The game of life will take you down many roads. Today on Humans of Vanlife, we sit down with Patrick who kindly shared his story of being a remote software developer, and how he ended up on the Vanlife road just in time for (almost) retirement! Without further ado, we introduce you to Patrick!
Let’s begin! Are you officially retired now?
That was my original idea when I first started planning my van retirement five years ago, but we’re not quite there yet! I own a company in software development for computers and engineering tools. I started it 32 years ago with my partner. I was supposed to be retired by now, but I haven’t hung up my hat just yet.
I’m working from the van and still doing the 9-5 work I’ve been doing for all these years. Except now, I have much nicer views, fresh air, and more places to visit!
And what brought you to Vanlife in the first place?
Believe it or not, it was my grandmother who planted the seed! She used to drive back and forth between California and Mexico in this old beat-up thing. This was back in 74’. She stopped doing this kind of traveling when she was 94.
She used to travel in convoys, and it’s always been in the back of my head. So when I started thinking of retirement, I thought it’d be reasonable to choose something to draw me into a more active lifestyle. This stayed at the back of my mind until I was ready to start putting plans in motion five years ago.
Can you tell us a bit more about your remote work activity?
My set-up is basically a laptop. I do software development for computer-aided engineering tools for vibration analysis. I started the company with my partner in 1990, and we write tools to allow you to visualize and modify vibrations and structure in systems. We’ve sold to Harley Davidson, golf club manufacturers, and people who monitor bridges, dams, washing machine companies, that sort of thing.
It’s pretty simple these days as a software development guy regarding my remote work setup. I can do it all from the van; having everything I need in one place is nice. I’m able to get by with my generous phone coverage plan from Verizon and a cell phone amplifier. I’ve worked in national parks and forests with no issues. It’s been glorious!
What are some highlights from your time on the road so far?
Above all, seeing my family. My kids are all grown now and spread out across the country, a few of them just recently got married, and I have a baby granddaughter in Texas now with whom I got to spend a couple of weeks. This first run with the van has really been about catching up with family and friends. Soon, I’ll travel with my best friend I’ve known since 8th grade, and after I’ll visit one of my sons in Virginia. From there, the road is open!
A few of the places I’ve loved have been Crater Lake. Just stunning. Roswell, New Mexico was a highlight. Nothing but open desert out there. The French Quarter in New Orleans was full of history. I’m really enjoying checking out the museums spread out along the way like The Fur Trade and Native American Heritage museums. Mount Rushmore was interesting (though I had the worst burger of my life there!) I really want to make it down to the Florida Keys too, and you can bet I’ll be ordering a slice of Key Lime pie while I’m down there!
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What resources do you use to find your road trip stops?
I use roadtrippers.com. They have an app and a web app that allows you to find places to park and stay based on your selected route. For this particular run, I’m going from RV park to RV park because I need the Wi-Fi while I’m working.
(Note: Bemyvan offers in its pack of options a cellular booster as well as Satellite Internet (via Starlink) installation if you are seeking for an ultimate Internet solution wherever you travel!)
What made you choose Bemyvan?
I’m really enjoying working with a small business like yours. I’ve been able to work directly with all of you folks. I’ve met the van builders, the cabinet makers, and the founders Benoit and Paul who have been stellar. Working with a small business is much better than working with a big company that just pawns you off from one department to another before you can get an answer!
“I appreciate the human element of working with Bemyvan. I appreciate that I know the guys that started the company. That’s so cool to me. It’s so nice to be able to write you directly and get a response right away. It’s a positive benefit.”
Why a B-Home specifically?
I didn’t want something huge. I have everything I need here. When I started this, I gave away everything. I had five kids on my own, raised three more, eight kids at one point, and needed a big house during a big part of my life. I don’t need that anymore.
My life is so different now. I could have stayed where I was before and kept everything I had, but I was ready to let go of all the materials that weight me down. I’d rather have the essentials, and I feel so much lighter in my B-Van.
And this isn’t the end of the line, either. I’m not going to drive off a cliff Thelma and Louise style, but this is me occupying another space in the game of life. I expect to go to the Philippines or Vietnam or travel internationally when I finish this chapter. I’ll probably end up retiring overseas eventually! It’s more interesting for me to be immersed in another culture. I spent some time in Japan, learning Japanese when I was younger and I loved that experience. It’s something I’d like to do again.
“I needed something to pull me into retirement that wouldn’t keep me stuck on the couch. I needed a different lifestyle and interest. You need to live your best life, as well as you can now. This is the game of life.”
What’s life like in the van?
It’s amazing to call this place home. I often cook in my little instant pot. The fridge isn’t huge, but it’s big enough. I’m surprised I have half-empty cabinets still. I was worried about fitting all my stuff but wow! It’s more than enough space for me. I love having twin 40-gallon water tanks. It’s far more generous than any other vans I’ve seen. I can take a hot shower and still have water left. I really love the furniture, the finishings, and the skylight! The quality of everything Bemyvan uses is superb. I live here now!
I’ve got a foldable electric bike that fits nicely in the garage. I love taking that out to cover ground and explore the areas I’m in. I also love having so many windows and being able to see so much around me. One of the things I’ve had Bemyvan add to my van was a rearview camera. Benoit was kind enough to install it, and it works super well. It makes life a lot clearer out of the back of the van!
Any words of wisdom for future Vanlifers?
Get informed, gain experience, let go of what weighs you down, and live life. But plan accordingly! Save. There’s a certain amount of planning to get through first, but it’s not difficult. There are tools available to you. Watch Youtube videos. Do your research. Check out Roadtrippers. While you’re at it, remember to enjoy the ride!
Bemyvan offers a financing program for a loan up to 20 years, as well as a rental program “try it before you buy it” for a test run! For more info, give us call here: