Ben Landheer, 29, and his wife Malory, 25, wanted a lifestyle with a slower pace.
Having met at the church they both attended, the couple worked in a ministry, where Ben was a guest experience director and Malory was a missionary.
But in their spare time, the pair loved nothing more than hiking, travelling, and spending time with family member dotted around the United States.
So they decided to take drastic action.
In February 2020, Ben and Malory sold their house and saved $60,000 so they could move into a van and go wherever they fancied.
They bought a 2017 Ford Transit T350 can for $25,500 and set about transforming it into their home on wheels.
The DIY project took four and a half months and $13,500, and required the couple doing new plumbing and electrics and fitting all the cabinets, using YouTube videos for guidance.
‘We did the build 100% by ourselves with no outside help,’ said Ben.
‘We installed and built it all, including the windows, solar, plumbing, cabinets and electrical. We simply followed other build videos and referred back to a little high school woodwork training.
‘Space and storage were everything for us. We never wanted to feel cramped and claustrophobic.’
Once that was ready, the pair quit their jobs.
To earn money, they got in touch with a CEO of an insurance adjusting company, who agreed to pay them monthly in exchange for them having the logo of his company on the van. Malory also does some remote work from her previous job while on the road.
On March 23, 2021, they set off from their former home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and travelled down the West Coast.
Currently located in San Diego, California, the couple say that van life has saved them from stress and anxiety, and allowed them to focus on what really matters.
They also believe this dramatic life change has made their relationship much stronger.
Ben said: ‘On certain days, it can get hard, but we know how to give each other space.
‘More than anything it has helped us get to know each other better and on a much deeper level.
‘But at the end of it all, we get to experience new places and people with our life partner – what more could you ask for?
‘We have no direct travel path. We choose from day to day where we want to go. That is the freedom this life gives you.
‘Typically, we wake up, make breakfast, see if we need to empty water, pick up food, get in the sun to charge solar, then we decide where we want to go next and explore that area.
‘We find Wi-Fi if we need to and we stop and shower at a Planet Fitness if need be, but other than that it changes from day-to-day.
‘The biggest thing we’ve learnt and benefitted from is pace.. Learning to slow life down is so good.
‘Anxiety levels and stress go from a nine to a one.
‘You learn to focus on what really matters in life. The little things. Loving people. Experiencing each day fully – and spending a lot more time in nature.’
The couple’s favourite place they’ve visited so far has been Flagstaff, Arizona, because it is in between the Grand Canyon and Sedona.
They are currently travelling along the coast of California and after that intend on driving throughout the country, stopping off at all of the national parks on the way.
Ben and Malory share their adventures on Instagram under the handle @vanheeradventures.
To others considering packing it all in and moving into a van. Malory has some simple advice: ‘If you want to do this life – jump off the deep end, save up the money, make the arrangement, create some benchmarks for yourself and make it happen.
‘All of a sudden this crazy dream won’t seem too far away.’
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