The Ladies Van
Their names are popping up everywhere. They host van gatherings, convert vans for sale, have their own van rental company, AND are building an app. Oh yeah, and they’re both teachers. Breanne and Lacey know a thing or two about chasing their dreams and are hard at work to help others achieve the same. In their busy schedules, they found some time to answer a few questions for us.
Can you tell me a little about your story? What kind of van do you drive?
Breanne and I, Lacey, have many passions that have blossomed as we have lived together. We met in 2008 at the Starbucks where I was working in LA. We fell in love and started dating a year and a half after we met. Part of the pull that brought us together was that we had many ambitions we openly discussed. Together, we always made plans to reach our goals, follow our dreams and we put value in achieving them. When we met, we weren’t satisfied with the jobs we had, so we made plans to get better ones. We wanted to travel the world and made that happen with plans to travel to Brazil. We got married in 2014 at a small ceremony in a beautiful group campsite, located in Malibu Creek State Park. Since then we’ve made goals for pursuing our passion to be teachers, traveling to all of the continents, building out a van to travel the US, and developing businesses to help bring fellow vandwellers together and make vanlife more accessible to people who desire to be nomadic.
We have had our 2016 Ford Transit van since March of 2017. We converted it in three months and then took a two month vacation up the west coast, from San Diego to Canada and back. We both are teachers, so when we returned we started teaching for the school year again. Since we have returned, we’ve already been up to Oregon again, Joshua Tree, Baja, Big Bear, and other amazing places. We tend to take off every weekend we can, as well as school holidays and breaks.
Let’s just dive right into it. I know you ladies have been beyond busy with projects and achieving goals lately. Can you walk me through what the last year has been like for you guys, project-wise?
It’s been a wonderful, spontaneous, and passionate adventure. During the time we were building out our van, Breanne started an Instagram to document the process. When we went on our first trip, we kept posting about our adventures and following other vanlifers. We learned about a gathering up in Neah Bay, Washington from Instagram, where we had the opportunity to bond with some of the nomadic community that we had been following. It was eye-opening to see how social media can bring people together for real life events, as well as inspiring to see so many people following their passions. It was also apparent the struggles and complications that most nomadic people face because we all bonded over similar stories.
Since that first experience, we’ve tried our best to help bridge the gaps within the community by holding consistent gatherings in Southern California.
We’re also providing an inexpensive conversion option for people that want to get into vanlife and rentals to people who want to vanlife for the weekend or festival. We’re also in the process of developing a high quality app that would help solve some of the other consistent problems nomadic people face. We’ve been doing this all while holding our personal jobs; I teach 5th grade and Breanne teaches at San Diego State University.
We’ve come a long way since last year when we were building out our van in April.
We’ve developed multiple businesses and outreach opportunities within the vanlife community and we’re stoked to see them really being used by people who need them. Our passion has always been traveling. Our mission is to help make travel and vanlife more accessible to people who desire to live their ideal lifestyle on the road. It ends up being more than just vanlife – it’s giving people the power to live the life they dream so they can change the narrative from, “You’re living my dream,” to “I’m living my dream.”
San Diego Campervans includes both van rentals AND van conversions and has a mission of making vanlife more accessible to more people. What made you decide to start such a diversified company?
We know that some people don’t want their lifestyle to be full-time nomadic, but they still love to take road trips! As a company, our goal is to make vanlife more accessible to people, and if one of the ways is making it more accessible to part-timers, that’s what we want to do! We want to share the love we found in traveling, and we discovered that these two ways were the perfect ways to help people do what they desire.
You mentioned you are both teachers in addition to everything else you’re working on. What is it like to balance work, projects, hobbies, weekend travel, etc. Do you have any advice for someone who might be trying to balance multiple things as well?
Oh my goodness… With all of the wonderful things that are happening with pursuing our passions, yes, sometimes we drive ourselves a bit crazy. We’ve had some meltdowns – we’re only human! We love teaching, building businesses, helping family and friends, traveling, taking care of our cats, and going on dates. I love dancing and Bre loves cooking. There’s more of course, but some of our passions have had to be put on the side so we can get specific goals fulfilled. We know that achieving our goals will take more effort than we’ve ever put into anything before, but at least we’re extremely passionate about them. We are immensely grateful to be able to do this. We know that if any situation had been different in our lives that things might not have turned out as they did.
My advice would be precisely that: balance. Know your self (and your partner if you have one), set your intentions and goals, take the steps to get there, think positively, treat yourself kindly, and make sure to have balance. A lack of balance will burn you out and you won’t be able to enjoy the journey, but rather just trying to arrive somewhere in the future.
I remember in October of 2017 you messaged Evan and I with a survey for an app you were working on, which has now turned into The Vanlife App. Tell me a bit about how you came up with the idea and what building your own application has been like.
As I stated before, we realized some struggles that were common throughout the vanlife community. This app will help you:
- Find other vanlifers near you
- Access build guides and tips for your conversion
- Locate free camping, high-speed wifi, clean bathrooms and showers, and much more
- See recommended products for life on the road
- Get exclusive discounts with our partners
We want to make the VanLife App a community-oriented, one-stop-shop for all things vanlife. We are dedicated to helping our community thrive by providing all the resources needed to fulfill your life’s desires while on the road or planning to hit the road. At our core, we are passionate about collaborating with other vanlifers to help promote their small businesses, supporting people that believe in alternative lifestyles, returning to sustainable living and connecting with nature. Even further, we want to help people pursue their passions and travel, and creatively solve any needs and struggles that may come up with the daily life of living on the road.
The app came to be because we have a passion for all of these elements of life in our own lives and we want to help others live their dreams as well.
Most people align with these morals or believe in values that are similar to ours. Moving forward to build this app was tough considering the other businesses and activities in our lives that take up a lot of our time already, but we knew it was a step in the right direction. We are fortunate to have brought on an amazing teammate and friend, Lauren, too! Lauren and Breanne do all of this business building and since I teach full-time, I am mostly their biggest cheerleader and mental health observer. Together, we’ve been working hard to get this goal fulfilled. None of us have any experience building an app but we’re extremely confident in our idea and know people will love it too.
You’ve had some pretty successful vanlife gatherings in San Diego. How many events have you held? Has each one been more successful than its predecessor? What is the best/worst part of hosting these events?
We love getting the community together! The people we meet are so like-minded. We have a huge age range attending and everyone is so thoughtful and nice to each other. Our first event brought about 75 vans, our second had about 100, and our most recent was over 110. The best part about hosting these events is we get to see people come together! We’ve had people come from all over: Vegas, Texas, New Mexico, NorCal. We hang out all day and “bond”-fire into the evening. Our eventual goal is to attain land to be able to hold a full weekend gathering. It does take some work to get this going. We have to keep up on the Meetup and Facebook pages, get all of the supplies to bring the day of, find sponsors, and advertise. The day-of can be some work, but it ends up being a lot of fun too. It’s all worth it in the end though.