Let This Vagabonding Couple Explain How To Budget For The Van Life

Life & Culture Writer

Sara and Alex James

Every vanlifer we’ve interviewed (and we have interviewed a lot) is confronted with queries about financing their vagabonding lifestyle. It’s a pressing concern, right? Especially if you’re trying to develop a career from within the confines of a vehicle and keep gas in the tank. There are obvious financial advantages to living in a van that give you some leeway to earn a bit less or be a bit more free with your time, but there are also the drawbacks of not having an office or a consistent locale from which to connect with others.

Thankfully, technology and ingenuity have provided vanlifers Sara and Alex James of 40 Hours of Freedom with just what they need to create and nurture a digital marketing business. Under their tutelage, a whole new group of adventurers can shed their 9-to-5s and potentially hit the road without being driven (terrible pun alert) to poverty.

In a short respite from their daily hustle, Sara and Alex sat down with us to talk about their sweet ride (it’s legit lush), the trajectory of their careers, some of their favorite travel spots, and whether or not they’ve had moments of doubt about the life they’ve chosen. We learned a lot about the well-rounded couple, and we think their straight talk gives marvelous insight into the practicalities of the lifestyle.

Read on and enjoy the amazing images of their home on wheels.

Sara and Alex James

Tell me a little bit about your van.

Alex: Our van is a 2008 Dodge Sprinter. We opted for the 170-inch wheelbase version because we are living in it full time. The 144 was just a little too small, we couldn’t fit a bathroom and a shower in there, so we went with the bigger version.
A lot of people that I’ve interviewed don’t have a bathroom or a shower.

Sara: That was important to us. The more we thought about it, we’re like, “Oh man, we’re going to be living in this. We don’t wanna have to always find bathrooms and showers.” So, we decided we wanted to be totally self-reliant and have everything we needed in the van and not have to always try to find somewhere.

I totally understand. When I think about van living the idea of doing it without a bathroom or a toilet or a shower just seems unpleasant, I guess.

Alex: It’s things that you don’t really think of. Like, we went to Crater Lake, and there’s the Umpqua Hot Springs right there. So, we hiked up to the hot springs. It was July or August, and hot springs never smell good. They always smell like rotten eggs, right? We got back to the van and we stunk, so instead of driving another eight hours smelling like rotten eggs, we both took a shower and then we were on the road again, everything was good.


Alex: Yep.

Sara and Alex James