Many of us dream of ditching the rat race for something a little more fulfilling – but few actually pluck up the courage to do it.
This is particularly true when we have what is, on paper, A Really Good Job.
But Kristen Bor is not the kind of woman to stand on ceremony.
The American-born adventurer landed a high-profile career working in Congress straight out of uni. Having completed her Masters in environmental management, she started working as a lobbyist to promote sustainable fishing in Washington D.C.
Kristen specifically choose the job because it offered a lot of travelling.
“Soon after I got hired, though, I realized that business traveling often meant flying halfway across the world, sitting in a conference room for a couple of days and flying home, without the opportunity to actually see the country or do anything outside of work,” she tells Forbes.com. “That wasn’t the kind of travel I was interested in.”
After a number of years becoming increasingly frustrated at the corporate grindstone, Kristen decided the 9-5 wasn’t for her – and jacked the whole thing in to start up an outdoor travel website for women, Bearfoot Theory.
As part of the transition, Kristen put her money where her mouth was, and converted a 4×4 Sprinter Van. This is now the place that she lives, travels and works in – affording her the financial freedom to pursue her dreams.
It cost her $45,000 (£34,00) to renovate the vehicle for living in, which included installing a solar system, rack, heater and other essentials for a good quality of life. But she’s saving $14,000 (around £10,500) a year in rent on her apartment, as well as avoiding the daily costs of living in a city.
“I figured if I ever needed a home base for a while, I could always go home and stay with family or I could easily find a new apartment,” she says. “I really had nothing to lose by giving it a try.”
Kristen’s biggest expenses now are petrol and groceries. She’s earning double what she did previously, via her new career of blogging and running tours designed to build women’s confidence in the Great Outdoors.
“During my time in D.C., there were so many things I wasted money on,” she says. “Coffee every morning. Lunch. Happy hour. These things were part of my daily routine. I looked forward to them, and they helped me cope with the fact that I was unsatisfied.
“Collectively, though, it added up to quite a lot of unnecessary spending. Now being self-employed, I’ve cut out a lot of those daily expenses. I’d rather use that money to pay an employee to get more content up on the blog, draft my weekly newsletter or pitch brands I want to work with.”
By broadcasting her venture, Kristen has built up the incentive to face her fears more, too.
“I figured by sharing my experiences online I’d be more likely to challenge myself and try new activities that I might otherwise be afraid of,” she says. “I also thought blogging would provide me an avenue to continue being an environmental advocate.”
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Kristen came out of a seven-year relationship just before embarking upon her van life. Although she loves travelling alone, there are some safety precautions she takes flying solo.
“I never sleep anywhere I don’t feel comfortable,” she says. “If I’m alone, I’m usually not venturing down unknown dirt roads for the night just to save a few bucks on camping. I like to stay in state park, forest service, national park and other established (but still wild-feeling) campgrounds where there are a few other folks around.”
Reunited with the van, and it feels goooood. It's been up in Sun Valley with the guys at @syncvans who installed a heater for me so I can sleep at the ski slopes this winter. Over the next couple of months I'll be visiting Utah, California, Oregon and then back to Idaho with no solid plan, and I'm excited to finally get into my groove with this whole van thing. Next mission…coming up with a good van name. 📷@GoPro #hero5 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 👉🏼 @sprintercampervans
“Some of my best experiences in the van have been the ones that have been unplanned and unexpected, and often it’s the little things,” she adds. “Eating a van-cooked dinner during an amazing sunset, listening to loon calls, watching the stars, meeting cool people, finding a secluded campsite with amazing views. That’s what you live for out here.”
Kristen fully encourages others to follow in her adventurer footsteps:
“Anyone can make money on the internet if they are determined and want it bad enough. It doesn’t happen overnight and you have to work like crazy, but I’m living proof that it’s completely possible to build something out of nothing.”