Lawyer quits job and buys a van so she can live on the open road

Former lawyer quits her job and spends $15k converting a delivery van into a home so she can spend life on the road with her boyfriend, but he soon fell by the wayside…

  • Lisa Jacobs from Texas had a blooming career, a house and a boyfriend but felt something was still missing 
  • She quit her job, gave up her house and bought a 2012 Nissan NV2500 high roof to transform into her home
  • The 34-year-old then set off living on the open road and has clocked up 14,000 miles in just six months 

Meet the former lawyer who gave up her career and house after losing her mother to breast cancer in order to spend life on the open road.

Lisa Jacobs, from Austin, Texas, quit her law job when her mother died in 2014 and started a sustainable interior design firm where she renovated ‘green’ homes and Airstream trailers.

But despite her new blooming career, a house and a boyfriend, Miss Jacobs knew something was still missing from her life and decided to splash out $15,000 (£12,000) buying a van to convert into her home.

Miss Jacobs says that living in a van is a ‘very convenient’ life. She explained: ‘You have all your clothes, snacks, things, and the ability to come and go whenever you please’ 

Miss Jacobs splashed out $15,000 (£12,000) buying the van, a 2012 Nissan NV2500 high roof, to convert into her home

Lisa Jacobs from Texas gave up her career and home to live inside her van, called Freebird. She has clocked up 14,000 miles in just six months

After transforming the 2012 Nissan NV2500 high roof, which she named Freebird, the 34-year-old set off across the US, posting snaps from her travels on her Instagram account, called Vacay Vans.

She explained: ‘Something was missing in my life but I didn’t know what. That’s when I discovered van life.

‘When I realised that many people my age with similar ambitious and entrepreneurial aspirations were embracing life on the road, I had to join the movement.

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‘I discovered van life on a Friday night in June 2017, by the Sunday afternoon I found a used Nissan NV2500 on Craigslist and was forcing a deposit check into the seller’s hand.

‘Freebird was a used chicken catering delivery van and she was wrapped up like a big pink bird. She had all of my main requirements: low mileage, good price, and clearance for me to stand up inside.

‘I started this van life journey with a boyfriend. We worked together on the renovation and planned to ditch our home to live long-term together in the van.

When Miss Jacobs bought the van, left, it had been used as a chicken catering delivery vehicle. She then spent time and money converting it into her home, right 

Miss Jacobs chats to a friend, who also lives life on the road. Lisa describes van life as ‘challenging, empowering, fun, exciting, and stressful’

‘We spent four months working on the renovation, excited about our future adventures. But once we moved into the van, it was suddenly clear we weren’t a good match. Van life has a way of amplifying everything: the good is great and the bad is terrible. We could no longer coast in a mediocre relationship.

‘After the breakup, I drove the van back to my home in Austin, Texas, where I spent three months agonising over what to do. I never imagined doing this lifestyle as a solo woman. I had no clue if I could do it on my own or if I even wanted to.

‘After connecting with many new supportive friends in the van life community through Instagram, I decided to give it a go. In March 2018, I started my solo van life journey and I have been on the road ever since.’

Miss Jacobs started her journey in Austin, Texas, and headed west. She has clocked up 14,000 miles in just six months covering Texas, California, Colorado and Oregon, where she is currently based.

When Miss Jacobs first started living in her van, she was in a relationship. But after a few months she split with her boyfriend and now lives life on the road as a solo traveller 

On her YouTube channel, Lisa gives advice about life on the road and encouraging them to follow in her footsteps. She added: ‘I feel like I can follow any opportunities that arise anywhere, regardless of where it might be’

Luckily, Freebird has never broken down and she says that living out of a van is actually ‘very convenient’.

She added: ‘Living in a van is complete freedom and complete spontaneity.

‘I am always moving forward because I always have everything I need with me. Van life is actually extremely convenient – you have all your clothes, snacks, things, and the ability to come and go whenever you please.

‘I am never bored because I go anywhere and see anything – the possibilities are endless. It can be very exhausting though, living solo on the road, because every day I make so many decisions about what to do, where to go, and where to park that night. It’s challenging sometimes not having a sense of “place” but the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.

Miss Jacobs posts pictures of her travels on Instagram and also documents her life on the road on her YouTube channel, called Yes Monday 

‘Sometimes I wish I had a partner to share the work of cooking, cleaning, driving, and planning, but this solo time is very important for me right now and everything will happen when it’s meant to happen.’

Miss Jacobs also documents her solo van life journey every Monday on her Vacay Vans YouTube channel called Yes Monday.

There she gives her subscribers advice about life on the road and encouraging them to follow in her footsteps.

She said: ‘I love that I don’t feel limited by anything. I feel like I can follow any opportunities that arise anywhere, regardless of where it might be.

‘If I meet someone from Montana, I can pursue that connection and spend time with them there. If I meet a filmmaker in San Francisco, I can spend a few weeks there to work on a project with them. I can be anywhere and follow any whim.

‘Solo van life as a woman is challenging, empowering, fun, exciting, and stressful. It’s really important for you to know why you’re doing this and stay focused on your goals when things get tough. Be gentle with yourself – if you get scared being on your own, go visit friends and stay in their driveway.

‘Stay strong mentally and don’t let your mind get the best of you – often times feelings of fear are really a result of our inner monologue and not the actual circumstances around us. Trust your gut, have money saved in case of surprises, and say yes to opportunities.’

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