Imagine waking up to the sound of waves crashing; gentle breeze blowing. Opening your eyes to see the aquamarine sea glistening across the sand. The sun’s golden rays spread across the living room. Breathing in to catch hints of the fresh ocean air, feeling the sun on your skin…
This was only one of the many captivating experiences Austin and Janna Jenkins experienced during Van Life.
In 2021, the Jenkins saw an Instagram post that sparked an idea to set off on what would be the biggest adventure of their life: Van Life. They bought a wrecked 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van, updated it, and designed it themselves: inside complete with a built-in fixed bed, and a three-in-one bench, toilet, and fridge. The Jenkins did everything from welding to Pinterest scrolling and décor shopping to create a space that they would call home for the next two years. After hard labor and 8 months later, they were ready to begin their Van Life adventure.
Traveling for two years across 23 states, spending nights on the side of snowy mountains or sandy beaches, they were living their dream. Both working remote jobs, they were able to continue their work all while sight-seeing, camping, and attending Van Fests, and spending quality time together. “One of us would be on a hike, and one of us would be in the van, playing the Switch. It was the most accommodating lifestyle.” Austin & Janna said.
Their favorite moments were spending time with the community of ‘Van Lifers’. From pizza making parties to Van Fests, they were able to meet some of their now closest friends while on the road. Looking back on it, a year later they still say, “It was our favorite season of life.”
We asked Austin and Janna to dive deeper into some of their favorite locations they visited along their Van Life adventure. Here are their top three most memorable stops.
Of all the incredible sites they saw and places they visited, Jackson, Wyoming was the couples’ absolutely favorite spot. They loved the beautiful views, and the ‘Van Lifers’ community were, as they put it, “super-friendly.” The view of the mountains, and the surreal pure, glass-like water created a stunning picturesque view that they were privileged to wake up to every day in their time spent there. With an exquisite view of the lush, green rolling hills, flowers spread across the fields, and the pink to blue skies by the evening, they truly felt like they were in a real-life painting.
San Diego, California.
Another one of the Jenkins’ favorite stops was San Diego, California. The beautiful views, and community they found among the Van Lifers were some of their favorite memories. “We were not ‘beachers’, until we experienced waking up on the beach, because we had everything with us at all times,” Janna stated. From the golden rays to the crashing waves, they fell in love with Van Life on the beach. Even amidst some crazy events, like a bee sting; allergic reaction; and an emergency trip later, they still say the beach is always a good idea.
Moab, Utah was their third favorite stop on their Van Life adventure. Austin and Janna loved the views, and the accessibility to different outdoor activities. They found that the convenience to several outdoor activities nearby, made it easy to stay there overnight inside the canyon. They enjoyed hiking in Arches National Park, and visited different places in Moab, that included, ironically, Corona Arch. From rock climbing, to hiking they found that Moab had anything and everything they enjoyed doing in one place. The stunning, sunsets full of color and the warmer weather was a taste of the beach without the ocean.