This Engineer Couple Quit Their Jobs and Sold Their House to Travel the World in a Campervan

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine
Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

Bonjour! We’re Isabelle and Antoine from We’re 36 years old and we left behind our engineering careers, sold our house in Montreal (Canada), converted a Ford Transit cargo van to a campervan and we just embarked on an epic road trip throughout America! Being out-there riding our mountain bikes and snowboards is what make us happy the most, so living in a home on wheels gives us plenty of riding/outdooring opportunities.

How and why did you get into living in a van?

We both backpacked quite a lot during our studies (Europe, Morocco, Costa-Rica, South-East Asia, Middle-East, Africa), but after we graduated we bought a house to settle down. The housing situation is VERY cheap here in Quebec (Canada) compared to other regions, so we could easily afford a house. We were close to our local trails, slopes and friends, so we considered that we had pretty much everything we wanted in life. We lived a comfortable life, but when reaching our mid-thirties, the years seemed to repeat themselves. The idea of repeating the same pattern until our retirement was not really fulfilling, plus we really missed being confronted to an ever-changing environment, discover new places, being out-there.

That’s when we noticed the vanlife movement; our Instagram account were flooded with picture of people doing it. Living in a van seemed like the perfect solution to that “problem” of ours, so we took the plunge. All in!

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

What kind of van do you have?

We bought a brand-new Ford Transit that we converted ourselves, because we had very specific needs. We wanted our mountain bikes and snowboards stored inside the van, a high-quality insulation and heating system to go through winter, a composting toilet, plenty of storage and so on.

By building the van ourselves, we could have all of that for about half the price of a professionally built campervan. It probably took us over 1500 hours to complete the conversion, EXCLUDING all the research and Instagram lurking (which more than double the time)!

This is the craziest and most exhausting project we went through, considering we also had to work full-time, downsize/sell our house and build our website simultaneously. The stress level was through the roof, but we’re so proud of what we accomplished together! We often joked (?) around that if our couple would survive this episode, we will survive anything! We did it!

All the build is documented thoroughly in our build journal.

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

What have been the best parts of living in an van so far?

It’s easy to get caught in the work-eat-sleep cycle; everyone is doing it, that’s the normal way of living a life. You get comfort in material belongings & expensive vacations (hey, we got three weeks vacation per year, we better live it to the fullest!). Then you work more to get even more stuff and even more intense vacations.

Since we downsized, all our belonging fit into the van. Less things = less work = more time being outside (for much cheaper). And that’s the point of this far-out-thing. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t consider ourselves minimalist nor we’re adept of the slow-living movement. In fact, this is quite the opposite. We don’t want to be idling, we want to do more! More riding, more being outside, more meeting new and interesting people, more happiness! Living in our van brings us closer to that goal.

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

What have been the most difficult parts?

The most difficult part of living in a van? Not having access to a real hot shower! We’re always hiking, biking or backcountry skiing; in other words, we get dirty (and stinky). We shower outside using a propane-instant-shower and Isabelle & her mom sew a nice shower curtain that we install between the opened rear doors. This makes a larger shower than we had in our house! But showering outside in autumn or spring, it’s not exactly as comforting as a normal hot shower (in a normal, heated, washroom). We try to compensate the lack of comfort by hunting hot-springs! We love that!

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

How do you eat and sleep?

Home-made and healthy food is what we enjoy the most. We don’t follow any specific diet; we strongly believe that diversified and balanced habits will keep us going! That’s a rule we apply to everything in life: BALANCE. Hey, it’s OK to eat bacon or brownies (bacon-brownies are delicious!) sometimes, the key is not all-the-time and to stick to reasonable portions.

We try to avoid restaurants (because budget & health), so we really wanted to have an oven, a large refrigerator (5.8cu.ft.) and running water. It’s a bit more challenging to cook in our van than it was in our house, but it’s all fun and games!

For sleeping, we’re really into the National Forests and BLM (Public Lands) dispersed campgrounds; it’s free, natural, beautiful and quiet. We hope Americans realize they’re very lucky to have these Public Lands! OK we won’t lie, we used Walmart parking lots occasionally; when we’re in town or in transit. It’s an easy and free option, but it kind of kill the mood. We invested in a real double mattress to make ourselves comfortable as if we were home. We wanted to make sure to recover during the night and wake up ready for more adventures!

We really wanted to live comfortably in the van for an extended period of time: the composting toilet really helps in that department! It’s odor-free (really!), doesn’t have to be emptied often (two people full-time = empty solid every month, liquid every 3-4 days) and it makes life much more enjoyable! We quickly got used to it and we’re now comfortable having a conversation while using it 🙂 Living in such a tight space, it’s inevitable and it’s a small price to pay to live this lifestyle.

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

What is your best advice people new to living in a van?

The most difficult part of this lifestyle is making the leap! In these modern days, we’re used to eliminate most risks from our lives. You will need some guts to quit your career and leave everything behind! But once the decision is made, it gets easier! Once we committed to this project, the rate at which our saving started to increase was pleasantly surprising. We realized how much beer, restaurants, bike, lift ticket, gas, etc. costed our sedentary life. We finally met our objective much faster than we anticipated, yay!

Our best advice is: don’t do it for the idealistic pictures you see on Instagram. Living in a van is not that easy! It takes a split second for the van to get messy, so don’t say goodbye to your cleaning routine just yet. We’re at the mercy of mother nature, so a week of rain = a week in the van; it’s a very tight space for two people! Learn to embrace your better half small annoying habits, because you’re constantly confronted to them! Take some alone-time. Don’t rush the travels and take some days-off. But in the end, there’s nothing like waking up near a trailhead everyday. It’s all worth it!

Based on your experience, how much does it cost to live in a van?

We’re data freaks; we keep track of everything. Here are the costs of the van conversion and our on-the-road expenses.

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

What are your top 5 most essential stuff in your campervan?

There are so many things!

  • The heating system (Webasto Air Top 2000), since we must confront winter to ride our boards and it gets the van so much comfortable on chilly mornings;
  • The stove/oven (Atwood Vision Range), because Isabelle loves to cook;
  • Our coffee system (Porlex Grinder, ROK Presso manual espresso maker & Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother), because it’s so good we don’t need to splurge on expensive coffee anymore;
  • Our Nature’s Head composting toilet. When you have to go, you have to go;
  • Our mountain bikes! Antoine is riding a Devinci Troy and Isabelle a Pivot Mach 5.7.

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

What has been your best van-related purchase below $100?

  • Lynx Leveling Blocks, to straighten things out;
  • Velcro straps, because things move a lot in a moving home;
  • Collapsible food containers, it’s a real space saver;
  • Caframo Sirocco gimbal fan, since we don’t have AC, it helps having a better sleep.

Faroutride Isabelle and Antoine

What will the future bring?

Since we left, we really live in the moment so it’s hard to think about the future! Isn’t it part of what makes vanlife interesting? Best case scenario is to extend the trip and to drive south to Patagonia… who knows…

Visit Isabelle and Antoine on their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram

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