Housing Series: Fear? Doing it anyway.

In Magazine, May 2018 by Jeffrey Michaud2 Comments

5Point’s #VanLife Rally was its largest yet.

This year’s rally was a full-on block party with food trucks, music, beer, tailgaters grilling and chilling. The giddiest devotee was by and far Jeffrey Michaud. Jerry Garcia’s famous high notes filled Jeffrey’s “front yard”. Sparkly and gracious, Jeffrey immediately greeted us, inviting us in, sharing fabrication stories and hospitality. It’s not the first camper van he’s created, but one of several. Aficionado is an understatement. He and his copilot have logged over a quarter million miles of travel since 2010.  An obvious gypsy at heart, (and former Dead Head) Jeffrey’s Sprinter space was slightly rumpled and inviting– masculine, earthy and touched with hints of a spiritual life–  sweet launchpad for travel, exploration and freedom. Mischievous energy was afoot…Please enjoy Jeffrey Michaud’s take on #VanLife.

#vanlife, a friendly face at 5Point

Fear? Doing it anyway.

Written by Jeffrey Michaud

Turning 40, I became totally obsessed with time.

What I had done with it so far?  What was I going to do with my future? I was dangerously close to becoming normal. But, everything was about to change. My turning point came somewhere in the second chapter of Tim Ferris’ The 4 Hour Workweek. He asks a simple question:

If money didn’t matter, what would you be doing with your short time on this planet?

” I didn’t have to think for more than a moment to know what I’d do: Travel.” Photo, J. Michaud

I didn’t have to wonder for more than a moment to know what I’d do: Travel.

What was really keeping me from traveling in the first place?

Basically it was fear.

That I’d lose my job and my house, or become destitute, or some other horrible unknown. But then, while simply sitting, quietly beside a creek, I saw a flash in my mind of how it was actually possible. Riddled with obstacles, but possible. When I stood up and walked away from that spot, everything from that moment forward was geared towards overcoming the obstacles to my new goal: Travel.

It was sobering and unnerving to see how distant the possibility of full time travel was, and I decided if I waited until I had enough free time and extra money it might never happen. To actually pull this off would in fact require changing my whole world view, and instead of waiting until I had enough money to do what I wanted, I would have to figure out how to need less money.

Photo, J. Michaud

Making the decision to change everything was easy, but once the plan was in motion the fear wouldn’t go away. So, I decided I was going to be afraid, but do it anyways. Six months later I had rented out my house fully furnished (which covered the mortgage), sold the SUV and half of my possessions (thank you craigslist), and was driving off on an extended road trip in my first Mercedes Sprinter camper van. Me and my partner took leave of our jobs for 6 months with a “Sorry, Not Sorry”, moved everything that didn’t fit into the newly built-out Sprinter into storage, and set off on a road trip that covered the length of both coasts as well as endless zig-zagging through the Rockies and Southwest.

We transformed like caterpillars into butterflies on that trip.

We discovered our true selves, and our new lives were born. In many ways that road trip never really ended. Today I’m sitting in my 5th Sprinter camper van, and to date have traveled a total of 250K miles in Sprinter vans. The first trip was still the most epic and unmatched, but for the last 8 years my life has been focused on executing the next adventure.

#VanLife…Not?

#RealLife. Photo, J.Michaud

Its tempting when on the road to say, “I’m never going back.” But being a full timer on the road is a lot to take on, and the novelty of it all wears off around 6-7 weeks in. So after years of building up to living full-time in the van-life, I’ve actually decided its not really something I want for myself. I live in a resort town, so it lends itself to taking off on extended road trips during the off-seasons. We’re quiet all through April/May and also Oct/Nov. So, I have a sort of hybrid of a vanlife lifestyle; I work hard for 4 months living minimalistically in a tiny little cheap apartment, and then take off on extended 8-10 week trips in the off-seasons. It’s sort of the best of both worlds, and doing it this way I never get sick of either of them.

One of the greatest gifts of going through this transformation is that I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with situations where I’m afraid, but do I do it anyways. Most recently I started a new business helping other people build their own camper vans. The relentlessly pressing fear was of spending a lot of time and money upfront and it not working out. The fear wouldn’t go away, but I did it anyways.
And of course, I didn’t crash and burn; its all working out great. I now have a shop, and an endless stream of other adventure seekers coming to me to learn from all these endless experiences, trials, and errors. Only problem is that ever since I started Rocky Mountain Adventure Vans I haven’t had any time to take any road trips. Ironic, right?

The Quiet Voice Inside

All of the endless magic in my life is enviable to many who are looking at it from the outside. From my perspective, its been a long slow process to get here. It’s been a lot of “two steps forward, one step back”. The trick is to keep going forward. Follow the suggestions of the quiet voice inside that’s guiding us all. You’re going to be afraid; but do it anyways.

Jeffrey Michaud was doing the van life thing before he knew it was a thing. In fact– the his first van is often seen on Main Street, the tall festive white one, with colorful flower stickers all over it. (“That was her, not me!”) Captivated by the lifestyle and possibilities, he’s been building them and traveling ever since.  Check him out at www.rockymountainadventurevans.com, where he writes, “This started as a side hobby for us, but became an obsession, and now a way of life. If you’re not ready to have your life turned upside-down, and into an on-going adventure, then we suggest you turn back now.”