A couple who spent $50,000 on a van conversion to leave their corporate lives behind has admitted it isn’t safe, after two men tried to break in while they were sleeping.
YouTubers Allie Miraglia, 29, and Trent Childs, 33, from Washington D.C. and Salt Lake City, Utah, respectively, first met on the dating app Bumble in December 2016 and they bonded over their shared passion for travel and adventure.
At the time, Trent worked as an outdoor gear sales representative and Allie worked as a project manager for a healthcare quality improvement organization during the week and they relished their weekends together where they would go rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, snowboarding and exploring nature.
Falling for each other: YouTubers Allie Allie Miraglia, 29, and Trent Childs, 33, Washington D.C. and Salt Lake City, Utah, met on dating app Bumble in December 2016
Their passion: They bonded over their mutual love for travel and adventure
On the go: The couple took an eight-week-long road trip in 2017, which fueled their desire to live on the road permanently while traveling
Two days before their first date, Trent bought a van so that he could go on weekend trips in the mountains without having to pitch a tent.
The couple took their first eight-week-long road trip in 2017 through the Pacific Northwest and Canada and fell in love with the idea of living in a van permanently and the freedom of experiencing a life away from material possessions.
‘That summer, living and traveling in the van, making some of our first attempts at YouTube videos, we realized what a gift it was to live without so many physical belongings,’ Trent said.
‘The previously ludicrous idea of living so minimally, with only what fits with you on the road, became the most liberating lifestyle imaginable. Our ability to connect with and appreciate the world around us seemed to grow deeper every day.
‘The idea of going back to our home in Utah and settling into our normal corporate routine seemed more and more unsatisfying. With our love of travel, exploration, adventure, connection, growth, it all seemed possible, affordable, even sustainable in the van.’
So, they sold their first van and bought a RAM Promaster van in autumn 2017, all while still working their day jobs, and spent $50,000 converting it into a tiny home on wheels complete with a shower, toilet, hot water, an oven and fridge.
‘We decided life is too short for regrets this big, and once we returned from that trip we sold that van and began building our current van — with the intention of including everything we needed in order to live in it comfortably, full-time,’ Trent said.
‘Our van has a shower, toilet, hot water, oven, refrigerator, and temperature-controlled furnace. These were the basics we felt we needed to live comfortably on the road.’
Time to move on: The couple decided to leave their corporate jobs and travel. So they used $50,000 to transform a van (pictured) into a livable space
Incredible: ‘Our van has a shower, toilet, hot water, oven, refrigerator, and temperature-controlled furnace,’ Trent said
World travelers: The couple has been living out of their fan and traveling around the western hemisphere since summer 2018
Their priority: ‘When people ask if we feel cramped or tight the answer is no— we built this van to live out of it and in the world,’ Trent said
In early summer 2018, Trent and Allie decided to finally give up their day jobs and have been travelling through North and South America with their dog, Frank, full-time ever since; experiencing cultures that they say they would never be able to experience if they could only travel for one or two weeks of the year.
‘We always tell people you don’t have to make huge sacrifices to be comfortable in a van. You should identify your priorities and comforts and include them in your build,’ Trent said, adding: ‘For us, that meant a fully capable espresso machine, enough solar power to use a hand mixer for chocolate chip cookies and a blender for smoothies, and a big enough garage to store all our adventure gear.
‘Our floorplan is designed to accommodate all parts of our daily life— working, cooking, cleaning, sleeping, lounging, yet it is small. Every inch has a function and a purpose.
‘When people ask if we feel cramped or tight the answer is no— we built this van to live out of it and in the world, and when we are in the van, we know we have everything we need to be safe and happy.’
Currently in Chile and on their way to Patagonia, Trent and Allie say they feel more connected to the world by living this way and that not being able to have many belongings in the small space of their van is liberating.
‘We’ve been able to experience so many cultures and countries that we never would’ve seen if we could only travel one to two weeks a year,’ Trent said. ‘It’s been a huge lesson in learning how privileged we are to be able to choose this life, especially when so many people we meet in Latin America don’t have any choice in their future.
‘It’s a constantly humbling and eye-opening experience that we try to savor it and be grateful for every day.’
Before: The couple worked hard to transform the van into something that was livable
After: Every inch of the van has a function and purpose for the couple
Eat up: ‘We’ve been able to experience so many cultures and countries that we never would’ve seen if we could only travel one to two weeks a year,’ Trent said
Scary: The coupe experienced on hiccup after two men in Nicaragua attempted to break into their vehicle while they were sleeping. This encouraged them to improve security
Life on road hasn’t been without its hiccups, as on June 17, 2019, while in Nicaragua two men tried to break into their van while they were sleeping, which has made Trent and Allie more aware of where they park up for the night.
‘One night in Nicaragua, parked on a city street, we woke up to two men trying to break into the van. They had a metal tool and were trying to break open the front passenger door,’ Allie said.
‘Trent jumped out of bed in his underwear and gasped at their faces through the front window. He frantically started moving a five gallon water jug off the front seat so he could drive off, and luckily it swayed the van enough for the men outside to realize there were people in the van, and they ran away.
‘It was a huge lesson for us in always having an escape route, keeping the front seat clear and the keys nearby when we go to sleep— and we have since become very mindful of the places we pick to sleep at night.’
The couple are now full-time YouTubers, with more than 173,000 subscribers, and also offer one-on-one van build consultations to people who are looking to follow in their footsteps.
Important: ‘It was a huge lesson for us in always having an escape route, keeping the front seat clear and the keys nearby when we go to sleep,’ Allie said about the scary moment
Love: The couple are now full-time YouTubers, with more than 173,000 subscribers
Experiencing life: The couple has traveled through Canada, USA, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Peru (pictured), Chile and Nicaragua
Having fun: Their dog accompanies them on the road as well
Enjoying life: ‘This lifestyle is more affordable, sustainable, and forces us to be much more environmentally conscious,’ Trent said
So far the couple have traveled through Canada, USA, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Nicaragua.
Their income fluctuates each month but they earn enough to cover their frugal travel expenses each month.
‘This lifestyle is liberating. When you’re not tied to physical belongings and can simplify your life, you have more room to be present with others and intentional about the choices you make,’ Trent said.
‘This lifestyle is more affordable, sustainable, and forces us to be much more environmentally conscious. The world around us seems more tangible, more connected, and we feel a deeper appreciation for it.
‘The future is never guaranteed, you can’t always travel and experience the world the way that you can right now, in this moment.
‘Whether you’re taking a short road trip, weekend adventure, or looking to make a long-term lifestyle change, living and travelling in a van is an incredible way to experience the world.’