By Ben Wheeler
MEET the man who describes himself as an “ex-workaholic”, who became burned out after spending his twenties building businesses in the IT industry, deciding to pack it all up for life on the road in his classic VW van.
Shane Jordan (33), from Los Angeles, has now been travelling North America for three months alongside his girlfriend, Natalie Thepphomma (31), after becoming tired of the stresses of being a small business which had left him searching for a change.
Shane, a motor vehicle enthusiast, had what he describes as a “lightbulb moment” after stumbling across a Volkswagen van online.
“I’ve been into cars as long as I can remember,” Shane said.
“In 2014, I bought a 1964 VW Beetle and started learning about the diehard VW culture that exists around the world.
“One day I came across a VW Vanagon Westfalia which I fell in love with, as soon as I saw the van it was like one of those lightbulb going off life-altering moments I’ll never forget.
“I located one for sale in Flagstaff, Arizona and promptly rented a one-way car to begin the seven-hour drive to pick it up.
“I just about managed to get it back home before it died, literally on my drive-way!”
After getting the van home, Shane describes how he painstakingly refurbished it over the course of two-years, leaving no stone unturned in turning his purchase into the ultimate road tripping companion.
He then bravely proceeded to sell his home and possessions to begin the transition to living out of his van full time.
“I methodically went through every system of the van including the engine, transmission, brakes and suspension,” he said.
“Because the van is 35 years old I needed to go through every single part of it to make it reliable.
“I’ve had to upgrade a lot of components and because of all the modifications it is bigger and heavier than it was before so needed a bigger engine.
“I spent hundreds of hours just researching everything for the build, let alone actually doing the build, thankfully the hard work seems to have paid off so far.
“In January of this year, I sold my home and most non-essential possessions before I started living and travelling out the van full time, via a five month stay on a sailboat in Long Beach.”
Since hitting the road, the young couple have already clocked up a staggering 10,000 miles, travelling around much of the United States and Canada.
However, this is just a drop in the ocean compared to Shane’s future plans for the pair and their trusty van.
“Starting in May, me and Natalie have travelled up the West Coast to Seattle, then towards Northeast USA where I grew up,” said Shane.
“We then headed to Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada before driving back down the East Coast which has led us to our current destination of Florida.
“About a year ago though I decided I wanted to attempt to drive to Patagonia in Argentina, the Southern tip of South America.”
It certainly seems that Shane is delighted with his new way of life and new-found freedom as he describes the reaction he gets to van whilst out and about.
Additionally, he talks about his and Natalie’s daily routine and lifestyle with the glee of a man who has left his ordinary life behind.
“We have people approach us with questions every time we stop,” he said.
“I’ve never seen a vehicle get as much attention as this one and the response is overwhelmingly positive.
“We get older folks who have memories of VW vans coming up to us as well as younger ones who dream about doing a similar trip of their own.
“Being in the van allows me to explore a new place as often as I like and I also get the time to slow down and really experience where I’m visiting.
“I’d say to anyone that if you’re not happy with the way you’re living then don’t be afraid to make a change, I think it’s important to do something different with your life from time to time to get a new perspective.
“We’re two people who wake up every day doing what they love, living life to the max and not taking anything for granted.”