These Digital Nomads Live, Work, and Travel in a Sprinter Van

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By Anna Squier
We chat with Lexi and Cody—the "van-trepreneurs" behind Dynamo Ultima—about what it's like to live and run a creative studio out of their van.

The dynamic duo spend time in some of the most beautiful places, all while working hard to successfully run a business. After recently selling their first van, a 2016 Mercedes Sprinter Van, they are now ready to start the process of designing, renovating, and building an adventurous life in their new 2018 Mercedes model. Below, Lexi tells us more about their lifestyle, and the inspiration behind their latest revamps. 

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Lexi and Cody's original van was a 2016 Mercedes Sprinter 2500 RWD.  They bought the vehicle in May of 2016, moved into it in October of that year, and recently sold it this past June.

Lexi and Cody's original van was a 2016 Mercedes Sprinter 2500 RWD. They bought the vehicle in May of 2016, moved into it in October of that year, and recently sold it this past June.

Dwell: Your lifestyle is so interesting.  Can you tell us what a typical day is like for you living in a van? 

Lexi: A typical day for us starts with us waking up wherever we were parked for that previous evening. That might be a gorgeous campsite, a serene state park, or a less desirable location like a parking lot. 

We are digital nomads with a creative studio, so we spend the majority of our day working on branding projects, editing YouTube videos, writing content for our blog, or crafting digital products that teach people how to start a business. We spend a lot of hours working in our van with dreamy backdrops. After we're done working, you can normally find us walking our dog, Zero, rock climbing, mountain biking, checking out local breweries, or snowboarding. 

While Lexi and Cody park their van in beautiful settings surrounded by mountains, beaches, and parks, they oftentimes have to park in a parking lot; it's all part of the adventure.

While Lexi and Cody park their van in beautiful settings surrounded by mountains, beaches, and parks, they oftentimes have to park in a parking lot; it's all part of the adventure.

What are some of the greatest lessons you both have learned from living in a van? 

 One of the greatest lessons we have learned is the grass isn't greener. No matter where you are, even if you are living the dream, traveling the world, and working for yourself, you'll always ache for something more— especially if you aren't practicing gratitude and being present in the current moment. 

Over the past two years, the couple have driven 45,000 miles. 

Over the past two years, the couple have driven 45,000 miles. 

What made you decide to sell your original van? 

We loved our first van. We built everything ourselves with no prior experience in carpentry, electrical, or plumbing. But, we were ready for a change. We were also inspired after attending a van gathering in San Diego, seeing all of the van-builds that others had created. 

Witnessing those possibilities made us want to take on the challenge and design a vehicle that would fit our needs a little more. Plus, we really wanted a larger van so we could store our outdoor gear inside. Our first van layout was built before we had any gear, but now that we have mountain bikes, snowboards, rock-climbing gear, and a dog, we felt that more room to store those things inside was necessary.

In their old van, the bench and table served as the ideal workspace for the traveling couple. 

In their old van, the bench and table served as the ideal workspace for the traveling couple. 

The two benches on each side of the table converted into the couple's bed. When they parked the vehicle, they would open the doors to allow the living space to merge with the outdoors.

The two benches on each side of the table converted into the couple's bed. When they parked the vehicle, they would open the doors to allow the living space to merge with the outdoors.

How will the new van compare to the original? 

The new sprinter van is going to be the 170’ versus the 144’ which adds about three more feet of space inside. It’s also a 4x4, so we will feel more comfortable driving up to ski resorts in the winter. 

As for the layout, we want to make our bed permanent this time and have storage underneath for our outdoor gear so we don’t have to store our mountain bikes outside. We’re also adding a large water tank, a compostable toilet, and a water heater so we can have hot showers. 

Memory foam pillows, a Pendleton wool blanket, and a memory foam mattress transformed the original van into the perfect nighttime retreat.

Memory foam pillows, a Pendleton wool blanket, and a memory foam mattress transformed the original van into the perfect nighttime retreat.

Our new van is going to have 500 watts of solar panels, versus 320 watts in our last build. We’ll also have a large kitchen that extends over the sliding door opening. The kitchen will have a diesel cooktop and a refrigerator. Near the drivers side, we’ll create a bench area with a removable swivel table, as well as an office space for us to get work done. 

In comparison, this van will be more like an RV. We’ll be able to live in it for longer periods of time without having to stop at our family and friends' homes every so often. We’re investing more money into this next build to make it an amazing studio/apartment on wheels. 

Inside, flexible plywood walls concealed Denim Insulation, Reflectix, and a Vapor Barrier, which insulated the van from cooler temperatures.

Inside, flexible plywood walls concealed Denim Insulation, Reflectix, and a Vapor Barrier, which insulated the van from cooler temperatures.

Describe your design inspiration for the new van. 

This time, we are going to try a more off-white paint color that is a glossy finish so it’s easier to clean. Our last van had laminate wood flooring, but this time we are trying something new. We’ll be using a patterned vinyl-tile design. We think creating a minimal design with neutral colors will complement the wild pattern on the floor. Because the tile pattern is so busy, we are adding a soft, faux sheepskin rug to break it up. 

The interior of the van incorporated the couple's personal style.  Artwork and blankets also reflected their artistic aesthetic.

The interior of the van incorporated the couple's personal style. Artwork and blankets also reflected their artistic aesthetic.

We’ll also be using a butcher block for the kitchen countertops, a white farmhouse sink, and a black kitchen faucet. In the bathroom, we’re going to keep the space all white and use teak flooring. 

To add some color to our van design, we are planning to buy some throw pillows, a macrame planter, and gold hardware on all of our cabinets. We love the options from Schoolhouse Electric

To break up the white tones inside the van, Lexi and Cody decided to paint the kitchen black.  The  kitchen included a black galaxy granite countertop, as well as a black refrigerator.

To break up the white tones inside the van, Lexi and Cody decided to paint the kitchen black. The kitchen included a black galaxy granite countertop, as well as a black refrigerator.

Can you tell us what's next? 

We’re spending this summer converting our new van, but in September we’re heading to Lake Tahoe to try and soak up what’s left of the season. 

We recently purchased an Epic Pass (it's basically an unlimited day pass to a ton of ski resorts all over the U.S. and Canada), so we’ll be traveling all winter to experience these resorts and get some great snowboarding in. We’re excited because snowboarding is one of our passions and this is the first time we will get to experience so many different beautiful places.

The new van will be more of an adventure mobile, as the larger size will allow the couple to store all of their gear and live more comfortably. 

The new van will be more of an adventure mobile, as the larger size will allow the couple to store all of their gear and live more comfortably. 

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who desire to live and create a similar lifestyle to yours? 

The best advice we have is to fully commit. When we first decided to embark on this journey, we were committed 100 percent—meaning we had no doubts we could make it happen, even if we didn’t know how we would do it. We started saving all of our money and began building our business before we were ready to dive into it full-time. We sold everything we owned before we even bought our van, and we turned it into a home with no experience. Life is short so stop letting fear and uncertainty hold you back from going after what you want and do it already!

With their new model, there will be plenty of room for the dog, Zero, who will even have his own bedroom.

With their new model, there will be plenty of room for the dog, Zero, who will even have his own bedroom.

To learn more about Lexi and Cody and follow along with their adventures, check out their website here.