Sarah and Matt Park, aka The Bus Life, grew up not far from one another in Utah. Sarah’s parents always had a love of the outdoors and her family’s simple camping trips around the West instilled a rapid desire to explore. Matt’s father was a professional ski bum and Grand Canyon river guide. He taught Matt that curating a deep love of the outdoors is the key to a happy life. Sarah and Matt met through Utah’s extensive and loving climbing community more than six years ago. On their second wedding anniversary in November of 2014, they toyed with the idea of a full-time adventure. A big international trip? Nope. Explore National Parks and climb all sorts of rad stuff all the time? Mmmm, kinda. Fully commit to life on the road in a 40-square-foot van with barely enough room to change your mind? You betcha. The Parks decided to move into a van with the goal of spending a year on the road. Today, the 29-year-old mountain guides and tech reps are scratching at almost three years of full-time van life. And they are a damn adorable adventure couple.
Adventure Mobile Year, Make, and Model?
We started out in a 1978 Westfalia Volkswagen bus, but surviving one Utah winter living in it full-time was enough to make us upgrade. The past two years we have been living in a 2007 Chevy Express with AWD.
What’s the story behind the vehicle’s name?
Magnolia the VW got her name from a Grateful Dead song that was playing as we bumped along a dirt road somewhere in the Utah desert. Becket, the new van, got his name as we were test driving him. Matt had been teaching me about pulleys earlier that day and I think I had some of the lingo stuck in my head.
We’ve had Becket for two years now
How did you get it?
After a few months of searching online, we found a good deal. We wanted a vehicle with 4WD since we spend a lot of time off road and in snowy terrain.
How did you modify it?
After we bought Becket, the first thing we did was chop off the roof and build a two-foot wooden extension. We looked into fiberglass tops, but they were way out of our limited budget. The van had been a Comcast work van so it was already gutted. We built a bed, storage, counters, and added a wood-burning stove.
How do you make a living on the road?
We are pretty local Utans and have always kept Utah as a home base for all our traveling. Matt is a mountain guide and we have spent the past couple summers working and living in Zion. We also work as tech reps for various companies, which keeps us on the road, traveling to different demos across the West.
How many places have you visited? And what is the most memorable place or adventure?
These are hard questions… We love Utah and any time we get to explore its secluded corners. That’s the easy answer. No matter how far we travel, we love coming home to the red desert and the snowy mountains to climb and to ski. But in the past couple years we’ve traveled across the world. We went on a climbing trip to Tasmania, guided a climb up Kilimanjaro and went on a safari, made a motorcycle trip across Canada, rafted the Grand Canyon, and spent a few weeks climbing and touring Morocco. Matt also climbed in Alaska while I solo toured in the bus for a couple months.
Sports done along the way?
Climbing seems to be the general theme of our destinations, but we love to trail run, hike, ski, canyoneer, slackline, backpack, or do just about anything outside.
Pros of van ownership?
Having everything you need packed into a mobile home is so convenient. Vans are easily maneuverable and everything has a set place. Even when things inside the van get to a state of total catastrophe, it only takes five minutes to clean up and get on the road.
Cons of van ownership?
I guess the only real downfall of a van is not having the space for a bathroom and shower. But that really is not a big deal. There are plenty of public facilities along the road.
Advice for others looking to do a similar adventure?
People are always asking us how to start van life. They want to know the perfect job or van or build or travel plan. Our advice is to just do it. You’ll figure it out as you go. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. You’ve got skills, goals, and plans that differ from ours and any other van lifer out there. Things happen when you jump into it, when you commit to an idea and follow through. We didn’t have a savings account when we started this, and we work our butts off to make it happen. We put a lot of trust in letting things come together. And when some things fall through, we make it work. Just be flexible to change and dive in, head first.
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