visited this blog before, you might have noticed that things look a little different than they used to. I wanted a new look to match the new focus and direction of this blog. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m happy with the changes so far. If you’ve read my past posts, you know that they’re not the most organized. They’re stories of the experiences I’ve had in my life this past year, and I’ve loved every minute of sharing those stories with my readers. But, if I can get real for a second, I felt as though I wasn’t really contributing anything of substance to the lives of anyone who was reading. I wrestled with the question, how is the fact that I’m living in a van going to help others? Sure, I guess some people are here to live vicariously through the photos or maybe I’ve sparked someone’s interest in a certain place, but I’ve always felt that I have more to give.

I owe you more.

So this is my more: perhaps the greatest thing I could ever hope to give another person is the peace that I found after living in our old van for a summer. Realistically, not everyone can live in a van for two months, so my hope for this blog going forward is that I can help anyone who reads my posts achieve that freedom and peace that I found – with or without the help of a van.

If this is your first time on the Barefoot Tumbleweed, welcome! I’m so thrilled that you’re here. I hope that this blog will continue to be a place of inspiration for you where you can come to find new ways to live simply, intentionally, and adventurously.

So, here we go. I’m setting my intention for this blog going forward: the Barefoot Tumbleweed is going to be a beacon of simplicity in a really over-complicated world. From simplicity comes freedom and from freedom comes joy. From the bottom of my heart, it’s my hope that when you read my posts, they help you find joy.

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