By Rebecca Drew
MEET the woman who was so fed up of living payday to payday that she left her job and life in New Zealand to move more than seven-and-a-half-thousand-miles away to live a sustainable life out of the back of a van.
Reservations agent, Yvette Morrissey (28), also known as the Wayfaring Kiwi, moved to Canada in November 2016 after finding herself single, with no savings and feeling overworked earlier that year.
Yvette sold all her belongings, including her beloved horse Blue, saving almost four-thousand-pounds in just three months.
Yvette currently lives in Banff, Alberta, Canada whilst holding down a full-time job. In her spare time, she hits the road in her Ford E150 to explore the local area.
“In August of 2016, I was 27 and found myself single, overworked, living from pay to pay with zero savings in my bank account,” said Yvette.
“I kind of panicked and thought that this isn’t what life is meant to be like, I wanted to make some exciting memories so I sold absolutely everything I owned, squished all my possessions into two suitcases and within three months I was living and working at Big White Ski Resort in Canada.
“I don’t really know how I managed to do it so quickly- I just remember being so determined that this was my path, and nothing was going to stop me from following it.
“In my past I worked as a journalist for several years and in 2015 I started the first online equestrian magazine in New Zealand, called Equine Online.
“I also worked in communications, sales, and as a travel agent for a couple of years.
“I pretty much went from living the corporate life to living a full-blown hippy lifestyle.
“A lot of van lifers don’t work and simply buy a van to travel around in for a while and then sell it.
“They are constantly moving around and seeing new things, I have to have a routine and go to work.”
Yvette plans on spending the summer in Banff to save money to road trip to Toronto, visiting National Parks on her way. Next summer, she plans to van life in the UK before possibly moving back home to New Zealand, buying and refurbishing a van to live in to save more money.
According to Yvette, she’ll save approximately 2,500-pounds living in a van over a house but it wasn’t plain sailing at first.
“It’s a kaleidoscope of feelings. The first night I spent in the van I had nightmares that there were bears outside my van trying to eat me as I was camping in the woods,” said Yvette.
“Some nights it can be incredibly lonely, I miss the company that comes with living with people. I’m an introvert by nature so I was quite surprised by this.
“Aside from the first night, I’ve only ever felt scared once before and that was when a drunk guy knocked on my window in the middle of the night. I woke up to him staring at me through my window which was pretty unnerving.
“Not having a bathroom or kitchen is hard. Going to the bathroom in the woods has become normal to me now.
“I joined a gym and I shower and get ready for work there. A lot of kind people offer me the use of their bathrooms and kitchens too.
“Living in a van really desensitizes you to caring about what other people think. I usually rock up to the gym in my pyjamas in the morning and I get odd looks but all I’m caring about at that stage is using the bathroom and having a shower.
“Aside from those difficulties, most of the time I feel free. There is something so great about having all your possessions in one, portable place.
“I love driving to the park or river, opening up my windows and doors, making pancakes on my portable stove and then curling up and reading a book. I make the most of my time now.
“I don’t slump down in front of the television- I read a book or I go hiking. I paint and draw, spend time with friends, and in nature. I can drive anywhere I want, whenever I want.
“So I live in the van in part to save money, and also because I want to live as simply as possible because I don’t think material objects create happiness- experiences do.”
Yvette says that she wants people to live their lives more authentically and says being rent-free is thrilling.
“With the way that the economy is at the moment, not having to pay rent is incredibly freeing. As someone in their twenties, I feel it is incredibly hard to buy a house unless you spend the majority of your youth working your ass off,” she added.
“People shouldn’t want to spend their youth doing that. Spend your youth shaping yourself to be an interesting, kind, passionate and giving person. You can settle down whenever.
“Use your twenties to travel the world, meet amazing people, and learn about other cultures.
“The majority of people think it’s awesome, some people have called me brave, which I find quite bizarre – I feel like there are so many people in the world who are much less fortunate than I am, and I feel so grateful that I can live this way.
“The truth is anyone can do it- it doesn’t have to be for a long time. It can be for a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, or with no end date in mind.”
For more information see www.facebook.com/wayfaringkiwi