• Hayden Seder

Van Life: Natasha VanHorne


Names: Natasha and Rowyn Van Horne

Ages: 30 and 5

Vehicle type: 2003 Ford Econoline e350

Time spent in Van: Full-time since July 2020

Hometown: Tehachapi, California

Average monthly expenses: $1,100 (gas, insurance, phone bill, food, and paying off debt)

What made you decide to move into a van?

Tash: For years I had dreamt of vanlife. The idea of being able to travel or drive out deep into the woods, explore nature, and all for a fraction of the cost was appealing to me. I don’t have much, and I wanted to be able to travel and explore the free world freely.

What were you doing before that?

Tash: For the last three years I’ve been working as an Emergency Medical Technician. I am still in the field but recently decided to go back to school so that I can work towards having a remote job to travel full time.

What was the hardest thing to let go of when making the move from apartment/house to van?

Tash: The hardest part was after work when I would “go home.” I am still adjusting to finding where I want to park for the night and a lot of that is based off the stressors of the day. The other hard thing has been not having internet 24/7. 

Where are you living right now?

Tash: I am stationary right now in California as I still have a full-time job to go to. I am an EMT full-time and am working hard to become debt-free. 

How does schooling work for Rowyn? How does living in a van with a child change your experience?

Tash: Schooling for Rowyn has worked out well since everything is virtual due to Covid-19. She attends a school close to my work but will be virtual until further notice. It is my goal to keep her online so that we can freely travel in the future. As for Rowyn, she has transitioned well into the van. Her father and I co-parent so at times I park outside his family’s house since she does virtual school there while we work. She comes outside and begs to sleep in Sahara as often as possible. She loves looking out at the stars and going on adventures to the beach or river. 

How do you shower?

Tash: Currently with the gyms not having hours that work with my schedule, we shower at family and friends’ homes. 

What’s something that surprised you about living this lifestyle?

Tash: Something that surprised me about living this lifestyle was how much being materialistic would take a back seat. When I lived in my apartment I was always trying to buy something to decorate or add, but in the van we find ourselves trying to downsize and spend more time outdoors. We realized we needed very little very quickly to have a quality life. It wasn’t some big thing we changed about our personalities, rather just something that came with the environment change.

What are some of the ups and downs of van life?

Tash: The biggest up and downs of van life are based on the fact that my build isn’t completed. I cannot WAIT to have power in the van. So the lows are shopping for food every other day; essentially I like to say I’m more “camping” in the van than anything. The best up of vanlife is easily going wherever—not packing, not worrying about forgetting anything, and just taking off on an adventure when I’m not at work. 

What are some elements you added to your van that are unique or that you personally wanted?

Tash: Unique elements of my van... well, I have yet to add them, but I do have a whole slew of ideas that I cannot wait to implement that we will see before the end of the year if my timing goes as planned. A lot of it will be more of the interior designer part of me that wants to make Sahara feel more luxurious. 

What kind of small touches have you added to make it feel more like home?

Tash: The biggest thing that makes Sahara homey was that I used things from my apartment in the build. I have furniture pieces that are either upcycled or just placed in Sahara for now until I can do a more effective build. It was mainly cost-effective, but it helped especially with my daughter feeling like it is still home. 

What’s one of your favorite spots you’ve camped in your car?

Tash: My absolute favorite place I have camped in my van was at South Lake Bishop Pass. The views were phenomenal and I can’t wait to go back. There’s something so peaceful about waking up a few steps from a lake. 

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

Tash: I know this may seem weird, but my favorite outdoor activity is to just find a gorgeous spot in the middle of nowhere, preferably by water, and just sit and allow myself to relax and take it all in. My daughter loves to swim, so we usually end up getting wet. 

How would you say being a female living in your van differs from what you think or know the male experience to be? Did you feel like you had to take further precautions or were perceived differently than men who live in their cars?

Tash: I think that it’s more about what others perceive of me as a female vanlifer. Many have expressed a lot of concern for my safety and encouraged me to seek out extra ways to protect myself. But personally, I don’t think that being a female vanlifer poses any more risk than a male vanlifer. As a single mom, I’m much more hyper-aware when we are out and about to make sure my daughter is safe as we explore, or travel—especially in the city. We feel safest out in nature all in all. And once my build is completed, I plan on implementing a security system to give us all more peace of mind. I would say the vanlife experience is what you make of it, and I go into it in an open mindset to get as much of the experience as possible from it. 


Follow Tash on Instagram @tashofalltrades


#vanlife #femalevanlife #momvanlife #wildwoman

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