#vanlife with no filter: couple records work/life on wheels




Shelby and Simon are wedding photographers from Ottawa, Canada who had become enamored by the hashtag vanlife. “We started getting hooked on it, all those Instagram pictures that we saw of people parked in state and national parks, oh check out this parking spot it’s on the edge of a cliff and I’ve got this campfire and we’re all singing and have got guitars, it’s just lovely, like that was a huge sales pitch right, and we didn’t know we thought that’s what it’s going to be all about, wicked, cool let’s do that,” explains Simon. “And then got into maybe like the first week of it and we were parked in the Walmart for like the third time and we’re like I think it’s not quite like that.”

The couple decided to buy a camper van (a 1992 Dodge Ram) and trick it out for long-term travel (solar, wifi antenna, extra batteries and a generator). Given the seasonal nature of their work, they could spend 6 months of the year traveling and working remotely booking weddings for the summer months back home. www.SHELBYANDSIMON.com

“With the popularization of the tiny house and of the hashtag vanlife we’ve been romanticizing this idea, oh yeah, just like ‘live free, live simply’,” explains Simon.

After over six months on the road, the duo have realized that their romantic ideals around van dwelling are perhaps a natural by-product of most photographers’ desire to capture beauty at the expense of a fuller reality. “We’re photographers so we have this issue we want to be real but also we take beautiful photos,” explains Shelby. “There’s always this tension between showing something beautiful and also showing something real and are you telling the truth and is art ever the truth. So I think we’re trying harder than a lot of people to make it look like it’s real. To talk about the fact that we’re stuck in a storm, freezing wet and miserable, that are pipes are frozen or that we haven’t showered in a week.” Instagram/Twitter: @shelbyandsimon

The couple are using their youtube channel to talk about stealth camping (often at Wal-Marts), the pursuit of free wi-fi (often Starbucks parking lots), how to avoid the police knocking at the door (avoid the wealthier ‘hoods”, waste disposal and “hobo showers”. www.YouTube.com/user/Shelbyandsimon

Simon: “We had the expectation that this trip would make us better people but we didn’t understand what that meant and how we were going to become better people.”
Shelby: “In this small space we’re always hitting our heads, we’re always in each other’s way, something’s always broken because it’s old, we’re always tired, and then you realize that you just have to be happy inside yourself and at peace no matter what is going on around you because it’s always changing, it’s always chaotic.”
Simon: “It has to be something you battle with and then you find yourself. And maybe that’s what it’s all about, maybe it’s about putting yourself through the crucible of tiny living to come out the other side as a better more peaceful person.

Original story:

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44 Comments

  1. JoJo Renee
    September 22, 2017
    Reply

    I totally get it, I had a breakdown a few years back plus PTSD. My 81yo Mom, whom I care for and live with had an emotional and nervous system break down 13 days ago. It was evident and bound to happen. Her DR didnt 6 close relatives and friends she loved dearly passed away over a very short period of time. I've been trying to convince her to sell her house, buy an RV I can drive and get away from the stressers and burdens. With the passing away of my Dad this place is too big for 1 person (me) to take care of and maintain. I know she would feel so much better

  2. Devin kovach
    September 24, 2017
    Reply

    Beautiful

  3. LOCKHEART poetry
    September 24, 2017
    Reply

    All because your van life is cheap and shitty doesn't mean everyone else's doing it wrong too

  4. Queen Marie
    September 25, 2017
    Reply

    That's teds hammer

  5. T M
    September 26, 2017
    Reply

    Is it common to have that much condensation in the van?
    Does this mean that insulation would be damp?

  6. Thomas Wilkins
    September 27, 2017
    Reply

    Obviously living in a van isn't as easy as living in a traditional home, the point is you cut your bills down and when you do get a good night sleep and wake up on a tropical beach, every struggle and hardship becomes worth it. Or at least that is what traveling in a converted van/bus/jeep meant to me. I would van life 100 percent of the time if I didn't have 2 kids. I do have a plan to travel cross Canada with a heavy tent on my 2011 GSX 650 F  in the summer, that will be even harder, but totally worth it to me.
    I do however understand this couples point of view…everyone is different, they may not enjoy something that I do and vice versa. I just wish everyone would at least try van life just once. You would be surprised at how being more financially free can make you feel.

  7. Marilyn Gould
    September 28, 2017
    Reply

    Loved your video! Such honesty about van life. I wish you both the best in your future adventures.

  8. David Humphrey
    October 1, 2017
    Reply

    My city Oceanside! Looked the best out of all the places

  9. A Life Worth Finding
    October 2, 2017
    Reply

    Hey guys great vids I'm definitely gonna sub . I travel North America in my vintage camper van. I believe wholeheartedly that the most import thing that we can own is our own personal freedom . We can not be free if we are under a mountain of debt . Travel and adventure young versus when society says you are free which is usually when your way past your prime . Great job love your stuff .

  10. Richard Bergin
    October 6, 2017
    Reply

    lotta bragging and ego stroking in the alternative lifestyle movements, like vanlife, minimalism etc. The narcissism of many videos or blogs can make a person sick. This is a breath of fresh air. I've done vanlife, I found it tough, but worth it. Each incarnation of a vanlife setup gets progressively better. Wish you luck!

  11. JessWranek_ TheDailyLife
    October 8, 2017
    Reply

    This is more like it guys finally a video showing the reality of van life!!

  12. Daydreamer 9912
    October 8, 2017
    Reply

    Cute couple and you can see you both make the best out of everything

  13. Debbie Rodman
    October 11, 2017
    Reply

    Would it be the van was not insulated that well? A lot of vans built from scratch have ample insulation if used for winter trips…Also you can get rechargeable Dehumidifiers, charge them up when driving..Also the Ivation Dehumidifier doesn't draw much power..

  14. ztm454
    October 11, 2017
    Reply

    You guys really need a good dehumidifier

  15. dale sauter
    October 15, 2017
    Reply

    What a great honest story. Very cool, didn't expect to watch it all but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would had. Take care

  16. hardlinehydrogen
    October 17, 2017
    Reply

    hipsters make me giggle

  17. Zack Website
    October 18, 2017
    Reply

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS VIDEO ! it's really inspiring me to actually go for it instead of just waiting around and wasting money in an apartment

  18. desire4liberation
    October 20, 2017
    Reply

    <3

  19. Victoria Bermudez Wingo
    October 21, 2017
    Reply

    What do you two do for work?

  20. Linda Shaw
    October 21, 2017
    Reply

    I dont meaan rudeness, as I have never seen you before, but what is stuck in your hair?

  21. Linda Shaw
    October 21, 2017
    Reply

    Okay guys, Ottowa, new van Sehlby, Simon, cool dog,. What si wrong with Simons head aqnd why?

  22. Mohamed Charfeddine
    October 22, 2017
    Reply

    i can't believe i'm saying this, but i've been watching your videos guys , and i'm in love with you guys , you are AMAZING !!!!!!! hope i'll join the van life after i finish my studies ! good luck fof the rest of your adventure <3

  23. Crunchy ShadTV
    October 22, 2017
    Reply

    Yes. And thank you.

  24. happykt
    October 22, 2017
    Reply

    I don't mind someone parking in front of my house occasionally overnight, its when they stay for days that irritates me. I live in Austin and this happens a lot during ACL and SXSW. The front of my house is not a trailer park. Several times I had to call the cops on someone living in their RV for a week in front of my house.

  25. Toasted Toad
    October 23, 2017
    Reply

    the lady is superbly talented, i see why he follows her.
    he's pretty amazing too..

  26. Mati Mat
    October 23, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you so so much for this REAL DEAL video on van life! Loving it! Reallly helpful and realistic

  27. Mati Mat
    October 23, 2017
    Reply

    can't find your instagram… have you changed it?

  28. Franken Peter
    October 23, 2017
    Reply

    That coffee you were making looked disgusting. Like brown water.

  29. Robert Smida
    October 24, 2017
    Reply

    Dehumidifier guys works wonders

  30. Peter James
    October 24, 2017
    Reply

    Beautiful video thank you

  31. GlamperVan Lucy
    October 25, 2017
    Reply

    Great video guys and the dog is so cute! 🙂

  32. Jacque Branch C.
    October 27, 2017
    Reply

    Judging, who would dare?

  33. Red Bear
    October 28, 2017
    Reply

    Amazing video!  Good luck!

  34. Andjr hm
    October 29, 2017
    Reply

    by far the most annoying couple out of the entire #van life bullshit movement

  35. Vegan Dolls
    October 29, 2017
    Reply

    i need to go to the shitter- oh well. I'll just sit in tne van instead

  36. GQ24771
    October 30, 2017
    Reply
  37. patrick hunt
    October 31, 2017
    Reply

    This video starts off, for me , awkward. Encountering these two very different people from a different place and obviously a different time. The truth in their experiences reaches to the heart of any good story.  Soon it was obvious that Shelby and Simon are people like you and I trying to live their best life, but unlike you and I they're not watching #vanlife their making it. When it gets hard, they've managed to share it in a manner which conveys the essence of humanity. For this Shelby and Simon we admire you, your resilience, your courage and your willingness to share.

  38. ExplorerJust
    November 6, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for this, it's a great insight! Later this week I'm pcking up my first van to convert for adventures right here in the UK with my four dogs! I can't wait! I'll try to document the conversion and my adventuures through my YouTube channel.

  39. D Col
    November 8, 2017
    Reply

    Couldn't finish watching the video, her voice was way too annoying, like many women's nowadays.. I don't get it, why do you insist on talking like a little girls, girls??

  40. DMC Grant
    November 9, 2017
    Reply

    As a woodworker, I saw that table and was impressed; then you told the story about and it was all the more meaningful.

  41. Mr Tank
    November 10, 2017
    Reply

    This video is freaking awesome!! Huge inspiration! I want to start traveling the United States. So I bought myself a 1994 Mitsubishi Montero Sr 4×4.

  42. Kevin Mullett
    November 14, 2017
    Reply

    Like others, I appreciate your honest, genuine, and reflective story. It's unfortunately rare for folks to admit that everything isn't always coming up roses. And it's even more rare when people realize and admit that those struggles are actually character building. I suppose that is due, in no small part, to the stigma you mentioned feeling cast in your direction. I'm still debating if I will be converting my 2005 Suburban for an epic month long trip next year, to many of the recognizable places in your video, to indulge my own passion for photography. In any event, I thank you for sharing your journey.

  43. Peaceful Place
    November 15, 2017
    Reply

    Wow you two are very inspirational…yes go south young man and women go south

  44. Doug Cassidy
    November 17, 2017
    Reply

    Pretty much the most depressing video on youtube.

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