Introducing the van life of Laura and Joel – maybe you can take inspiration from it and hit the road with your partner!
Based in Canada, Laura and Joel traded off their cars and started their van life by purchasing a 2010 K-Z Durango in May 2021. They drove from the East to the West coast of Canada and began to explore the oceanside territories that the country has to offer. Unexpectedly, they discovered so much more than they realise and would have never thought those places existed! Eager to venture into the woods and ride along the coast, they discovered hiking trails in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Alberta Badlands, Tofino and even in multiple national parks.
It takes two to make a decision in leaving their cosy apartment and speed off into the unknown. But Laura and Joel do not regret it, with the curiosity to explore Canadian lands they feel like they have only “scratched the surface.”
They shared about their trip to the Dinosaur Provincial Park located in the Alberta badlands and described how they stumbled upon magnificent discoveries. “We drove through this canyon and it was really cool! It was like you are on Mars,” Laura said.
“There’s so much more to life and you can put a twist to it!”
Why did you decide to embark on this van life?
The pandemic gave Laura and Joel an opportunity to reflect on their current lives. In 2021, they decided to leave Ontario and venture into the vastness. Although Laura and Joel work for different companies, the pandemic made their jobs remote so now they can travel and work simultaneously. Ever since van life became a lifestyle for them and they are always on the move!
How did you guys manage your travel plans? Were there difficulties in compromising between them?
“Laura does a lot of research (about the places we go to),” said Joel. The pair advise other couples who are starting out to do thorough research before travelling. “Canada is huge and there’s so much to see,” said Laura.
“We both have the same destinations in mind…I might have to answer that question next time,” chuckled Joel. So far, they have not encountered any difficulties in articulating their travel preferences. They both decided to take the Trans-Canada highway that takes them from “coast to coast.”
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Which travel spot was your favourite?
With their newfound interest in mountains, they discovered their favourite spot being Banff. “We’ve never been to the mountains before and they are incredible. We spent a week in Banff and even extended our stay! We then drove the Icefields Parkway and towards Jasper to check out the glaciers. It (Banff) is on our list to go back to as soon as possible.”
The rocky mountains are Canada’s “go-to spot” and they are “100% a bucket list destination that everybody should see.”
How would you advise couples in overcoming the fears that may entail on their journeys?
“The big thing would be – just go for it.” Laura understands it is hard to sell your home but she encourages you not to wait for the “perfect moment” and just take your chances. “It was worth it because once we jumped into it we got comfortable really fast.”
For those in pursuit of van life, “make sure to do a test run (on the trailer). Go for a weekend trip before embarking on a huge trip or change your lifestyle completely,” advised Laura.
Joel, on the other hand, believes “you learn and you go” and “the biggest part is to get out (there).”
Laura reminded others “this lifestyle isn’t cheap.” For example, you would realise the expenses in maintaining the van amount to quite a bit. By considering the availability of gas, water and electricity, living in a van can cost around the same as renting an apartment.
“If you stay somewhere longer, you benefit from cheaper rates,” Joel stated. Moreover, “you can take advantage of staying at someone’s property. They invite you to participate in what they sell, and in return, you get to stay on the property.” Laura and Joel leveraged this as much as they can to save up money, but also to support local businesses. It is a win-win situation where both parties benefit from one another.
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It is also important to be mindful of where you park the van, whether it will be government-owned or private-owned lands.
What are your upcoming New Year or Valentine’s Day plans?
Laura and Joel love going with the flow and trusting where the road leads them. “We feel like we have big plans for 2022,” said Laura. “Right now we are heading back to Toronto where our wedding will be held (in June), and “from there we’ll see!”
“On the way back, (we’ll explore) bits and pieces we’ve missed,” said Joel. “We don’t have anything locked in yet. But we always make sure we do it all before we head back.” For Valentine’, they are planning to do something local and spend it in Tofino, a far-west Canadian island with a splendid coastal view. Nevertheless, they are really excited about the new year, their honeymoon, and what awaits them ahead.
Discover more about Laura & Joel @wildnorthtravel!