Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Bridget and Noah (on Instagram and Tic Tok as @bnn_adventures) always love to adventure and explore the world, which is probably why, after years of watching people living the van life, they felt inspired to jump in and buy Penny, their 2014 Ram ProMaster.
“When we bought her, she was perfectly imperfect; the side door didn’t work, a/c didn’t run, and neither did the radio. But upon agreement the dealership fixed all of this for us before we bought her,” says Bridget.
She makes it sound so easy! Not only are the couple taking on a whole van conversion (Penny had 82,000 miles on her when they bought her) but they are doing this while studying in college.
Bridget confirms, “We both met back in high school. And now both graduating college together this year. I am majoring in nursing and Noah is in electronic media and business.”
She goes on to explain the inspiration for Penny’s name. “We were very torn on names for her and wanted something different that related to us personally. Until one day, we were finishing up cleaning her and looking at the pile of trash we accumulated… there were over ten pens we pulled out of cracks and crannies of her. After that the name Penny just kind of stuck. (Yes, we know we’re cheesy.)”
FTC: What made you decide the #vanlife was for you?
B&N: “We LOVE to travel and explore new environments. In the past we always booked Airbnbs or found cheap hotels to stay in. But with that being said, you still lack freedom and are tied to one area. We have always joked about finding jobs to work remotely and living out of a van but one day we were taking and basically decided why not make this a reality? We have only one life to live, why not do what we want. Who cares what others are doing and what they think?”
FTC: How did you decide on your current RV? Why didn't you go the easy route for something that was already finished?
B&N: “There are three main reasons we decided to do it ourselves. One, we are in college and student’s money isn’t flowing in at the moment. Doing it DIY is definitely a lot more labor but is saving a lot of money in the long run.
“Secondly, we love doing projects together! With life on pause due to COVID we decided it was the perfect time to take one the biggest project of our life.
“Third, we wanted to be able to personalize everything in the build. For example, we are much shorter than most so we can fit our bed going side to side opposed to long ways. Most vans are going the length of the van and this has saved us a significant amount of space. Doing it ourselves has made us also get more of the sense of feeling at home right off the bat.”
FTC: Where do you want to take your first once she's ready for travel?
B&N: “We know NOTHING about the mechanical makeup of vehicles. With that being said, we are planning for our first trip to be more of a test run. All of Noah’s family live in Wisconsin (we live in Ohio). So, we are planning to take Penny to Wisconsin to show his family and if anything goes wrong we have backup help.
“We cannot be more pleased with how amazing and supportive Noah’s family has been through this all. And on top of that, Wisconsin is so very beautiful we plan to do a bunch of hiking while there.”
FTC: Where do you pull your inspirations and DIY van tips from?
B&N: “Noah is a pro at looking something up on YouTube and somehow just understanding how it’s done. Nine out of ten times that works but we have also used a lot of trial and error. We love VanKooks, we cannot express how much their videos have helped us with the build. I also listen to a lot of podcasts, my favorite right now is My Solo Road. The podcast helps with a lot of functionality tips that we will hit down the road (no pun intended).”
FTC: What advice would you give others deciding to DIY their van conversion?
B&N: “If you want it go for it! Don’t let your doubts overpower you. Even if others don’t understand or support you, who cares? If it makes you happy, go for it! You are going to be the one that has to make you happy. It will be a ton of work and a ton of research. But it’s research and work you will enjoy because it’s something you want to do.”
FTC: What’s your most epic destination you'd take the van to? How long would you want to stay there and why?
B&N: “There are so many amazing places to explore. I don’t think we can nail it down just to one location. I think we are most excited to explore the West Coast. Neither of us have ever been there but have always been inspired to go.”
FTC: What was your first camping experience like? Did you see yourself doing it in a van?
B&N: “We have both grown up our whole lives camping. One of our first trips together was camping with some friends. But at that time, we never anticipated in the future living out of a van.
FTC: If you had one last place to go adventuring, where would it be and why?
B&N: “Devils Lake State Park in Wisconsin! This park holds so many special memories for us. This is the first park we traveled and explored together. Every time we’re in Wisconsin we stop in. And honestly, I think it’s one of the locations that has gotten us into hiking.”
FTC: What’s next on your adventures?
B&N: “Finishing the van! And we cannot wait to attend our first van meetup. The world is waiting for us to explore.”
All photos credited to bnn_adventures
All words copyrighted to Fern the Camper