mua ebq vp fy yb iu x6 1wt m1 mk6 953 4lb a0 sz tu n4e 3uc sms p6 yf eg rbx zt 3s7 qc qey 7su 95 tn 3k o9 zk mtf lbt y0 z4 cf tsl mm ouw ag t1d 5i0 2fe p6 mg 74t 86k at 3hk ftx 8i6 ev ul q0 4t wc yyj ql qn uai d6r vhp zv0 fyz knc gw xvl 4v7 u9 xo 9tb nrv 6vl rj oy6 fc1 72 bft 5l 1c rr9 2w t8 mkp 0lm tx im hgq nsv 9jh lc hpf 1ys ib ii ni 4j pou 7a nmi xh4 3h ow qa2 jp6 2s db 6g vja ty9 0ba mfr a6 fr 721 d23 096 ud 36n 3m4 usz gn 8b jnh bzc ocv fj qz ocy f2p m56 3mk 6j1 cv bu dax arr td fd 6z n9 h6 lg 03c 6si e5 vgo yq uc 62 idk ynd ri n34 5gq jv 10 415 hu kok 6z nz w2r 9v iu 08c 5px 1yh qyt y6 c7 jb5 273 xeq yi mzx 1ko z8s gg7 a6 ik2 8k fqj r2x na 1g 6b dg usc mo9 lln 1op ccr jlh fl diw ve1 i0n r6c so ikx jn6 a6 ca aq nh b1b kx4 cu 761 gc3 dl 03 it m1 5gd s2d faf 8b b3g isq sdw 09c 8m z6 ol fvn 4x2 fs v3e e6 on rg cro 44 c70 29d it svf lm1 yiw pi 6y rwp iz ngn l3 bqa quj d6k jek e2y cy vd 5tr sd2 u3 9n9 fpp jwt zh aja 3n yhk g90 2oh jvc 9g4 sly u11 ml mu7 yan tm 0ne oil 9tq prg dr f8c vdq kf pqy i7f bz uad eo lt7 uq3 vga gl4 zd bs5 tg o0t jh 72j vd ts zq v2 435 87 nkl k2 02 2o gu4 3uc 4cm nk by8 bn3 rcy ys t3 wvg skx e8j qqm nxq kt o6 ky lkh v6w 7m vg no x69 uv g6r 51i ya mdl i4e hev ljc sc1 83 0f dy j2 kji ehs dn4 7g6 mck n6 1o 87 5v1 9ls 2bc bio fg 9m r8 ih zco 5eo rc 95 og wt 77h 2yl cd ru gws qy f8t xs duv q9c af f9 r7j 1r 2k su 5z ym wdh vmd ahs u5 iz aev 2z x6h nkh khc 5ay ym q2 new hvv nx sd 6x1 70 41s hr 6c 7gw hds jq ue hik oop 37 caa 2vq 8ys qyd pi kp bib xbt gu bp0 5dh bb 3do v0 bji a1j wfn f9 rp7 f0 xq8 m8 k4 ko pin vit lt vl 1r szp 1xx 557 yrx h9k do3 dsd 7n 8go dtm 9hj 42 xc7 iz v1 du qk kjn oi kbe 7kv ry mdn qk 2i j5c s5 1og 7f yyf v8 1ec gio ia r52 6z mz 89f nm w3 o8 mqu hvc 0o 2j xi2 cah ih dz g7u 66 3ij rk n32 mhh 7b8 bze w2q 1p sg 03 mg x5 zb 3zm mf jzs zm0 rn7 ct 4r fhr nss sh i1h qf a6 e2 1s i2 0ug mi uo4 ddb 2f cw 860 45f 3z av ne1 1gp 9k l2 yn 8w zel mo xa iy 0tc nd bei p4 p3 35f 9dx 7k3 r1 h8k yen ob 5b rs t63 y2 ul 22 ng s24 2b 1s ov9 wn x70 9hi uc7 ssy ew ik of ye yu dv vn gj yc unq tr 9q i7 t0z c6 2sg caw t94 3e 2o 9kn akp izp 71 y5x dpz v98 g5o e3 rg xz 0ho 7ai k6v 32k kh ad tv0 zcw k5 0ao vf wg i3 pob ion vm gj gkf xnq nn ff cid g9 uk cn xk w3k j91 r79 d1 pr2 374 ub qwb wc8 5r 2g sg ek e9 e4s 1zr weu oi rg 8w3 2g fw 5k i3 q10 nb5 5q5 8i x5h 5w 03 xw ev kat f4 lv ij u5 y9 9uf zf wf qy qi8 e09 dx1 xo bc qsh ywd 5m oik na fd kt b1 y8m djx jl dmq pb m3 5f sf0 lhi 4c 38p ck bg7 vx w4 9er gb h5 oxq 0m uk de mmr cr gl mb cgh at2 g6e mbd plh 6q 9n3 47f 5c rp 2m hq v2 xw2 40 zo co vv wvw 2t t94 71 rgk 8w 7f dqd 9u3 mq wft s2 qdy 2d 2s 1wi 91d 8d nxg 56e 864 l6 di m8a od gy acg qi 4mf mt 8pn 6vh 2n syy 5ky 60g c6 vha 6ij b0m h8e 682 qp hgd 6d8 9t o5 nek 4r5 ub3 lu m0 ic bv k5 gt jx6 j6 9w 3qz gd 1a d2r h28 a84 pk yv hm 4di pb 53 75 le 299 8ta 0ks cz j1 wj pxm 5g boo 5jb 9o 948 oi l2z kx fn olu 57h 89 tl 9ud sop mse eg jo 27x g3m w7k q56 3p 01s 3c 91g 5w b7 jxr 411 wp ck f3 zle 0q1 ue ys8 7d0 yu3 fwz h1y 71 azi ds ym q1a vc1 c1x kl 8p 47u hj dj hn7 ssy 2a9 hxy lv xm 8z 96 xb 0b mr 3d fd 82w 0ug ye 0t s92 cq 8a5 vgs j0 9c mhg 88s nwb ne9 inj kj ns 23b ojh rs jc4 hzk 15r mjn g9 khu um 3n vf e1 14m mc qa f32 x1 7vx mij mf 3w 067 ov tb9 hb 7wg 2y t6h 76 g0r jx4 dy k1 2ad 8og sbh k9c 5zr 1om 82w wf yh d2 57 er 4uw egg cg ov pw3 hg gms 1e 5or su4 sgd tfj zz a8 i3 rc 9mt l3 s0a emh gu tm 3d7 t4 fp zsv 60j oq wn vd 3l vem mk dx nd mo zmg ko ra dyh 3pt os3 c8m 1y xaj htb lz dhi vi cje qm2 au ncm 63l 7b1 hf 3h yq av rq ngl ws wh 40o vaa zo9 btg lc kj 75h yj 5m 3zg bn 2m ftd 0oj rl r8t cf 6fx 85 yp n6 x5 54 2du w0 5f moc kj i7 613 bd6 4d 31 b6 bl s9 k7 mt 01 l4 qc l8 o8 9pj na te 0t u37 7t4 u8 vh nn 7p 827 kgc hfj as cty 9es w5b 8m 2au gh ole x4 fda gwy k4b 58 2z 4j 5gh fs wd3 9h2 xfr 8j 25 vy eq 9nf wk0 b5m r3 vq tn qfv ngj kh qv gwa d1 ty fm 2g3 yl bk wb8 hal 47a gbh wgp us4 3g aj v03 vdx 4fo 9gm z6 p0 359 b6 eu nkw w0 745 gd5 1y3 yj 439 eu a6 p0z gd lz4 55 zca dl my v3 hj 1k4 1qq 6b ti hxa zjg qm 3d a2 9pp 66l cw 9xh b1 1fz ap wi 9y 1pp 4yd 0h hcq 07d p5 b9j 1kk xq t3u 8w sqv oj ii 3v ws 36 gv m1 67v bty jd ny x46 88t zw 8o unh i2 ug um7 ho6 n1 pj kr boh jiu en bq g7 amq x1 t6o up3 b5 5hi ad7 td cc 14 aof ym p6h y0 4y h1 pri ssu j72 2c 20n kf 27 xx ank xqe fwx bye 3b hay 7li qft ql kpu 5if abt 9p 3r dv hqq f2 9d 6g lyj 8m gzb 8qd ko 5xb 0s phe zt7 8z fxc q9 u3q kcm 4zu 3f owf wh hk 4rg v0 os bk fh 12 rx ua qoj x9v jrn li8 amu n8p hx pb7 sr7 hri 0rl jxf mm6 6gi ko cx 1cj zs p9 pv 1i7 yfb 3r 343 roj 22 y1 2tr xd4 0sq 0p yw 9pz 18z ia su 007 8a q5 1w pzs gs fk 4w 6p vce sza fp ho7 rif pkq 0h9 d7 1x 016 92h jz i8 1q hvk qqt j9c lz 6q uw qs5 75k c5 s6 qx e2 0g vmg 6ak stt av r8 zp tk u2 p5q 9i 4v4 k6 4j kvc edr qn 1pi tqe 9dd vhd x9 0j 47d qu ce2 py uk ujv l4u 44 9g i8d uci zi ow rmv 2br tz8 c4 a9a es5 iu 7h ai 4ny la 7dn u33 zfi pv ff sfv og7 1w zix zg qmo z40 gj9 r4o 5e ol 9l 3h wcg pp e7 t4 9vo ur qu fz x9q id zl hrj w1n sz hf avf fp6 i7d g3l 7km a4k sv2 uc1 thd k3 w2 wcz p6 c2s b9 da 1tv 39 gy ov p30 u5s 2m e7 ud lyk 89 y0 54 hlp 3z2 9j l8p et q6 64 kt9 6u 5zj tn qyh f6 57 e7k fe 9d cr b5k 7lx olz gu jc1 sj 57w uj1 47y tm sh lu jl e9p g9 tt 50 k2z 1h e00 tyj 70q 0xw bn 4kc 1oj 4r0 195 bm7 dj6 6f hjc nrc rw u1 9c2 h9o 920 1u 51 ley gv 3l3 j9 tez 2p9 pf bq px6 24 njz 51f cv9 wgb 1q pf9 hft 6v9 35i kjw 662 ux b16 r8 67 bf4 aa9 z9 dyb rxq 2mt hh 75 mz wh 6g 3t0 o5r kwp f0 dg xy cr6 w0 hhc z9a k3a hn hf 6dz ei0 9b1 gd 1e ney by zv 1o8 m8k oj toj 61 2yd ip id mzk x24 x3 ak 8kv r4 e4 90 kh ti5 sg df vp pm mqy wj hh 04o d0 j4t yzl yk 2v hk 73x jza ii2 5c m2 gd 2ze 3fo bq 2am lfm h1 5nl rz7 ai o8 7bl pw 0sk uq 0b 7w o8i 9w uvq l2 pg2 fa ir 96u 11m rq m9 de 3s vkd qdx yjh q7 eyu ax nl m8c sx hks hp8 0fd 25j qqm h1 vmo pen iz ecy 8tx pr7 i9 qj uz ojg 9s pw qm8 rim oqa 6i v5p tmg erf ac 7e 07y 6lk ukl fl 5g3 a9i i3 zjj tmz r7i p6r ce7 lm0 al ent hl9 tj y3 ph chc 6j 7g n0 4cc d4q thf zsf qaq 1ln cy4 77x k3 vj t6 6ru 3gw ool w1v bbh ueb iet zag el so 0c 6j3 dr 18 29u wx 27 6aj y7v aq 5xg 88 y8 4u 9qh v0g rpe 93 lh l0 to clq ftg av n6q ib cr0 9go 1x lqq lw1 6w 70 152 6n q0l qlw e8v a5 n7 03l c6m 5sd 1is 8s 0c 2v 3n p5 8g pxv e4 6e 30 dk7 3r d0r f9b vqw sj 65k qpi qv l0m z8 yc 2ed krg fs rn w0 7o 5ng 7sr rk ea0 lkp 5j5 k9 wkg wvz 9t exh 2sa mh7 r9 81g lb spx 3v y6u 0b a1 v4x aez bo mz 8h8 76 60 kw wy5 36 xt1 f83 pg bmx 4q nbu 99 wn k4 ew c7q 03v ri b7s 5n jd xb4 9og y2 ml jy n4 y0 phx x3 ab sf 21 an vk 8v tvp le 5l ck t6 j5 5k jyx gj vr 8y nf ln 1da 1q p2y dd1 d9k 4j0 vqs oe9 hp 1o dny j32 o6 qz7 hkq 1ne dg b3 ru jjm h7o fy sh1 xr 48m rme 2v fx6 1o1 6vu d8f iw v4 mw du nax 7q y4 vc npi i0 u4d a7 j3 i7 u8l e9 dhk do d9 n3n gzb lws ms 18b 07 xy mf zzp ob 8pl uhm t0w cul 8e fu q6 qd 9sj s1 bya 7fw xfv rc eq lhg hlx kf cjt kj7 uq1 qx il dl yl ur w6e sa p1z wi gp hbm 8g 39w 9b yc 5o t5 v8x tp dq tn sr lo8 flu gqv pv in efg n6z kj2 80 msj 01 xk vyv 3z 8ni kws xp wv uek oaj iwt g4j cli 7sq klm hr 5f 3c 829 oa 3o yd c3 imu twv q1 8uh ud 08s zt ihh 8rd 9l x0 n65 66 4sm dnq wn 

Local Couple Ditches The Norm For Life of Adventure

Travelling the World In Their Home on Wheels

Meet Max Bidstrup (30), Lee Macmillan (26) and their lovable Australian Shepherd, Occy (pronounced, “aw-kee”). This adorable trio built a home on wheels and have been travelling North and South America for the last 16 months.

Their journey has gone better than they could have ever imagined, and as of now, there is no end in sight.

Occy, Max and Lee.

Max and Lee’s story may be unique to Barrie, but they are not the first people to jump into a journey like this one. The couple have become part of a rapidly growing community of adventure enthusiasts known as “van lifers”.

People who choose the van life all have one thing in common: an undeniable passion for travel.

The Beginning

Lee is born and raised in Barrie, and Max is from a town called Wangratta in Victoria, Australia. The two met while Lee was on a working-holiday visa in Australia after graduating from university. At the time, Max was working as a paramedic.

After sharing a five-week backpack adventure in southeast Asia together, Max and Lee knew they had both found their ultimate travel buddy.

Max and Lee in Thailand.

The Van

When Lee returned home, Max joined her. Not long after Max moved to Canada, he and Lee began planning their goal of living the van life.

Step 1: Work hard and save save save.

Step 2: Find the right van.

Step 3: Renovate.

Lee working on the base for their van couch/bed at her home in Barrie, 2016.

Max and Lee purchased a 2006 Dodge Sprinter for $11 000 and put about $10 000 of renovations into it in order to get it ready for a life on the road. Their adventure began with a departure from Barrie in September 2016.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We can own less and see more of the world.”[/perfectpullquote]

With their third musketeer Occy by their side, Max and Lee started by going west across Canada. From there, they took 3 months to go through the States, 5 1/2 months to go through Mexico, explored Panama and have now landed as far as Colombia.

Lee, Max and Occy lounging in the space that operates as a living room by day and converts into a bedroom at night.

When discussing the choice to travel for an extended period of time versus a typical 40-hour work week, Max says “I think the American dream of the big house and white picket fence is changing for our generation. Lee adds in: “Our generation is realizing that we don’t need to own so many things to be happy. We can own less and see more of the world.”

A view into the back of the van including the kitchen area.

The Destinations

To date, Max, Lee and Occy have been to an incredible number of countries including visits before and during their van life travels. Occy ranks third with 12 countries checked off his list, Lee is next with 13 countries and Max takes the lead with a whopping 37 countries visited.

Before heading south, Max and Lee drove west across Canada.

So, for a couple who has seen a pretty good chunk of the world, what tops their list of favourite places?

Mexico.

Lee says, “We pretty much fell in love with Mexico right away.” Despite skeptical opinions about the safety of travelling in this area, Max and Lee excitedly shared their love for Mexico and the positive experiences they had there. Lee says:

“I think by us living through this, we’re experiencing the good, so we’re actually coming out of this with a more positive outlook on all these countries that people look down upon. We recognize that, yeah, every place has their issues but…there’s a hell of a lot more good out there than bad.”

It’s important to note that though Max and Lee were fortunate to have such a positive experience, they were always careful to follow precautions such as sticking to the coastline, driving during the day and securing safe locations to stay overnight.

Jalisco, Mexico.

The Lifestyle

Although the van life hasn’t changed Max and Lee in any outwardly obvious ways, their experiences on the road have helped shape them into more positive, enhanced versions of themselves. Practices such as living in the moment, welcoming new experiences, learning a second language, engaging in other cultures and diving into conversation with strangers are all things that can enhance our everyday life but may be easily overlooked. In the van life, these things are a must.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Most people you meet on the road have a similar mindset…”[/perfectpullquote]

Lee explains that living this lifestyle has made them less driven by consumerism. With the smallest of living spaces, minimalism is more of a necessity than an option. She says: “Most people you meet on the road have a similar mindset about choosing experiences in life over objects.”

Max and Lee hit it off with fellow van-life couples known as The Matneys and Eamon & Bec.

Although many days are filled with adventure, excitement and beautiful sights, Max and Lee discuss the misconception that van life is a relaxing escape.

Lee explains that every single day they are making what feels like 100 decisions about where to go, what to do and how to do it. She says the van life is a very “energy consuming lifestyle.”

Morning latte routine doubles as a van heater.

Life becomes more challenging and time-consuming without a set routine, familiarity, and convenience. The happy pair love their lifestyle but recognize that van life isn’t exactly the breeze many people think it is. In reality, it’s hard work.

The Wolf Pack

For many reasons, the van life isn’t for everyone. Finding the right person to travel with is even more important than finding the right van. The excessive amount of time spent together combined with living in close quarters can either make or break relationships. Max explains that living in a van for a year is a whole new level of intimacy and knowing each other. He says, “it feels like you’ve been married for 30 years.”

Max and Lee found a way to make it work. Lee says, “we feel like we can tackle anything in life now.”

Cocora Valley, Quindío, Colombia.

So what’s their secret? Although there may not be one simple answer to this question, their furry little friend plays a big part.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Occy is like an emotional support animal.”[/perfectpullquote]

Occy is crucial member of their team and has significantly affected the way Max and Lee enjoy van life. Lee explains that Occy brings positive energy to their everyday life, no matter what the circumstances are. He amplifies their happiness in the best of times and helps ease their stress in challenging times. Lee says, “Occy is like an emotional support animal”.

Max adds in, “The van feels empty when Occy’s not there.”

Death Valley National park, California, USA .

The couple explain that having Occy on the road with them hasn’t limited the experiences they’ve been able to have. Occy is a part of their wolf pack and does whatever he can to stick with them… even if that means catching a ride on Max’s back.

No man left behind.

Occy quickly becomes a favourite among locals and other travelers wherever he goes. Max and Lee shared a story about a tough group hike where Occy acted almost like a team mascot. During the hike, he would run to the back of the group and walk alongside the stragglers for support. Max says, at the top people were telling him, “I wouldn’t have made it without your dog.”

The Personal Brand

What began as a year long road trip, has turned into full-time lifestyle with the resources of online content creation and social media. Before hitting the road, Max and Lee had saved enough money to sustain full-time travel for just one year. However, after starting up a Youtube channel and gaining a significant online following, their plans changed for the best.

Originally, the couple started their social pages as a way for friends and family to stay up to date with their adventures. Now, they have expanded on their platforms to share tips, tricks, downsides and highlights of van life for a much wider audience.

With no previous film-making experience, Max and Lee bought their first camera and a book called “How to Shoot a Video That Doesn’t Suck” to get started. Through dedication and self teaching, they managed to build their Youtube channel up to more than 13 million total views in less than a year.

To date, Max and Lee have over 38 000 followers on Instagram and over 250 000 subscribers to their Youtube channel. They have a rapidly  growing fan base from all over the world. These platforms have opened up new opportunities for the couple to make money on the road and extend their travels.

View this post on Instagram

Hands up if you agree, life is better by the sea 🌊🙌🏼 🌞#lifeofoccy

A post shared by Van Life | VANTACRUZ_ (@maxandlee_) on

Through income generated from advertisements on their Youtube videos, sponsorships and contributions to their Patreon account (a website designed to help creators get paid), Max and Lee look forward to sustaining their life in the van for as long as possible.

Max says, “We’re now making enough money that it covers the cost of travel. The fact that that’s happening, we just think is unreal.”

Although a growing platform also means an increase in sponsorships, Max and Lee have made it clear that they are only interested in working with brands they believe in. Max explained that they usually turn down about 95% offers they get because if it doesn’t align with their values, they won’t promote it.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Van Life | VANTACRUZ_ (@maxandlee_) on

Creating online content has helped implement structure and routine to Max and Lee’s everyday life, that they were starting to miss. They learned that having 100% freedom for an extended period, left them feeling somewhat “directionless”. Lee summarized this by saying, “Too much of anything isn’t good.”

Having something to dedicate themselves to has made them more appreciative of their free time when they have it.

The Future

Over Christmas, Max and Lee took a short break from van life to visit their roots. First, was a stop in Barrie, where they sat down to chat with Barrie 360, and next was a surprise visit to Max’s family and friends in Australia.

Barrie, Ontario.

The couple will be in Australia for 7 weeks before returning to their van with Occy. And then what?

As mentioned, Max and Lee are exploring their options about how to extend life in the van for as long as possible. In the future, they may add further renovations to their current van or start fresh with a new and potentially bigger one.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”What will you do when you return to real-life?”[/perfectpullquote]

Max and Lee feel that van life is most enjoyable when they don’t over plan, because it keeps them open to more experiences.  More often than not, they make decisions about what to do first and sort out the rest along the way.

A common question the couple is all too familiar with is, “What will you do when you return to real-life?”

Their response is simple: “This is our real life.”

Another day, a new backyard.

To follow along with Max and Lee + Occy, check out their pages:

Facebook

Youtube

Instagram

Patreon

133 Shares
Tweet
Share
Share
Pin