**Text provided by Nikky Love**
Curious about the humans living life from a van? Want to hear the untold stories from the road? Then this podcast is for you.
Tune into HUMANS OF VANLIFE to hear the most diverse, raw, unfiltered, profound and intriguing stories of the humans who are living this lifestyle.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your story. How did you get involved in vanlife?
Hello everyone! I’m Nikky, the founder/host of Humans of Vanlife, as well as a Registered Nurse and a full-time vanlifer. My story started 3 years ago when I took a road trip along the Washington and Oregon coast with a friend in her VW Westfalia. We spent 10 days on the road exploring the beautiful coast and inhabiting a tiny space together. We utilized an app that allowed us to sleep in designated driveways. I quickly became fascinated and overwhelmed by the love and support we received from these beautiful people who also owned VW vans. This was my first look into how incredible the vanlife community is and at that moment, I decided I wanted to immerse myself within it.
The whole ride home was spent manifesting my dream Westfalia van and sure enough, one came my way. I spent every last penny I had and borrowed 500$ more from a friend to buy my van. Here I was, 21-years-old and the owner of my first home. My van, VeeWee, became my daily commuter vehicle, weekend warrior, and space to escape when needed. During my 4th year of Nursing school my roommate, Kayla and I were rent evicted due to the increasing cost of living and were forced to search for a place to rent. Unfortunately, we were not successful and ended up homeless. We had no other choice but to get creative, buy a van and jump headfirst into vanlife.
We bought what we could afford, and that turned out to be a 1975 Dodge Vanguard Motorhome.
Then, we split the cost of $3,200 and there it was, long and behold- our new home. For 9 months we lived in that old Dodge named Lynda, and let me tell you, she was anything but discrete. We struggled immensely to find places to stay while leaving us no choice but to park on the side of the main road. For the remainder of our time, we were hassled by law enforcement, given tickets and discriminated against due to our living circumstances. However, with perseverance, I can proudly say we graduated with distinction in spite of our tribulations.
What was the process of bringing this podcast to life? From the first idea of it to its current state.
My podcast was brought to life from my intense passion to humanize people. I wanted to create a platform for people to share their stories and raise awareness about the stigma and false beliefs society has about homeless people. The individuals living this lifestyle are doctors, lawyers, students, and nurses. It is people just like you and I, doing the best we can within our current circumstances. Unfortunately, due to stigmatization we are treated differently and pushed to the peripherals of society which ignited my urge to educate people on this issue.
I had no idea how to podcast, what equipment to use, how to edit or publish episodes, yet I was determined to try. I learned the basics of podcasting and relied on the skills I developed through nursing on how to hold space for people in a way that allows them to feel seen, heard, and respected. It is my hope by hearing these stories that collectively we can begin to acknowledge our blind spots within and work towards humanizing everyone. Now, HOVL has over 4,000 monthly listens and well over 30,000 total views with no end in sight. I am constantly humbled by the wisdom and grateful for all the tender moments shared with the humans I meet on the road. I believe in the power of storytelling and will continue to create space for humans to express their honest truth and experiences.
Community is such a big part of vanlife. What is it about this community that drives such a passionate project?
Community is everything to me. The community that I have witnessed over the last 12 months has completely shifted the way I engage with the world, myself, and others. The vanlife community is awake, conscious, open, minimalistic, loving- the way I believe humans naturally exist. There is just something to say about the magic that happens when you get humans together who have the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual space to show up as their truest selves. In my opinion, this lifestyle forces you to do the inner work, to look at yourself and question the way you are or have been, allowing you to get clear on your values and beliefs. Basically, the bullshit is left behind, and the human shows up in whatever vessel they have. It has nothing to do with the vans, and everything to do with the humans.
Vanlifers are constantly moving and often, not on a schedule or rigid timeline. What is it like working with individuals who live their lives by seizing the moment and changing plans last-minute for an epic adventure?
I fully embrace it. There is no rigidity within this podcast. It is raw, authentic, diverse and most importantly, HUMAN! I too am out here living in my van and I know that every day is an epic adventure. Thus, I fully accept all that comes with this lifestyle and people’s needs which I understand change moment to moment, as do mine. Overall, this experience has been organic and very pleasant.
Do you have a favorite quote or lesson you’ve learned from a single individual/interview during this project?
To be honest, there are SO many quotes and lessons I have learned from the humans of vanlife that I can’t pick a single favorite. Every single time I sit down and share space with these individuals I am humbled by their beauty and wisdom. So, I would like to share a few of my favorite quotes from the podcast episodes that resonate deeply with me.
“The biggest problem is severe dehumanization of people who live on the street or people without a home. We need to hone in on the fact that these are our neighbours, they are our people”. -Kwabi- Episode 32
“There is some of the most ambitious people I’ve ever met at the vanlife meetups. They are totally taking life by the balls and making their own”. – Josh- Episode 15
“The van gives you an opportunity, a place, space and freedom to practice happiness and cultivate that in your life” – Sante- Episode 16
“We are not meant to be doing this ourselves. Community is what we are meant to be doing”. – Katie – Episode 24
“The important thing is to try- try doing it. If you don’t like it then try something different” Neesa- Episode 31
You and Nathan are also working on a documentary in correlation with the podcast. Can you tell me a bit about how you and Nathan connected, and how this additional piece came to life?
I want to share a quote by Paulo Coelho. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” After a series of unique events, Nathan and I met in July which re-instilled my belief that everything happens for a reason. We instantly discovered that we have work to do together that we want to share with the world. Nathan saw what I was doing with HOVL, believed in the vision, and wanted to help it expand. I invited Nathan to sit in on the podcast sessions and was amazed at his ability to connect and hold space. With his background in cinematography and excellent editing skills, this propelled us to dive full force into creating our documentary-The Cicada Awakening, a film about humans fully embodying their truest form.
We are excited for you to see our vision unfold in the new year, as we will be entering the documentary into several film festivals. I am beyond grateful for the series of events that led to Nathan and I meeting and am now an advocate for always listening and trusting your intuition. So this being said, if you miss a turn, get a flat tire, or a feeling you should change your route, DO IT! You never know what opportunities will be awaiting you on the other side.
What has personally been your biggest takeaway from this project so far?
My biggest takeaway is that we are all human and we desire the same things: to feel love and belonging. Additionally, every human wants to be seen and heard. I’ve been able to recognize that no matter who you are, we all just want to connect. This same tenderness comes up time and time again. It doesn’t matter whether I am podcasting with community members or working with a patient at the hospital. The simplicity in this is so profound. It allows me to see the world differently. I believe that if every person knew this, the world would be a different place.
What are your long-term plans for the Humans of Vanlife podcast?
HOVL is constantly expanding and developing. One of my long term goals is to travel to every country. I want to integrate into the communities and share the stories of people living this alternative lifestyle. Furthermore, I am continuously working on stretching my brand to the fullest of its potential. I am so excited for you guys to see what 2020 has in store for Humans of Vanlife. Stay tuned folks!
Where to find the podcast online:
APPLE PODCAST: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/humans-of-vanlife/id1458899242
RADIO PUBLIC: https://radiopublic.com/humans-of-vanlife-69Oap3/episodes
Are there any other details or stories you would like to add?
Please provide some links where people can find you online:
Instagram: @thehumansofvanlife @niikkylove @nathan_tomsic
Facebook: Humans Of Vanlife
YouTube: HUMANS OF VANLIFE
**All photo credit goes to @neesamarie”