7 Reasons to Choose a Sprinter Van to Live In

The reasons that I chose a Sprinter van over other types of RVs or campervans were:
1) Sprinters come with a 2.7L turbo diesel engine which produces a super efficient 21-25mpg with a very active community on the Internet
2) The interior height allowed a tall guy (I’m 6’2″) like me to stand upright
3) I wanted a van that wasn’t huge, imposing, and obvious if I parked it in a residential neighborhood. I wanted ‘stealth’ so I could camp anywhere. Sprinter vans do not look like an RV.

Minor reasons to go with a Sprinter van:
4) A fixed top/roof. I really preferred the fixed ‘high’ roof over popups (like a Westfalia van) because they are warmer in the winter, quicker to setup (or instant), easier to walk around in and easy to boondock (aka camping where you are not supposed to camp).
5) Shorter vehicle for better manuverability and easier to park than a big RV and high clearance so you can take it off-roading.
6) Most Sprinters are cargo vans so they typically empty and a blank slate for your vanlife building imagination!
7) Has tiptronic shifting which is nice on hilly roads and as a brake assist.

Here are a few annoying issues that I have had since I purchased the van:
– The door locks are a royal pain in the ass. I hate the Eurovan ‘central locking’. Give me a simple lock/unlock button any day. Quite often the remote doesn’t even work. Very frustrating for what should be such a simple thing.
– The lack of an anti-sway bar. The van handles front to back bumps just fine, but if you hit any bump that rocks the van sideways, be prepared to wait for 20 seconds for it to stop rocking.
– Failure of the turbo resonator and the associated pipe. Both of which are easy fixes but can leave you in Limp Home Mode (where you can’t accelerate over 35 MPH).

After searching for weeks on Craigslist, eBay, cars.com, and used car dealer websites, I purchased a 2005 Dodge T1N Sprinter from a HVAC company on the border of Wyoming and Montana that was the 2nd owner. It was originally from Pennsylvania where the wet winters caused a significant amount of rust on the frame. I got it for $10,000 with 160,000 miles.

I used CarGurus website to give a quick and dirty estimate on whether a van was a good value.

Overall, I have had a great experience with my Sprinter van, learned a lot about repairing a diesel engine and would definitely purchase a Sprinter van again!

Van Life Breakfast – Bulletproof Coffee

This is what I drink each morning after waking up in my van – Bulletproof coffee (coffee mixed with butter and coconut oil).

The coffee is part of my intermittent fasting diet. I have tried a lot of diets (paleo, primal, zone, blood type) but I chose to do a combination of intermittent fasting (eating food in a 6-8 hour window) and gluten-free. (I still love me some cheese and whole milk occasionally!)

This diet has worked best for me but diet truly is unique to each individual.

Bulletproof Coffee Steps:
– Using the Aeropress, fill up the press upside down to the level marked 2 with ground espresso beans of your choosing (from Costco or Amazon)
– Then add 1 tablespoon of Coconut oil (from Costco or Amazon) to the blender glass
– 2 tablespoons of UNSALTED Kerry Gold butter (from Costco or Amazon) to the blender glass
– Boil 2 cups of water using the Jet Boil Flash (Amazon only)
– Stir in the boiling water to the Aeropress for 2 minutes and then press it into the blender glass
– Blend it up and enjoy delicious bulletproof coffee!

It tastes like a creamy latte. The best part is that it makes you feel energized, focused, and full for hours on end.

The Lunch That I Eat Everyday

The video shows you what ingredients go into my sardine salad lunch (read more about WHY I eat sardines and not tuna).

I eat this same meal each and every day for two reasons:

1) It eliminates the need to decide WHAT to eat for lunch each day.

2) It is healthy and very easy to make.

I have been eating this lunch for the past two years and have yet to get tired of it. It hits most of the flavor profiles (except for sweetness) and I switch up the veggie, crunchy snack, and spice (kimchi or sriracha) so it never gets old.

– 1 can of sardines (from Costco) or a canned oysters (from any food store)
– a few pieces of Gouda cheese (from Costco)
– 1/2 cup of premade gaucomole (from Costco)
– 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider vinegar or KimChi (from Sprouts, Whole Foods, or a big-name supermarket)
– One chopped cucumber with sea salt or veggie bag (from Costco)
Nut-Thins crackers or Nacho chips or something crunchy (from any food store)
Sriracha sauce (from almost any supermarket)

Mix all everything together in a bowl except for the crackers/chips and enjoy!

How to Shower and Stay Clean on the Road

A constant question that I answer from people interested in the #vanlife is where do you shower?

The answer is simple – a gym that has showers like Planet Fitness.

I have also signed up for one month memberships in different cities at local health clubs. I purchased a one-month $35 membership in Salt Lake City at the Sports Complex where the facilities included 2 Olympic swimming pools, 2 ice rinks, free yoga classes, and a gym, showers, sauna, etc.

I have since signed up with Planet Fitness’s black membership which is $20 per month and allows you to go to any club in the US. Their facilities include a gym, showers, and black card benefits like massages, tanning, etc. Every club is open 24 hours and has showers, free wifi, and TVs. You have to bring your own quick-drying towel and bath soap.

I have also looked at a 24-Hour Fitness membership that is purchased through Costco for $250 a year. However, a number of their clubs don’t have showers, aren’t open 24 hours and the membership is paid up-front.

Since I don’t have a bathroom in my van, I use a large water bottle to pee into in the middle of the night. I also have a briefcase toilet (that many river-rafting guides know about!) that I use boondocking in the backcountry. It is a toilet that folds down into the size of a briefcase and catches your waste in a sealable bag.

PRO TIP: Always have wet-wipes with you – in your backpack and in your van to cleanup quickly.

Regarding laundry and washing clothes, I wear mostly merino wool or modal clothing. When I shower, I bring my underwear, socks and my shirt into the shower with me and hand wash them. It’s quick and easy and also increases the longevity of the wool. I bring all of my wet items (towel, socks, underwear, and shirt) back to my van to hang dry. I do laundry at a coin-operated laundromat about once every 1-2 weeks including bed sheets, beach towel, kitchen towels, hats, etc.

Are you scared of the van life? I was…

I am writing this after being on the road for two years. This is not a post about being scared for my safety while living in a van. It is about a deeper fear within me.

Three years ago I decided to set out on my wanderlust journey. Only to realize I was terrified of leaving everything, selling my business and my belongings. I felt society and even my friends, business associates, and family would judge me. Would they think I was ‘quiting life’ or giving it all up?

Something was holding me back. I couldn’t even take the first steps in living the van life. I was doing some personal coaching with David Hamilton and during one of our last sessions, he gave me permission to sell my businesses and start down the road towards vanlife. It was a simple statement that allowed me to take the first steps towards the vanlife.

‘I give you permission to leave Denver and go on a roadtrip.’

It could have simply been the act of someone I respected, saying ‘yes, you can do this’. It removed society’s expectation that one must live life a certain way. Regardless, the permission that Dave gave me sent me quickly towards my goal of living a simple life in a van.

In the next few months I took the first steps to design MY ideal lifestyle. I hit the road in my Dodge pickup truck. I left Denver headed to San Diego and up coastal route 1 to Vancouver, Canada. While on the road, I loved to tell people about my road trip driving route 1. However, I felt embarrassed to say I was sleeping in the back of my pickup truck.

Personally, I always enjoyed my new adventurous life. The mornings when I woke up to beautiful vistas and sunrises were incredible. But I was still hesitant to describe the rougher aspects of living on the road, like peeing in a bottle or washing up in a mountain stream or wearing the same clothes for days on end.

After two years of vanlife, I have gotten rid of my head trash and I have no shame when I don’t conform to society’s norms. I am part of the movement to live simply – be it the vanlife movement, the tiny home movement, or the energy efficiency movement. They all tie back to the same underlying principle – living simply.

I now confidently tell people that I am a digital nomad traveling the US in my converted Sprinter van.

Now when I tell people I am living in my Sprinter van, I see faces light up. I inspire them. There is no more shame or embarrassment, only good feelings and freedom.

I have met others who are living this dream and I will share my stories, trials, and triumphs.

My mission is to connect current vanlifers, share my love of research and knowledge and bring more people into the community.