Jul 21, 2016

Couples Quits The Rat Race To Have The Adventure Of Their Lifetimes (29 pics)

By on Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nikki Levi and Jakob Celnik quit their well-paying corporate jobs, bought a minivan, and, together with their dog, drove 38,000 miles across the Americas, which took them 16 months.Levi worked at Citigroup in New York as a high-yield credit-research analyst for four years before moving to Apple, and Celnik worked at the Blackstone Group for about three years before he moved to Soros Fund Management. In their interview with Business Insider Levi admitted that they were terrified while leaving their jobs. “But in hindsight, we shouldn’t have been … We cannot buy time, so we try to enjoy the time we do have doing the things we love, with the people and animals we love,” she said. Let’s take a look at what their incredible adventure was like.

They bought a used 2008 Dodge Sprinter 2500 high-roof van, with a 144-inch wheelbase, and with about 90,000 miles on the clock.
It was completely empty when they bought it. With little carpentry, mechanics, or construction experience, it was a process of trial and error to figure out what exactly to build and how to build it. They figured out a budget and tried to learn as much as they could by reading guides like the Sprinter forum and the Sprinter conversion sourcebook.
The bed frame was one of the first things they built.
First, they needed to figure out the layout of the floor plan for their van build. They chose a Sprinter with a 144-inch wheelbase and high roof because its length allowed for parking in regular parking spots, while its roof was high enough for both to stand up — even Celnik at 6 feet 2 inches.
Then they worked on the storage units.
Since the space inside the van was so small, everything had to be precisely measured.
They managed to fit storage cabinets close to the bed for clothes, books, and toiletries and deeper cabinets at the end of the bed.
There are no straight lines in the van, except for the bed platform itself, and all four walls are shaped differently. They had to get creative.
Then there was the kitchen.
They wanted to build a kitchen that could store enough fresh goods and nonperishables to last a few days, and one that was comfortable and convenient to use.
The couple have actually come out with a cookbook of their favorite recipes that reflect "van life cooking" — requiring only a two-burner stove, limited ingredients that are widely available, and cooking time of 30 minutes or less.
Their dog, Leika, loved the adventure.
Levi said:
"Wherever we travel, Leika always has her bed with her. When we first started the trip, she wasn't so sure about the driving, but after a week, the van became her home and she seemed to enjoy jumping out of the van to new smells and playmates every day."
The bed was their cozy cave.
They installed cedar paneling around the bed, which Levi said was inspired by sailboats. The mattress is 4-inch memory foam, and they comfortably fit two mountain bikes, other outdoor gear, and tools underneath.
"It is the most comfortable bed we've ever had," said Levi. "We often turned down offers to stay in people's homes in favor of sleeping in our van."
The first night on the Pacific Ocean was a big milestone.


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