Couple travel full time after transforming van into dream home with YouTube tutorials

Jessie Biser, 29, and her partner Christopher Kelly, 25, were only equipped with a tool kit, borrowed saw, and YouTube how-to videos when they made the Ram Promaster Van a place to live full-time

Jessie and Chris who devoted a year to remodeling the van (

Image: Jam Press / @ acrovanadventures)

A couple cut their bills and made it possible for themselves to travel full-time by turning a van into their dream home, complete with a hot shower, oven, and hanging chairs.

Jessie Biser, 29, and her partner Christopher Kelly, 25, were only equipped with a tool kit, borrowed saw, and YouTube how-to videos when they made the Ram Promaster Van a place to live full-time.

Since the end of the project, the two have fulfilled their dream and have been traveling through the USA in their Ram Promaster Van for 18 months.

Jessie, an online yoga teacher, met software engineer Chris in Atlanta after Chris moved from Massachusetts to start a new job.

The couple bought the vehicle together for $ 40,000 (£ 29,000) in January 2019 – just eight months after their relationship and spent a year remodeling it.

Jessie said Chris thought the idea was “absolutely insane” when she first mentioned it was on her wish list to stay in a van. But after doing some research, she said it was sold.

A fold-out bench in the rear of the van offers both of them a place of retreat when they are parked
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Image:

Jam Press / @ acrovanadventures)

“We both love seeing new places, spending time outdoors, and we don’t need a lot of physical things to be happy,” she said.

To keep costs down, they did the renovation themselves on the job and gained DIY skills through Youtube how-to videos. The pair ended up spending a total of $ 18,000 (£ 13,000).

For Chris, a permanent shower was the top priority. Since Jessie, an avid baker, wanted an oven, the arrangement of the 21-foot long by 8.8-foot high delivery truck required careful planning.

Chris said it was “challenging” sometimes to live in a small space and grapple with the inconveniences of living in a van
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Image:

Jam Press / @ acrovanadventures)

Chris said the couple spent months researching other vans and taking their favorite parts from each before they all fit into their design.

Another big priority was creating space for the two of them, which they did by packing a pull-out bench under the bed and building a fold-up countertop extension in front of the passenger seat.

“We tried to use every single inch of ourselves so that no space is wasted,” said Chris. “Both of our seats are rotatable to create a more open feeling and we can have extra seats if we have people with us.”

Chris worked on the van transformation before it became his full-time home
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Image:

Jam Press / @ acrovanadventures)

The pull-out bench – one of the van’s “office chairs” – doubles as a place to relax when the couple pulls up to a place, while two tables that fold down from the van’s two doors serve as space for their drinks and snacks, when they hang in the back of the van.

“We have a shower with hot and cold water, a toilet, an oven and a hob in our van so that we are completely off-grid,” added Chris.

Their favorite feature is a sliding roof in the roof, which is actually a boat hatch and allows them to access their solar panels and hanging chairs and watch the stars in the dark.

Chris and Jessie took over the project with just a tiny toolkit and YouTube how-to videos
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Image:

Jam Press / @ acrovanadventures)

They sticked to white and lighter shades for the interior of the van to create a spacious feel, and had an artist friend paint murals on their kitchen back and headboard.

Eighteen months later, Jessie says that her lifestyle is completely different and that they have saved a ton of money while exploring at the same time.

“We went from two rental payments and two car payments to one payment for a van,” she said. “Our total was $ 3,800 (£ 2,700) compared to $ 1,585 (£ 1,100) between us.

The couple spent months researching other vans and taking their favorite parts from each one before they all fitted into their design
(

Image:

Jam Press / @ acrovanadventures)

“If we like a place, we can stay there as long as we want, and if we don’t like a place, we can go and drive to a new place.”

Chris said it was sometimes “challenging” to live in a small space as you had to deal with the inconvenience of living in a van.

“There are a lot of things that you just don’t have to worry about when you live in a house, such as where should I sleep, are we low on water, where can we drain our piss, often shop for groceries, no couch? to spread out, stuff always everywhere, we have enough WiFi to work etc.

But he said the amazing places the couple saw, including the 20 national parks and 12 states they had explored back in 2021, made it all worthwhile.

A video showing the inside of Chris and Jessie’s van recently posted on their Instagram account impressed their followers.

“It’s gotten so cool,” said one person.

“You did it with the details,” added another.

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