We are Damian and Eliane, a couple in our forties who decided to escape the “normal” and travel full time. It all started with an epiphany on a Sunday morning walk during which we were dreaming aloud of traveling the world once we retired. Our initial idea was to save money to buy and run an eco-friendly vegan B&B until retirement, and after that travel the world. But then the thought popped up: “What if we die before we are in our 60’s”?
Life is too precious and short. There’s so much more to life than work, sleep, eat and repeat. We want to spend our time in nature, visiting different cities, meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds, and learning about life’s many wonders. What better way to do that than by traveling full time while we’re still young enough to fully enjoy ourselves? As soon as we had those thoughts we had set our intention:
Work less – Travel more – Keep it green
Who we are
We met on a beautiful day in April 2014 in the heart of New York City and have been falling in love with each other ever since.
› Born and raised in Switzerland near Zurich, has lived near London, New York City and Florida.
› Mostly vegetarian for 5 years, now vegan
› Registered nurse, licensed massage therapist, and health enthusiast
› Photographer, runner, hiker and backpacker; former scuba diver, musician and ballet dancer
› Farmer’s market and farm-to-table lover
› Has traveled all over Europe (England, Scotland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Lichtenstein, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Tenerife) by boat, train, car, and airplane and has visited Hong Kong, China, Barbados, the Bahamas, Bonaire, Curacao and Mexico and continues to travel throughout the US.
› Has scuba dived in the Caribbean Sea in Bonaire, Bahamas, and Mexico near Tulum and in Cozumel, and has backpacked on longer trips through the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks as well as through different areas in upstate NY and Switzerland.
› Born and raised in New Jersey, has lived in Phoenix, Houston, Portland, and New York City and in Germany near Giessen.
› Vegetarian for 22 years
› Computer geek, web master, digital data analyst, and SEO specialist
› Former cross country runner and DJ
› Passionate dancer, runner, hiker and backpacker
› Environmentalist and organizer of earth day beach cleanup in NJ
› Has traveled to Switzerland, Italy, Germany and all over the US, and has backpacked in upstate NY and Switzerland
From spring of 2016 until summer 2017 we transitioned from a stationary life in New York City to living in a travel trailer and later exchanged the towing vehicle for a Cargo Van that we self-converted to a camper van. We realized that we could earn a living anywhere. Damian is working as a digital nomad, he has his own tech company: remoteseo.us and is continuing his previous work as an SEO specialist and web master while Eliane is working as a travel nurse and massage therapist.
We also are open to exploring other opportunities as they arise, including seasonal work on farms, restaurants, and hotels, “workamping” at national parks, or other short-term or remote work that might come our way. Anything we’ll encounter will be an experience that adds flavor to the soup of life. We realized that living in a small mobile home helps to keep living costs low. Having less expenses allows us to having to work less which means we have more time to enjoy life wherever we are.
Moving into a travel trailer made initially the most sense for us, as it allowed us to travel slowly from place to place while having the option to be stationary for a few weeks during location dependent work assignments, without having to move the whole “house” when driving somewhere in the area. About a half a year after we started our journey with the trailer we realized that towing a trailer has its pros and cons and the cons being, that we actually didn’t like to pull the trailer and wanted more agility and flexibility when driving and parking, and we also wanted to get a better gas mileage for environmental reasons. Therefore we decided to downsize even more and bought a cargo van that we self-converted into a campervan and sold our previous towing vehicle. Now we feel we have the best of both worlds: during a couple of months per year we stay stationary in our travel trailer that we left on a rented lot in an RV park in Florida and the rest of the year we are traveling in our small Campervan.
Before becoming full-time travelers, we had spent many vacations and weekends camping, hiking, and backpacking and all with public transportation whenever possible. We only rarely rented a car for our previous camping and hiking adventures. We hadn’t owned a car for most of our lives and we’ve never owned a home, so buying our own mobile home and van was actually a big step up for us.
Our ramp-up phase to full-time travel included:
› Working multiple jobs and lots of overtime to pay off our debt
› Reducing our spending
› Saving for a car and travel trailer plus an emergency fund
› Renovating our new home on wheels
› Building up our web-based and remote businesses
› Downsizing our belongings to a comfortable minimum
› Learning about ways to adapt the principles of eco-friendly renovation for our travel trailer and make it as green and self-sufficient as possible within our budget
We are not extreme hippies, nor are we living the perfect zero-waste lifestyle, but we believe that striving to be eco-friendly should play an important part of all our lives. The planet needs caring and eco-conscious inhabitants so we all can enjoy its beauty and the magnificence that mother earth provides.
We hope sharing our experience through wander.green will help inspire others and improve the ecologic footprint of other like-minded humans.
Our Home On Wheels
We are living in a travel trailer as well as in a self-converted cargo van. We bought our travel trailer in May 2017, it is a 2003 Coachman Spirit of America, a 25ft long and 7ft wide cube on wheels. It has big windows in the living area, and includes a full kitchen, dinette, pull out sofa, full size bed, cabinets and a small bathroom with shower. We have spent a few weeks of renovating and cosmetically updating the trailer: we fixed a rotten sub-floor part and added new bamboo flooring throughout, painted the whole inside, installed a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet which reduces water waste and eliminates the need for chemicals, added a wooden work-desk and exchanged the kitchen countertop with a wooden butcher block, replaced the dinette kitchen table, covered the sofa and dinette cushions with new fabric, replaced the room-dividing curtain with a recycled one and got a new shower curtain, replaced kitchen cabinet handles with new ones and donated the old ones. We kept the blinds, the fridge, the stove and water tanks.
We added a Portable Solar System for green electricity, a water saving shower head, an RV Water Filter to eliminate need for buying pre-filled water bottles, and a Portable Induction Cooktop to reduce propane use, as well as other green amenities as fit within our budget. We replaced the lightbulbs with LED but found out it did not work because the RV’s electric system was too old, so changed back to the original bulbs.
Wherever possible, we used eco-friendly materials: biodegradable soap, sponges and garbage bags for cleanup, zero VOC paint and odorless primer for walls and cabinets, eco-drop cloth for painting, eco-bamboo for the flooring, we added a natural latex mattress, re-used fabric for the curtains and bought a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet.
In September 2017 we bought a Chevy Tahoe as a towing vehicle, but after a few months we decided to downsize our travel-vessel and in May 2018 we exchanged the Tahoe for a Ford E250 cargo van that we then self-converted into a camper-van. We have fallen in love with Van Life and enjoy the added freedom of living super-small, the ability to stealth-camp and boondock without a hassle, and to drive and park much more effortlessly than if towing a travel trailer or driving a larger RV. We outfitted our van for off-grid-living, added 300w solar panels to the roof for solar power, installed LED-lights, an Engel fridge with low-power consumption, a sink with a 5 gallon fresh-water and 5 gallon grey-water tank. For the van-conversion we used eco-friendly sheep wool for most of the insulation, natural pine wood for the walls, eco-friendly linoleum for the floor and re-used wood for the bed and furniture built.
We believe in the saying: ‘you are what you eat’ and we love to cook our own healthy meals. We avoid processed foods and try to support local small businesses. We prefer to buy locally grown and organic foods if possible and shop at farmers markets whenever feasible.
Damian has been a vegetarian for 22 years and a vegan for 2 years. Eliane has been eating mostly a vegetarian diet for about 5 years before becoming a vegan in 2018. The meat and dairy industry has a big impact on our environment and is a huge and contributor of greenhouse emissions. The other reason is, that we don’t want animals to suffer for the satisfaction of our taste-buds.
We are far from perfect, but we strive to reduce waste as much as possible. Here’s an incomplete list of actions we take:
>avoiding the use of plastic bags, containers, bottles, plates, cutlery
>using Biodegradeable Garbage Bags
>using reusable Produce Bags and Muslin Bags when food shopping
>using Biodegradable Soap, Dish Soap and Laundry Detergent
>refilling reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water
>reducing water waste when washing dishes or showering
>using a Soda Siphon instead of buying bottled seltzer and soda
>when buying new clothing we choose organic and eco-friendly fabrics if possible or shop at second hand stores
>using natural body care products without chemicals and animal testing
>using a Solar Power Kit for our trailer, Solar Lights and Solar Chargers for phones and gadgets when on the go and off-grid
>using an Portable Induction Cooktop for most of our cooking
>avoiding waste as possible
>thinking about the need for new things before we buy them
>recycling whatever possible and donating goods to someone who can use them
>using public transportation if feasible
>using our feet or bicycle for shorter distances instead of the van