Married Couple Leave Suburbia for a Converted Sprinter Van

Hi, I’m Emily and I’m Joe and we’re Permanent Road Trip. Prior to moving into this van Joe spent 20
plus years pretty much in corporate finance and I spent about the same
amount of time in nonprofit. After 20-some years we were each at pretty
senior positions at our organizations so when we made the decision to make this
huge change it was not just like kind of winding down jobs, but you know we sold a house. We sold a large majority of our stuff.
Every chance we got we were getting out of town to go do something. Go ski or go mountain biking, go paddling. We were probably camping in a town about 100 nights a year. It just makes since. We just thought, “why
not do it full-time?” You know we thought well we don’t want to take that tent up and down every night so finally we decided we would do it. We
looked for a couple years. We had a couple of them that we just missed. We
finally found one. We spent about six months rehabbing it and turning it into a
really cool little house and we’ve been living in it for about seven months now. We made a concerted effort for probably seven or eight years and it seemed like you know if there’s a time to do something with kind of an open-ended plan. We saved, we put
everything in place to be able to do that. It’s just time to pull the trigger. So we finally found this van. It was in
South Bend, Indiana. It had been used by an audio-visual company to run speakers
and sound equipment back and forth from South Bend to Chicago. It had 25,000 miles on it when we got it. One of the first things we did was we put these
all-terrain tires on. They have been incredibly helpful. We skied all winter
no issues whatsoever. We did buy some Thule chains. We put them on once but
really just to figure out whether or not we could do it, really didn’t need it.
These tires and the weight of the vehicle was plenty for all winter. One of
the things we did was taking that bench seat out. That was a little bit more
complicated than you might imagine. When you take a bench seat out you have to buy
the pedestal. You don’t have to but you’re going to want to swivel for sure.
And then the seat and we got a sprint ride seat which is awesome. It’s got
about three inches of travel. There’s an air compressor built right into it.
Continuing down this is our sink and we’ve got a lot of stuff jammed in the
sink. We’ve got our propane tank which is a six pound cylinder. It’s about eight
inches in diameter. That lasts us about two months and we cook almost every meal on this camp stove. It’s so fantastic. We never have to have the green bottles. We don’t have to pay for them. We don’t have to put them in the landfill. Definitely
do one of these. People scare you about propane. Propane is super safe especially
if you’re only powering things that you’re turning on and off. Maybe a
different story if you’re powering a refrigerator or something 24/7 but the
propane tank has a hand valve as well as a check valve. Secure it properly, you’re
going to be fine. And we do take showers here using this Eccotemp shower. This is
a very nice solution. If you’re willing to put in the propane. It’s really nice
to be able to come out take a shower anytime you want as long as you can find
a private place. Super easy solution for hot water If
it’s raining or if it’s wintertime and we’re in the mountains we have another
surface up here we can put it on. We have our gray water discharge so if you look
down here we have a little hatch. All we do is open this hatch pull the gray
water out and discharge it into an appropriate
place. Here we have our furnace put in underneath the passenger seat. That is an auxiliary valve straight from the diesel tank that powers the furnace. It takes
about a half a gallon of diesel for 24 hours to keep the van nice and toasty
all winter long. We have incredible insulation. We insulated the floor, the
ceiling, the walls. We insulated the cab. We noticed on one of our first trip some
of the places had an amber light and we realized that was because it doesn’t draw
bugs so we wanted to put an amber light out here in front of the van for when we’re sitting outside. Doesn’t seem to draw bugs, which is awesome. That’s what we
were going for, but it doesn’t really give enough light to cook on so
sometimes you have to pull the headlamp out. The guys that helped me with the
carpentry here did just a phenomenal job building this stuff out. We cut this big
hole in the ceiling and put the fantastic fan vent in. That’s awesome
because it pulls air in or out which is great because you can control how you’re
ventilating which is really really important in the winter when it’s cold.
When it’s freezing cold you want that thing to just pull in enough air to
offset the hot air rising out and that will keep your condensation down. It’ll
keep your van from molding. That works really really well in tandem with this
CR Laurence vented window. That is super helpful in terms of keeping the dog
comfortable whether it’s hot or cold. So we are standing in our kitchen
which we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about where we wanted everything
arranged and what we’ve ended up with works really well for our needs. And we
have our sink here. This is just a regular bar sink. It’s maybe a little bit
bigger than what you might see in some other vans so that is nice to have. And then we have our little medicine cabinet. And then our bed is a full-size bed and you might notice we have a little, we call it a bolster, it’s actually like the last eight to nine inches of the bed. We cut the end off of the bed and then just made a little like pillow out of it basically so it doubles as sitting up against
something soft when you might be sitting in bed reading, but then also at night we
can extend it across here and it makes the full-size bed. Our bed is set and Joe
will go into probably more details lower than most vans meaning from the ground
and ours is just 31. We may be, if doing it over, would have raised it another
couple of inches maybe set it at 33 or 34. These cabinets right here we have
four cabinets. All seasons, everything is in these cabinets. I negotiated two and a
half and Joe has one and a half and still has room to share there. This
mountain scene is actually cut by a friend of ours in Cincinnati who has her own shop. Cut by laser, has a good smoky smell still to it seven months in. Here we have two kind of doors. You do have access to these cabinets from both inside and outside. When we have Ushi’s little perch
down as a bed then it’s nice that we have the second door because we can easily get
everything we need to cook out of the bottom cabinets there. But what’s great
about the her perch is it doubles as her bed, a stepping stool for us to get in, it’s
a storage bin as well and when we drive this thing goes on its end and it slides right in between the driver and the passenger seat. Here we have two appliances that we thought at the time we’re essential. We thought for sure we
would be going to a campground and catching up on laundry and maybe a pool
and showers and all that good stuff, that we’d plug in once a week. It turns out
that’s not what we’ve done at all. I think we’ve plugged in three times and
we’ve been on the road seven months so these are nice to haves, but certainly
not necessary. Both of these we cannot power with the solar that we have. We have dedicated circuits so only when we plug in can we use these. Just below here is our fridge. This is super nice. It’s four and a half cubic feet. That is not bad at all. It feels roomy all the time. And then above the cabin seats we had
this overhead compartment. We use that to stuff our window shades and blinds.
This is the spot where all of our recreation gear is. We didn’t really want
to have a whole bunch of stuff hanging off the van. We do have a few solar
panels up top and we have the fan vent but they’re pretty discreet and that was
important to us. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t look like a camper. We
have 300 watts of solar on the roof. We have two six volt 250 amp hour batteries. They’re AGMs. Have a 2200 amp alternator so if we’re driving we definitely have a
lot more energy than we need. All of our stuff can easily fit right underneath the bed. Even though, as Emily mentioned, we went 31 inches from the bottom of the floor up to our bed platform which is much
lower than most people go and the reason why that is a constraint is that we’re
on 26 inch rims and you can see we are just about maxed out. So if we ever
decide to go to 27.5 it might be a little tight trying to get them in
there, but we were able to get both of our bikes, our helmets, our shoes, our water bottles, everything that you can need for biking on that one drawer. That’s a
big part of what we do so that’s why we dedicated so much space. Getting into our water we have a 25 gallon freshwater tank that is pretty easy to fill. Just
pull this off, open the valve, open the vent and fill from this side. That goes
straight to our sink. We’ve got a sure flow water pump that will pump five and
a half gallons per minute. Got a seven gallon gray water tank. Ventilation is
one of the most important things in vans and if you don’t vent that gray water
tank you’re going to pop your seal. We were smart enough, or at least the guys
that helped me build this we’re smart enough, to tell me that I needed at least
one drawer that opened this way. So probably my favorite thing about this
van is the double doors. We have access to our food pantry from both sides of
the van which makes it so much easier at a grocery store. We can vent our refrigerator. We have storage for shoes. It’s just awesome. Oh I used to go out to eat four or five nights a week and just by making like a
minor change there you know maybe it’s once a week just those little minor
things that you can do is unbelievable how quickly things can just allow you to save. So seven or eight years that we really knew we were saving for something. We were very intentional about it. Would I rather spend 40 or 50 bucks or would I
rather have 40 or 50 bucks next year when I’m on the road so that I can
extend this experience longer? And we did that for a really long time and we got
so good at it we started making a game out of it. Buying the Amazon gift cards at the grocery store that would give me points
for fuel and I would use my credit cards so I could get extra you know percent off
and you start pulling all those things out next thing you know you start to
save a lot of money and it’s going to make your experience a whole lot more
fun. Focus on what it is that’s important to you. You know I see a lot of guys just kind of going with the flow doing whatever and I think if you live more
deliberately and say, “this is what’s important to me, this is where I’m gonna
spend my time, my resources, my money, and if I want to get to this place and do
something like this the best way to do it is just to take all that other stuff
out.” Don’t spend your time on it and spend your time getting to that place
you want to get to. That’s what I’d recommend.

About the author


  1. Thanks for this one! Several good ideas taken for my build coming soon! And also i agree: editing, sound etc was really well done. Great music too

  2. Love that most of these people have pets. We don't go anywhere without our furbabies. Just found your channel & am binge watching all the videos.

  3. Really great build! Congrats on your lifestyle change Joe and Emilie! I'm not quite there yet, nor do I have the best vehicle to live in full time. Life is getting in the way at the moment but at least I can do weekend warrior stuff. I do want to see Vancouver Island, so now that I am retired, I am hoping to do some vanning. ๐Ÿ™‚ Really lovely home on wheels~ love the "bedroom" and the closet doors. I love that you have a dog too. I have dogs as well. Really great build.

  4. "Live deliberately". Great take away. Been collecting build vids for a year now and yours is number one. Turning sixty nine next month and I just bought a new MB 4×4 cargo Van. I'm now starting the build so I can take my own permanent road trip for as long as this body holds out. Thanks for the inspiration. Keeping the house as a back up plan and renting it out so I can have some passive income while on the road. SS will help as well. Can't say I'm escaping the corporate world as I've had my own photography business my entire life but a job is still a job. Now I can shoot what I want to instead of what my clients want. Perhaps our paths will cross on the road one of these days. Thanks guys.

  5. ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐št! ๐ˆ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ง๐š๐ฅ๐ฅy ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐๐ซ๐ž๐šm ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ, ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐๐ง'๐ญ ๐›๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ง๐ž๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ค ๐ฌ๐š๐ฏ๐ž๐ ๐ฆ๐ž [๐‚๐ก๐ž๐œ๐ค ๐ƒ๐ž๐ญ๐š๐ข๐ฅ๐ฌ ๐‡๐ž๐ซ๐ž? > ]. ๐“๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ˆ'๐ฏ๐ž ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐š๐œ๐ซ๐จ๐ฌ๐ฌ. ๐“๐ก๐š๐งk ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐œ๐ก ๐‘๐ฒ๐š๐ง!ย  5099

  6. THANK YOU!!!!! I kinda wanted to go to van life after college but watching your videos had made me want to do it 10000x more!! You are the GOAT and probably the reason I'll end up living in a van or a tiny house someday !! :)))

  7. My question is how they work with bathrooms.i want to have a very mobile life because i hate staying in one place for long and love mountain biking.

  8. I looked through the build list but didn't see this… What type of wood is on the ceiling and did you just coat it with polyurethane? I love the look of it!

  9. I am OBSESSED with all of your videos. I always wonder- do all of these people have health insurance? How does that work? Thanks!!

  10. Where is the toilet? You can't call it a house if you don't have a place to crap. How can you live in a place without a toilet?

  11. Hi
    I must say my first thought when I saw the Mercedes van, was this was another video from a privileged couple, but then I watched further & saw the clips from you guys actually doing stuff & quite well too I must add, so I had to give credit due where credit is due. To get where you are in the video required a fair commitment to the lifestyle you are depicting.
    I think that I can see you guys are the real deal & I applaud what you are doing.

  12. Add a casette toilet, and I'm in!…
    NOT going 2 look 4 a restroom 1st thing in the AM, or after dark, in the rain or when I'm not feeling good or have a migraine! Everything is so nice and professional….would have 2 have hanging space too 4 @ least a few pretty dresses ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. ะšั€ัƒั‚ะฐั ั‚ะตะผะฐ. ะฏ ัƒะถะต ะดัƒะผะฐะป ะฝะฐะด ั‚ะฐะบะธะผ ะดะพะผะพะผ ะฝะฐ ะบะพะปั‘ัะฐั…. ะะฐะฟั€ะธะผะตั€ ะฝะฐ ะฑะฐะทะต Volkswagen Caravelle ะธะปะธ Transporter. ะ—ะฐะณั€ัƒะทะธะปัั ะธ ะฟะพะตั…ะฐะป ะฝะฐ ั€ะฐะฑะพั‚ัƒ) ะ–ะธะฒั‘ัˆัŒ ะฒ ัะฒะพั‘ะผ ะดะพะผะต, ะฐ ะฝะต ะฒ ะฒะฐะณะพะฝั‡ะธะบะต ั ะดั€ัƒะณะธะผะธ ัั‚ั€ะพะธั‚ะตะปัะผะธ, ั‡ั‚ะพ ะฑั‹ ะฝะพัะบะฐะผะธ ั‡ัƒะถะธะผะธ ะฝะต ะฒะพะฝัะปะพ) ะ˜ ะฒะตั‰ะตะน ะฑะตั€ั‘ัˆัŒ ัะบะพะปัŒะบะพ ั…ะพั‡ะตัˆัŒ, ะฐ ะฝะต ัะบะพะปัŒะบะพ ะฒ ััƒะผะบัƒ ะฒะปะตะทะตั‚.

  14. One person that is rich commented on this video and don't work anything on that video but they comment on the rich person's comment


    One person commented was giving thanks to them for using his song but they don't care about that

    They are bad couple
    Too choosy

  15. From one Ohioan to another, thank you for sharing this video. We recognize all the hard work that was put into building the van as well as producing the video to show it!!! Sincere thanks. Safe travels to you.

  16. Married Couple Leave Established Life in Suburbia for a Life on the Road in Converted Sprinter Van And A Few Millions In The Bank So They can Live Like This….

  17. Dude. Just binged like 6 hours on your vids. Beautiful. You cinematography and story telling skills are superb. Portland, Oregon. D๐Ÿคฉ

  18. "If you live more deliberately and say 'this is what's important to me, this is where I'm going to spend my time, my resources, my money' – if you want to get to this place and do something like this the best way to do it is to take all that other stuff out. Don't spend your time on it – get to that place you want to get to – that's what I recommend."
    Words hit home.

  19. I usually watch theses things and end up hating on the hipster van life instagram crowd but these two seem genuine and that bit about saving at the end was great

  20. The laser cut mountain scene on the wall really makes the van stand out and truly personal and home-like.

  21. Tip for Viewers: Turn off sound. Background noise cuts into voice. No point.
    Van build was superb guys, well done! Enjoyed the tour. Good photography Dylan, but pleeeeese stop the noise!

  22. Watching these van conversions I wondered why do people not buy a truck and camper? I love my truck camper, has everything in it. Load up and go, rugged and compact enough to go up logging roads but more roomy than a van.

  23. Guys that's absolutely wonderful you have a very very beautiful van build enjoy life and save money what else can you ask for love you guys and check out a book on Amazon keeping up with the Wofford

  24. Where was this video taken?? Location. I tried to open up & read some comments to find out but the comments won't open for me. Thanks!

  25. @Florb…..Just found your channel…Wonderful content…Subbed, and liked. I look forward to more of your content. Have a great day!!!

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