YouTube van transformation story
Instagram via @susicruzz

Woman Quits Job To Travel the World – From a Van!

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| LAST UPDATE 05/30/2022

By Tracy Morrison

Susi, a young woman with a big vision, decided to follow her dreams of traveling the world. She worked hard to turn a tiny van into a dream home. But after a few months, she ran into some trouble…

Meet Suzi

Susi Cruz's optimistic attitude has always motivated her to go after what she's passionate about. One day, after a lot of thinking and planning, she decided to follow her dream of traveling the world.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

Susi had a vision of what her ideal life would be like - and it involved a lot of traveling, creating content for people to enjoy, and living her life to the fullest. But she knew she had to make some major changes in her life if she wanted to fulfill those dreams.

“It’s Just Not My Thing”

See, Susi was a student in her senior year of college, studying fashion - a subject she originally thought would be exciting and get her where she wanted to be in life. But a few years later, she realized her college experience at university was turning her into a person she didn't want to be...

Susi Cruz van transformationSusi Cruz van transformation
Instagram via @susicruzz

Sharing her thoughts on what she learned about the fashion industry, she called it "superficial" and described how everything was always about "looks." She told her viewers, "it's just not my thing." But she was in a difficult situation - there was a lot at stake…

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Making Sacrifices

Susi had a lot to think about, including people other than herself. "I was never a good student, but I've been dragging on the whole process because of my mother," said the vlogger, explaining that her mom had helped her financially throughout her degree.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

Because of this, the young woman shared that she felt pressured to finish her degree despite not being happy with it. "I felt like I have to do it for her," she said, explaining that she wasn't able to move on with her life - and the future waiting for her seemed too unbearable...

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Big Plans

Susi wasn't the kind of person who could be content with a 9-5 job, working from morning till evening every day and having no time left to pursue her dreams. "It's just something that really doesn't fit into my ideal of life," the 25-year-old said. But what was her ideal of life?

Susi Cruz van transformationSusi Cruz van transformation
Instagram via @susicruzz

"I want to create something really big," she shared with those listening to her story. "I want to give something to myself, to this world. I mean, it is really my dream." So, after a lot of time spent thinking, she decided to take a giant leap of faith and chase after her dreams. If only she'd given it more thought...

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Saying Goodbye

Although she was about to finish the final year of her studies, Susi Cruz decided she didn't want to graduate. She explained that she was "actually almost at the end" and had to "write one exam and then [her] thesis," for all her work would be done. However…

Susi YouTuber van travelSusi YouTuber van travel
Instagram via @susicruzz

"Something inside me tells me that it is not right because I have no interest anymore in the fashion industry." And that was that - so our vlogger decided to shift her focus to something that she was so sure would bring her a lot more fulfillment than her studies - and it all started with a small van.

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Finding a Van

A couple of weeks into 2017, Susi took one step closer to living her dream life by finally getting the van she planned to travel Europe with. "It's so, so pretty - it's just how I imagined it," the young woman gushed. Here's a little glimpse of what it looked like.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

According to Susi, the soon-to-be home on wheels had two windows, a big roof, and just enough space for everything she'd need on the road. She couldn't wait to pick it up from the auto repair shop she'd sent it to, promising to update her viewers about her life on the road once it started.

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Prepping for the Road

But going from living in a house to living in a van was a huge change that Susi needed to prepare for. She needed to know that, if something were to happen to her van on the road, she'd know how to solve the issue. So she called a trustworthy friend for help...

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Instagram via @pb_car_repair

Susi's friend Michael showed her the battery, engine, overflow tank, and everything she needed to know about her car. Susi felt ready to take on any challenge that could possibly come her way while traveling solo. Little did she know, nothing Michael could teach her would prepare her for what was to come...

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Getting Started

After studying her van inside and out, Susi was ready to start working on transforming it into a home she could live in. Seeing that the van had rust in several places, as well as many holes in the metal, Susi knew a little cosmetic work was in order before she moved on to the next steps.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

A little trip to the hardware store provided Susi with all the tools she'd need. She then began sanding the rust on the outside of the van to make it as smooth and clean as possible before moving on to fixing all the holes in the car. Soon enough, the car was ready for its paint job.

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Updating the Exterior

Susi was stoked about seeing her car in the vivid pink color she'd chosen for it. "I've been waiting for this for so long, and the color is going to be so beautiful." Susi brought out the paint and the tape she planned to use to the cover parts of the car she wanted to remain white.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

After adding putty to the car's metal exterior, Susi used a roller to paint the entire van a clean white color. She then went over the bottom half with light pink paint, giving the car an energetic and optimistic vibe. The excited young woman had no idea what would soon happen to it...

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Planning Ahead

As she soon explained to her viewers, one of the first things Susi needed to work on when it came to transforming the inside of the van, was insulating the walls and floors. "It's so important, especially if you're in Europe or traveling in colder areas, or too hot areas actually," she said with a laugh.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

After she was done laying the foundation, Susi added vinyl planks for the floor of her future mobile home. She explained why vinyl was a better option than wood. "Because of the humidity, I didn't want it to get wet," she said, adding, "And it has less weight than normal wood." A wise decision...

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Making Progress

Susi Cruz really put in the hard work to see her dream come true. "I feel like the car is transforming into a real piece of art - it's like becoming like a little home, and I'm so happy." She took a proud look at the interior of her little van, now complete with "wooden" floors and walls.

van life Susi Cruzvan life Susi Cruz
Instagram via @susicruzz

So Susi moved on to the next important addition that needed to be made: a bed to sleep in. Choosing lightweight wood for the base, Susi got to work sawing and drilling all day long. And a few hours later, she had a place to sleep in her home on wheels. She was all set for what was about to become an unforgettable journey...

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Home, At Last

Fast forward a few weeks later, Susi's van turned out to be everything she'd ever imagined. All it took was a bit of hard work and dedication, and she finally had the cozy home she'd always dreamed of traveling in. Here's a peek at the final look...

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Instagram via @susicruzz

Susi gave her viewers a small tour of her van. She was all set to go with cozy bed covers, refreshing plants, a small ukulele, and storage spaces for her clothes and kitchenware. So the young 25 year-old-woman began to plan the first exciting step of her life-changing adventure.

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Time to Explore!

She set out to explore Europe, hitting major destinations like Portugal, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain. She documented every part of her trips for her subscribers, who were eagerly waiting to see what she was up to. And the young woman never disappointed them.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

She shared with them everything she'd seen, from castles to caves, and updated them on her daily life in the van. Although she did seem to manage to figure out how to deal with most minor problems, there was one issue she wanted to address with her viewers.

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A Positive Mindset

Of course, it's no secret that living in a van and traveling the world isn't the cheapest way to live life. But for those who really, really want to see their dreams come true, there's always a way to figure out the finances, according to Susi Cruz. So she gave us all a bit of advice...

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YouTube via @susicruzz

"Once you know how much you want it, there's actually no obstacle you can't overcome," she explained, sharing that she'd worked hard for two years to save up money for her plans. She added that another option to make extra money for those who are crafty was to sell handmade items out of the van while traveling.

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Travel Companion

But luckily, Susi had enough money to fuel her adventurous lifestyle. Not only that, but she also had the perfect companion with her every step of the way - her dog, Peño. "Sometimes it can be scary if you face big dreams alone," she explained. "But he believed in me when no one else did." Awww.

viral influencer dog travelviral influencer dog travel
Instagram via @susicruzz

Peño is not any average dog - his typical day on the road is filled with a lot more adventure than a canine could ever hope for. He joins Susi on her adventures, exploring foreign cities and playing on beaches along the way. When the vlogger first began her adventures across the world, Peño's life seemed perfect.

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The Setbacks

As for our YouTube star, her honesty with her followers helped show them how living out the fantasy of living in a mobile home wasn't so perfect. But was it worth it? She would soon find out. In the meantime, she spent her energy navigating the smaller issues that she encountered in life in the van - like preparing food.

Susi Cruz YouTube vlogSusi Cruz YouTube vlog
Instagram via @susicruzz

Living without a fridge, Susi had to get a bit creative with her meals. As she explained in her videos, her diet consisted mostly of vegetables, which she stopped at grocery stores to get a fresh supply of every few days. Not only that, but she also planted herbs like cilantro and rosemary! But soon, she'd be cooking for two…

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Another Chapter Begins

A few weeks later, the traveler revealed that her boyfriend had joined her on her long adventure. She shared a video documenting their time together in Spain, eating delicious food and exploring the city of Sevilla. But it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies...

Susi Cruz travel influencerSusi Cruz travel influencer
Instagram via @susicruzz

She shared that he wouldn't always be on the road with her, saying that the two "spend almost every day together during the wintertime. But my journey will continue, and we will still manage to work this out together .. although he won't be always there." But she'd soon find herself wishing that he never left…

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Holidays On the Road

As Christmas rolled around, Susi decided she wanted to get festive - and just because her home could move on wheels didn't mean she couldn't decorate! So she did a little shopping in Edinburgh, Scotland, and bought some Christmas garlands, lights, and other decorations that she hung around the inside of the van.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

Even little Peño got his own costume for the upcoming holiday: a pair of antlers to wear over his head. "Look, guys, I have the cutest, cutest reindeer in town!" she said to the camera, holding the dog in her arms. Although he didn't seem to understand what all the fuss was about, Susi was absolutely delighted.

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A Promising Path

All in all, she really was living her best life with her furry companion on the road. A few weeks after of embarking on her adventurous lifestyle, she seemed to get the hang of what made living in a van work and learned little hacks along the way to make life on wheels easier.

YouTuber Susi Cruz vanYouTuber Susi Cruz van
Instagram via @susicruzz

There was so much she'd learned, so many people she'd met, and lots of adventures to share with her 220,000 subscribers. In the comments sections of her videos, fans seemed to envy her positive spirit and courage to take on such a big risk. But then something happened that forced her to reevaluate everything...

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Not What It Seems

Parked in a deserted area near a lake in Edinburgh, Susi shared with her viewers her response to claims that "van life is a lie" and that it's not always really as great as it sounds. But according to her, while it's not always the most comfortable, there are many moments when she appreciates her journey.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

An important message she had to share with her viewers was that life is all about the way we choose to look at things. "I'm not glorifying van life. I mean, yeah it has its good or bad sides - whatever 'bad' and 'good' mean, you know, it's all perspective." But then something happened that changed her's forever…

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Tragedy Strikes

Filled with emotions, Susi told the camera what happened while she was on her way to see her boyfriend. She shared with her followers the devastating news that a truck driver crashed into the back of her precious van while she was on the road, causing significant damage to her little home.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

Unfortunately for Susi, the driver was never identified. He hit her van and ran off, never to be found again - despite her many attempts to get in touch with authorities and people who she thought could track him down. In just a single moment, Susi lost everything she'd worked so hard for...

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Devastated

Through her tears, Susi showed her viewers the devastating scene where the crash had happened only minutes before. Sirens, police, and paramedics everywhere. Her once-fabulous-looking van left on the side of the road, bearing signs of irreparable damage. The tears streamed down her face.

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YouTube via @susicruzz

"In that moment, I really didn't know how to behave," Susi told the camera weeks later in a more calm and collected tone, sitting safely in her boyfriend's house. "I was so emotional that I didn't think about collecting the data of that other person or taking pictures, because I was hyperventilating."

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“It’s So Painful To Watch”

When she revisited her destroyed van the next day, Susi looked around in despair at the mess that was left behind. "It's so painful to watch," she whispered miserably. "I hope you understand that I don't really have much words for what happened. I don't know where to start," she told her followers.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

But luckily for her, a kind couple named Mark and Sharon was there to help her through it. "They gave me and Peño a home for three days, they gave me a bed to sleep, and they gave me a little bit of confidence and a little bit of belief that things will turn out okay," she said.

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Exploring Her Options

But the question is, were they right? That van was Susi's entire life and everything she'd worked for. How would she continue from there? Would she give up and go back to finish her degree in fashion? Or would she save up money to get a new van and start over? Neither option seemed easy at that moment. Until she had an idea…

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YouTube via Susi Cruz

Susi shared her story with her social media followers, a community that has been with her every step of the way - through all of the ups and downs of her journey. She started a GoFundMe for those who wanted to donate to help her get back on her feet. And she was surprised to see how many people were willing to help...

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Feeling the Love

Her followers flooded the comments section of the video with the kind and sympathetic words that she so desperately needed to her. Several people donated money to help her get her old life back, and she couldn't be more grateful to each and every one of them.

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YouTube via Susi Cruz

"I am forever indebted to each and every one of you," she wrote to her followers. "At this point in time, all I can do to repay you is tell you how grateful I am. Thank you for being part of this so so very supportive community of mine." She signed her note to them, "Forever your girl."

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Becoming "Phoenix"

With the help of the money her followers so kindly donated, Susi was able to repair her van and start over. She uploaded a YouTube video showing her first trip back to Scotland after the accident. Grateful to her community, the vlogger wrote a note to her followers in the video next to a photo of herself with the new van.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

"She never had a name, she was always just my baby van. This time will be her rebirth, and her name will be Phoenix because she is strong, because she won't give up when she falls, and she will always rise from the ashes again. Thank you all, her rebirth is on all of you," Susi wrote.

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A Cautionary Tale

She also had some advice to give after what she'd experienced. "I had tons and tons of good beautiful moments inside of this van, but I also had very stressful, anxious, dangerous, and bad moments inside here. I know that bad and good belongs to life, and we should embrace them as they come even though they might be very tough."

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Instagram via @susicruzz

She also stressed that "no matter how far you go," or how many countries, cultures, and new places a person explores, "if you have your own personal baggage and you bring it with you, it doesn't matter where you go - it will still catch up on you." A word from the wise and experienced.

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On The Road Again

But it seems like Susi's life has picked up since the accident, and she appears to be back on track - just a slightly different one. A few weeks after getting her fully-recovered van back, Susi decided she was done exploring Europe for the time being, so she shipped her little mobile home off to Mexico.

Susi Cruz travel lifeSusi Cruz travel life
Instagram via @susicruzz

And, as expected, her followers followed her all the way across the Atlantic to explore a new continent with her. That's not to say there weren't still a few challenges along the way - including the global Covid-19 pandemic that hit the world in 2020. But even during the lockdown, Susi was strong enough to get through it all.

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Finding the Light

Not only was the pandemic a major challenge to overcome, but Susi also revealed to her followers in a YouTube video that she'd actually lost someone very important to her while she was on the road. Sadly, she learned that her grandmother had passed away, and she never had the chance to say goodbye to her.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

Susi shared a letter she wrote to her grandmother, who passed away in China after her death. "Whenever I start to write this letter, I get the chills because all of the sudden your death becomes real," she wrote, adding that her grandmother showed her "how to be the light in this world."

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The Journey Continues...

Susi seems to carry her grandmother's message with her everywhere she goes. As she travels across the world, inspiring people every day, what seems to keep her going is her positive attitude. She made sure to emphasize the message in a YouTube video she uploaded to her channel.

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Instagram via @susicruzz

"If you are happy with yourself, the way you are currently, then why worry about what you're going to be in two years, right?" she said. "We are so distracted by everything in life that you don't take so much time to think about what it is you want," she continued, adding, "Just go with the flow." We totally agree!

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