Ask A Van Dweller Ft. @wildbythemile
To start things off, please introduce yourself to us.
We are Liz Bryant and Kevin Midei who are blessed to explore via Wild- a 2016 high-roof Mercedes
Sprinter 144”. We bought the cargo van as a shell (even without windows in the back) and converted
Wild into an adventure van on our slanted-beach- front street in La Jolla, California. The build took 5
months to the date. We have lived in Wild full-time for 3.5 months.
Tell us about your van?
We stumbled upon #VanLife in 2015 when Liz wanted another adventure. We had just finished hiking
the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada and Liz didn’t like reporting for NBC News any longer. We decided to try this lifestyle for three reasons: Liz has a hard time staying in one place for long; we both love to experience new places; and want to see as much as we can, while we can.
how long are you planning on living in YOUR VAN?
We didn’t put any expectations or pressure on how long we will live in the van… just until we feel like
What is your favorite thing about van life?
Our favorite thing about van life is freedom. Everyone has an adventurous side. Once you tap into that wild part of yourself, it’s hard to see another way. Van life is different from just traveling. Places you would miss if you are flying.
What was the hardest thing to get used to once moving into your van?
The main struggle we deal with is the firmness of our bed... our cushions are too firm. The seamstress picked the cushions when she custom made them. We now realize the importance of a good night’s rest and comfy mattress.
How do you make living in a van work with your partner?
Liz and I met hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. We “moved” into a one-person tent together the first week of “dating”--- aka: hiking and talking eight hours each day for four months. A month into “dating”, we upgraded to a two-person tent. Compared to the tent, the van is huge! We rolled our eyes when strangers asked, “are you sure you want to be around your partner in that small of space, all the time?” Still, the van is a tight space so patience and compromise are a must. Ultimately, we believe our lifestyle choice brings us closer together. We wouldn’t have it any other way!
What was the easiest part about building the van?
The easiest part of the build was layout and design. From the start, Liz knew the materials and colors she wanted while Kevin knew the components and wiring he wanted. Yes, our marble tile and quartz countertop are real. Our theme is “light and bright” with a walk-through, symmetrical layout.
What was the hardest part about converting your van?
The hardest part about converting the van was figuring out the specs. How tall should the bench be? Thickness of the cushions? 9” sink or 8” sink? This van is the culmination of thousands of decisions we agreed upon. It turns out Liz is specific when it comes to building materials…. I know that now.
What is the best investment you made for your van?
The best investment we made for the van is the kitchen. The deep sink, quartz countertop and subway tile make the space feel like a home.
How are you able to afford Van Life?
Liz has a production company called My Story Tale. We return to San Diego about a week each month to film. The remainder of the month, she edits and we are free to explore! Kevin is a mechanical engineer and has a solar consulting company.
Is van life cheaper than your previous lifestyle?
Money is about the same. We are no longer paying high-priced rent to stay in the same place. We go where we want, when we want.
What’s the one thing you spend the most money on?
-Food. We love Whole Foods!! The store is Disneyland for Liz. I (Kevin) spend time eating cheese samples while she shops.
What are your favorite hobbies and activities?
We love anything water related. We love to: run, hike, ski, bike, and explore different towns. We also want to get a dirt bike for off-roading.
What do you do to pass the time while driving somewhere far away?
To pass time, we usually organize Wild, clean dishes, and sometimes work. If Liz is driving, she requires a constant flow of fresh watermelon juice from the Vitamix…. definitely a full-time job.
Where do you hang out online?