Did I Make The Right Decision To Quit My Job For Van Life?

About 1 year ago, I made the decision to quit my job and pursue van life.

Was I right?

What did I get wrong?

What were my “expectations vs. reality?”

All questions that are answered below…

I wrote these hypotheses, expectations, goals, and visions in my journal before I started my van life adventure. I thought it’d be fun (and hopefully valuable to you) to reflect on them after almost a year of making the decision to pursue this lifestyle.

The format of this post: all the quotes are taken directly from past journal entries. Below the quotes, I’ll provide my (today’s) thoughts and reflections to them.

The Quitting Hypothesis

Here’s the big one. Quotes are from a journal entry titled, “The quitting hypothesis.”

Date: March 8th, 2022; about 3 months before starting.

How would you sum this up?

I don’t like this life that I’m living right now.



Work takes up so much of my time and I feel like I don’t have the opportunity to work on things I’m genuinely interested in and find meaningful.

I think there’s always space to say well, you could’ve pushed a little harder during evenings and weekends to work on those things. But relating to what I wrote in [journal entry titled “How am I feeling after 6mo of van life”], it was the whole package of living in an apartment plus work that drained my energy.

Of the personal time I do have, much of it is just wasted just sitting on the couch because I’m either too tired from work to do literally anything, or I don’t get pushed to do anything, my apartment is too comfortable.

Yeah… I pretty much did nothing to improve my mental health during that time.

When I realized that putting more effort into work does not directly produce more output (money or meaning), that killed my motivation real quick. Sure it can contribute to a bonus or raise, but have fun waiting 6 months to see the benefit…

Yeah it’s hard to find the motivation to put more effort with this incentive structure.


Work just isn’t meaningful to me. I want something I have more control over, something I can create myself.

I have something that I have more control over and it’s everything I ever wanted, I mean except I’m not making money from it. Solving problems not related to self improvement, but that I have control over is something I didn’t think I’d like that much, but it’s fulfilling.

I don’t feel like I’m growing anymore or learning.

I think I needed to hit my version of “rock bottom” which was a version of growth.

There’s an important distinction between being comfortable/easy and being good for me (and that distinction is pretty straightforward: being the former means NOT being the latter)

I agree. Few things that are comfortable or easy seem to be good for personal growth.


Because I get so drained at work I’ve found it worsening my mental and physical health. No down time to get out in nature and recharge, harder to sit down and read or learn. Have barely been going to the gym, I sit in a chair or my couch literally all day. This is not good for me.

Yeah again I didn’t really work on my mental health at all. The barrier to get to the gym (driving 15min) was too high. Working out at the apartment fitness center didn’t seem “worth it.” Being drained at work really did spill into all areas of my life.

Eventually I started going to the gym in the morning and just using the elliptical while I watched YouTube videos. After that, I’d go to a coffee shop to work for the morning. This was the only way I could get myself to exercise.


I know I can make things work on my own. I know it doesn’t have to be this way. I know there’s something better out there, I just have to find/create it.

Yes, you’re right. It’s gonna take longer than you expect though, but you can get there.

Exploring – I like exploring a whole lot more.

Yep, you’re right. The novelty of exploring, even just going to new coffee shops, keeps things fresh.

Work – I’ve already proved to myself that I genuinely enjoy working in coffee shops and producing stuff. I want to do more of that.

Yep, you had a hypothesis based on evidence and that turned out to be true.

I need to think more high-risk, high-reward and create the life I want, not let someone else create it for me. Now is the time in my life to take risks. I have no responsibilities, no mortgage, kids, spouse, dependents.

I agree. You have the financial means to do this comfortably.

Why Travel? (van life)

Summary: It’s inexpensive. I like to be independent and self-sufficient. I like to explore. I like being in nature, exploring the beauties of nature, photographing nature. I want to be more challenged. I want to be more mobile, I don’t really like the idea of settling in a place right now. Don’t like feeling stagnant, not changing, growing, but also stagnant physically. Now is the time (in the macro) to take risks and travel, I have no/few responsibilities. I want to give myself space to find what I actually enjoy and how I want to bring value to other people. As GaryVee says, your 20s are for high risk, high reward.

Yeah I mean you pretty much nailed it…

I idealize over this type of life:

Spending a couple days exploring, hiking, biking, backpacking, exploring a town/city

Spending a couple days working in coffee shops, out of my van, getting into that flow in coffee shops feeling good about creating something meaningful

I mean you pretty much nailed this as well. The only thing I’d say changed is that I spent more days in coffee shops than I expected, mostly because I’ve felt the progress towards a valued goal is fulfilling.


Quotes are from a journal entry titled, “What are my expectations for life on the road?”

Date: April 19th, 2022; about 2 months before starting.

Positive Expectations

That I’m going to really enjoy it

Yep, never felt more free in my life man.

That I’m gonna be able to sustain my life financially with a new business

Getting there but not quite there yet. This life is lower cost though, I’m right at about $2k/mo right now for the past couple months.

That I won’t be bored, that I’ll have things I want to do every day

Not 100% true, but I do look forward to getting behind the laptop in coffee shops when I go. I still watch YouTube videos and chill in the van. Ever since around fall I’ve traveled a lot slower than the summer where I was bouncing around to new forests, campsites, and towns almost every week.

That it’s going to be better than life in my apartment

Yep. Some things I do miss:

  • Not having to worry about finding a good camp spots while urban camping, having a home base to come back to and not worry about.
  • Great nights of sleep, temperature was set perfectly, bed was really nice, not waking up in the middle of the night to turn over.
  • A table to eat at and sit at.

That it’ll be easier/better than life in my 4Runner

1000%. I had a hypothesis (van life), I had some evidence/validation that might back up the hypothesis (4Runner camping), I took the calculated risk to double down, and I was right.

That I have an idea of what life will be like based on my Telluride/Utah 4Runner trip and ski weekend trips

Actually, yes. I was pretty spot on with working in coffee shops and skiing.

Negative Expectations

That making this life happen is going to be really challenging (but that I want that and expect that)

To be completely honest, I wouldn’t say “really” challenging. It’s been challenging, for sure. I’ve adapted to the daily discomforts and anxiety. Moments like the pipes freezing at Breck are when things really get more tough.

Also relevant here is my summarized thoughts at the end of 6mo of van life, that this lifestyle has gotten me to a higher life efficiency with the amount of discomfort/growth I’m taking on each day than apartment life.

I feel like I don’t have too many expectations, but I’m sure I do they just aren’t popping to mind.

It’s good to not have too many expectations! 🙂

Looking Beyond

Quotes are from a journal entry titled, “What do I see in front of me right now?”

Date: May 4th, 2022; about 1 month before starting.

How I envision things playing out:

I’ve been really starting to envision working (how I define work) a lot after I jump. To be honest I don’t really just want to stop working and just travel and hike/explore. I’m excited to have control of my time and start producing things, sharing ideas, writing.

Yes, correct.

Spending the summer hopping around towns/cities in the western US balancing working in coffee shops/libraries with biking, hiking, exploring.

This is exactly what I did. (see pics above)

Sharing my ideas online, creating content, learning

Yep, it took a bit longer than I expected to start posting on social media. Building the website was kind of a priority for the first half.

My Twitter Brain is probably my biggest lead right now. I’m planning on starting to share insights on Twitter, but I haven’t done anything just yet.

Eh, that kinda fell through. It’s a good idea though, hits on the idea of being a reporter, from Russell Brunson.

When I tell you I have no leads, it’s literally nothing. No side income besides dividends but those aren’t enough to live on. No side hustle, no nothing… I know I’ll figure it out though, once I can get some time and mental space back to spend time exploring different avenues and putting myself out there.

Haha yep. I mean I had cash.

I envision getting some traction, as in, getting followers, having people interact with my content, want more, ask questions, etc. after like 3 months, but I know something more realistic is like 9mo to a year of just grinding content.

Okay maybe 3mo of being focused specifically on one platform and growing on that platform. It took me until like November to start my DailyVs on YouTube and until after starting a business venture with my brother and then focusing on Twitter to get back onto Twitter. Way longer than I expected… but it’s alright.

By next summer (2023) I envision having some kind of side income that I’d be able to double down on to increase, or at least have a better idea of things I’m interested and how I can uniquely provide value.

No side income yet. I mean I have a potential lead building, validating, and bootstrapping lean businesses with my brother. I think if I didn’t have this, I’d be further from that side income lead.
I agree with having a better idea of things I’m interested in and providing value. Not 100% there yet, but better than I was when I wrote it.

Next summer (2023) feels like a real pivot moment for me. A time where I’ll have a better idea of how I can uniquely provide value, what I enjoy about van life and what I don’t, if I want to continue or settle in a place, how I can and want to make money, etc.

I agree. We’re getting closer.

I don’t really see anything past next summer because things will start to clarify after 3-6mo in the van, so by like fall/winter of this year. It doesn’t seem like a good use of my time to “plan” next summer because things will inevitably change and gain more clarity very soon.

I agree. I can’t remember if traveling abroad was an idea here yet, maybe way on the back burner, but that’s the biggest development.
The summarized plan/direction is to start backpacking (again for maybe like a year and then we’ll see what happens by then) and continue to bootstrap business ideas (with or without my brother).


Quotes are from a journal entry titled, “What do I want to get out of this?”

Date: July 22nd, 2022; about 1 month after starting.

What do I want to get out of traveling? What should I optimize for?

New experiences

Yeah, I mean I didn’t like go skydiving or anything that new, but new environments, new cities, new challenges, camping in forests, restaurants and coffee shops, national parks.


I think I got this, I mean given how many places I travelled to.

Seeing parts of the country I haven’t seen

Yep, and there’s still so much I haven’t seen. Like I totally missed Cascades National Park in Washington which I didn’t even know existed lol.

Doing things that I feel aligned by

Yep, documenting, journaling, writing, self-improvement, building a business, building my future, skiing, all of those.

New perspectives

Yes-ish. I can think of a couple moments, mostly meeting and talking with others, like chatting with Colleen up in Montana and the people we met outside the park. I also got to experience what most (all?) of the other big western-U.S. cities are like.

Learning more about stuff, things, and myself

Lots of books read, things documented, getting on the self-improvement journey, learning about bootstrapping a business, learning how to be a plumber and electrician.

A sustainable life

Getting there! The last piece is the financial income side of things.

Meaning, purpose, fulfillment

Oh yeah, building a life that I have control over, building something valuable, has all given me more meaning and fulfillment. Still working on my deep purpose.

Connections with others

Yes-ish. I could always say there’s room for more, but take a glance down [my journal entry titled “People I Meet Along The Journey Of Life”]. No really new friendships, but little exchanges here and there. I think I’ve been fine with that lately as relationships haven’t been a top priority.

Optimize for not optimizing, just do and just be

Eh, sort of. I’d say the doing and being happened a lot while hiking, exploring new places, eating out at restaurants, skiing. But I do feel like the optimizations I’ve made, mostly related to self improvement have been good changes.

Personal growth – becoming a better person and a better version of myself

Confidence, intelligence, culture, open minded, friendly. Been making gym/weight gains which has improved my confidence. The rest, maybe? I do believe I know more than I did 1 year ago, which is something significant. But it’s hard to say definitively that I’m X% more open minded or more cultured than a year ago.

Concluding Thoughts

Man, I really hit the nail on the head with almost everything. It’s just taken a bit longer (and not what I was envisioning, but in a good way) to get a good lead for my new income source.

Ya made the right decision, Peter.

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