HOW DID I GET HERE?
The last time I lived in LA was nearly 20 years ago, before I’d hit puberty. I’ve missed my home and carried it with me ever since. Christmas 2017, I moved in with my grandparents with the intention to save for an investment, whether that was for property or a commercial space. At that time, I really didnt have a clear vision. When June 2018 rolled around, the tiny living movement showed up on my radar and I was instantly hooked. After a few sleepless nights of YouTube videos exploring less than 300sq foot spaces, I fell down the rabbit hole of #VanLife. To say that I was obsessed is being modest. I watched EVERY SINGLE video about vehicle dwelling I could find. After a month and a hundred hours of research, I was seriously questioning my sanity. Did I really want to live in a van?
Then the universe stepped in and sent me sign after sign. It was pushing me. I felt it. When I decided I was becoming a flight attendant, I felt it. When I decided I was going to start my own photography LLC, I felt it. When I decided to study art instead of psychology, it was the same physical jolt pushing me in the direction of my passion! This was a GO! But I knew I needed to research more, devise a plan, structure a budget and have solid reasons why this was a feasible idea. I also knew I had to explain this to my family. As free as I am, I still have to answer to the people that love me and created me. Whether I agree with them or not, they are my tribe, my support system.
HERE IS MY ‘WHY’
During this last year of full-time residence in LA, I’ve realized how California’s wide wealth gap is severely painful whether you choose to acknowledge it or to ignore it. And it’s not just California, the entire liberal freak-flag-waving west coast has a high cost of living. Almost no one lives alone in LA. Either people have roommates, cohabitate with a significant other or “oooo, they got money.” The only other option is homelessness and it is everywhere you turn. Most of the pilots I fly with are European and they are very shocked to see “how America treats its own citizens.” During my year of commitment to living in the van, I’m looking to explore if that lifestyle is sustainable and what it will actually save me in living costs. Long-term, I want sustainability to be apart of my passions and this is me hitting the ground running.
It was also becoming very apparent that if I wanted to continue to live in Los Angeles without a roommate and not on the outskirts two hours away, I’d have to think outside the box. I hadnt lived alone since I was 22 years old and I missed the peace, privacy and simplicity. As much I love being social, my introverted spirit yearns to recharge in occasional solitude. In recent years, I have actually enjoyed living with my family and as many as 10 people at one time, affording me to pay little to no rent and solo travel up to 6 times a year. As with being a flight attendant, living life on the road can get very lonely, but the immersion in nature and simple living a la Henry David Thoreau will be a welcomed long overdue change.
What I really enjoyed about flying with a domestic U.S. airline was the opportunity to spontaneously hop on any flight with any U.S. airline and arrive hours later in almost any city in the world. As long as there was an unsold seat, I had the chance to explore a new environment or visit a familiar face with only a moment’s notice. Now I fly for a foreign airline. This allows to me to solely work internationally, fly far less for similar pay and enjoy more time at home. No more layovers in Lubbuck, TX. No more flying 5 flights a day in 30+ year old aircrafts. Paris, Rome, Copenhagen, and Barcelona are becoming my backyard, but I had to trade in my domestic U.S. travel privileges. That meant less spontaneity and less opportunity to fly within my home country. Some of my favorite places exist in the Western Hemisphere, i.e. Latin America and the Pacific Coast. Watching Van Lifers in Europe make the journey from Spain to Portugal and down to Africa inspires me to pursue adventures from Vancouver to Mexico and down to Panama.
What I love most about being a flight attendant is the sense of community it comes with. My foreign airline is very young and vibrant which makes me feel even more connected to my crew. All cabin crews seem to have an unspoken rule for passengers, “be kind and considerate of others, and we will do everything we can for your comfort.” That is to say, we will go completely above and beyond for those that give up their aisle seat for the old woman with reduced mobility, or the person that walks on the aircraft with smiles for the flight crew. This unspoken rule goes even deeper with our fellow crew members, whether we have flown with them before or not, we take care of each other. While I’ve yet to find the magical bulletin board for Van Life events, @TheVanLifeApp on Instagram does a really good job of connecting vehicle dwellers. There are dozens of meetups a year throughout the Pacific Coast, from volunteer van build parties to massive bonfires in the desert. Van Lifers in Denver and Toronto have already reached out to me with encouragement of my journey towards this alternative lifestyle, giving me the idea that I will be apart of something very unique.
The optics of what it means to live out of your car are not lost on me. Safety precautions must also be taken seriously. I’m diving whole-heartedly into this experience by saving thousands for the vehicle, researching the entire process of self-building sustainably and completely downsizing all of my possessions. It may seem like a big step. I’ve never even gone camping before, but in hindsight, I’ve been a nomad almost all my life. This is just another adventure.
Thanks for joining me 😘