Jean Claude Damn Van Diaries ; the lowdown

I'm always on the look out for friends, acquaintances, or even strangers (akaTwitter, Facebook, Instagram followers) who are taking on an awesome adventure that I am super keen to hear more about- and that is exactly the case for this new post! I found out thanks to Instagram that Nicole & Ian were taking a wicked van trip this summer and over the last week or so I've followed their ride from Jasper, all the way to Vancouver. I've never formally met Ian or Nicole, but all 3 of us lived in Jasper at the same time, and Jasper is small enough for paths to cross a few times & we share a mutual friend. Nicole is a super talented journalist and I always loved seeing what she had to say in the local paper (The Fitzhugh)

Meet Ian & Nicole!

Last September Ian and Nicole had a commitment ceremony they dubbed the Lovetacular Extravaganza and now they're finally embarking on their honeymoon: a van tour of the United States.

So from there I decided to reach out and see if she & Ian would be interested in documenting their journey from Jasper to Vancouver & then down into the US; and was incredibly excited when she said yes! So here we are, 1st post in what I like to call the Jean Claude Damn Van Diaries


(Left) Two days after buying Jean Claude Damn Van, Ian and Nicole piled into the back to eat their first meal in their new home. He's much cozier now that there's bedding inside.

(Right) On May 1, Nicole and Ian's Jasper family came out to wish them farewell as they hit the road, starting their journey down the Icefields Parkway.

Nicole and Ian have always dreamed of living in a van, exploring the open road and roughing it in the wilderness. So, to make a go of it, they sold all of their worldly belongings, quit their jobs (newspaper editor and IT specialist), left their home (Jasper, AB) and outfitted a van (a 1998 GMC Safari named Jean Claude Damn Van) with everything they thought they might need for three months of adventure. While Nicole worked diligently selling their belongings, cleaning the apartment, researching van life and trip planning, Ian took on the job of sourcing the ultimate road trip mobile (which was purchased four short weeks before take off) and building a sweet adjustable bed for the back. While Nicole's job is done (besides navigating and providing snacks), Ian's is still a work in progress, with van organization evolving every day.

(Right) Ian is Jean Claude Damn Van's primary driver, while Nicole takes the role of jukebox operator, navigator, drink holder and snack provider.

(Left) Ian and Nicole's first stop was Nelson, B.C. where they slept on the shore of Kootenay Lake, trading the van for a tent

It was with a lot of research (Nicole), a little bit of moxie (Ian) and a great deal of help from friends that this dynamic duo hit the road May 1. Here's what they learned during their first week of van life:

#1 Keep your coffee-making supplies organized and together to ensure swift caffeination (and avoid grumpiness) in the morning.

#2 Always put the van in park when you stop for a pee break or it might not be where you left it when you return. (Oops!)

#3 Have a good navigator and be patient with your navigator. Also, ensure you have the Google Maps app for city navigation.

#4 Get rid of unnecessary gear. The van is only so big and it's no fun having to reorganize everytime you need something. Simplify your life!

#5 Don't worry! You have all the time in the world to get where your going. Take breaks and enjoy the ride.

Nicole and Ian will be touring around Western Canada until the third week of May and then they're heading south to visit 16 states, beginning in Washington and heading down the west coast, then cutting across the southern states, before heading north from Tennessee.

To keep up with Ian and Nicole's adventures, I hope to get them on board for a few more entries along their travels, but please follow them on Instagram to see what crazy & awesome adventures they get up to next with Jean Claude Damn Van on Instagram: @gypsyinjasper.