It's a dream for many people to travel around and see the world -- or at least, some of the hidden gems of their own home country. With many people using new tech to allow them to work remotely, more and more people are easing into a digital nomad lifestyle, but the combination of working and traveling can look very different from person to person. While some may engage in some slow travelling around the world, joining coworking communities as they go, others may convert a vehicle into a full-time home-on-wheels, and work while on the road.
That's what travel blogger and professional outdoor enthusiast Kristen Bor of Bearfoot Theory has chosen to do. After quitting her job to follow her passion for the great outdoors, the former Washington, D.C. environmental policy advocate decided she wanted to be more mobile, and opted to convert a 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 van into a place she could call home, while travelling the country, writing about her experiences and guiding outdoor group tours. Here's a tour of her home:
Bor says that she chose this particular type of van for its reliability and its ample headroom -- inside, there's more than six feet of clearance, allowing her to stand up and walk around without much trouble. Compared to other camper vans, the Sprinter gets pretty decent gas mileage, and Bor's vehicle has the added advantage of all-terrain tires, which enable her to drive in icy conditions.
Inside, the van has been completely transformed: Bor wanted to be able to maintain a flow through the space, so a main walkway was put right down the middle of the vehicle. On one side of the walkway sits a convertible couch, which can slide out and down, creating a bed. It's a pretty ingenious design, featuring a triple-fold hinged contraption that looks compact but can actually unfold to create a queen-sized surface for a bed, using memory foam pieces. Bor has also put up a video showing how it works:
During the day, the bed pushes back into a couch, and Bor can use an RV-style type of table to work on.
Past the working/sleeping space lies the galley kitchen, equipped with a two-burner propane stove and an Isotherm refrigerator. The drawer knobs have the added benefit of locking up when you press on them, ensuring that their contents won't go flying around when the van is in motion. Extra storage sits in cabinets, under the couch-bed and in the overhead compartments. For ventilation, the van has a double-function fan: it can either suck air in or out of the van, depending on what is needed (fresh air or venting out cooking odors).
On the other side of the kitchen lies a hidden compartment with a shower and a removable port-a-potty -- a pretty brilliant design that manages to incorporate some of the big comforts of a regular home, considering the small space available in the van. Bor made sure to include an extra long hose for the shower head, permitting her to hose off gear outside the van. While the shower is not in use, there are hooks inside to hang extra gear.
The van's off-grid capabilities include being powered by two solar panels on the roof, giving a total of 325 watts, plus a 400 Ah battery, giving Bor the ability to stay off-grid for four to five days at a time.
It's worth saying that living in a van -- even if it's been completely tricked-out inside -- is not for everybody. Little (big) things, like constantly having to find good places to park for the night, cold weather, the cost of gas, or not having access to a bathroom (not an issue in this particular conversion though) can be a deal-breaker for most people. But like everything else in life, it's a trade-off, and for people who love to travel and enjoy the wilder places, it's an option to consider. To see more, visit Bearfoot Theory, join Kristen for one of her guided group tours or check out her Instagram on converted vans.