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VAN LIFE Q+A

Lems brand ambassador, William Woodward, took a trip around North America with nothing but he, himself and whatever he could fit into his van. Talk about a minimalism right there. Check out our Q+A with him to hear more about his travels!

For a video of the ‘Transformation of Ruby’ to her current setup, click here.

1. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO PLAN THIS ADVENTURE, IN A VAN?

I think it all started with the desire to simplify my lifestyle. After working for several years in different corporate jobs, I wanted to minimize and remove the distractions that I felt were limiting my creativity and focus. The van life portion came about when I decided to mainly stay within North America for the initial part of the journey, and having a vehicle that was the essence of the American road trip just seemed fitting.

2. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAVELING AND WHERE ALL ARE YOU GOING?

It has been over a year now, as of April 2nd. I think that this journey will last until at least the end of this year, at which time I will likely transform into something new. What that is, though, is still being defined. Until now, I have traveled mainly through the American and Canadian West, with side trips to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and Dubai. To me, between the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, this terrain offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in North America.

On the ticket for this summer is going to be a couple of international destinations, starting in Norway then to Iceland and Australia. In each place, I’ll be hiring a van and documenting the journey. Later in the fall is going to be Hawaii and Greece, as well as a trip to Patagonia this December/January. So as you can see, the year is coming together quite nicely!

A road map of the journey thus far – many roads left to roam.

3. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE ABOUT LIVING OUT OF A VAN? WHAT’S THE BEST PART ABOUT IT?

Anything that is a challenge is really only a challenge because we’ve become accustomed to a certain convenience of the modern world. Besides our basic needs; food, water and shelter – there is little that I have found to be so inconvenient that I cannot live without or with a different version thereof. So far, I would say that the biggest challenge I’ve faced has becoming completely comfortable with my own company. I’ve found that now I relate more to a quote by one of my favorite authors, Hunter S. Thompson –

“Loneliness is for people who can’t see themselves except through the eyes of their compatriots…”

I think the challenge itself is the best part. Without pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone, we’ll never realize all that can be accomplished. You learn so much about the world through your struggles that it seems quite logical to embrace them and put yourself in those places.

Tea time lakeside below Mt. Hood, OR.

4. WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE TRAVEL DESTINATION?

I think the destination I’m most excited for this year is Lofoten, Norway. There’s also a good possibility of Patagonia happening this winter, which would be amazing.

Taking some time to relax in Monument Valley.

5. WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST WHILE YOU’RE LIVING OUT OF YOUR VAN? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL MISS ONCE YOUR TRIP IS OVER?

At first, you miss many of the creature comforts of a home – running water, access to consistent electricity or wifi, but soon what you miss just becomes the norm. You realize that there is a simplicity that exists outside of the business of everyday life. Once you relieve yourself of some of these needs, you become free to exist more presently. Although it can at times be ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘inconvenient’, it has opened my days to a wealth of opportunities that otherwise may never have become.

It’s hard to say what I will miss most, as I intend on bringing much of this lifestyle into whatever it is I do next. That being said, there is little that can match propping up in the back of Ruby, doors and hatch open to allow the warm breeze to pass thru, watching the mountains and reading a good book in the afternoon sun.

With the group after SUP yoga in Costa Rica.

6. IF YOU COULD PICK ONE PERSON IN THE WORLD TO TRAEL ALONGSIDE YOU, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I think the best part of travel is being able to travel with many people! Our experiences are so often intertwined with those around us that it’s hard to separate a place from whom you’re with. Often I say the best part of the travel that I have done is the people that I’ve spent time with along the way.

Evening vibes – Seattle, WA.

Standing atop Mt. Baker, WA

#vanlife party on the California coast

7. WHAT’S A FUN FACT THAT MOST PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?

While I am a photographer now, my degree is actually in Mechanical Engineering. To say I’ve taken a different path than expected would be quite an understatement.

8. WHAT’S YOUR BEST MEMORY SO FAR FROM YOUR VAN LIVING EXPERIENCE?

I am continually amazed and humbled by the goodness of the people that I have spent time with during this journey. I’ve sharded laughter and tears with people whom I’ve only known for days, but now consider the closest of friends.

Nothing like a good hug – Los Angeles, CA.

9. KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW, DO YOU FORESEE ANY VAN LIVING TRIPS IN THE FUTURE?

Absolutely. Van living has certainly changed me, in both my physical and emotional needs and wants. While I do not know if I will do the same duration trip in the future, this style of travel, with its slow pace, will definitely continue in some form or another.

Sunny day hammock lounging – Lake Powell, UT.

10. DESCRIBE VAN LIVING IN ONE WORD:

Liberation.

P.S. – After answering these questions & looking back through all of the photographs from the past year, I’ve realized that ‘van life’ has not been about the places that I’ve photographed, it’s about opening yourself to the opportunities that this world has to offer. Every day you have a chance to be a part of this, whether it be dinner with friends, a trip to the climbing gym, or backcountry exploration in the Canadian Rockies. Every day doesn’t have to be epic, but each day is most certainly the only one that you have. Van life and the people that have been able to share that with me have taught me to appreciate more and need less, a combination that has led me to a place that I am happy to have found.

To check out more of William’s work, visit his page and follow him on Instagram:

Website

@wheretowillie

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