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Vanlife Backstory: HollyCPriestley

Hi There! I’m Holly. I’m 31 and I’ve been traveling around the United States for almost two years with my dog, Mona Lisa, in our 1997 Ford E350 self-converted van. I write, podcast, make videos, and help others achieve their dreams, too.

My vanlife journey started nearly 10 years ago although it took me another 7 or 8 to actually make it a reality. I met my first vehicle-dweller at a rock climbing competition in Hueco Tanks, TX in February of 2011. He was living out of his small sedan with his husky and I couldn’t believe the freedom and simplicity he was able to achieve.

I knew from that point that I was meant to give this lifestyle a shot.


Over the next many years, I’d reignite the dream and do a ton of research, test-driving, and downsizing just to back away from the edge right as I was about to leap. Something in life would tell me it was an ‘inconvenient’ time to move into a van – a new job, a new partner, something that these days feels like a cheap excuse but at the time was reason enough for me not to make the transition.

Finally, in December of 2017, I was fed up with carrying this goal around. It was heavy and taking up a lot of space on my To-Do List. I knew that in 2018, I had to make it happen or it had to fall off the list entirely.

I test drove my first van just a few weeks later and set the move in motion. I landed on Eloise Van Gogh in August and knew as soon as I stepped up to her old Ford smell that she was going to be mine.

Over the next few months, I tore her apart and put her back together again. I knew I had to do the conversion myself because it just was not in the budget to have another company do the work. Plus, I like learning new things and having control over what’s going on. I’m still afraid of electrical work and there are a lot of ‘design elements’ (cough mistakes cough) in the rig, but she’s my cozy little home and I feel safe and happy when I’m with her. I outlined some of the process on my YouTube channel and recently published a tour of what her insides look like and why.


Finally, my pup and I hit the road full-time on January 1, 2019 and haven’t looked back. Our means of travel have changed, our destinations are different, and our speed of moving is certainly slower. The energy of being in the van that first year was so addictive and now we’re settling into a comfortable routine.

I’ve never questioned my decision to move into the van. Even before we moved in I knew that it was something I had to at least try. If I didn’t end up liking it, I could move back into a home on a foundation. Luckily, that hasn’t happened and I still get excited at being able to drive my home anywhere (within reason, she’s not 4-wheel drive afterall haha). 

In the last two years, we’ve learned so much more about who we are, what we like, and what we want out of life. Vanlife has simplified the complex parts of life and made the simple parts more complex. We don’t always sleep in quiet forests with epic views, sometimes we have to try to force sleep in noisy parking lots or behind gas stations. It’s not always open roads, beautiful scenery, and friendly faces but when I think about leaving it behind and moving into an apartment or home, I know that now is not the time.

We’ll keep doing this as long as we can, as long as it feels right. When it doesn’t, we’ll find somewhere to put down roots, grow a garden, and rescue animals who need a good home.

Come follow our adventures:




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solo female van life in ford econoline 350
van life in ford e350

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