“Be patient with each other. Treat every situation with understanding. And, for the love of Mother Earth, stop the hate…We’re doing the best we can.”
Halle Homel grew up in Los Angeles, California, but her dream has always been to see the world — so last year, she and her boyfriend Jared took the leap and began traveling full time, living out of a campervan.
Over the past three months while COVID-19 has been ravaging the world Halle and Jared have been traveling and living out of a van — an experience that she describes as a “very interesting past couple months…”. They have been quarantining and driving across the US together in less than 60 square feet, with no real home base.
With the “stay at home” orders in effect, Halle been subject to many hateful reactions from people online, with messages harassing her for not “staying at home” and not understanding the lifestyle her and her boyfriend have made the choice to experience — the van IS their home — there is no other home for them to shelter in. “That negativity brought me into a really dark place that took over a month to crawl out of. I didn’t feel like I had a support system in my community, and I felt lost and scared for what the future would hold.” Halle said of the negativity her and Jared were encountering on a daily basis.
They have a two burner stove and fridge in the van with a propane tank and solar setup for the fridge, and will stay in one location anywhere between one night, if they’re trying to get somewhere fast — to a week, if they realize that they really love it!
Read more about Halle’s COVID Chronicle experience as a vanlifer, as she looks out for wildlife to keep her spirits up, works on hitting all 50 states (one more to go: Alaska!!) and takes on the worldwide coronavirus pandemic from inside of her 60 square feet of campervan space, below:
Where exactly are you living right now? Is this where you permanently reside or is it a temporary living situation due to the pandemic?
“This is a bit more complicated for me. I live on the road full time. I don’t have a house that is mine to go back to. The closest thing would be my parents’ house, but they weren’t in a situation where they could take two extra people in permanently during the pandemic. So, I’m living in my van, on the road, isolated on National Forest Land.”
What’s the biggest challenge you think you’ve faced during this quarantine situation?
“People were extremely hateful, negative, and downright mean to me for living in my van. I got hate messages, I got comments, I got people not understanding that “full time vanlife” means not having a house to return to.
That negativity brought me into a really dark place that took over a month to crawl out of. I didn’t feel like I had a support system in my community, and I felt lost and scared for what the future would hold.”
What has your community been doing to fight the rate of transmission? Is this how you think the situation is best handled?
“Many vanlifers who have a more permanent home base returned home. The other half of us stayed on the road and continued to isolated on public land as Jared and I did. This was more complicated for us because with public land closures, we actually found ourselves not sure we would have a safe place to park and wait this out…
We were kind of left out of the equation. So, I think we handled it as well as we could considering we are full time nomads. Many of us were far more careful than people who were in their houses in their hometowns.”
What has been your daily routine so far during the pandemic?
“We actually started sleeping much later during the pandemic! Usually, we get up around 8 or 9 a.m., make breakfast, and chill until lunch. After lunch, I’ll start working! If we’re in an area where it’s safe to explore (now that things are reopening and we’re in a state with no stay at home orders), I’ll work in the morning and go hiking in the afternoon.”
What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?
“We look for wildlife! There is so much to see that we wouldn’t notice if we were moving as fast as we normally would. Also, before bed, we do something called “three things” where we each list three good things that happened that day.”
Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any important plans you had laid out for the near future?
“I was supposed to cross off my 50th state this year: Alaska. It’s still not completely off the table, but will be if Canada does not allow us to transit through on June 21 (when their border is supposed to open).”
Is there anything you feel that this experience has taught you that you’d like to share as inspiration for everyone going through this together?
“I’ve learned to not take my life and lifestyle for granted. These are special things to experience, and it’s important to remember that.”
Anything else at all, you’d like to share?
“Be patient with each other. Treat every situation with understanding. And, for the love of Mother Earth, stop the hate. Stop the commenting ‘stay home.’ We’re doing the best we can.”
“We are currently in a very rural area between south and central Oregon. We haven’t once felt unsafe [in light of recent events], and only two cities in Oregon currently have curfews, but I do know that protests in other cities have affected where people are heading. As for us, we tend to stay out of cities anyway, but our hearts are with everyone suffering right now.”
Check put Halle’s Instagram, @halleswanderingsoul which details the experiences of life on the road and Mother Nature’s beauty:
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