In late October of 2020, our van journeys came to a halt as we geared up for the winter and “settled” in San Diego, California. And just as it was exciting, it was also a strange transition. We went from living in extremely remote natural settings to a busy urban environment within a week. Our initial plan was to wrap up the van travels and spend our whole winter in the sunny surfing epicenter. But as 2020 has shown us, plans change quickly and suddenly. And some changed plans have proved to be for the better. So we’ve decided to hit the road once again as 2021 dawns.

So we’re heading north to spend winter in our little van

And we’re stoked! It’s turning out to be the opposite of what we originally had planned for the winter (remain in a warm climate to escape the brutal cold) but we wanted to take on a new challenge and shake things up a bit. After living in Southern California’s temperate climate for over two years, we’re ready to experience the chill-to-the-bone and winter wonderland life again.

Here’s how we are preparing:

  • We’ve installed an Espar diesel heater to keep us warm. It’s connected to the van’s diesel supply and requires minimal electricity.
  • We’ve stocked up on warm, cozy clothes and left our summer ones behind in our storage unit. It’s all sweaters, giant coats, gloves, hats, scarves, fuzzy socks, and sturdy boots from now on.
  • We’ve purchased snow chains for the van’s wheels.
  • Our food will be transitioning to the kind that warms both body and soul. Hot oatmeal for breakfast, warm soup for lunch, and some starch and carbohydrates for dinner. (It’s important to let our bodies acclimatize to the changing seasons. Winter with snow and below freezing temperature urges our bodies to consume foods that’ll keep our immune systems strong and our energy levels high – and winter foods are made for this.)
  • We’ve made small yet meaningful changes to the interior of our van: we purchased new soft and cozy bedding and a few aromatic, winter-like candles (don’t worry, we’re safe with it and own a fire extinguisher 😉 ), we’ve reorganized, reduced our things and given away items we no longer need.

Since today is the last day of 2020, I’m going to end this post with a sentimental message. This year was messy for the whole world in every aspect. We were all thrown to face the opposite of what we inherently want in life: stability and safety. And we experienced neither. But while there were extreme lows for both me and Alex this year, we committed to finding the positives and making the best out of a year that’s put our lives on hold. And we believe we made the best out of it. We traveled for a total of four months in the van, experiencing the amazing wonders of this planet and learning a tremendous amount about ourselves and what we need in life. We traveled without a plan in mind nor a solid route. We let life take us somewhere unexpected, and it turned out to be rewarding.

Now, life is taking us on our third round of van travels. We’re not sure how long we’ll be on the road for or where we’ll go – all we know is that we’re first heading up north and then see where life ends up taking us.

Anyways, Happy New Year, and let’s all put our heart and soul into making 2021 a year of new beginnings and actions that align with our values.

Mount Hood of Oregon
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Nancy Siris-Rawls

Have fun and keep warm. Does Astro have a coat?


Thank you Nancy. Astro has a thick natural coat that repels cold efficiently 🙂

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