Nurse Quits Job to Travel in a Beautiful Van Conversion with Partner and Cat

The pandemic inspired Alissa and Cody to rethink their lives and hit the road.

Vansteaders van conversion interior

Tiny Home Tours

The global COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer for everyone all over the world. It's shifted perspectives on the way we work, the way we shop and dress, and it's prompted many of us to take on new and interesting hobbies that feed our souls.

Others have found that the pandemic provided them with more than enough reason to finally go on that long road trip. For self-proclaimed Vansteaders Alissa and Cody, the pandemic was a pivot point in their lives, compelling them to rethink their stressful lifestyle, and finally take a chance to realize their dream of building out their own van home, and hitting the road. We get a tour of their delightful living space via Tiny Home Tours:

Alissa, who formerly worked as a nurse in New York City at the beginning of the pandemic, stayed in her job in order to help her co-workers at the hospital. Cody, on the other hand, was working as a design engineer for security systems. The two had plans to move to Arizona, but those were put on hold when the pandemic hit. Alissa continued to work, while Cody quit his job and took on the van as a "passion project" to keep him occupied. Ultimately, they were finally able to convert their Sprinter van into a comfortable home of their own, which they have nicknamed Serenity. They are now traveling around the country, visiting various national parks and towns, while planning out their next move.

In the meanwhile, they are enjoying their well-designed van home. The van is powered by 550 watts of solar power, combined with five lithium batteries, and a battery-to-battery charger, which allows them to charge their batteries while they drive, using their vehicle’s alternator. They chose marine-grade wiring, which is more expensive, but much more durable. The couple uses this system to power things like their stove, fans, hot water heater, and WiFi connection and booster. Since there is no propane in their van, the couple uses a diesel heater instead.

Vansteaders van conversion exterior

Tiny Home Tours

When first entering the van, we come into the kitchen area, which has been split up into two sections. Here we find wooden countertops, a large sink with pull-down faucet, an electric induction stove, and a huge window with a view.

Vansteaders van conversion kitchen

Tiny Home Tours

The couple's van has been carefully designed and even reworked in a few places to better suit their needs as they became more used to life on the road. For instance, their kitchen has a number of improvements that they made over time. The cabinet shelving under the counters used to be stationary, but the couple wanted a more efficient set-up, so they modified them into pull-out shelves.

The cabinet at the van's entrance also has a table that folds up, which Cody uses for working remotely. There is also a hole here for their cat, Timmy, to enter through into the enclosed litter box space that has been built into the cabinet.

Vansteaders van conversion fold up table and litter box

Tiny Home Tours

The couple has yet another interesting feature: a ceiling-hung hammock that acts as their guest bed!

Vansteaders van conversion hammock

Tiny Home Tours

Next up is the sitting area, which has two upholstered multifunctional benches facing each other.

Vansteaders van conversion benches

Tiny Home Tours

On one side, the longer bench hides the dual-function fridge and freezer chest.

Vansteaders van conversion freezer fridge chest

Tiny Home Tours

The other bench hides the van's composting toilet, which the couple chose because smells are greatly reduced.

Vansteaders van conversion composting toilet

Tiny Home Tours

There is also a convenient, built-in cubby here that they use to hold and charge their various devices while driving.

Vansteaders van conversion charging station

Tiny Home Tours

The rear of the van is where the couple has their full-sized bed, which has been oriented to fit Cody's tall height. On either side, there are integrated nooks to hold books and other items, while on one side, there are overhead cabinets to store clothing.

Vansteaders van conversion bed

Tiny Home Tours

The van has also been designed with the comfort of their cat in mind. There are two ceiling air fans, as well as two swivel fans that automatically turn on or off when the temperature reaches a certain level inside.

All told, the couple say that they spent about $60,000 on the entire van build, including the van, materials, power tools, fixtures, appliances, and various systems. Now, the couple continues to travel, while Cody works remotely full-time, and Alissa plans to work as a nurse on a travel contract in the future. To follow their journey, check out their Instagram and their photography website.