Is Van Life for you?

Before jumping into a van trip, there are something we all must know. Here is what Searching for Sero has to share with us.

Over a year ago, I started chatting with friends about purchasing an old Westfalia and living and working out of it. To be truthful, I wanted to do complete a 2 year personal photography project.

But to continue with the story, there was a lot of people stoked on the idea, but also a lot of people that said: “sounds great, I wish I could take a 2 year vacation.”
The sentence right there has 2 major flaws, in which I am realizing now;
– It is anything but a vacation
– You can do it too
One quick stroll of #vanlife on Instagram and you can see a varity of photos of van lifers, living the life. Spending every night on remote beaches, surrounded in wild flowers, warm winds and perfect sunsets. It is a scene that many people dream of as a perfect vacation, but I can tell you, it is no vacation. It is much like the myth of the “American Dream” that so many spend their life trying to achieve by spending it stuck in a cubical.
To live the #vanlife vacation you first need a camper van. We chose the most iconic. A VW Westfalia. The day after purchasing it, the dream of perfect sunsets turned into a year of grease covered hands. I started working on replacing the basics. Plugs, wires, injectors and so on. Next thing I know the motor, transaxle and every other mechanical aspect of the van was sitting on the shop floor, and we had a full restoration on our hands. It would take almost a year to complete. We lost track of the days, money, blood, sweat and tears that went into it.

We have finally hit the road and added our own dreamy images of the van parked beside to ocean to social media. I guess you could say the vacation has started. We checked out one of Canada’s greatest National Parks, Gros Morne and toured a good chunk of Newfoundland. Total vacation right?

The truth is, for the 3 weeks we have been on the road, we have spent most of the time parked up beside some unlocked wifi, trying to get work done. Just because you live in a van, doesn’t mean everything comes free. Food, gas, parts and repair are still just as expensive, if not more. Work still needs to get done. We have essentially just traded the amenitiesof a cubicle for a small box on wheels with slow and unstable internet access and added the challenge of trying to keep our laptop batteries charged enough to write one more email.

For those people that wish they can do it too, all I can say is you can! You can do anything you set your mind to.

Tracy and I are not rich by any means. We actually both worked pay cheque to pay cheque, trying to pay off student dept as quick as possible, much most people these days. When we made the van life choice, we put 100% into it. It took over a year of hard work from the day we made the decision to purchase a van until the day we officially moved into it. It meant I had to learn how to fix a van. I could do some basic work on vehicles, but really didn’t know that much about it. I learnt. There was no other choice.I don’t want to ruin anyone’s dreams about van life, but I do want you do know that it is a lot of work and a huge lifestyle change.

That being said, it is worth it. So go ahead, jump in and join us on the road. Just remember it’s not all ocean front camping spots and wild flowers. It is a crazy, unpredictable lifestyle that makes you realize how beautiful the Earth we live on
is, and how amazing the people that occupy it are.


John Rathwell, Searching For Sero
PS: If you are looking for us, we are likely poaching wifi at some
coffee shop, not relaxing by the ocean. Still, it beats the cubical!


Searching For Sero is a mental wellness project across North-America in a camper-van aiming to collect stories of wellness achieved through sport and outdoor activity. Sero is a diminutive for serotonin, a neurotransmitter believed to contribute to happiness! John Rathwell and Tracy Guenard are the creators of this project. They have themselves experiences wellness turning to nature and sport when living difficult moments. They have now taken the road for a two-year journey to collect more inspirational stories like theirs. Living in Volkwagen Westfalia 1991, they are sharing with us how they see and live the van life up to now.

Seraching For Sero est un projet portant sur le santé mentale à travers l’Amérique du Nord qui a pour objectif de partager des histoires de gens passionnés qui utilisent le sport et les activités extérieures comme moyen d’être heureux. Séro est le diminutif de sérotonine, un neurotransmetteur qui régule l’humeur et contribue ainsi au bonheur! John Rathwell et Tracy Guenard sont les créateur de ce projet. Ils ont eux-mêmes trouvé le bonheur en se retournant vers la nature et le sport lors de moments difficiles. Aujourd’hui, ils ont pris la route pour deux ans à la recherche d’histoires inspirantes des apports de l’activité physique et du temps passé dans la nature. Vivant dans leur Volkwagen Westfalia 1991, ils partagent avec nous comment ils voient et vivent la «vanlife» jusqu’à présent.