Van Life New York State Road Trip

New York State has so much to offer for a road-trip and while living van life! New York State is not only home to the largest city in the USA, but it also offers vast natural beauty, scenic wilderness, forests, mountains, waterfalls, beaches, historic towns with lots of charm and friendly vibes.

After we had spent three months in New York City for a work gig during the Summer of 2019, we headed North, first into the Hudson Valley, and from there explored the rest of New York State with our self-converted campervan.

Since #vanlife is not as popular on the East Coast as it is on the West Coast, it was pretty easy to find overnight parking without any hassle. Of course, there are also plenty of campgrounds available for those who prefer to stay at campsites or State Parks, and public forests as well.

On our trip we visited the following areas, towns, and cities:
-Appalachian Trail outside of Harriman State Park
-Newburgh
-New Paltz
-Poughkeepsie
-Kingston
-Beacon
-Rhinebeck
-Keene
-Adirondacks and hiking trail up to Hurricane Mountain
-Saranac Lake
-Ithaca
-Robert H. Treman State Park outside of Ithaca
-Niagara Falls
-Buffalo

During our trip through New York State, we were invited to do three interviews for our Sustainable Living series with the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, the Saranac Lake Inn and Local Roots NYC. See both interviews linked here:

Sustainable Living: Interview with Omega Center For Sustainable Living & Omega Institute

Sustainable Living: Saranac Lake Amenities | Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn & Hotel

Sustainable Living: Interview with Farm to Table CSA Local Roots NYC

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40 Tips for Digital Nomad Life in New York City

New York City is a great place for digital nomads and the city has a lot to offer for both short-term and long-term visits. Last summer, we spent three months in NYC and enjoyed city-life while working remotely for our own businesses – Damian working in web development and SEO and Eliane working in health coaching and social media management, and in addition also did contract jobs on-site as a massage therapist and travel nurse.

Before we arrived in the big apple, we had traveled in our van from Florida to NYC along the East Coast, and afterward continued our road trip further up North. Since we were staying in NYC for a three-month work contract, we rented a studio through Airbnb for the first couple of days and then searched for an affordable room once we were in the city. We found one also via Airbnb but were able to get a lower rate due to renting it on a three-month basis. We used to live in New York City for fifteen years, before starting our full-time travel lifestyle three years ago, so we know the city very well.

This is our guide for Digital Nomad Life in New York City with 40 Tips from places to work from, pros and cons, and how to save money while working remotely in NYC:

Pros:

  1. It is a multicultural city with unique people and many niche groups
  2. There is an endless list of things to do
  3. Lots of museums, galleries, festivals, concerts, movies, theater, comedy, and broadway
  4. Excellent food from around the world
  5. Many outdoor activities, public parks, waterfront areas, beaches and woods nearby
  6. Lots of educational opportunities, courses, workshops, and classes with all kinds of topics
  7. Many different neighborhoods and options to explore all five boroughs
  8. Walking-friendly and public transportation from bus, train, boat, cabs, and cablecar
  9. Free wifi everywhere
  10. Many fitness opportunities including free outdoor options in the city parks, regular gyms, CrossFit gyms, boutique gyms and fitness classes, boot camps, cycling classes, dance classes, martial arts schools, pilates, yoga, climbing halls, kayaking on the Hudson and East River, bike trails, walking trails along the waterfronts, public and private swimming pools, and even hiking nearby.

Cons:

  1. NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the world! 
  2. High cost of living
  3. Expensive food, especially when eating out or buying coffee and drinks
  4. Seasons can be harsh with ice-cold winter, humid and hot summer temperatures
  5. It is always noisy
  6. It is a crowded environment with lots of people everywhere
  7. Stressful environment and lots of people are stressed
  8. It can be hard to make friends

Recommended Places to Work from:

  1. Public library: https://www.nypl.org/locations/map
  2. Public parks: https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks
  3. Cafes and restaurants
  4. Indoor halls and atriums
  5. Hotel lobbies
  6. Co-working spaces:

Networking Opportunities:

  1. Meetup.com
  2. Eventbrite.com
  3. Co-working spaces
  4. Conferences
  5. Gallery openings
  6. Start-up companies
  7. Businesses of every industry
  8. Stores everywhere

Tips to Reduce Spending:

  1. Rent a room in the outer boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Jersey City
  2. Get a room for the first few days and look for affordable options once you are there:
  3. Cook at home, only eat out on occasion
  4. Chose restaurants with lunch specials or Indian restaurants with lunch buffet options
  5. Buy from food trucks or get a $1 pizza slice
  6. Shop groceries at the many farmer’s markets or at supermarkets in the outer boroughs
  7. Use the bicycle, walk or take public transportation instead of cabs
  8. Use Groupon or Classpass for deals 

➡️ Download our guide: 40 Tips for Digital Nomad Life in New York City

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Tour of our Eco-Friendly Ford E250 Camper Van Conversion for Vanlife in the US

We have been living in and out of our Ford E250 Econoline Cargo Van for the last 1 1/2 years and have done two long road-trips with the van so far. The first one from Florida to California and back and the second one from Florida to Maine and back. We love our van which is a 2011 model that came in good shape. We are still happy with the build and functionality of it and are already looking forward to our next trip!

When we converted the van we had only a few weeks to build it with limited resources and budget, all while working full time. The goal was to keep it as simple as possible while using Eco-Friendly material as much as possible and within our budget.

This is what we used for the build: *Note: we are not sponsored by any of the suppliers and we paid for all the appliances and materials.

Insulation

Natural Sheep Wool for the walls, doors and as a filler in the ceiling. We are pretty impressed with how well the Sheep Wool has been keeping us warm, even with temperatures as low as 38F. For the floor insulation we used Traffic Master Underlayment as a thermal and moisture barrier (not Eco-Friendly, but we did not want to lose headroom and found this to be a quick option).

Wood Paneling, Kitchen Cabinet, Bed Frame and Storage

We re-used wood that we already had from previous constructions as much as possible for the kitchen. We re-used the whole bed frame and wooden drawer which we previously built for our truck camper. We did not find any recycled wood in the area and the palette wood we found had mold, so we bought new untreated pine wood panels for the wall and ceiling. After our first road trip we decided to re-built the kitchen part as the setup was not very practical. For the second kitchen build we used reclaimed wood that we found at The Repurpose Project in Gainesville.

We used Eco Advance as a wood treatment.

Flooring

We decided to use Linoleum aka Marmoleum, which is naturally sourced from linseed oil, pine rosin, wood flour, cork, limestone, organic pigments and jute backing spun from renewable plants. We bought both the Sheep Wool and Linoleum flooring from Eco-Building Products. We have been very happy with the Linoleum and found it to be super easy to care for while being durable. There are no scratches after 1 1/2 years of vanlife despite countless times of pulling and pushing things across the floor.

Interior Lights

We used a simple LED light strip with a dimmer that draws little power but illuminates the whole van more than enough. We also use solar powered Luci Lights for indoors and outdoors

Refridgerator

Engel AC/DC Portable Tri-Voltage Fridge/Freezer – 43 Qt (super energy efficient)

Ventilation

We decided to go with the Maxx Air Fan Deluxe which is a great option as it can run even when it rains. The Installation of our Fan was done by Justice Kustomz in Tallahassee.

Solar

We are sustainably solar powered with a total of 300w solar panels. The Solar Install was done by Simpler Solar in Tallahassee.

Other Items we use in our Van

Our sink is a commercial steamer pan and we use a hand-pump for the faucet, a 5 gallon fresh-water tank and 5 gallon grey-water tank. Our mattress is a non-toxic Eco-Mattress. For a shower we use a simple outdoor solar shower.

We use organic cotton bed linens and sheets.

To cook we use a camping stove with re-fillable propane bottles. We use stainless steel plates, cups and pots, a cast-iron skillet, bamboo ware, re-usable metal straws and coffee cups, glass jars for bulk-food storage, biodegradable soap and dishwashing liquid, biodegradable garbage bags and laundry detergent etc.

We bring re-usable fabric bags when grocery shopping and small reusable bags for veggies and fruits etc.

Our Favorite Eco-Friendly Vanlife and Full Time Travel Gear: https://wander.green/20-eco-friendly-van-life-gift-ideas/

Check out our 20 Favorite Eco-Friendly Vanlife Gifts: https://wander.green/20-eco-friendly-van-life-gift-ideas/

Our Favorite Dry Camping and Boondocking Gear: https://wander.green/dry-camping-gear-checklist

We are Eliane and Damian, two outdoor enthusiasts who became digital nomads and travel full time while working remotely and on location. We live and travel in our self-converted cargo van, sometimes we stay in our travel trailer, in a tent, in Airbnbs or Hotel rooms. We strive to live eco-friendly as possible and love to share our experience, journey and knowledge with you.

Wander Green – Eco Friendly Living, Travel, Technology and Food

Disclaimer: This site may contain affiliate links; which means that at no cost to you, we will earn a small commission for any purchase you make through our listed product links. Thank you!

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Sustainable Living:  Saranac Lake Amenities | Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn & Hotel

The Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn in the New York Adirondacks has received several awards for their eco-friendly initiatives and has received the highest rewards, the Audubon International’s Platinum Eco-Rating.

The Inn owner Daniel Brownell and his wife Denise Figueroa use many different green practices from water conservation, the use of organic linens, green energy, green installations and restorations, recycling, eliminating the use of chemicals and much more.

Owner Daniel also takes specific care of the grounds and implements eco-friendly garden and landscaping practices from using rain water from the lake to water the plants to planting specific flowers to attract Bees and Monarch Butterflies. The outdoor pool is heated via solar-technology and is open for use during the summer months.

The Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn is located within walking distance to town and with direct lake-access to Saranac Lake. Rooms come with beautiful lake views and outdoor-access. The Inn provides free kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and paddleboats with paddles and life-jackets, bicycles, basketball and tennis rackets, fishing poles, snow shoes and even Toddler Kelty frame backpacks for guests to enjoy some eco-friendly activities around the Inn and the Saranac Lake area.

For more information and to book a stay visit the Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn website: https://www.saranaclakeinn.com

Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Saranaclakeinn

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