Kyle

Eight months ago, Kyle left his job of 10 years making nearly six figures, sold everything he owned and moved into a van with his dog, Penny Lane. The two of them plan to make their way south through Utah and eventually hit the East Coast.
Before vanlife, Kyle's life was filled with things. But he quickly learned from living on the road how to live with only what fits in 88 square feet.

Square Feet: 88

Living in my van on the open road.

Make, Model, Year: 1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia

My van is air-cooled and gas powered. It was converted from a 2.0 long block into a 2.3 with dual Weber carburetors. There's no AC or power-steering.

And when I bought it, there were less than 9,000 miles on the new motor.

Why did you pick this particular rig?

A few years back, my girlfriend at the time, my brother and sister-in-law rented a Vanagon Westfalia in Maui, Hawaii. We camped across the entire island. We woke up to the sound of the breaking beach waves and the rainforest, and sometimes the sound of loud parking lots.

Each experience gave me a small taste of vanlife, and I knew I must get a Westfalia.

What made you decide to live on the road?

I was tired of paying a mortgage for a house that I never spent any time in. It seemed like a silly cycle. So for the time being, I don't want a home with walls.

Vanlife is an experience I want to have before I get too old to travel or be tied down with a family.

Who knows when my time is coming—no one promised me tomorrow.

What was the process like to let go of things for a simpler life?

The process was both exhilarating and anxiety filled. I owned a car, van, motorcycle and quad. I had lots of things and needed to learn to let go of them and focus on experiences instead. In the final months before I hit the road, I let a revolving door of Craigslist strangers into my home. You do not realize how much stuff you have until it is time to sell it all.

I feel an incredible weight lifted off my shoulders living a life where everything fits into 88 square feet.

What were the first few months like?

The first few months were incredibly challenging and rewarding at the same time. Bathrooms, showers and sleeping locations are among the daily challenges in vanlife but not usually an issue in real life. I met some amazing people in the community along the way. On this trip, I've camped, skated, stargazed, caravanned and adventured with strangers who I now consider good friends. Some of these experiences led me to van gatherings like MogFest and Descend on Bend.

I am eight months into my trip and it’s been the most incredible experience of my life.

What has surprised you about this journey?

Adeline, my van, has surprised me. My ability to adapt and go more than a week without showering has surprised me. Nature has surprised me the most though. Walking up to Crater Lake was like entering the realm of another planet and far surpassed my expectations.

This Earth amazes me and I am humbled by the bountiful beauty she provides daily.

What are your go-to items on the road?

The things I use the most are 12V chargers, a briefcase solar panel to charge the aux battery while not running the motor, baby wipes and my laptop.

My new 12V AC unit is a game changer. Watching DVDs the old school way is my only form of electronic entertainment due to the lack of Wi-Fi the road provides.

What have you learned about yourself?

I have learned that I am a heck of alot more mechanically inclined than I give myself credit. When you own a Vanagon, you have no choice. I am learning to truly follow my heart with every decision I make and go with the flow.

I am learning not to rush and be present in the moment.

What are some items on your bucket list?

Picking up a hitchhiker was one of them, and I crossed this off the list on the way to Crater Lake. I picked up a couple of backpackers heading in to complete their journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. They were amazing and it was so fun. I would love to hike the Pacific Crest Trail myself one day.

What's next? Any news?

I was on the news! 12 News AZ did a story on me and brought Penny and me into the studio.

I am going to continue to travel in my Vanagon with Penny. We are going to collect new experiences, meet new people and continue to follow the dream. I hope to inspire those around me and gain inspiration from everyone I meet.

I intend to do this for one to two years depending on how things play out. After this, I want to start a business and buy some land and build my own tiny, self-sustaining home. I am at a stage in my life where I want to build something for myself. I worked my last job for 10 years and it was very rewarding, but there is more to life than the modern man's hustle. Time to hustle for myself and not a CEO.

Every day’s an adventure and I love every second of it.

Follow Kyle and his adventures

Produced by Kathleen Morton of Tiny House, Tiny Footprint.
Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos credit to Kyle Richardson.