Quitting the nine-to-five grind, selling your belongings and hitting the dusty trail—we've all dreamt of it. One family of four took the leap and made their dream a reality, and they're doing it in only 86 square feet.
The Rosene family—husband and wife Travis and Lexi, along with their kids Finley and Zealand—are living full-time in a 2017 Mercedes Sprinter 3500 that they transformed into a home on wheels.
"We had always talked about our dream to sell everything we own and hit the road full-time to give our kids a childhood that they will never forget," says Travis. "It was perfect timing."
The foursome is based out of California's Carlsbad and Temecula areas, so Travis can work doing marketing a few days a week, and they then spend around 70 percent of the time on the road.
Currently the Rosene family is saving up to live on the road full-time for a year. Their goal is to untether and set sail in early spring 2019, taking the kids on a transcontinental journey to visit most of the 50 states. From California, they plan on heading eastbound, up the Atlantic coast to Maine, where they will then make their way back west, stopping to visit family in the Midwest, and then taking a detour to Alaska.
In February the Rosenes made the big decision to leave their current lifestyle behind. "It was an overnight decision," says Travis. "That's how we do a lot of things." They sold their house in Northern California, closed their landscape construction business, parted with most of their belongings, and moved to Southern California to live with relatives while they transformed the former delivery van into a their new home.
It took the couple around six months to sell all of their possessions, with the funds going towards fixing up the van. At first parting with their belongings was difficult. "We had things that were really hard to see go," says Travis, of beautiful furnishings and nostalgic items. The couple kept a few sentimental things. "Over time it got easier for us," he adds.
What the couple thought was going to be a four-month-long van conversion project turned out to take eight months. Although Travis is handy, he had never converted a van before, and was navigating new DIY waters.
"With kids, usually you have one set of hands, and the other set of hands are wrangling kids," says Travis. "A lot of the conversion happened after 5." After putting the kids to bed at 7 p.m., the couple would stay up until past midnight working on the van. "We were extremely tired, but we knew it wold be worth it," Lexi adds.
In their van, the family has traveled across Utah, throughout Arizona, and recently they visited the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. "And since we are beach people, we are all over California," says Travis.
The home on wheels includes all the comforts of a house—two separate sleeping areas with beds that fold out (one for mom and dad, and the other for the kiddos), an eight-foot-long kitchen with high-end appliances like an oven, outside storage for gear, a bathroom with a compost toilet, outdoor shower, and plenty of overhead and underneath storage inside.
Embracing the couple's love for Scandinavian design and minimalism, the interior is white and airy with natural wood elements and clean lines. The neutral color scheme also allows the interior to seem more spacious than just 86 square feet.
Life does get claustrophobic on the road, but fortunately nature is right outside. "The kids are happiest outside," says Lexi. "We live outside pretty much and we sleep and make food in the van. We aren't just sitting in 80 square feet. We are always outside."
While it sounds charming, Travis and Lexi are both quick to say van life isn't easy. It comes with its daily challenges, and issues constantly pop up down the road.
"When it comes to living in a van, be very patient and don't expect it to be easy. You've lived in a house your entire life and you are used to space," says Travis. "You are used to being able to do things away from other people and you don't have that luxury. And with kids, it's amplified. There is really no personal time."
Despite the hardships though, the couple feels like their new lifestyle is rewarding.
"The experiences we've had make it so worth it. We are always so satisfied when we get back from being out there, and intentionally being together as a family. This is the reason we are doing this," says Travis. "It makes you appreciate and realize, 'I don't need to keep up with the Joneses to be happy.'"
Thanks Travis and Lexi!