Have you ever been sitting at your deskjob thinking to yourself “Alright, that’s it! I’m going to leave this god forsaken place and travel the country on no budget”? Well this is exactly what a young and ballsy 23 year old man did when he’d had enough of the daily grind he’d become a robot to. Zach Both did just this after realising his current job was not giving him the fulfilment he so desired. It’s not as though he wasn’t doing well for himself, being in the position of art director at a 3D printing company. It wasn’t his ultimate dream though.
Since Both was just nine years old he’d dreamed of being a filmmaker. He knew he wasn’t going to make this happen if he stayed in his 9-5 job working for someone else. The seed was planted in his mind after seeing a video of another creative type, Alex Honnold who was a free rock climber who climbed from mountain to mountain somehow making money along the way. Both decided he wanted to travel wherever he wanted, collaborating with fellow artists and filmmakers to make some fulfilling and great content.
He started by searching out a big enough van that could handle him modifying into something that he could live out of. Keep in mind he had no prior skills to go after such an outlandish idea but he was determined to make it happen. He found a used Chevy van for sale which had 200k odd miles on the clock and was a bit of a bargain at $3,900. He couldn’t resist and the deal was done. Both didn’t know how long it would take to customize the van into a liveable space but over 6 months later he had it ready to go.
Both didn’t just plonk a mattress in there and a couple seats, the young man went all out realising he’d need it to be space he loved and wanted to come back to each day. The inside of the van was gutted and he worked on the walls and ceilings with tasteful reclaimed wood to add a certani warmth to the inside of the cabin. He’s even put a home theatre system into the van and of course a pretty cooshy looking mattress which is a futon fold out that could easily sleep two people.
You’re probably wondering how the heck he powers things in the van? Well he has some rather large solar panels atop the vans roof which easily powers his electronics, including a wifi connection so he can always have internet access. The rear windows of the van even have chalkboards on their inners so he can write down any ponderings that come about in his day. They fold out too, nice for some extra airflow on a steamy night. As far as electronics go he also has a TV fitted and a refrigerator for all his food items.
One drawback to living this nomadic lifestyle is that there’s no running water to be able to shower each day. Sounds like a pretty unhygenic lifestyle… well not really, Zach says he showers at a local gym whenever necessary. Let’s hope that’s daily!
His journey has taken him to many different regions of the US. He started in Boston and drove west, spending weeks at a time in Grand Tetons and also to a town in Montana. He says during the winter months he travelled down the west coast of the states from Seattle through to Los Angeles, stopping wherever something interesting is happening or where a place is just too beautiful to skip.
You might be wondering how expensive it might cost to live on the road like this. Well on a typical month he’d spend about five hundred dollars whereas he used to spend over $1500 a month when he was living in Boston fulltime working at his old job. To get the van to the condition today it cost Zach approximately $12,000 and a whole lot of elbow grease.
Since he’s usually on the go during the day outside his van, shooting snippets for films and mingling with locals he says he doesn’t get sick of living in the tiny space. There’s always new people to meet and fresh places to explore which keeps his sanity at bay and constantly with a sense of adventure. The photos of his van would set off an itch for anyone feeling stuck in their career to pack their things and hit the road. A brave move indeed.