When Jenna Aldus and Colin Dierker found out that all of their classes were shifting online due to the pandemic, they decided to take full advantage of the newfound freedom. Both university students, the couple currently conducts their studies on the road in their new home-on-wheels, a renovated 1975 Chevy van named Nelly.

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a brown and off-white 1975 Chevy van parked on the side of the road. in the background there is blue water and mountains.

According to Jenna, the van conversion and renovations only took about 40 days thanks to the help and support of friends and family (they even threw the couple a going away party with a Nelly-inspired cake).

Related: Go off the grid with a Tesla-powered adventure vehicle by Ready.Set.Van.

a brown and off-white 1975 Chevy with its sliding door opened to show a yellow stovetop/oven and indoor plants.

Now about a month into their mobile learning journey, the pair enjoys making the world their classroom while riding in style. The couple has already learned a lesson or two about van life, such as always use a restroom when you see one and make sure to stock up on everything you need before leaving a major town. New tricks, like using free water fill-up stations at most national park campsites, come in handy as well.

a brown and off-white 1975 Chevy with its sliding door opened to show a kitchen area with album covers as wall decorations.

While completing the project, Aldus and Dierker wanted to keep as much of the original vehicle intact as possible and embrace its groovy 70s vibe with bright, funky features. “It truly is shocking how much fresh paint and little TLC does,” Aldus said. The converted van measures 70 square feet in size, and nearly all its furnishings came from local thrift stores. An electric sink pump supplies water, and a solar-powered shower bag makes showering outdoors more comfortable. Inside, plenty of live plants help naturally purify the air.

a kitchen area with album covers as wall decorations.

“Most of our time went making sure that Nelly was mechanically sound and trustworthy enough to live in for the next couple of months. As for where we will be living, the motto ‘home is where you park it’ is very popular in the Vanlife community and is what we are currently living by,” Aldus added. The duo plans on spending the next couple of months traveling around Vancouver Island to surf, hike, study and enjoy the local beer tasting scene.

a kitchen area with album covers as wall decorations, a shelf full of plants and a driving area at the front of the van.

+ Nellys.vanlife

Via Apartment Therapy

Images via Jenna Aldus