Hey everyone, I’m Jaylena. I am 28 and I have been doing YouTube full-time for about three years now via a few different channels. I currently only run my main channel, Leave Her Wild. I’ve been living in my self converted van going on eight months.
In 2016 I was living in a beautiful high end loft right smack in the heart of downtown Dallas. I was in a dead end toxic relationship with someone whose sole purpose was alcohol. We had been together for close to five years and rapidly growing apart. It was around this time I started researching tiny homes and shed to houses. I shared this idea with my partner and he was not really interested. At this point I was paying all the bills and was initially looking to save money.
It wasn’t long before we broke up and I met my future husband. We bonded instantly and both had secretly been too afraid to tell the other we wanted to live tiny. Once we did, we started watching YouTube videos every single day about living small. We watched all different tiny home videos and also fell in love with the idea of homesteading. Eventually we jumped the gun, bought some land and built a shed to house. That was 2017. Yeah, it happened pretty fast. It wasn’t too long before we decided we wanted to go even smaller.
Long story short, we got married and started our search for land to build a tiny house. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go as we planned and 2019 ended in divorce for me.
I spent the first half of 2020 questioning my entire life. I had dreamed about van life for years. It was early 2020 when I decided to save up and start looking for a van. I found and bought my 1997 Ram conversion van in July 2020. I spent the next few months building it out before I hit the road.
My friends and family have been pretty supportive, I’ve always been a little nontraditional. Of course there’s still some family that think I’m crazy. For me personally though, van life saved me. I am living a life that is more fulfilled than I could have imagined. Through this journey I’ve found myself again. I’ve met some of my dearest friends because of this community. Even on the hard days, yes there are definitely hard days, I’d rather struggle doing what I love than working a job I hate. I have been super fortunate to be able to make a living from YouTube alone. I love being able to share my everyday life living this lifestyle.
I started living out of my van the day I bought it, all while converting it. I recently hit the road for a couple months and spent some time in FL. I am currently in TN where I recently bought a short bus to convert. Once that is finished I plan to head west. I can’t honestly say how long I plan on being on the road, but I can say I don’t see myself settling down any time soon…I have a lot of living left to do.
I haven’t had the chance to truly travel. I say truly travel because I’ve been on tour with musicians for work, but traveling in a tour bus just isn’t the same. This year for me is my “f*ck it” year. I am living for myself (for the first time in a decade) and no one else. I spent almost all of my twenties focused on relationships with people who didn’t respect me or believe in me and my dreams. I’ve learned you have to believe in yourself.
I have a few trips already planned outside of van life, but also some really cool van life adventures are in the works.
I may not see tomorrow, so I refuse to waste today.