Join us on an incredible journey with our guests, Brian and Jen Danger, as we explore the joys and challenges of a nomadic lifestyle. These pioneers in the van life community share how they transformed their rented home into an Airbnb, embarked on a tiny home venture, and kept their travels funded. We also get a peek into their evolution from living in a Volkswagen to a sprinter for six years and how they managed to maintain this lifestyle through various sources of income.
Listen in as we continue to traverse the exciting yet uncertain waters of boat life with the Dangers. From the adrenaline-filled first steps of leaving the dock to the tranquil beauty of sailing across the Pacific Ocean, we uncover the risks and rewards of this adventurous lifestyle. Brian and Jen's resourcefulness shines as they share tales of preparing for voyages, surviving unexpected weather events, and their overall journey's highs and lows.
Finally, we follow Brian and Jen to the stunning landscapes of French Polynesia, where they've adapted their lifestyle to sail safely in remote places. They discuss their plans to venture west to the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand, sharing their dreams of driving around Australia and how their lifestyle may merge once they reach there. Their story truly encapsulates the essence of nomadic living and emphasizes the importance of short-term decision-making. Be inspired by their courage to try new things and the power of not seeing things as failures if they don't work out.
See where the Dangerz are today! https://trackamap.com/svkarma/
Checkout their van conversion company: @zenvanz
Checkout their ADU design company: @zenboxdesign
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrisandsara_ | @chrisandsara_
Call or text us a question or comment: +1 (423) 825-9572
Get inspired by world travelers Chris and Sara with "What No One Tells You," their conversational podcast. Each episode is a fun chat with friends sharing personal experiences, insider tips, and riveting stories. The show is elevated by amazing guests from Youtubers, ultra marathoners, bloggers, and adventurers who bring their unique energy and perspectives to the table. With Chris and Sara, you're sure to feel a part of the group, ready to embark on a new adventure. Explore the world one story at a time and join the conversation today.
Hey y'all! We're Chris + Sara (or as you know us, Let’s Be Us), a husband and wife digital nomad travel duo currently working and traveling full time with our pup, Kramer. We've always dreamed of traveling full time, and in May of 2018 we took the leap and made it happen! Today we're balancing work and fun everywhere between the Pacific and Atlantic. From hiking and cycling to tacos and coffee, we're trying to see and experience as much of this world as we can! While our home is currently on wheels in our DIY Sprinter van, our travels take us all around the world.Be sure to hit subscribe here on Youtube and follow along on Instagram for more daily fun! Oh, and be sure to say hi while you're here. :)
NOTE: There were 4 speakers identified in this transcript. Speaker separation errors can arise when multiple speakers speak simultaneously.
0:00:00 - Sara
Over five years ago we bought our first van, which blows my mind that it's been five years that we've been in this whole crazy nomad travel bubble of a world.
0:00:08 - Chris
Where did the time go?
0:00:10 - Sara
I don't know. It's crazy how fast life flies when you look at it like that and you stand back and you say, five years ago, how did that happen? But that's important today because the people we're having on our podcast are the first van lifers we ever met and that's kind of a big deal because the way our paths cross, we were randomly camping in a tent at a campground in Oregon around the Oregon-Washington border. Kramer was like I don't know five months old. He was a tiny little puppy, super tiny.
We decided we wanted to go camping for the week when we were living in Seattle, and so we headed down to the coast and one evening we were walking on the beach at this campground and there was a sprinter van and we're like, let's just go over and see what it's like. We had seen van life on YouTube at this point and we were curious and I was kind of like pushing Chris, let's go check it out.
0:00:53 - Chris
So let's go talk to these strangers. We've never met these guys, but they did have their sliding door open, so we're sort of inviting us in, yeah.
0:01:01 - Sara
And so we walked over and they were the nicest people and their names were Brian, are Brian and Jen.
0:01:07 - Jen
They're still around.
0:01:10 - Sara
And Brian and Jen spoiler are the ones that we are having on the podcast today, but we met them that day standing on a beach in Oregon and they were the kindest people and answered all of our van questions that we had. I think we ended up pulling the trigger on the van like a month later.
0:01:23 - Chris
Yeah, and then we started following each other on Instagram and following their journeys and they we do need to say this their last name is Danger.
0:01:33 - Bryan
Yeah, and they didn't change it to that.
0:01:34 - Chris
Yeah, it's a super cool last name.
0:01:37 - Sara
Yeah, I wish my last name were Danger, that's pretty good. But anyway, brian and Jen, we kind of credit them, as I don't want to say they're mentors, but we've definitely gone to them several times in van life and all these different travel things that we've done and just ask them questions, because they are just this wall of knowledge.
They have set themselves up to be able to travel remotely and still have income coming in. I mean they just they're like I feel like kind of like where Chris and I are is where they were maybe like a few years back, like they're. We look at them and we're like, oh man, they've got to figure it out. They can sell across the Pacific Ocean and still make money.
0:02:10 - Chris
You just gave it away, and that's why we're having them on the title of the episode.
0:02:13 - Sara
0:02:13 - Chris
So we're having them on the podcast, because they've graduated from van life, they no longer trek around on four wheels, they trek around the earth in their boat. On the catamaran yes, and they're currently stuck in the Pacific Ocean.
0:02:28 - Sara
Yeah, so it's, it's going to. We'll let you guys, we're going to let them tell you the whole story. But just to kind of fill you in on who they are, um, they were van lifers, like we said, and then a few years back, they bought a catamaran, decided to hit the water to explore a whole new type of adventure. Um, and then, a few months back, it took them to sailing across the Pacific Ocean, just the two of them, just on their little cell boat, and when they finally made it to land, they got stuck. I'm going to leave it there because they're going to have they have a good story. Um, it ends well. Just stay tuned. So, without further ado, this is our conversation with Brian and Jen Danger. Dangerous the dangers. I love that.
0:03:14 - Bryan
I love it.
0:03:16 - Sara
I mean, you guys are on a cell boat in the middle of the Pacific, like even being able to do this is incredible. I'm so impressed. Thank you guys so much for doing this with us. We're so excited to talk with you guys.
0:03:25 - Chris
It's been forever since we've seen you in person, but yeah, I mean, I mean there's been like whole oceans between us, so I think there's an excuse a little bit, but yeah, yeah, it's amazing. Wait first. Do you have coffee? I mean it's 8am where you're at right now.
0:03:37 - Jen
We get up at like five the sunrise, so we've uh, we've had coffee breakfast. We've hung out for a couple of hours. I jumped in the ocean, brides had a couple of life calls.
0:03:52 - Chris
What a life. What a life. What's all that rhythm?
0:03:55 - Bryan
of the sun right Sun and moon, yeah.
0:03:58 - Sara
We also go to bed. It's crazy.
0:03:59 - Bryan
Sunset happens, so it you know. We were basically 90.
0:04:03 - Sara
I think that's how it works. No, I mean, we're the same way. We've noticed that when we're on the road, like once the sun sets, like what are you going to do? Like we don't really watch a ton of TV or anything. You're just like well, go to bed. Wake up early. It's great until you're in Alaska and you have the midnight sun. You just never sleep.
0:04:17 - Jen
0:04:19 - Sara
Jen and Brian. Thank you guys so much for being here with us today. Um, we're going to let you guys just go ahead and introduce yourselves, because you can tell everybody who you are better than I can. So just right off the bat who are you, where are you from and what are you guys up to?
0:04:32 - Bryan
Um, we are Brian and Jen. Uh, we go by the dangers. Um, not really sure why. We didn't fit in very well into normal society, and so some of our friends at some point just started calling us the dangers, and a couple of years later we realized that no one knew us by any other name, and so it just kind of became easier. Um, we're originally from Portland, oregon.
Uh, at some point, um, I got really lucky and fell in with the Oregon hippie that moved in next door and she convinced me eventually to quit our jobs and run away and seek happiness rather than all those other things that society told us we should be chasing. And so we kind of did that. We started building out van, long, long before that was a thing or had a hashtag or anybody knew about it. I think a negative Chris Farley stit was probably the closest anybody knowing about living in a van Um, but we kind of built out an old 67 V dub on the side of the road.
Um, after work, you know, which meant probably an hour and a half between you know, getting home from work and the sun setting and having darkness, and that's when our batteries ran out on our battery powered tools anyway. So it worked, um, and then we saved up money, downsize, purged all of our belongings and kind of moved into the van for what we thought was going to be a year on the road. We thought maybe we'd saved enough money to just go find a Mexico beach and exist for about a year, and that was about 12 years ago.
0:05:58 - Sara
Wow, that's what we said too. We first start out like we're just going to do it for a year, like I think we'll be done after a year, and then I mean, here we are five years later still travel.
0:06:06 - Chris
I don't know what it is about it. It's just intoxicating to be, to be able to pick up and go wherever you want, or like yeah, I mean like each day is a new day, like you're not. I mean we both like routine, but after a while, routine like being in the house or like going to the same coffee shop and like you know it's this set thing and you start getting used to it and there's just something about I don't know. There's just something beautiful about each day being different.
0:06:30 - Sara
Yeah, I feel like I remember my life better when every day is a little bit different, but all right. So you said you guys lived in a 1967 VW van. Is that correct?
0:06:40 - Jen
Oh yeah, for the beginning. Oh, I love it.
0:06:43 - Sara
Yeah, for the beginning. Yeah, I mean, that took us all the way down to Panama and back.
0:06:50 - Bryan
Wow, somewhere, somewhere in the middle I mean a couple years in now we started to realize that you know it was wearing on us. It was a very small vehicle. We weren't prepared for any of this we were.
0:07:02 - Jen
It was wearing on you. It was wearing on me. It was ideal for me.
0:07:06 - Bryan
Jenkin stared an open curtain and need for another. Yeah, but our van also broke down every three days and in the beginning we didn't know how to work on it. I mean, it was just, you know, it was both highs and lows and extreme ends of it. And so eventually we found our way back to Portland. Someone mentioned somewhere in that we were supposed to take like. Everybody knew that you were supposed to take a break at eight months If you're doing like a big overlanding trip. Nobody bothered to tell us that.
But we also didn't do a lot of research before we left, to be fair. And so, yeah, we, we we did that for several years until we came home thought we would try that on for size again. You know, have the babies do the things and work out very well for us. And so we ended up, you know, converting our garage into a home base for us, just in case we wanted it. But then during the process realized we wanted to be on the road again, right. And so when we did that we realized that the, the VW bus, was awesome south of the border. It was not so good in the Pacific Northwest. It would rain outside, it would rain inside. So we traded up to a Mercedes Sprinter and started building that out. And that's, I think, when we actually met you guys on that beach way back.
0:08:22 - Jen
It had a heater, it had four wheel drive, it was all wet. We could take it in snow, we could take it up mountains. We could not take our Volkswagen up mountains. It did not want to go up, we wanted to stay flat or be at sea level. But yeah, and it was huge I mean the three of us at the time because we had this big giant blonde lab, dopey dog, that was super happy all the time. We were so comfortable it was. It was three Volkswagen's in one van, basically the size of it.
0:08:56 - Bryan
Luxury at 69 square feet, yeah, wow.
0:09:01 - Sara
He's the opposite of us. You started smaller and then went a little bit larger. We started with the biggest Sprinter and then went to the smallest Sprinter.
0:09:07 - Chris
Yeah, Well, I mean, and you're totally right, you guys were the very first van lifers we met in real life.
0:09:16 - Sara
It was the first van we had ever seen in person. It was your van on that beach that day when we moved in our Volkswagen.
0:09:22 - Jen
everybody we talked to thought we were bonkers. Nobody had heard of anyone ever doing this. And we were bonkers. We had really like burned out on normal life and we were like let's just go camp and be like amongst nature and figure out, like reset, and figure out like what, what do we want to do with our lives? Because it's not the grind that we have been doing. And it's obvious now that it's like perfect for everybody or not everybody, freedom of it and the and the wake up. And you're like what do I want to do today? And am I happy today? And do I have? Am I achieving my goals? Am I, you know, am I connecting with nature, connecting with my loved ones? Or, you know, it makes perfect sense now, but at the time we were just trying to escape.
0:10:16 - Bryan
And this was 2008,. You know, when we started building out the van, the economy was in the trash. Can you know? We have several friends who had lost their job and looking for work and we're like, what are we doing? Like we're trying to get out of our jobs. And then 2012 is when we finally drove away, after a couple of false starts, Full time to go to Mexico. Cartel violence. You know all the everybody's like oh, you're going to get beheaded twice. You know, it's it. All the fears, all the possible fears that you could possibly have. We just wrapped up into one, one transition and it was blissful, it was great.
0:10:56 - Jen
I mean there were problems, but it was and we had to unwind right. We were like so wired a certain way we had to like reprogram and we didn't realize that was going to happen. We were doing it while we were acknowledging it and aware of it while it was happening, but like efficiency was no longer a critical component of our life and that had been like one of our main driving forces in our jobs and, you know, in our in our daily like existence. But when you live in a Volkswagen that breaks down all the time and you're camping in Mexico, at anywhere in Central America, you're not efficient, you're just like. You're like going with the flow. You're like, oh, we broke down. I guess we're going to live here for a couple of days until we like all this, you know and one of us was really good at that.
It was amazing.
0:11:53 - Bryan
The other one of us struggled a lot in the early years relax and give into it and not know what was coming Right. I mean, I remember at one point I think we're still in Baja and I'm like Jen, what are we going to do?
0:12:08 - Jen
Like what's the song we're running out of?
0:12:10 - Bryan
money. What are we going to do with our lives? Like she's like oh, we're the universal provide, we'll have an epiphany. And I'm like, when is the epiphany going to happen? And she just gave me a big break on the calendar and next year, when it hasn't happened, I'll be able to say I told you so and we can go back home and somehow, before that date ever arise, there was no epiphany, but it just kind of didn't matter. Right Like started to settle in and relax and enjoy and, I don't know, take advantage of the beauty that was, yeah, being gone, being nomadic, being free.
0:12:43 - Sara
So how long did that trip through Central America take you guys, from the moment you left Portland down to Panama and back? How long were you guys got on that one leg of the trip?
0:12:52 - Jen
Well, it actually ended up being two legs because we drove down Costa Rica and that was probably from Canada to Costa Rica was probably a year and a half, and then we left the van in Costa Rica to fly home because we were missing our loved ones. We were missing, like you know, playing games with a glass of wine, narrow fire, you know things that we just had experienced in the last year and a half on, you know, dreamy beaches and eating tacos, and we kind of got stuck there for a year, almost a full year, and that's when we tried to do the tiny home thing.
0:13:31 - Bryan
you know, we tried to do the home base, which turned out well for us. I mean, we ended up being of Airbnb while we were gone, so it was a nice way for us to come home if and when we ever wanted to and then helped a little bit, you know, to fund some of the travels and things as we tried to keep going.
0:13:49 - Jen
But yeah, we eventually flew back down, drove back much more rapidly at least for us, brought the combi back to Oregon and then moved on to the next phase, which was the sprinter right, and then that we lived in full time for maybe another six years. Well, there's one thing that you're forgetting Usually.
0:14:10 - Bryan
So we took the.
0:14:11 - Jen
we took our house that we had rented while we traveled and we we took the garage and turned it into a studio apartment. So we had a home base in Portland and then we went back. When we went back to get the bus to Costa Rica, to drive it back, we Airbnb just started and some neighbors said you should Airbnb your garage while you're gone. We're like well, Airbnb.
0:14:34 - Bryan
Yeah, that's that work.
0:14:35 - Jen
Yeah, so we did it, and when we got back we had forgotten to. We had forgotten to block it for when we get back. So there were Airbnb guests in our garage, and so we're living in our Volkswagen in our neighborhood waiting for these for their reservation to end right, and meanwhile they helped buy our plane ticket to get to Costa Rica. Like we're, you know, we don't have jobs at this point, so we're like you know and the money's gone.
0:15:02 - Bryan
We spent the rest of the money on remodel.
0:15:04 - Jen
0:15:05 - Bryan
And so now we're like okay, so then we.
0:15:08 - Jen
So then we get back into our garage. The Airbnb guests are gone, we've blocked it, we're safe and we're like, actually that was pretty good money. Maybe we should go to our Volkswagen for another week and let someone else. So we started doing that. We started like opening up a month and somebody would book it for a week and we'd be like, where do we want to go in our Volkswagen? So we would drive to the beach or we would drive to the mountains or we would just go camping for a week. And then we come back when the guests left and we're like this is a pretty great. We just made like thousand dollars. I get that.
0:15:42 - Chris
We totally get that. We've done that.
0:15:45 - Sara
Yeah, we've been us in our band with somebody like we've forgotten to block off our our house for ourselves. We've been in town and we pulled them. We're like, oh, shoot, somebody's in our house right now. Yeah, we've done that.
0:15:53 - Chris
Yeah, and it was nice, I mean around here, like we. We had to stay. It wasn't a whole week, I think it was a couple, three days or three days. So we just kind of bopped around town and you know, thankfully our co-working space has showers. So we're like, hey, you know what? We'll just go shower at a co-working space, go back.
0:16:09 - Jen
You know, I remember we came back and while we're driving back to our garage, the guests write and say, can we just stay one more night? And we're like, ok, so our friends that lived like five blocks away. We're like, hey, you guys, can we sleep in our Volkswagen outside of your house tonight, because the guests want to stay and we can have dinner together? We'll cook you dinner or whatever. It was amazing. We're like sleeping in our hatched bedroom outside of our friend's house while we're making $150. I love it.
0:16:41 - Bryan
I think, I think, like we I don't know we thought we were in that phase where we were ready to kind of settle again, settle down, I should say and it just I don't know, it just didn't happen Right.
So it was nice to have it. I think I needed it, like I needed to know I had a foundation or something, some kind of roots, and as soon as we built it it was like no, well, I don't really need that anymore. And so, instead of booking it out for one week a month, it quickly became, you know, there would be one week every three months that it wasn't booked, and so we'd go stay high to friends and family and then we'd leave again. I don't know, somehow it just ended up with us back on the road, and then we kind of did the same thing in in bc for a while, because we had lived there before we quit our jobs, spent time just touring the northwest and doing all the things that we never had time to do while we live there, other than quick backpacking trips maybe. And so we spent another five or six years just Just covering every road, paved or none, in the pacific northwest.
0:17:43 - Jen
Yeah, we ended up Ended up going to the garage like Maybe two weeks, and then we'd be gone for like eight months and then we'd be like, oh you know, let's go back. There's our friends are getting married. Let's go back and live in our garage for a week and go to the wedding and do like portland, and then let's leave again. Like then our home was a sprinter. The home was no longer the garage, the garage was just our like vacation home when we wanted to vacation in portland. It was very strange, but it felt right.
0:18:16 - Bryan
So, okay, yeah, I mean, there was one summer in in bc, where we just to have a home base again Because we wanted to play volleyball with our friends there occasionally when they had free time every weekend. And so we would. We basically rented A driveway on a house right next to kip's beach, which is always in the top five best beaches on the planet. A million, multi-million dollar homes, and we're living in a van, renting a driveway with free internet for like a hundred bucks a month composting internet water For yeah we're like this is our best life, right?
I mean, this is as you're loving it for people that are willing to be no matter.
0:18:55 - Sara
I mean, don't get me wrong.
0:18:56 - Bryan
I also would wake up in the morning and walk down to, like the, the public restroom in the park where the local homeless population or houseless population would be Showering in the sink. And so we're on a first name basis and At some point you start to question, like what, what is the line between van life and homelessness, right? I mean it's.
Right One of us is to choose To be doing this and the other one doesn't. I think that's kind of where the line lies. Um, for us, I mean, we're thrilled, right, and then we, we kind of, would just kind of do that, like we would spend the winters chasing snow mountain to mountain. We'd spend the summers playing volleyball, and then, you know, events Like weddings and fun parties would be the things we would go see friends and family for, as where Otherwise? We'd go to town and to see them, but then we would sit and not see them because they were too busy, right, everybody has their own things, right? So we'd get to town and they throw us a big party. We're like this is great, and then we wouldn't see them for three weeks. I'm like, well, we should probably be traveling.
0:19:56 - Sara
You're hitting on a lot of stuff that you know. We've had one or two other van lifers on on the podcast so far, but I don't think anybody's really talked about the option of being home in your van, like in your hometown, and just sort of you know, dipping in, getting all the fun and then piecing back out again. It's another positive to I guess living nomadically. You can just kind of come back and leave and Most friends understand it.
0:20:23 - Chris
They really do. Yeah, I want to. I want to go back, brian, you said something a little bit ago about one of you Got it like. One of you was very comfortable on this nomadic lifestyle and the other one I'm assuming you had a heart a harder time, and it was that because you are More like Entrepreneur-business driven, like you always had that task. You're like ready to go, like you like, and then or like why, why did you have a hard time? And then I know that you had that transition period where you were like you said, yeah, it eventually will work out, but do you still struggle with that one, or as have you just completely given your all to just being being wherever?
0:21:11 - Bryan
You might answer this question differently. I am large, I've I've settled in and I've come to at least terms with it. And you're right, I mean the brain. We have two different brands. Literally, jen can sit and stare at the ocean all day and have everything she needs. I'm pretty heavily ocd 80 hd. I've got all the alphabet problems going on most of the time and, and I think, also just background training.
I mean I grew up in a family that I mean we both grew up in families that had Almost nothing in terms of money. My family Really drove home like you have to do this. There's only one way in life, right, and this is what success looks like, which is really just having a full-time job, right? And and so, yeah, I think I was just terrified of breaking the system. Took a long time, you know, to realize we spent our 401k. We, you know, luckily got out of debt before we left, other than, you know, real estate, um, and I just couldn't let it go right. I couldn't not have a plan or an answer or know what was going to happen when we hit zero dollars. And that part of me still struggles a little bit because obviously, you know, we're now 12 years in without a plan, right, and so we, our bank accounts, definitely a A roller coaster, as our, our emotions from time to time, um. But we've now had to start over and reinvent ourselves A half dozen times, right, and so we've bounced off the bottom that many times and at some point, while I still can find myself, you know, starting to get tense or feel the pressure of how do we, you know what's next, how do we make more money, I also trust that we can do it now, right, like we've reinvented enough times that I, I trust in our ability to do it. And so Both, I guess, is the answer, chris.
I mean, it's, um, a hard wiring of society is really hard to overcome, right, and we talk about this all the time and I, I mean, I got lucky, right, somebody moved in next door that I fell in love with and I could just kind of emulate that person's drive for freedom. Most people don't get that. Most people don't get anyone in their life. They're lucky if they have a detached Ant or uncle right that drives around or does anything that looks remotely like chasing happiness. And so I feel, I don't know, indebted to, to share our story, to try and, you know, find the tallest rock to stand on top of and shout it to the world, because If I hadn't a matter, I mean I would I'd be dead. I would have died at my desk or in a Hertz rental car for work. Right, I mean I? It's not lost on me at all that that was actually the path I was on and it probably would have happened by now.
Um and so, yeah, but we don't have all the answers. We actually have still very few of the answers, but we definitely believe in the process and we've now spent 12 years living blissfully, happily, not to say. There are issues. There's always issues, um, but you know, chasing our best life and literally just waking up and deciding where we want to go next and how we want to get there, and it's pretty hard to give up after a while. Right, I mean it it's, it really is. I mean, at some point we started calling ourselves broken, um, in a good way, but, but we're broken. I mean we can't go back to that thing that we knew.
0:24:32 - Sara
I think that's kind of we're in that place a little bit right now. We have a home base in Tennessee and we, you know we're off the road for a bit during covid, like a lot of people, but I think we're. I think we thought that we were going to be done by four or five years in. We're like, oh, there's no way we're still going to be doing this in four or five years, but we still love it, and so it's almost like a slow-mo of an identity crisis where we really love it but also we kind of feel like Doesn't quite fit. You know normal culture a little bit. We keep going, even though it feels kind of weird on one side, but also what we really love. So I think we're kind of in that place right now yeah but I want to ask a little bit about you guys.
I know work has changed a lot for you guys. I know One thing you guys do for work, but could you tell us a little bit about how do you guys sustain the lifestyle now? I know that vans are a part of it, but what does that look like for y'all?
0:25:16 - Jen
So there's been. There's like Brian used the word reinvention. There have been a couple different things. Right now, our sprinter van bride designed it in a really beautiful way and it got Some beautiful photography, got a little bit of press and people started calling and saying I want to, I want to own your van, can I buy your van and Fast forward. It turned into a business. So there is some income coming in from a van building business, then vans.
Um, before that we talked about how we turned our garage into a home base for us. Brian did it in a really beautiful way. So Once we did it and and it was floor to ceiling windows and, uh, very visible from the street, so this old dilapidated garage all of a sudden became this beautiful little studio loft and neighbors started coming and saying, wow, like this is gorgeous, can you help me design something like this for my dilapidated garage? Or can you help me, like you know, renovate my attic so it can be for my in-laws or my kid when they get out of college or whatever. So that turned into a little business. It was called zen box design, where bry was hoping people visualized their spaces that they weren't using in their houses and turned them into actual usable living space. You know, like a a she shed or A detached bedroom or an actual like apartment in the backyard that they could Airbnb or family could live in, or their, their, their adult children could live in, or whatever an ad you in portland or an accessory building unit right.
Yeah, so those have been, those have been the main, like income streams, which are beautiful because they started with brian's passion, which is design and and Architecture, I guess in a way, but more um.
0:27:17 - Bryan
Yeah, I mean we again there was no plan.
There still wasn't a plan, uh, and so we learned pretty early on that, you know, one of the key factors in us being able to remove was kind of multiple answers rather than one, right, if you're looking for one job or one thing, it's really hard to do that without doing it full-time, right, just due to the nature.
Again, about how things are built um, and so we kind of always have focused on small, multiple, small streams of income, right. And so, um, you know, renting out our house when we left certainly helped, um, dividing that and then having, like ours was an ad you as well. So our garage being an ad you clearly helped. Um, nothing enough to do on its own, but all the widow ones kind of helped together, right. And then we I had committed to gen, like we're not going to take jobs for money, right, it was part of the process of, of detaching and kind of finding ourselves. But somewhere along the way, you know, people kept Happening over our garage kind of looked like a bar from the street, so people would come in and be like what are you serving?
um, and then they were not unlike opening your van and having people step inside right.
0:28:22 - Jen
We didn't help for eight dollars once.
0:28:25 - Bryan
No, no, we didn't we.
we traded for the offer anyway, um so you know, we just kind of ended up in this place where you know I'm helping people. We had been through the process. We knew the city code, we knew the the things that were involved, we knew good contractors, and so at some point we're basically playing the role of architect and I'm loving it, and so we're. You know, jen's like you're up at 3 am. You've been up all night for the last three days doing this. Maybe you should actually ask for some money, right? And when we asked for money it was, it was almost nothing, but at least it it helped, right. I mean, it helped feed in a little bit pause play.
0:29:01 - Jen
It started with friends, neighbors, people that we knew. So bry was happy to do that and he was Getting fed by it himself, so it was really fun for him.
But then, after that whole phase happened, which was probably several months, then it was friends of friends and then friends of neighbors and then, and then people who saw photos that didn't even live in our neighborhood, and so then it was strangers, right, and so bryne's doing it for free for strangers, and that I was like, hmm, I bet you could make 500 dollars doing that, yeah we got really.
0:29:39 - Bryan
I mean, I don't know, one of our plays ended up in the new york times, you know, like we. Just there were also like media events, that kind of happened, where people came to us or A youtuber came to us and said, hey, I know you guys hate being on video, but do you mind if we just do a tour of your house in your van? And then that thing got you know, two million views or something and we thought it was horrible. We're just like, oh god, what do we do? But obviously we then know a lot of calls right and so yeah, it was a nice balance of of keeping the brain busy and an outlet for design, much less all the years of training I had as an architect never used um and also helped Feed monetarily a little bit right.
And then this, the van's kind of the same story, much in the same way. We met you guys where you know we're on a beach, open the door, suddenly there's a dozen people that want to see the inside of the van. Over time many of those people kept kind of saying can you, can you build ours, can I buy yours, can you help me? And so, as we redesigned ours, just the designer in me kept redesigning our van, you know, time after time, and so eventually we just did it in a way that it was reverse engineered to bolt in and bolt out. So as I wanted to renovate, we didn't have to rip it apart, we could just swap out. And so it also kind of just led into A nice easy kind of diy support business.
Right, we could make the cabinet so that they looked professional and fancy and you know nice curved edges, so you didn't bang your head on it and things, um and and so we said no for years and then finally friends of ours came to us and said I know you guys don't want to do this, but like we hate our jobs too, can you just teach us and we'll do it while you're gone? And obviously that was like oh, that's an offer we can't refuse, right? Um, it didn't really turn out quite that clean. Nothing does like. There was a lot of high as low as emotional drama involved, um, but at some point it kind of infused this other business that we also kind of ran away from because we're good at that, but eventually came back around and started feeding against small amounts of money back into the travel or the lifestyle, whatever you wanna call it. Yeah, so for us it's not an answer, it's a lot of different answers.
We also renovated several homes. In the process, we'd go back to Portland and renovate something, and kind of like, we did our house and we got married at one point we each had a house, and so that worked so well. With the first one, we did the same thing. The second one, right, we just cut it in half and turned it into two units essentially.
0:32:15 - Jen
And so again, no easy answer, there's just a lot of answers, and we're still figuring that out as we go, and I think it's important you know, if anyone listens to this and is searching for themselves I think it's important to know that we didn't envision anything. We just literally started living what we love and opportunities started, ideas started popping up for us and we grabbed them. But it wasn't like we sat down and had a plan and then we're gonna do this and then we're gonna move to this. It's just, we went after where our hearts told us to go and, for Brian, design fueled him and that ended up being a source of money for us. So it's I really believe that you don't have to have the answers, you just have to. You have to open yourself up to be able to hear and things.
0:33:22 - Bryan
Things are flying by.
0:33:23 - Jen
Things are flying by exactly.
0:33:25 - Bryan
I don't yet prescribe to the universe, we'll provide scenario. I think we all have a little more control, or at least owingness to that. But I do have to admit, after this many years of doing it, that part of the problem when we were at our jobs is that we were so busy, we were so heads down, we were so exhausted that there wasn't time, energy, passion enough for anything outside of it. Right Now that we spend most of our time in nature and with freedom, suddenly you notice that opportunities are out there and you can kind of capitalize on those opportunities. I mean, we didn't intend to start any of these businesses and luckily we didn't bounce off the bottom at the same time that we had to. Right, we never had to go think about starting a business or getting another job or anything else. It would happen on the downward curve, but then it would just kind of save us before we got there right.
Yeah, and again, it's different for everybody. I mean, I happen to get really lit up when I read other people's posts and someone tells them, oh, it must be nice to have a trust, point right, it's exhausting. But I also remember being that person, right, I remember seeing people that were traveling and or sitting on a beach in Baja and looking at a catamaran and being like, oh, that must be the best life. I wish we had that kind of money or our parents were rich or whatever it was. And it's just a fetus, right. I mean, at some point it's an excuse, it's a reason that you don't have to solve it on your own. And I get it. We were there as well.
At some point, we just stopped doing that, right, we started meeting those people and asking questions Like, hey, can we take you out to dinner and can you tell us how you did this?
We want this right.
And a lot of our I think a lot of our I hate to use the word success, but a lot of the reason we've been able to do this for so long are things we learned from those people, right, little nuggets of information that those people told us, or hints they gave us, or I mean I remember, way back in the day, one of our friends just sat us down and was like, have you read the book Rich Dad, poor Dad?
I mean it changed us right, because it changed the way we looked at our home as an investment versus a depreciating asset or hopeful appreciating asset. But not necessarily it just changed everything for us right. And so there have been these little nuggets throughout the way. I mean, there was this very old man on a quiff overlooking a beach in Mexico who we were really struggling and we're like how do you know, like when to make the leap, or when to run away, or when to run back, or and he just kind of like sipped his tequila and he was like In the morning, if you're young enough to recover, probably like 10 AM, right, he's like, if you're young enough to recover, always take the leap.
0:36:14 - Jen
Take the risk you know and-.
0:36:15 - Bryan
Wow, we just walked away like, wow, this guy just blew our mind right, like this was genius. And then later on we're like but how do you know if you're young enough to recover? Yeah, we go back and find that guy and ask more questions, right? Yeah, but it's not a straight line for sure, right? I mean, our path is so all over the place and it continues to be. We still don't have a solve.
0:36:39 - Jen
And we are so aware that what it looks like right now is not what it's gonna look like in the future, like we're grateful and appreciative of the moments we have now because that's what's happening for us now, but and we don't even foresee what it's gonna look like. We just know that cherish what you have when you have it and be optimistic and hopeful for what's coming in the future, because it's really hard to envision that.
0:37:11 - Bryan
But we're just grateful to still be doing it. I mean. I think we were grateful for that first year and nothing's changed, like we're just so thankful that we're able to keep experiencing these things that I mean, we're lifelong dreams that we just thought weren't accessible, right.
0:37:27 - Jen
Yeah, and to have choice.
0:37:28 - Bryan
0:37:29 - Jen
To wake up and say are we happy what we're doing today? And if aren't, what would make us happy and should we make change? Let's go. Yeah, we're currently happy. Well, you're in paradise. Well, hang on. Which we need to talk about.
0:37:45 - Chris
0:37:46 - Sara
That was all. Everything you just said is just like spot on. I'm like, yes, like I get that.
Yeah, I mean I think a lot of people just miss taking that first step. I mean, buying a van and traveling through the US was our first step, but it seemed tangible. If something was in our budget we could afford it. And it's just like little incremental steps and I think I feel like taking risks is always scary, but it does get easier, cause I mean, if you fail, like you're right, you'll bounce back. I mean we've never just fallen so far that and we've lost jobs and we've, I mean, been through every sort of hurdle and somehow we're still managing yeah, somehow.
0:38:19 - Chris
So you just gotta take that first step. I think Somehow we manage, Somehow we manage yeah.
0:38:24 - Bryan
So failure is just a part of the process.
0:38:25 - Chris
It is yeah.
0:38:27 - Sara
It really is.
0:38:28 - Chris
It really is. And I think I mean, when it comes to risk, we, I think people have a certain amount of risk that they're able to take and that, you know, some people's risk can be greater than what ours is Like. There's this like barrier to that. But I think the scariest thing is just taking that first step forward and actually doing it, because you just don't know.
0:38:51 - Bryan
You don't know, but I Well, in most people I know you do. I just want to wrap with to me we do this all the time, right? I think the problem is that people look at it the way I used to right it's a black or white. I go to a job and have a nine to five, or I now know that it's an option to run away and live in a band. I think this is.
I think it's a problem, right, I mean, very few people have the means, much less the stress level, capacity for stress, to do that. But if you break it down right I mean we try to coach everybody through this all the time If you break it down to very small steps, you know, if the first step is just paying off debt, part of which might be selling the five bedroom house and moving into a three bedroom apartment and then a two bedroom apartment and then a studio apartment, right, I mean, that is scary enough for most people to imagine. Much less, I can sell my five bedroom house and I'm gonna move into a van right, I mean that is an exceptionally different process, but for most people, that's exactly how they look at it.
And I think social media as much as I love it as a way to touch base and connect with people it's a disaster for most people, right? They see this thing, they want it, it's black or white, right? I see all these happy people and then you wonder why so many people move into a van. It's so miserable. That's a tough transition for anybody, right? I mean those of us that have done it. No, it's not exactly all lovely perfect times. It is awesome, but you're giving up a lot of creature comforts to do it, right, and I just I think every discipline is kind of the same way. If you can break it down into those small steps, it's crazy how you then find yourself in a completely different spot looking back going. How did I get here? Like what just happened? How did I end up? Sorry, chris, I cut you off.
0:40:34 - Sara
No, that's so. I'm just agreeing. You're absolutely right, and touching on the social media side is very important, because we do see a lot of people get into van life or any sort of life that involves traveling or pneumaticness and they end up hating it.
0:40:47 - Chris
But I just they absolutely hate it. They didn't take the time and they don't want to admit that they hate it. It's a point of pride, like if I admit that I hate this, then I failed. And now what do I do? I have to go back to my nine to five, or you know, but I think that's part of the process. Though if you don't like a tiny space on wheels, that's okay. Nobody made the rule that you had to love that.
0:41:10 - Sara
Yeah, you can do a lot of different things like, live on a boat.
0:41:14 - Chris
And that's where I want to go, because you guys, you just like you foregoed the whole van thing. You're like enough with being on the land, we've had enough adventures with firm ground underneath our feet. Let's get on a boat and live on a boat. And I just my first question is why, like?
0:41:36 - Sara
how. I want to know how.
0:41:37 - Jen
How did that transition happen.
0:41:38 - Bryan
Before we did it, chris that's a really good question.
0:41:41 - Jen
That's a really good question and actually there was a turning point. I'll let Bry tell you the story. But I also do want to say that we didn't leave van life behind forever. It's still part of us and we imagine in our future, when we're older, that we'll be still nomadic in a vehicle or a vessel who knows. I had no idea where, but the van life and the boat life. They're very similar lifestyles. They're traveling, moving, seeing different things, interacting with different people, different cultures.
0:42:22 - Bryan
Lots of time with nature.
0:42:23 - Jen
0:42:24 - Bryan
Sunrises and sunsets. Yeah, I mean we always say the only difference I mean obviously one of them's floating, but really the only difference in lifestyle is in the boating world it's much higher highs and much lower lows than in the van world and that's it. I mean that's really maybe some financial issues. It sounds more expensive when those lows hit.
0:42:47 - Jen
There's a lot more safety involved on a floating home, because if you break down on a road in a van, you're not gonna sink, I mean.
0:43:00 - Bryan
AAA and or someone else will come by. That is where we actually have a lot of people there.
If you're sailing between two countries and neither of them is the US, you're not even gonna call the Coast Guard. I mean, nobody other than another boat happening by. But at least in a van you're on a road, someone's going to come by If you're out in a large enough body of water. That's just not necessarily true, right? And these were things that took a while for us to kind of like, wow, is that how this works? Like okay. But yeah, I mean, again, it wasn't a clean cup black and white decision for us.
We knew for years that it wasn't just driving down the Pan Am and back up.
It was every single time we picked a camp spot, it was either on the beach or looking at the ocean from above, right, I mean, that's just how we Unless we were snowboarding, unless we were chasing snow yeah, that's true.
And so, yeah, we knew our happy place was always the ocean, and so we spent many, many days over those years staring out at the ocean, looking at boats, being jealous of them, but also knowing we kind of gave that up, right, I mean, even when we had expensive jobs and we pin a boat up on our dream board, like I don't know how that ever happens in life, right. I just, I don't know how we ever get there, because we don't know how to sail it, we don't know how to buy it, all the things we don't know anyone that's ever owned a boat, right. And so we just kind of always put it off and we're like, well, I guess we chose this instead, right, but we love our life, we're not going to give it up or we'll try to do it later. And then we were. We were driving up through the Yukon, northwest Territories in Alaska and much like that. You know, midday campfire, because it's actually midnight, but you got your sunglasses on.
Yeah, we met another camper and he was bitter and miserable and we're like man, like what's going on.
0:44:46 - Jen
We were having such a great time. We're like this is the best lifestyle ever, and I just saw a baby moose and two baby cubs with their mama there, like today. It was wonderful, it was glorious. The fox ran through our camp Like this is the best lifestyle ever, and he is so grumpy he was so grumpy, he just wasn't happy, right.
0:45:07 - Bryan
And we're like, hey, man, because this is what we do, like we ask a lot of questions, like what's going on, you know, and he's like, no, I'm not a camper, I'm a sailor, like I want to be on a boat.
And we're like, well, I'll do respect, I aren't you on a boat. He's like, yeah, my body's breaking, like we're just getting, we're just getting too old to where we can't do it anymore. And we just kind of looked at each other and we went back to the van later and like dove into some quick conversations and just kind of realized it's a hard life, it's not something you can punt until you're old and the body's breaking down. And so we hopped online and we bought a boat.
Three days later, site unseen oh my gosh um, I mean, we were in Alaska with our dog and we bought a boat in Florida and we're like, we don't know even how to get to this boat. We weren't there for the survey. I mean, we made a lot of bad decisions. I would never recommend, right, but it just hit us how much we wanted it and how important it was to do it while we were young, right, and I think that's equally true with traveling in a van or anything else, but in a boat, it, it matters more. I mean it really does.
And I, I have, I have horrible back problems from way back. I mean, it's just, it's easy to imagine us not being able to do this for long, especially now that we know how intense it can be. And so, yeah, we basically went back, sold our van, loaded up a rental car and drove straight to Florida and somewhere along the way we make each other and we're like, oh my god, what if we get seasick? Or what if the dog gets seasick? Not even getting into, how do we learn to sail a boat? Right, just just like what if we physically can't live on it?
And so we just decided like one new thing a day, right, and we moved on to the boat.
It's still tied to a dock, and so the one new thing was trying to figure out how to turn the lights on, and then it was how to flush the toilets, and then it was how to get water to come out of the faucet, and eventually it became how do you, how do you start the motor on the dinghy so that we can get to shore for groceries, and and we just kind of kept doing that and we're, we still have so very much to learn, um, but you know, we spent three years sailing around the Caribbean and we just crossed the Pacific, and now we're sitting in French Polynesia again doing something that we would have thrown a photo onto that dreamboard but said there's honestly no way we'll ever get there in our life, right? And wow, there's so many, so many gaps in the middle. I'm not even able to fill in for you, right, but again, so so very grateful to experience it for whatever period of time we we can experience.
0:47:41 - Sara
I didn't realize the turnaround for you guys. Buying the boat was so fast and I didn't know. You didn't have any background in sailing or boating or anything. So how long did it take you from the time you showed up in Florida and you got the keys I don't know if there's keys to a boat you got the keys to the boat. How long did it take you guys to leave?
fine, okay, how long did it take you to finally hit the open water? Like, how long did it take you to learn to sell? Did you guys take lessons, or what was that like? We did not take lessons.
0:48:05 - Bryan
We should really preface here that you should not do this the way we did this. Probably. I mean, we've now met other people that have done it. It's not so you can't, but they're probably far easier, safer, less stressful ways than the way we did this. Yeah, but we didn't.
We didn't want to keep paying for a dock. It was really expensive in Fort Lauderdale, florida, and so we, when we bought it, we had it through the end of the month that our the previous owner had it, and so we just left that and knew we had to pull away within weeks. And so you know again, our one, one new thing a day. We finally started up the dinghy, felt like real boaters. And then, you know, got terrified and we're like, okay, we should probably start the engines to the boat. That was one day. And they're like, well, okay, now maybe we should leave the dock right.
And the whole plan was just to go to the end of the dock, turn around and come back and put it back on the dock. And once we got free of the dock and got out there, we're like I don't want to go back. Do you want to go back? Like that's horrible, that's terrifying, because kind of kept going and got to the ocean and then just sat there, right, like there's nothing to hit.
So we're like, okay, and then we pulled up binoculars and started looking at the, the lines we now know they're supposed to be called lines right, like we're looking at the strings that go to the top of the boat and we're like I want to which one you pull to raise the sail and literally put the sails up, and the boat didn't go anywhere. I'm like, uh oh, this is going to be harder than I thought, right, and so we just kind of kept doing that. So we started, we took a couple weekend trips down to the keys, but then within a couple weeks we basically sought out and and crossed, crossed over to the Bahamas and then it was.
0:49:39 - Jen
It was just over one month from the moment we pulled up to the marina and we're like where's our boat? Oh my gosh, that's our boat. Um, from when we crossed the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas was just a little over one month and we've been sailing everything so and again at some point terrifying right, but then also just small things to learn that we're still learning.
0:50:08 - Sara
I love that I get. I'm gonna go ahead and guess that. Jen, you like the thrill of the risk and the like. The new challenge is that something. Are you like that?
0:50:17 - Jen
um, well, I think if you would have asked me that question five years ago, I would say yes, uh, I, I I worked for um outdoor brands when I had jobs and I was around a lot of adrenaline junkies and I was never high on the list of adrenaline junkies, like everyone around me was way more like crazy and wild than I was, but I was around it a lot, so it felt comfortable.
I, you know, I jumped out of an airplane once and you know I'll try anything once. But, um, now, I, I really like comfort and I really like calm and I really like peace. Um, you know, we live amongst nature and like right now there's no wind and we're just sitting and it's beautiful, and there's no no waves, except for when that boat went by and we had a little bit of wake, but it's gorgeous and in like two or three days it's gonna be 25 knots and the seas are gonna build to 10 feet and like so. So we have the whole spectrum of it and I I want to. We need wind to sail, and so I appreciate that, but I don't need too much crazy, I don't need to take too many risks.
0:51:36 - Bryan
Um, I like to be mellow, I do yoga, every single time, higher highs, okay, okay yeah, and you guys know, like you've, you've been tracking us, like we just went through a pretty big low due to an unforecast storm, right out here, you, you start not wanting adrenaline, right, you really start hoping for those calm times because you're you're at a different level of risk when things go very wrong. Right, and so Jen's the captain of the boat. She's amazing at it. It fits her brain really well. She does all the weather routing. I mean it's amazing the number of things you have to learn just to do this at a very bare minimum of safety in terms of understanding weather and storms and how things happen. But when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong. And and luckily my brain does that pretty well, right, and so day to day captain work Jen is exceptional at, and then when things freak out, the alphabet actually kind of helps, right, um and so it, but it's all teamwork. I mean you can't, you can't make this boat move alone, much less do anything in a critical, important period when you know a squall picks up and you know winds triple or whatever it happens to be, so I don't know.
I think a lot of the things we learned early on in the van, in the other travels like they. They helped a lot and we now still see the same thing you mentioned earlier, like we see a lot of people who who especially in the Caribbean, because that's the first bouncing off point from the US right, tons of people that it was their lifelong dream, waiting until they're 65 sell the house, sell everything. Kids are gone. I'm going to buy a boat and sail. That's a tough transition man. That is a tough black and white from. I've lived in this house forever with my family and friends in a cul-de-sac. I'm going to go do this.
And so we met a lot of people who get as far as the Bahamas. Maybe, maybe they get a little further and they hate it, right, they're going to turn around, sell the boat and have to go buy another house and they just put everything into that boat, right, and so I don't know it's. We feel like you know the problem a lot of them face, even if they do get along and don't yell at each other and have those problems. You know, most of these people haven't lived in a small space with their significant other for very long, much less without going away for eight to ten hours of day, right, and so now we're all trapped in this small space and we love it. We're like oh man, I can't get enough hours in the day and our boats four times larger than what we had in the van, so it feels great like we're.
We're in the rubber, luxury and they're feeling like they just condensed all of this stuff as well as adding as well as all those other things if fries down in the hole and I'm up in the in the salt in the salon.
0:54:19 - Jen
Um, I sometimes can't hear what he's saying and that's weird because for the last 12 years even longer, because we lived in studio apartments before we quit our jobs bachelor pads or whatever um, I, I, he, was never out of ear reach, but now for the, you know, on this boat, I sometimes can't hear him.
0:54:37 - Bryan
It's very strange, that is weird we have a bit of separate anxiety is what she's saying. They're working on it. Yeah, we're talking to people about it.
0:54:45 - Chris
Yeah, well, you guys gave us our first piece of like marriage advice. You said that noise canceling headphones for our marriage savers and we yeah.
0:54:57 - Sara
I think we've quoted you guys a few times about that. We're like you have us a first piece of van life advice we got from someone was the headphones. We're going to save our marriage in a van and you guys are not wrong.
0:55:05 - Bryan
Those things have saved our marriage oh man, it's so true, but it's probably more necessary after we, I think, at least had a part in talking you into moving into a van. So it's good to at least have some other advice to go with that right like yeah, yeah we could both be doing our own thing.
0:55:21 - Sara
We're in our own little world, sitting right next to each other still it's perfect, we can do it so what happened?
0:55:26 - Chris
like what? What was the? Was this the worst thing that happened on the boat?
0:55:30 - Sara
like why you're stuck in french polynesia wait can we before we ask them about, like about the story of what happened, because I have an idea of what happened. I know a little bit of it, but how long did it take you guys to get across the ocean and what was the route? Can you tell us, like, what the last few months has looked like for you guys?
0:55:44 - Jen
yeah, so in in February we found ourselves in Panama, on the Caribbean side, after spending four years in the Caribbean, four and a half years sailing the Caribbean, and in February we went through the Panama canal and found ourselves on the Pacific side and waited for a weather window and for some paperwork to get a long stay visa to french Polynesia. As an american, you can only stay 90 days unless you go through this visa process, and we knew we wanted to stay a year or two. So then in March it was actually mid-march we left Panama and sailed 30 days across the pacific ocean. There was one opportunity to stop, which would have been the Galapagos islands, but that was the only island with any possibility of stopping before getting to the marquesas islands in french Polynesia. We didn't stop in the Galapagos, we just kept going, took us exactly 30 days and it was.
It was pretty awesome. We had a really great weather window. We had. We had a week with two light of winds, which was it can be stressful because you have limited diesel and see if you're either floating or the current's taking you back to Panama or you're slowly motoring trying not to burn through your diesel to make some positive ground. And then we had three weeks of awesome winds, a few scary squall and lightning storms, but nothing, nothing significant, broke, which is always a big fear. If something breaks, you have to just figure out a way to fix it, or keep going and look we were pretty terrified to do this.
0:57:25 - Bryan
I mean, to be fair, like it's not. None of our story is about not being afraid to do things. It's about figuring out a way to do it anyway. Right, yeah, and so this was. This is pretty intimidating for us, especially as fairly rookie sailors.
Um, certainly, I mean, the longest we had ever been offshore was four and a half days four days, yeah, so 30s significant, yeah, and so, yeah, we, we did all the work, we did the research, we made the boat safe, you know all of those things. And then I don't know, we're. I think we were shocked that we got out there and loved it. I mean, I, I actually was like maybe we should just keep going past.
0:58:01 - Jen
French phony, this is really great, I get you out of myself, you know, like this, I was like I want my anger and I want to just not sail for a couple days and just sleep, break cocktails and then we got here you were like, oh, that was, that was significant, right, that's a big thing like less people cross an ocean than climb Everest every year by far.
0:58:25 - Bryan
Um and and so it, and and. There were also a lot of pretty bad stories this year. I mean, there were multiple boats that got hit by whales and sunk within 15 minutes.
0:58:33 - Jen
There were people lost to see people were okay, people were okay, boats on, yeah, the people.
0:58:38 - Bryan
There were other boats that were. I mean, I just found a guy the other day. That was a drift for three months right before somebody found him again. There's no road. Triple a is not just gonna come by, right, um, and so it was crazy. To be out there in the middle of the ocean and hear these stories is daunting, to say the least and so we got here and we're just like oh man, that was great, we have nothing to worry about now.
And then, you know, within a matter of a couple of days, got hit by light or near hit by lightning that fried all of our electronics and then still made it here to this atoll, thought we were safe. And then a, a, an unforecast, what they call a psychonic event. Um, so it wasn't a full cyclone, wasn't on the forecast at all. It just developed over top of us and went from, you know, five miles an hour of wind to 65 miles an hour of wind, just like that. And it was blowing us on shore. And so, between between the wind and the waves that picked up across the atoll, uh, we, we, we. Basically halfway through, we're like, okay, we're gonna lose the boat, like we're gonna, we, we're gonna sleep on this beach, but we're gonna be fine, right, and then we're gonna rebuild. And somehow we did not lose the. We were able to save the boat, but we did have um large sail drive, which is what runs the props, so kind of transmission destruction. And so we've been here.
Um took us 69 days to get the parts we needed to put it back together, and so now, luckily that that was two days ago, so now we can talk to you and this is all right. Right, because we're moving again, we have power again, uh, but it was an interesting. It was an interesting experience, not only to be, you know, no electronics and no propulsion, but in one of the most remote places on the planet, right, um, and so you know we're. Luckily, we still had a lot of food reserves from crossing the pacific. Even the marquesas, where we landed, like there were no vegetables and groceries. And you know, there was some fruit. We got some pom, pomoose and stuff, but there just wasn't much, and so we supplanted with crab and coconut from the little island next to us and uh, it was great and we have a water maker so we can make water from the salt water.
1:00:51 - Jen
I mean, most liveaboard boats do have that, especially ones that want to go remote, like yeah I mean, we make our own water, we make our own power.
1:01:00 - Bryan
um, we were fortunate to already have a lot of boxes and bins full of food and obviously, occasionally another boat would come by and bring us a bag with a couple more palm trees or a bag of flour, which was amazing.
1:01:15 - Sara
So, yeah, I mean I can't imagine.
1:01:18 - Bryan
The lows are significantly lower is the point right. But again, any other day, I mean we probably spent most of our life saying that our goal was to be stranded on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific. And you've done it now. Be careful what you laugh for right.
1:01:36 - Chris
It doesn't live up to the hype.
1:01:40 - Bryan
Yes and no. I mean, it was great, right, if you didn't allow yourself to get stressed out and worried about another storm coming through. Now we have no way to protect ourselves. What happens if the repairs don't work? If we can keep those things in check, then, yeah, it's pretty easy to look out and be like, wow, I'm sitting in paradise right now, right, but it's also easy to wake up and have it kind of spiral the other way. So I think overall, we did a pretty good job.
1:02:11 - Jen
Yeah, when we were in Panama, before we crossed, obviously we met a lot of people that were also planning a weather window and planning to cross as well, and so we made some friendships and so then fast forward, we're here, we're stuck because we can't move our boat and our electronics aren't working, and so we're problem solving all of that, trying to get things from globally to get flown into this little tiny island that we're in that has, I think there's 10 houses on this island.
1:02:43 - Bryan
But like we go little airstrip with them, we've got a little airstrip yeah.
1:02:46 - Sara
Oh, I was gonna ask how that worked.
1:02:48 - Jen
When our friends come in and they stay for three or four days and then there's a weather window for them to keep going and as they're leaving, they're like we feel like we're abandoning you because you can't go anywhere and we can, and we're like, it's cool, we'll leave at some point. We just don't know what to do. It's very strange like we went from I'm not sure what are we gonna do? To okay, now we have a plan, let's execute the plan. Okay, what if the plan doesn't work? Wait, nope, let's be optimistic. And then we execute the plan and plan worked, the repairs fixed the problem. So far We've done two tests and we're feeling pretty optimistic. And now we're on the other side where we're like that was really pretty stressful, but we powered through it and we did it together and we feel pretty awesome and once we put any mechanical skills at all right, I mean obviously I slowly learned to put an old V-dub back together, but that was a pretty specific set of needs and we had a book that literally told me what to do.
1:03:57 - Bryan
This is different, right? Like we had to use our boom as a hoist to lift the engine and push it back just to get to the sale drive. And so then we're trying to push the engine back forward and we're like this isn't working, like what are we gonna do? Like we don't have anybody else, there's no more hands, there's no mechanic to call.
Anyway, yeah, it's just, it's been an interesting experience in how I don't know. I mean, at some point disasters are gonna happen, right, to all of us at any given point. They have different levels of disasters, to be fair, but how we react to them is really important, right, and so how we whether you can wake up in the morning and have a positive spin on it, or whether you're gonna wake up in the morning and just allow yourself to spiral downward is huge. Right, and luckily, I think we had any days where we both were on the downward at the same time right, and so it's really nice to like to find the balance and have the other person kind of help pull you out of it. Right, and look at the good side or go snorkel, do something beautiful to take your mind off of it, right.
1:05:03 - Sara
Yeah, wow, I just I can't imagine being stuck in paradise for 69 days, I know, and that I wanna ask like, okay, what's the plan? Like you guys just got the boat fixed, maybe I'm jumping ahead, am I jumping ahead?
1:05:17 - Chris
too much? No, go ahead. That's the question.
1:05:19 - Bryan
You guys, I don't know, Did you say is that an okay question? My question is you expect us?
1:05:25 - Jen
to have a plan.
1:05:25 - Sara
Yeah, okay, loose, loose. You guys put the sails up. Is it tomorrow you guys gonna start sailing? You put the sails up and the wind is right and you head off. Where do you think you're gonna end up? Or where are some places you would love to possibly see by boat in the next year? Do you have any idea at?
1:05:43 - Bryan
all. We're currently in the two emotos, which is an archipelago within French Polynesia. There's actually five different, I think, archipelagos within French Polynesia, so our visa is good for a year. We can re-upt it for two these islands, which are basically just when you see that idyllic photo of kind of an ocean with little islands in a circle or an oval with a lagoon in the middle. The two emotos is just that there are no major islands, it's just these little atolls, and so this is kind of our perfection.
This is our jam, right, and so our goal is to stay as long as we can, just hopping from atoll to atoll. We like to be in remote places, like. We love to be on our own, not have other boats around. That's also our jam. We just didn't realize it was gonna happen for quite that long, or without having more control over it, right? I think at some point it all comes down to control, like if you know you can go somewhere, it's a different ball game than just feeling like you're at the mercy of nature, right, and so we'll hop from here, possibly Friday maybe we need a few more days, that is tomorrow now, sorry, we'll probably just hop like one or two atolls over. So that's probably a day. Most of them are a couple of days sail apart from each other, and then we wanna go from say the two emotos to the society islands, which is.
1:07:04 - Jen
1:07:05 - Bryan
Bora names you know but also a lot more touristy meaning we'll go there but we won't want to stay very long. That would be another week or two sail right To get from one to the other, and so that's just. That's a large difference compared to the Caribbean, and the Caribbean everything is a day or two apart from each other. Here maybe you can get to a little island within a Mar-Fellago, but you've got a pretty big sale to get to the next set of islands.
1:07:34 - Jen
So we're really on a scheduled to with Mother Nature because there are in the Caribbean, it's hurricanes, over here at Cyclone.
So the same thing, they're just going the other way, but there's a season for it, and so right now it is not the Cyclone season, so we're free to move around anywhere we want with relatively low risk, although we were, you know, we experienced an anomaly to that weather pattern a couple months ago, but that even the weather routers and the forecasters are like. We don't really, we didn't see it coming, we don't expect it again. But you know, mother Nature is is chaos sometimes and but but then the Cyclone season we have to be in certain areas that are safer than others. This to keep our, keep ourselves at that low risk.
1:08:30 - Bryan
Yeah, insurance I mean our insurance kind of requires and it sets the schedule on where we can move. Right, yeah, we plan we think.
1:08:40 - Jen
I mean, of course, we called an unplanned always because you know plans are just a direction you had and then you, you know, change it as you're moving. But we plan to be in French Polynesia for a year or two and then just keep heading with the winds. We'll keep heading west, and there's the Cook Islands, there's.
1:09:03 - Bryan
Fiji Tonga, I mean.
1:09:06 - Jen
New Zealand all the places that we might have wanted to go for a honeymoon back in the day, but couldn't afford it right, right now, we get to go to and and live for zero dollars, right?
1:09:15 - Bryan
I mean, that's the that's the way that it's very much like the van right is. Once you show up somewhere, we're literally just spending money on, on the food we get at grocery store and everything else is free, and parts, obviously that's yeah, right, I can't imagine that was so yeah. I mean our long-term goal is to end up in New Zealand or Australia eventually. We would love to stretch that out to a seven or eight year plan. Right, if we can just slowly eye on top our way there and we do.
1:09:44 - Jen
We do dream about driving New Zealand, both islands, and driving Australia, and so you know, don't know what that looks like, I but that's probably where the lifestyles merge again for us, right?
1:09:58 - Bryan
I mean, we're obviously not gonna drive around one of these islands other than a day rental but yeah, when we get to those islands then because of the seasonality, of what we can and can't do on a boat, then it's highly likely that's where we'll either build out another van or ship a van over, depending on what we can figure out, and then kind of spend seasons half on the boat, half on the van, at least for a couple years until we see what comes after that. I guess that is amazing.
1:10:29 - Sara
That is so cool. I'm just, I mean, I just I can't even wrap my mind around sailing to New Zealand or Australia like I'm just, I don't know, I, I'm ready to go buy a boat right now we should be talking to you.
1:10:41 - Chris
We got to cut the communication off right now, so I know nothing about sailing.
1:10:46 - Sara
We neither of us grew up around boats at all. No, we have a kayak now. We have a kayak.
1:10:57 - Chris
So when you were, so when you were in the middle of nowhere I mean literally nowhere, there's just ocean and that you, it's you both of you for 30 days, and then you finally see land, like were you excited to see another human face, or were you just like, oh, I don't really want to talk right now, like I'm where I bet we have been yeah.
1:11:23 - Bryan
I have actually come become more reclusive over the years. As we do this and you know I have some social anxieties we can talk about in another setting, and so I'm always the guy that's in the party like trying to find a corner and like one person to talk to, right? I don't need a lot of human interaction, jen, I think would love to see someone other than me for a while, right?
1:11:43 - Jen
I love talking to strangers, I love hearing people's stories. That's why I I love your guys's podcast so much is because you know you're you're just sharing people's stories with the world. It's very cool. But I mean I, I walk into a crowd and I just know that everybody has a complex like history, a complex current life, that you know they've had heartache and they've experienced love and joy and pain and like I, just I just know I can, I can just feel that everybody has these like just layers and layers and layers of their life and I, I, of course I don't want to be a weirdo and say tell me all the layers of your life, but I really do want to know like yeah.
I've learned to not be so invasive it's really funny.
1:12:42 - Bryan
I mean, we do love these conversations, right, especially when it comes to other travelers, which here, that's all we get right. All we talk to is other people that are traveling or locals, which the language divide here is is becoming a little problem with that, right. So it's really more just about other travelers and we love sharing our story. We love trying to help other people do it. I mean, you guys know this firsthand, right from that day on the beach. But we also hate being on video, right. I mean there's a reason we don't have a YouTube channel. We haven't done those things, we're not comfortable with it very much, but if somebody just snuck up with a camera as we're talking to other people, like that's great, like it works, I think we were stoked to see land as where, as for people, we have a slightly different answer, right, it's an interesting thing. I mean it's to tie this back, I guess, to that whole black and white thing we were talking about, like when we lived in Portland and we had our jobs and we dreamt of or put the pictures up on the board of these things that we wanted to do but knew we could never do. We didn't know anybody that had ever done it. We didn't know how to get there, we didn't even know about that first step to try and turn it into a gray zone, right, it just seemed impossible. There's just this giant wall that said that's not life, that's not how you do it. Keep your, keep your nine to five and work your tail on.
Now, ironically, the only people we talked to are people that live this lifestyle, right? All the only people we talked to are people that have run away. You know, some of them obviously worked and saved and waited till retirement, but we meet a crazy number of people that are far younger than us. Like, we're kind of in the middle zone between the retirement people and the, the young crowd. You know, whether you tubing or not, right, and so every conversation we have now is about various ways to get free, various ways to make money.
They're oddly much like this, right, it's just that no one happens to be filming them or recording it, and it's just, I don't, my brain can't not laugh in the middle of each one of those conversations. You know, where was this 15 years ago when we were right for any impetus whatsoever? Like, where was that voice? They? Sure it's possible, go to this marina and talk to 25 people tomorrow about 25 different ways to do right. It's just not. And even if, frank, or even if somebody told me that my brain would about you know, it's not, no, that's not easy, but all of these people are out there, right, and I think everybody's happy to share the story, right?
I mean, I'm presumed most people you guys contact and say, do you want to do a podcast? They're like, no, that's horrible, but people love sharing their story and ideas and they want to help other people. Yeah, you don't know how to act. I don't know. Maybe this is the problem too. When we needed it, there were, there was no podcast and no YouTube and no social media, because we left too early, maybe, but I don't know. It's it's it's really interesting the the difference in the kind of people we talked to now and we could have used them yeah, it's definitely more common.
1:15:41 - Sara
I mean, even since we got into it five years ago, when we first started and we bought our first van and we were in Chattanooga converting it, I think we saw maybe one or two other vans the entire time we were converting this van in Chattanooga, and now you can't drive a mile down the road without seeing another van it's like at first everybody wanted to see inside.
1:15:57 - Chris
Now it's just like okay yeah, now people just rolled their eyes at us, yeah yeah, it's just, it's crazy.
1:16:02 - Sara
I mean like and I personally I love that because there are more people to learn from. I mean you guys have been so helpful to us and so many seasons.
I don't know how many times I've sent you guys messages about random things and you guys answer immediately and it's been great. But I mean, there's so many people out there who are so willing to share their knowledge and whatever arena they're in, and yeah, it makes it seem more accessible, like a little less scary to kind of jump into it because other people have gone before us.
1:16:24 - Chris
Yeah, it's nice to know that you're not alone.
1:16:26 - Sara
I know we need to wrap this up because we've held you guys for a long time. I'm afraid we stay out here too long.
1:16:35 - Chris
I'm gonna go out and buy a boat too yeah, try to sell the house and yeah, so if you could, if you could leave us with one like lasting thought. If somebody's listening to this podcast right now and they're like you know what boat life doesn't sound half bad being in paradise for for two years, or whatever, I mean, what would you, what do you want to leave us with?
1:16:58 - Jen
what has really brought a lot of freedom to our decision-making in our life is to know that when you make a decision, you're not making your forever decision. So if you, if you're like, what do I want to do for the next year? I really want to live in a van for the next year, you're not saying I'm gonna, I'm never gonna go back to normal life, I'm never gonna go back to a job, I'm just gonna do this forever it. It's a little bit easier to swallow if you're just choosing a right now decision and not a forever decision. So what do you know?
1:17:33 - Bryan
I think that's great, I mean, I think that that's good. That's kind of the key takeaway for us, right, like it's all about the gray zone. It's it's all about breaking it down to smaller decisions. Right, it's not about the end of the race, it's literally like what's the next step, look like where am I going next? And somehow, at least for the brain that we talked about before, that was really stressed about all of these things, it just makes it a lot easier, right? I mean, I think that the fact that we planned on only leaving for a year is actually the only reason we're still doing it 12 years later. As where, and? And no plans to stop. Let's be clear. I think if we had tried to say we're gonna go do this thing for 12 years, we never would have gone, right. I mean, we, we wouldn't have known how to solve all the things that that presumably had to be solved, much less find the courage to do it.
So yeah, and then the other advice is go find yourself a gen like that, that's certainly very helpful, right everyone needs a gen.
I mean, I say it joking, but it's actually important, right? Not, I don't mean that, even as a part, do it with, but you are. I mean, there's some study that came out a while back like the number one. I'm gonna slaughter what this study said, but effectively, the number one key piece of importance is the five people you spend most time with right, and so for most of us, if you spend your time around people that also feel like there's no option and the only path is to stay at the nine to five, it's very unlikely you're gonna find a path out right as where. If you start spending time with people sailors, people that live in a van listening to podcasts I mean it starts to sound easier and at some point, yeah, that's all it takes, right it's so true, that's really good advice.
1:19:17 - Sara
That really is good. I mean, I'm sitting here like oh yeah, I remember that the second we started watching YouTube of van livers and met you guys and I realized it wasn't just us like it seemed more accessible, it seemed doable in those little segments of we'll do it for a year, we'll do it for another year and just it is much easier to swallow.
1:19:30 - Jen
That's really good advice guys, thank you so much is it okay if I go for?
it. Yeah, we live in a world right now where there's so many visuals, we're seeing how other people are living and I guess it seems to me like the answers are inside us. What is gonna make us feel like we're really living true to ourselves when we see what other people are doing? That's inspiration, that that's not, that that's just information to add to your, to what you're already, you know, feeling. But there is no right way to live that like van life is not right. Boat life is not right. It's what feels, what feels right to yourself.
And so, developing that as hard, especially when you live in a, in a fast-paced life, you've got the kids and the job and you know you've got conflict in your relationships, that you're always, you're constantly trying to like, find harmony and you're trying to take care of yourself and you work. You know it's very loud and so it's hard to hear that, but that's where, like, and you, we see people. You know they, they move into a van, they hate it, they buy a boat, then they decide to sell it, like that's not failure, that's them learning what, what they really want, and that that wasn't it at that moment, and so yeah that's just.
It takes courage and it takes quiet to, you know, to try to emphasize to try it on for size.
1:21:16 - Sara
Yeah that's so good. It really that's really good. Yeah, it's okay to say no. I mean yeah. I think we pulled from a lot of different peoples. We've watched so many people on YouTube and heard so many podcasts. We pulled a little bit of information from so many people and created, I think, figured out what works for us and what doesn't, and we're still figuring that out. Who knows where we?
1:21:36 - Jen
maybe we'll be on a boat next year yeah no idea yeah, and then you've got the two of you right. So it's, it's not just, you know, chris and Sarah, it's, it's the Chris.
1:21:46 - Chris
Sarah, this is so much fun yeah, we need to do this again, yeah thank you guys so much.
1:21:57 - Sara
We really appreciate you guys doing this with us pleasure it's been fun thanks for listening to what no one tells you with Chris and Sarah. You have a comment or question that you want answered on the air? Be sure to send us a message to hello at christen sarah comm, or you can call or text our phone number at 423-825-9572. Thanks for listening.
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