VanLife Q&A Session with Kristyn and Joe from @thewanderingwagners
GSA - Who are you?
Ahoy everyone! We are Kristyn and Joe Wagner, we like to call ourselves The Wandering Wagners. Why you ask? Because we are wandering around this planet in search of new experiences to learn and grow. We
left our home country of Canada in June 2016 and have been roaming places unknown since then; finding new versions of ourselves along the way. We both had great jobs back home, our three legged rescue dog, amazing family and friends and an adorable townhouse that we sold along with all our stuff and set out for a new adventure. Our hearts wanted to explore more of the world and after traveling South East Asia, living in New Zealand we are currently living in our van in Australia!
GSA - What’s your current van make/model and why did you decide on this particular vehicle to embrace van living?... and does your van have a name? Our van is a 2002 Mercedes Sprinter 308CDi Short Wheel Base (For that year its roughly equivalent to a modern medium wheel base). We had only a couple weeks to find a van to convert into our new home before we began our van conversion. The reason our time frame was short was because we had prearranged a 30 day housesit where we planned to be our home base to convert this old tradie van into a living space. After living in New Zealand we wanted to explore more so thought this was the perfect way to see the large country of Australia. We named her Foley! She has been a great home for us and we learned so much along the way. Joe was the master of carpentry and all things structural in Foley and I just gave any input and help that I could as well as of course making sure she looked pretty as well.
GSA - How long have you embraced van living?
We finished the van build in the hardware parking lot on December 31, 2017. We started in Melbourne and have been working our way west in Australia ever since! It has been a great experience thus far and we are hoping to extend our visa another year when it finishes in November 2018!
GSA - What are some of your personal Pro’s and Con’s about living full time from a van?
Kristyn - Pro's: definitely the fact that everything you need is always right there! No packing required! Another personal favourite is being able to have your fridge/pantry with you wherever you go since we don't like to eat out much. Con's: Not having a bathroom I guess would be one however I surprisingly adjusted to this quite well. Our personal motto is: Live in a van, but don't LOOK like you live in a van. And the other is ours isn't a high roof so I can't stand fully and neither can Joe.
Joe - Pro's for me is the freedom to just hop in the driver seat and take your home wherever you want to go. No packing or planning required, just go! A pro for me as well is that because we did the van conversion ourselves its something that we are really proud of and like to show off to people, makes it feel more like home.
Con's - When we have to spend time in and around big cities it makes it difficult to find places to sleep and we often end up stealth camping somewhere so finding these good places can be a bit stressful for me. On the flip side however, it sometimes can be exciting! Another con I find is that living in a van can allow you to become quite lazy if you don't get out and do things or find some projects to work on. I think keeping busy is a key!
GSA - Fondest location you’ve called home for the night?
Kristyn - On Phillip Island in the state of Victoria was the first night we slept in Foley to the sounds of the ocean crashing in Australia. But, there have been so many other amazing places along the way it's hard to pick just one!
Joe - We stopped for a night on a dirt road turn off outside of Port Augusta, South Australia and it was such a warm clear night that we laid on the bed with the back doors wide open and we could see all the stars. There were no bugs or wind and the night was perfectly still, it was amazing!
GSA - What have been some of the biggest lessons learnt from living your best van life?
Kristyn - Biggest lesson would definitely be that you don't need much to be happy. Leaving Canada forced me to be a minimalist and now I am never going back!! I don't need much in life and having so many material possessions cluttering up my life is something I never want to subscribe to anymore. We buy everything we can second hand, Australia has awesome thrift stores/op-shops or online buy and sell.
Joe - One of the biggest lessons that I have gotten from living in the van is to just go with the flow. I usually like to plan everything and know what were doing or where we are going but living in the van has allowed us the freedom to just go where the wind blows. It has made me more relaxed and in a much better head space. Also, the lack of STUFF is awesome!
GSA - If you could switch up your current van for one of the following below for a 48 hour adventure which would you choose and why? Where would you go? and to keep things interesting you have room for two extra companions, who would you pick to fill the empty seats? Van options are from the following: The A-Team van, The Mystery Machine, Postman Pats van, The Mutts Cutts van or Dale's RV from The Walking Dead.
Kristyn - Not gonna lie, I had to google image search some of these! But, I would choose the Mystery Machine because hopefully we could solve a great mystery - duh! I would have to bring Daphne and Scooby Doo because I love dogs and solving crime sounds like an exciting thing to be a part of! Plus, they look like they know how to have fun while saving the world!
Joe - I would choose Dale's RV because you never know when you're going to have a spontaneous zombie apocalypse and that RV went through hell and back and just kept on running, now that's dependability! I would probably fill one seat with sour patch kids, candies and road snacks and the other I would give to Tom Cochrane so that we could sing "Life is a Highway" for real.
GSA - Making the most of the space around the van is essential, is there anything you wished you had in the van but didn’t have the time/money to install during the build?
Kristyn - I do wish that we had a high roof and a space to do yoga inside. I have managed to find a diagonal near the sink to the foot of the bed to do some poses. I had a bad car accident 12 years ago that leaves my back quite sore and yoga really does help with that (even though I'm so horribly inflexible I still can't touch my toes!).
Joe - Yes a high roof definitely or some sort of pop top would have been great. Also having just a bit more cabinet space would have been nice and a better ceiling fan...or maybe even and AC unit!
GSA - Strangest encounter while on the road?
Our strangest encounter was probably parking on a random dirt patch on the Nullarbor and trying our homemade shower butt naked in the pitch black while laughing hysterically. There were no bugs and it was so calm and it was just so strange to be comfortable completely nude in a random location trying to get this shower to work. With that being said, there were no bugs at all that night and we were able to open the back doors and stargaze and just take it all in in complete silence.
GSA - What would be your ultimate van journey destination and why?
Kristyn - Europe! Hands down, there are so many places I want to explore more.I also want to explore more of Canada because so often we neglect to explore our home country and fly somewhere else so a North America roadtrip is also definitely on the list!
Joe - Definitely a van trip through Europe would be at the top of the list!
GSA - Who within the van living community would you highly recommend we follow on Instagram?
Kristyn - We love @we_who_roam so much! We also did a van tour of their red beauty and it's so amazing and literally has everything you could ever want!!!!
Joe - Yea I would give it to @we_who_roam because they are legit real and genuine down to earth people who are just living out their dreams in their own country, it's pretty special!
GSA - Where will the unknown road take you next and what’s the best way to keep up with your van life adventures? We want to keep traveling around Australia and hopefully extend our visa another year! The best way to reach us is either @thewanderingwagners on istagram or The Wandering Wagners on YouTube. We are ever-so-slowly trying to finish things on our website www.wanderingwagners.com
GSA - My final question, what words of advice and wisdom can you pass forward to those who are thinking about making the move to living in a van?
Kristyn - If it is something you truly value and want to do- go for it! Even if it feels scary or unknown, if it's something you are interested in there's no harm in trying! Maybe you hate it and then you will appreciate living in a home that much more - I spoke with one girl who had a pretty negative experience due to some compounding factors and she said that she was so happy she tried because it was a dream of hers - but, now she knows it's not for her.
Joe - It can be a big daunting thing buying a van and living in it or converting it. What type of van do it get? How much to I spend? What's the best power system? the list goes on and on! My advice is to not get too caught up in all overwhelming questions because it will put you off of doing it. Just focus on one step at a time and take a leap of faith. Start with buying a van, and take your time! No rush needed when picking a van and make sure that it's the right one for you! From there you got the ball rolling and you won't regret it for a second!