The Way of The Van

Capable Men takes a look at a fascinating wanderer who has taken the matter of freedom into his own hands. His humble steed is a 2001 Chevy Astro and his adventures take place across the United States of America. 

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.
— Ellen Goodman

Capable

People who go the extra mile and break away from the status quo, seeking positive change often get our attention here at Capable Men. Our very philosophy believes that a capable man is somebody who has the courage to live their own life and break away from the ways of collective thinking. Jed was one such chap who I recently discovered on Youtube, regularly documenting his adventures as a van dweller while embracing the modern life of a digital nomad. 

Van Dweller Advice Article

What is a Van Dweller?

A van dweller is somebody who lives in their vehicle to enable constant travel, save money on property/rental costs and arguably live life on their own terms. Laws, social stigma and supply logistics are just some of the challenges that a van dweller may encounter when on the road. 

Most people envision their ultimate form of freedom within their own castle, sitting on a plot of owned land somewhere on this planet with their friends and family close by. And this certainly isn’t a bad vision to have. But the path to achieving this dream often comes at a cost. There is something to be said about life when you’re spending most of it hustling to afford your home, car and struggling to find the time to go on adventures. The van dweller lifestyle is the answer for many people who wish to break away from this narrative. 

Jed is part of a modern generation of digital nomads who have decided to leave their old lives behind and pursue a life of adventure on the road. Funded by social media and internet based revenue the digital nomad aims to build a revenue stream with his love for travel. Jed's story began many years ago when he first began to go on trips across the USA on his motorcycle. 

In the beginning it was incredible, beyond incredible really it was pure bliss. While I was on the road on my bike I thought about how much travelling made me feel like my soul was on fire, like I was reborn. Being so far out of my comfort zone made me feel alive like nothing I had ever known before.
— Jed
Jed's motorcycle

Adversity

With many great adventures on the motorcycle taking Jed across many states, a strong love for adventure was born. Jed decided to act upon his desires and move out of his apartment and release all his responsibilities within the area. Inevitably his new lifestyle limited his cash situation. Gas, food and a cheap hotel room a few nights a week was the range of services available for this infant wanderer. Such sudden burdens took their immediate toll on Jed, as he found the constant challenges leaving himself and his motorcycle frail. 

I decided to find another way to live on the road and still be able to sleep without needing hotel rooms everyday.
— Jed

The Chevy Astro

Jed came to the conclusion that he needed a van to continue this lifestyle on the road. So after careful consideration, our adventurer decided to regroup and return to his family home to reorganise his efforts and obtain a vehicle. But the old habits and definitions found themselves returning into Jed's daily routine since returning, and the desire to get back on the road as soon as possible was strong as ever.  

After much research, Jed decided on the Chevy Astro as his vehicle of choice. It wasn't long before he made the decision to purchase the van (Which also happened to be the first one he seen) 

I was so excited I bought the first I saw. It had high miles, but ran great at the dealers lot before I bought it. After I paid for it and put my motorcycle in the back and drove it off the lot it started running horribly. I had just signed an “as is” bill of sale. There was no going back.
— Jed
What is van dwelling?

Learning process

With a 2001 Chevy Astro now in Jed's possession, the next few months would be rather interesting. This was the time period when Jed found himself converting the van to the specifications required for a life on the road. Thorough research was required on exploring what others had done to convert their vans into homes and getting the van mechanically fit for such a life on the road. Jed proceeded to gather the parts needed and devise a vague plan for his future life of adventure. 

The Test

With the van deemed suitable for travel and an intense eagerness to feel the freedom of the open road once again, the first adventure was set in motion. Jed was truly eager to see if the van would stand up to the harsh challenges of the road. After a long trip all the way down to Death Valley from Portland, Oregon the sudden realisation hit Jed that he had left too soon.

Van Dwelling Strategy

The van was not running well, and to make matters worse for Jed he found himself having to deal with panic attacks every night. It turned out that sleeping in a van was a big deal and the constant worrying about being eaten by coyotes or hunted by serial killers was very real in his mind. Jed's imagination at this point had a firm grip around his throat. With morale low and the van misfiring with the steering all over the place it was time to head back and rethink this plan over once again. 

We can rebuild him, We have the technology

Anxiety issues began to surface for Jed during the first few months, as he found himself becoming reclusive and refusing to leave the home during this period. It would take Jed another six months or so of dealing with these issues head-on while simultaneously fixing up the van, and hitting the open road again. 

I meditated, learned to eat better, listened to Tony Robbins religiously (among other great minds like Napoleon Hill, The Buddha, and Carl Jung), I learned many techniques to change my emotional state instantly and let go of the beliefs causing me all this suffering. I was starting to really grasp the power of belief and identity! The second time I left I had eager wings, but this time I would be ready for anything!
— Jed

ROUND 2

With Jed's mind in a great place and a newly burning confidence within himself he loaded up the van and took off once again. It's been 6 months now since Jed has returned to the road, with his new setup and he tells me his life is continuously getting better and better.

I’ve never felt this good. I guess the main reason I left was to fulfil my lust to grow, to experience new things in both my inner and outer world. I look around and see how god damned unhappy most people are, doing what they’re told, following along. They are miserable! I feel far too deeply to allow myself to suffer that much.

I cannot deny it, like some. So I forge my own path and make my life a never ending adventure. I hope that by liberating myself from the chains of conformity and suffering that I can inspire others to live life on their terms too. Maybe it’s my way of making the world a better place and leaving my mark? I’m 29 now, and time has already gone so fast, there is none to waste. I feel every moment must be deeply appreciated for the incredible gift that it is.

Life is almost impossible, yet here I am...living it up!
— Jed

The rebuild

Take a look at Jed's video above where he gives us the grand tour of his $3000 customised stealth van setup. You can subscribe to his Youtube channel here while you're at it. Jed is constantly releasing videos of his adventures in the van since he has returned to the road. It's a fascinating journey as we have the opportunity to watch this young man making his own path in life and enlightening himself along the way.

Q&A with Jed

CM: How did your friends and family respond to your choice to live on the road?

JED: After seeing what I did with the motorcycle, my friends and family either supported me or accepted that this is what I was going to to. I didn't have a single person try to talk me out of it. 

CM: How compatible is the van life with intimate companionship? 

JED: Until recently I've been happily single the entire time I've been on the road. My current relationship is long distance as she lives in Australia. I plan to have her join me in about 6 months for a while. It will either make or break the relationship living in such close quarters. But we can use it as a chance to grow together or be miserable. It's not up to us, not the size of the box we live in.  

CM: What is something you have given up since becoming a van dweller that you miss?

JED: Having wifi on my laptop anytime I want. Now I have to go to coffee shops, libraries, and fast food to get wifi. I find it a lot easier to focus on business without the distractions that come with public spaces. I'm using it as a chance to hone my laser focus though, so even that is not that big of a deal. 

CM: Is the van dweller life something that you see as a temporary chapter in your life? 

JED: For right now it's the only way I want to live. I think with a bigger van it's totally possible I'll never pay rent again. I've even thought about having a van on every continent so I can travel the world with the freedom I so much enjoy now. 

CM: For somebody reading this who might be interested in doing what you did, what would you say to them? 

JED: Stop thinking about it. Life is too short to procrastinate. Jump in the fire, make a plan, and start right now. If it doesn't work out then try harder milk every lesson you can out of it and you'll be a much stronger person for it. You'll also get closer to what you DO want in life. 

Van Dwelling Guide for Men

Into The Mystery 13   

Into the Mystery 13 is the brand that Jed is building to collectively showcase his adventures. You can follow Jed and his adventures on the following:

The founder of Capable Men. 

Currently operating personal projects while he simultaneously attempts to develop the Capable Men platform. John served five years in the British army, with a tour of duty in Afghanistan before eventually departing the forces to begin a career in the private security sector.

John attended several private protection courses dealing with security strategy, close-quarters combat training, firearms and advanced driving. This new profession took him worldwide Including the protection of government assets in South America, VIP tasks on the Côte d'Azur and security work within the French Alps.

His interests include global affairs, philosophy, hiking, sports and fitness.