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After living full time in my Airstream with my dog, Rue, for the last year, I have decided to switch to van life! I am now having a Ford Transit Van custom built into our new home.

The company that is professionally building out my van is Drifter Vans in Detroit, MI. Their work is outstanding and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this team so far! You can check them out here:

I keep getting asked why I am switching to a van. Well, that’s a LOADED question! There are many pros and cons when it comes to switching to van life. After heavily weighing them, I have decided a van is a much better RV for me. Let me break it down for you.


The number one reason I am switching from a travel trailer to a van is to simplify my travels. This means no more hitching up and towing. That may not sound like a big deal to you, and it’s really not. I’m totally capable of all the work that goes into it, I just don’t feel like doing it anymore! I’m hoping it will save me a lot of time, not only because it’s faster to break down camp and hit the road, but I should be able to drive a little bit faster as well. And I’ll have way less anxiety because I’m not towing a trailer!


Another big reason I’m switching is the compact size of the van compared to the Airstream will open up so many more opportunities for me. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to stop at a cool restaurant or pull off the road to catch a beautiful view but was extremely limited on what I could do since I was towing a trailer. Not many places can accommodate parking for a tow vehicle PLUS a trailer. Even simpler things like grabbing fast food or finding an RV accessible gas station with the Airstream requires way more planning than I initially bargained for. The size of the van should allow me to make so many more pit stops than I could before with way less planning.


In my opinion, I think the van will be a lot safer when it comes to escaping a sketchy situation. There was one time I was boondocking in the Airstream and felt pretty unsafe, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. My neighbors had approached me at sunset and gave me really weird vibes, then proceeded to scream and fight all night long. I’m pretty sure there were drugs involved and I just wanted to get out of there. But I would have had to go outside, break down camp, and hitch up in the dark with these people watching me. If I were in a van, I could have easily hopped in the drivers seat and removed myself from that situation. But in the Airstream, this wasn’t an option.. And it was not a fun situation to be in as a solo traveler.

Another safety aspect to consider that makes the van a better fit for a solo traveler is navigation. There was one time I was towing the Airstream and made a wrong turn down a residential road. It was super steep and there was no where for me to safely turn around or even stop to reroute the GPS. I eventually found an exit onto a different road after driving for a few miles, but if I was in the van, I could have easily pulled into someones driveway and turned around.


I think the van is going to open up many more boondocking and overnight parking options for me. Some boondocking spots are much more difficult to get to with a trailer, and most forest roads don’t have a good place to turn a trailer around. As far as street parking, I would never even attempt this in Airstream. I feel like I would just stick out like a sore thumb on the side of the road and would not feel comfortable. Plus, the Airstream and my tow vehicle are too long to fit in one street parking spot. The van should be a game changer for both of these situations.

In the Airstream, I heavily relied on Harvest Hosts, and will continue to use it with the van, but hopefully not as much. If you don’t know what Harvest Hosts is, check out my video on my experience with it:

Pretty great, right? You can get 15% off your membership here:

I also won’t have to rely on RV park or campsite reservations as much, which are always booked out in peak season anyways. The electric and plumbing systems in my van should allow me to be way more self-sufficient, meaning I won’t always be relying on campground hookups. Being a bit more off grid will allow me to plan less and be a bit more spontaneous with my travels since I will have less limitations. I’ll be going over the details of the appliances in future posts along with the custom floorpan and design.


Debt consolidation! Woo-hoo! Will I be in any LESS debt? No, absolutely not. The cost of the van plus the build is actually more expensive than my Airstream and tow vehicle combined. BUT, I will only have one payment for both my car and my home, as well as only one insurance payment, which is nice. If you’re curious about the price of my build, you can head to Drifter Vans website for more details:


There is nothing more I love about RV life than having my kitchen, bathroom, and all of my belongings with me wherever I go. This was a huge perk while traveling in the Airstream, until I decided to start going on a lot of weekend trips while on assignment in Washington. Normally my plans are spontaneous and too last minute to book a campsite for a 22’ Airstream.. plan a safe route.. break down camp.. hitch up.. travel.. set up camp.. and do it it ALL OVER again just a couple days later. So I ended up frequently leaving the Airstream behind and car camping in my Jeep. I would constantly be packing and unpacking, I became very unorganized, and was constantly losing track of my belongings. I was doing this almost every other weekend in Washington and it became exhausting. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to pull off these spontaneous trips much more easily with the van. That way I’ll always have my things and I don’t have to be packing and unpacking all the time.

Although I absolutely love the idea of having all of my belongings with me everywhere I go, this could also be considered a huge con. If my vehicle gets broken into, my home gets broken into, which has all of my possessions. I plan on going overboard with security measures, which I’ll talk about in future posts. I will also have my WhereSafe GPS tracker, so if the van were to get stolen, I could track it. Get 10% off your WhereSafe GPS with code NomadicSarah:

Another downside to driving my home everywhere is I will constantly have to stow and secure all of my belongings when I want to drive. Regular errands may become more challenging due to limited parking spots and not being able to go in parking garages, but if I stick to more suburban and rural areas versus big cities, this won’t be as much of a problem. I’m not much of a big city person anyways, so I’m not too worried about this!


Another thing I will have with me at all times is my dog, RUE! This has been a big concern, one that I thoroughly considered when deciding to switch to a van, so let’s talk about how I’m going to make it work.

Similar to the Airstream, Rue will always be in her home, which is much more comfortable for her than when we bounced around to new homes all the time when I first started traveling for work. Making the Airstream our home was the best thing ever for Rue and reduced so much of her anxiety, because wherever we parked, we were still “home.” It was her safe space and I could always leave her in there. Anytime I checked on her with the camera, she was just chillin’. Hopefully Rue will feel the same way about the van once we start living in it.

Now that I will have more flexibility in places to park, this means I can also chase the good weather when choosing work assignments instead of being limited only to places with RV park availability. These places are typically booked out in peak season when the weather is nice, making it hard to take assignments where the temperature is ideal. Even when we are in less than desirable temperatures, the van is being completely customized to suit mine and Rue’s needs. I’ll have a heater, a fan, windows that open, and a 12V air conditioner to help regulate the temperature off grid. Even though the 12V air conditioner can only run off the battery, it can only last for so long. Ultimately, I will have to bring Rue to a sitter while I am at work if we are in a very hot location.

When we’re in cold areas, I can run the heater, which is extremely efficient and runs off of fuel, but Rue might not even need this, cause she is a husky and does enjoy the cold! Either way, I will continue to use my Waggle pet monitor (50% off: to keep an eye on the temp while I am not in the van with her. I will also install security cameras to keep an eye on her. I’ll be doing a lot of the same things I talked about in my recent video about living in an RV with a dog with some modifications:

In some ways, having Rue in the van is going to make my life a lot easier. I won’t ever have to drive to the other side of town just to walk her. We can be out and about all day. She can chill in the van while I run my errands and go shopping, and I even get to have her at work with me and can walk her on my lunch breaks! I’ve met a couple healthcare travelers that live in their vans with their dogs, and it’s encouraging to hear that this is how they make it work. Not to mention, having Rue in the van also doubles as a built in security system!


Alright, there’s few downsides that I want to mention that I’ve also strongly considered before deciding to switch to a van:


A downside to boondocking is that I may lose my spot if I decide to drive away for any reason. This a very real possibility and would be a total drag, but honestly, I would rather have my rig with me as opposed to leaving it behind. Although leaving it behind would save my spot, it also increases the chance of it getting broken into or stolen completely. And that’s my whole life in that rig. So I would prefer losing my boondocking spot over leaving it out there and coming back to it broken into.. or completely stolen.


With the van, I will be sacrificing a lot of space. A lot of people thought my next rig would be bigger. Well, surprise, I’m going smaller! I don’t mind the small space. It’s mainly a place to rest my head. As far as having less storage, I don’t think I’ll have too much of an issue. I still need to downsize some more, but when I moved out of the Airstream, all of my belongings fit in my Jeep with EASE and I could still see out all of the windows. I guess I own less stuff than I thought! As far as feeling claustrophobic or cramped, Rue and I spend a lot of time outside anyways and hope to do the same while we are living in the van.


I think the biggest downside to having a rig that you can drive versus tow is that it can break down. And if it does break down, my home is in the shop. This is a big reason why I decided to go with a Ford Transit versus a Mercedes Sprinter. There are plenty more accessible Ford dealerships versus Mercedes. Many mechanics know how to work on a Ford, whereas the Mercedes mechanics are highly specialized and charge a bit more. The downside to the Transit is it is AWD versus the Sprinter which can be 4x4. Theres quite a few other comparisons I can make, like affordability, reliability, ground clearance, fuel, and more. But that’s why I chose the Transit in a nutshell.


Alright, that was A LOT! I hope I answered most of your questions, but please let me know any additional ones. As I stated, I'll be covering the appliances, floor plan, and design in future posts. I promise to always keep it real by talking about the GOOD and BAD. I don’t want you guys to think I’m looking at this through rose colored glasses by any means. I heavily weighed the pros and cons and ultimately decided the few sacrifices of switching to a van are well worth it and this is a better choice than the Airstream for me and Rue. I’m really excited about all of the possibilities and to see this van come to life! I hope you all are just as stoked as I am!

Shopping for your new travel trailer or RV can be daunting. On top of all of the initial expenses, there are a TON of necessities you need to purchase before and shortly after you purchase your rig. I’m sure there’s plenty of things that could be added or taken away from this list, but these are the things I have found absolutely essential in my first few months living in my Airstream. All the products listed in this post are what I personally use and stand by the quality of. Disclaimer: if you purchase any of the Amazon items through my links, I get a small kickback - and I thank you for using them! 😊

Jump to:

Hookup Essentials

1. Sewer Kit & Sewer Hose Support

10' Valterra sewer hose kit:

15' Valterra sewer hose kit:

Camco sewer hose support:

You’re going to need to purchase a sewer kit that comes with a hose and an elbow adapter. I got a 15' hose, but you can get a 10' and always buy extensions if needed. You’re also going to want to buy a support system for it if you have a sewer hookup where you’re staying. Most RV parks require this and it just helps to get the water where it needs to go, versus just sitting stagnant on the ground if you leave your gray tank valve open.

2. Fresh Water Hose

25' Zero-G Fresh Water Hose:

50' Zero-G Fresh Water Hose:

I love this hose because it can fold up into whatever shape you need. I’ve been using mine for almost 3 months and haven’t had any leaks or issues as far as that goes. You can certainly buy a shorter one than me, but my 50' is very useful when the spigot is far away.

3. Garden Hose

Zero-G 25' Garden hose:

Zero-G 50' garden hose:

You’re also going to need a hose specifically to rinse your sewer hose and flush your black tank. Mine is black so I don’t ever mix it up with my fresh water hose, which is blue!

4. In-line Water Filter

Waterdrop In-line water filter:

You definitely want an in-line water filter, which will filter out any sediments in the campground water that could damage your plumbing and improve the taste of your water by reducing chlorine and contaminants. I use a zero water filter for my drinking water.

5. Water Pressure Regulator

RVMATE water pressure regulator:

Airstreams actually already have a water pressure regulator built in. Do I have an external one as well? Yes. It’s just for added protection to my investment and peace of mind. Although it’s not necessary for Airstreams, I can’t speak for any other brand of travel trailer or RV. Tons of resources say this is an absolute must, so I’m adding this one to the essentials list for good measure.

6. Surge Protector

30 amp Surge Guard surge protector:

50 amp Surge Guard surge protector:

You should definitely purchase a surge protector. I can't imagine if I lost all of my appliances in my new Airstream due to an electrical issue. Mine is a 30 amp EMS system. It provides total protection from faulty park power and electrical issues inside the RV. Surge Guard is a good brand cause it has a lifetime warranty that I’ve heard is honored very well if anything happens.

Towing Essentials

7. Weight Distribution Hitch

*Use code "NomadicSarah" at checkout for 10% off!*

If you're towing a trailer, you need a good weight distribution hitch. I have the Weigh Safe True Tow hitch and love that thing. It comes with an app that calculates your distributed tongue weight for you. Then you adjust the hitch to your desired DTW and you can tow with the peace of mind knowing your weight is safely distributed.

8. Brake Controller

CURT Echo Brake Controller:

You're also going to need a brake controller if you're towing. I have a CURT Echo, which just plugs into your 7 way and is controlled via bluetooth by an app on your phone. You can raise and lower the brake sensitivity through the app or manually apply the brakes if needed.

9. Tire Pressure Gauge or TPMS

JACO tire pressure gauge:

TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System:

Before you tow, you're going to want to check your trailers tire pressure, so a tire pressure gauge is a necessity. You could also invest in a good tire pressure monitoring system, which I have yet to do, but it's on my shopping list.

10. Air Compressor

Helteko air compressor:

If your RV/trailer tires are below the recommended PSI, you should have an air compressor to inflate them. Mine plugs into my vehicle for power, so the only annoyance is having to move my vehicle for the cord to reach. If you have a portable power station, this wouldn't be an issue. (Also on my shopping list!)

11. Torque Wrench

Instation Torque Wrench:

It's easy for a travel trailer lug nuts to gradually loosen due to the amount of stress constantly put on the wheels when towing and turning, which could potentially lead to a blow out. Torquing the lug nuts before you tow can reduce the possibility of this happening. My torque wrench can be set to 110-pound-feet and comes with a 21 mm socket, which is standard for most modern Airstreams.

Camp Setup Essentials

12. Leveling Blocks

Homeon Wheels Leveling Blocks:

Leveling your trailer is important because of accurate tank readings, minimizes stress on the trailer, some fridges don’t function properly, and really just for comfort. Who want to shower, cook, or sleep at an angle? Not me.

13. Wheel Chocks

AFA Tooling Wheel Chocks:

Don't forget to chock your wheels so your rig doesn't roll! I've never forgotten this step. 😉

14. Jack Pads

Permanent RV Snap Pads (10% off):

Camco Flex Pads:

When you stay at a campground or RV park, most places require you to put pads underneath your stabilizer jacks so you don't damage the surface you're parked on. I started with ones that you have to place on the ground before lowering your jacks, but recently upgraded to RV Snappads. They are permanent jack pads that remove the hassle of having to place the pads yourself. Now I can just lower those babies and I'm good to go!

15. Drill Bit for Stabilizer Jacks

Hamilton Bowes Bit:

With your drill of choice, you can get a bit for raising and lowering your stabilizer jacks. Although 19mm is standard, make sure you double check by measuring and get the correct size for your rig!

16. Anti Theft Kit for Trailers

LCGP Trailer Hitch lock:

If you're camping on public land and leave your trailer to go for a hike, run errands, etc, anyone could hitch up and drive away with your trailer. So always throw a lock on there before you head out.

Indoor Essentials

17. Basic Tools

Black & Decker Drill:

Milwaukee Screwdriver:

Milwaukee Vice grips:

Empire Level (fits in toolbox):

I keep my tools inside because I need constant access to them. The basic tools I have needed so far are a drill, torque wrench, vice grips, screwdriver, pliers, level, and scissors. That list keeps growing longer the more situations I run into. But that’s just what I’ve needed so far!

18. Drinking Water Filter

7 cup Zero Water Filter (pictured):

12 cup Zero Water Filter:

20 cup Zero Water Filter:

I've been using Zero Water for YEARS. I'm a water snob and this water tastes amazing. I used to have a large countertop one, but downsized to this one when I moved into the airstream due to the limited space. Plus, I never create plastic water bottle waste.

19. RV Toilet Paper

The most important bathroom necessity is going to be an RV safe toilet paper! There is something called the toilet paper test where you can put your fav TP in a jar of water and see how well it dissolves? I don't know the specifics, but I'm not picky, so I decided to just get the stuff that’s labeled RV safe.

20. Tank Deodorizer

Walex black tank deodorizer:

I didn't have these in the beginning.. And I have a GREAT sense of smell. That wasn't fun. I absolutely love these pods! Super easy, no mess, and I no longer smell a thing.

21. Squeegee

For the shower, a squeegee is going to be your best friend! I can’t tell you how uneven my shower floor is, and how much water pools in certain areas. So I always squeegee every corner of the shower when I'm finished!

22. Moisture Absorbers

Vacplus Moisture Absorbers:

Having some sort of moisture control system in your trailer or RV is extremely important to prevent mold. I place these moisture absorbers throughout the Airstream and can see them fill up with water after a couple months. So I know they're doing their job and it's time to order more!

23. Dehumidifier

LAOVER Dehumidifier:

Adding a dehumidifier to your supply of moisture absorbers isn't a bad idea at all. The only thing to keep in mind is it has to be plugged in to run. Mine works off my inverter if I'm not hooked up to electricity. You can also buy a device that displays the humidity percentage in your rig, so you can keep an eye on that level and decide when to use it.

24. Mattress Ventilation Pad

DEN-DRY Mattress Underlay:

This pad allows the underside of your mattress to breathe, versus sitting directly on top of plywood. (Terrible design IMO - Airstream!) I ordered mine custom sized from airstream supply company. Honestly, shipping took forever, it still came in two pieces, and I had to trim it, which was super difficult! So I threw in a link to an amazon alternative that works just as well and will ship a lot faster.

25. Fly Swatter

Fancy telescopic fly swatter:

Or just go to the dollar store...

I can’t tell you how many bugs I’ve got with this thing, not just flies! I’m pretty sure my front door screen isn’t sealed properly, cause there’s no way some of those critters can fit through my tiny screens!! But this thing creates some distance between you and the unwanted house guest when you squash it. And you WILL have unwanted house guests.

Regular Household Essentials

Lastly, you will need all of your basic necessities such as towels, bedding, cookware, dinnerware, etc. This can get deep, so I'm going to leave it at that.

I hope you found this blog post and accompanying video useful! Try not to stress, I know it's a lot just to get started. Take it one step at a time and start buying these things long before you purchase your RV if possible! That way you'll feel more prepared and less overwhelmed when the time comes to go get your new baby.

As a healthcare traveler, I am constantly asked this question. It is honestly such a tough one to answer. If someone sees my Florida plates, they assume I am from there. But truly, Florida is just my “home base” for full time residency purposes.


Let’s start at the beginning. I was born in Connecticut. This is where I lived for the first 9 years of my life. I got to experience all four seasons, which was awesome as a kid. I have vivid memories of jumping into giant piles of leaves, tubing down hills covered in fresh powdery snow, and building giant snowmen and igloos. The seasons made every holiday feel absolutely magical. Plus, I never had to deal with any of the adult responsibilities related to living in the snow, like shoveling the driveway and defrosting the car. Unfortunately, Connecticut became too expensive for my mom, who was a single parent trying to make ends meet. So she packed my brother and I up and we all moved to Tennessee. We chose this state because my aunt lived there and highly recommended it.


We lived in Tennessee for about 8 years. I went to elementary, middle, and high school there. Many of my earlier friends came from wealth, and I did not. I’m talking mansions with home movie theaters, wine cellars, multiple recreation and living rooms, pools, hot tubs, saunas, etc. I lived in a small single story house that was, in their words, “cute." I tried so hard to keep up with the latest name brand clothing and accessories that my peers flaunted. My poor mom had to spend so much pointless money just for me to attempt to fit in. Eventually, I gave up on trying to fit in with the wealthy crowd and became involved with a different crowd in high school. It wasn’t the best crowd. I got myself in some bad situations and learned a lot from this period in my life. My mom and I both recognized a problem and that we just weren’t happy in Tennessee. Her career allows her to work pretty much anywhere once she re-establishes herself. So we set our sights on living by the beach, and what better place than the gulf coast of Florida? We took a trip down there, starting at the panhandle and working our way south. We checked out cities, high schools, and colleges along the way. We decided on Venice, secured a rental, and boom! We were on our way to living in paradise.


I lived full time in Florida for about 7 years in multiple cities. Tampa is the last city I lived in, which has good vibes and does hold a special place in my heart. As stated previously, this is still my state of residence for tax purposes. As a healthcare traveler, the only way I can qualify for tax free stipends is if my expenses are duplicated. Therefore, I still pay rent in FL and return for at least 30 days a year. Florida is where I graduated high school, moved out on my own, went to college, started my career, and blossomed into the goal-oriented adult I am. But to say I am “from” there also doesn’t seem fitting. I accomplished many major life goals in Florida and have plenty of fond memories there, but that’s just not where my roots are. It doesn't seem that I truly have roots anywhere.

Full Time Travel

In May of 2021, I drove across the country to California to start my travel healthcare journey. It is my hope that one day I will come across a city that feels like “home.” Don't mistake that for being my goal of this journey. My goal is to experience new places, immerse myself in nature and the beauty this country has to offer, meet great humans, and make meaningful connections. I’ve obviously been raised to have a nomadic soul, so moving from place to place is nothing new to me. My recent airstream purchase is sure to enhance this experience. I’m so incredibly thankful for my new home on wheels. No matter where I am, I can always bring my home with me. If I find a place that feels right to go back and settle one day, that would be amazing. But for now, I am going to appreciate every new day, every new place, every new face. I am dedicated to living in the moment and enjoying what this crazy life has to offer.

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