Our Escape Routes: From MiniVan to Sailboat

Throughout our 6 years together, Jas and I have tried many different Escape Routes. We have tried camping, hiking, canoeing, backpacking, biking, homesteading, couch surfing, van dwelling and sailing. From our experience, we have found van dwelling and sailing to be the most sustainable for us. After hiking and backpacking we grew exhausted after a few months. We never felt quite at home. The van and sailboat both allowed us to feel a sense of safety and coziness. We were in our own little pod, where we could be ourselves and we felt a sense of peace.

After trying a variety of Escape Routes, we stuck to van dwelling for a couple years, and then the ultimate dream came true, we moved aboard a sailboat. Remember, every dream has sacrifices and steps that must be taken to make them come true. 

Why the Minivan?

The Scottish Highlands Inspire Escape, but not through the stones!

It’s been 3 years since we purchased “Vanny” our Honda Odyssey mini-van, so much more than a van! The family we had purchase her from called her “Vanny” so we decided it only right to keep the name. We moved out of our apartment, sold what we could and decided to move aboard our tiny road ship. Some said we were crazy, others were intrigued, and we were determined to make it a reality. We started full time van dwelling after travelling around in Scotland in 2015, living in a small rental car.

Living in “Vanny” has been an unforgettable experience. We have learned so much from living in such a little space. We now know simple tricks to save money, and things we thought we needed are no longer important to us. Living in a minivan gave us the comfort of living the van life, but at the same time functioning as a car and being extremely stealthy with low gas mileage. We now live on a 29 ft sailboat, but we couldn’t have done it without our time living in our little van. 

Ever since Jas and I met, we wanted to live in a tiny house, well Jas wanted to live in a cardboard box, but I needed a bit more room than that. After leaving our small apartment, we lived out of a car travelling back and forth from friends apartments to family homes, we couldn’t have made the transition without the help of our family and friends and we are eternally grateful! After living in Ontario and Quebec our entire lives we decided to shake things up a bit! We hopped on a plane, and lived out of a rental car in the Scottish Highlands.

Even before Outlander, I had always longed to travel to the mysterious glens, castle ruins and the misty mountains tops of the highlands. The ancient magical haunting was calling. Living out of a small rental car was honestly one of the greatest ways to travel the highlands. We were able to park, and hike up into the mountains, or park beside the ocean and watch the sun fade behind the castles. It was a tight fit at night, but when we returned to Canada we realized that a minivan would be large enough for the both of us. Even Jas who is 6 ft. 4”.

Our Van Dwelling Time!

After purchasing our Honda Odyssey in 2016, and outfitting her with a 100 watt solar panel, we were lucky enough to travel through the wilderness of  Ontario and Quebec during the warm summer months, and then down to Florida for the winter. There we lived on the beach everyday, and slept on a quiet residential street at night where we were lulled to sleep by the waves, and yes, there were a few Wal-Mart parking lots along the way.

Unlike many RV’s and trailers, Vanny isn’t so much a house on wheels, but a stealth pod with a few necessities built in. The minivan allows us to spend most of our time outside exploring because she is first and foremost a bed. In Vanny we spent more time outside in the world, engaging with communities and the environment rather than being trapped indoors in a large house with too many rooms. Yet, when we wanted, we could snuggle up in Vanny, watch a movie, and we felt  at home wherever we were. Check out tips on how to live in a minivan! 

Though Vanny was and still is an excellent stealth mobile and could take us almost anywhere, we found that we had to stay close to urban centres in which to stock up on resources, and to utilize coffee shops for online work and rest stops during the day. This meant that we found ourselves living in the exact situation that most van dwellers seek to escape from, dun dun dun… Suburbia. Suburbia was designed for cars, and therefore, it has all the amenities that Vanny needed. When you live in a van, or nomadic dwelling, and important key is the “Travelling Triangle.” Where are you going to sleep? Where will you shower and go to the washroom? And. Where will you find high speed Wi-Fi? Check out our article on how to find your “Travelling Triangle.” 

Whilst van dwelling in Florida we found that it is first and foremost a car state, one with little natural splendor, except by the roar of the waves on either ocean side, Everglades and a few State parks. But lucky for us, we managed to escape the endless suburbia from time to time to dwell by the ocean. We found a beach cafe with excellent wi-fi, unlimited coffee, a huge parking lot for all types of van dwellers and a grocery, hardware, and drug stores less than a 5 minute walk away. Yes, it was the ultimate paradise. 

The only thing missing was a social life. I had my partner, but we would spend every single waking moment together, and eventually we would run out of things to talk about, besides he is more of the technological, brainy type, and I am more of the eccentric, spiritually inclined artist. My sister is my creative twin, and I felt she had to be there to somehow. But how? Vanny was too small for 3. It was time to take the nomadic dream to the next level. The sailboat. Here, we put our minds together, sold our things, reduced our responsibilities and manifested life on the water. Within a few months we were deciding which sailboat would become our home. Note: Sailboats are a great way to create your own travelling triangle! Often they will be outfitted with solar, toilet, kitchen, wi-fi, sleeping quarters and more. They are literally a tiny home on the water! If you are interested in sailing as an Escape Route, check out the article “The Reality of Buying A Sailboat!

Van Dwelling to Sailing!

We took sailing lessons in June 2017, in the hopes that we would be able to buy a sailboat, outfit it and learn enough so we could travel down south again for the coming winter. Yikes. And yet, we wanted to ensure that this dream was sustainable and would not become doomed within the first month. So, we spent those summer months taking the necessary steps to achieve this dream, and live it to the fullest, by being as prepared as possible. Check out our article on how we went form living in a van to sailing full time in one summer! 

So the change was set into motion. After 17 years, my parents were finally selling the childhood home. They were inspired by our ability to live wherever and with much less. Living the nomadic life may not be for everyone, but it is a great opportunity to experience living with less. We now have less things and responsibilities taking up our space and time. Our parents purchased a truck and customized a cargo trailer into a tiny house to travel down the coast of North America as we sailed the ICW. We were so thrilled that we are able to inspire the people who gave us life to seek out a life that could make them happy to. 

The Escape Artists