Nine-To-Five Nomads: Courtney Zinckgraf

A full-time nanny and an environmental engineer turned full time travellers, Courtney Zinckgraf and husband, Bryce, offer their motivations for hitting the road, how they are able to maintain this way of life and their own personal advice for those pursuing this lifestyle.


Initially from Jacksonville, Florida, wishing to embark on a new and exciting journey before settling down, Courtney and Bryce have been travelling around the U.S. in a 1988 Dodge Ram B250. After finding the van on craigslist, becoming hooked on the idea of the van-life and undergoing renovations, the couple have now been on the road for three and a half months.


“We wanted to go on a big adventure before we settled down and have a kid or two,” explains Courtney. “We are also using this time as a way to explore the world and find out what our priorities are in a location before we choose where we want to do the settling in the future.”

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“It's an incredible feeling to know that we can wake up and drive in any direction we want to. We can fall in love with a place and stay there for as long as we want to, or we can decide we don't want to stay somewhere, and move onto the next place. Our schedule has never been so flexible.”


Although there are plenty of undeniable glamor’s to this way of life, there a handful daily struggles that the couple faces.


“Van break downs, not finding a good place to park for the night, being dirty and not having a shower, not having a toilet that's easily accessible, having a normal routine, and plenty of comforts that you would typically have in a home that you just don't have anymore.”


“There are definitely plenty of challenges with this lifestyle, [although] being flexible is key.”

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When it comes to sustaining this work-travel lifestyle, Courtney explains that they largely rely on the couple’s savings, as opposed to a regular income.


“We set aside a lump sum of money to travel on and are making that last as long as possible.”
“We also have some supplemental income through online jobs. My husband is an online tutor through a website called Chegg, and I have been transcribing through a website called Rev.”


“We spend the majority of our time outdoors away from civilization. [Due to this] it's difficult to have Wi-Fi. We go into town and sit at a coffee shop to work, or work when we are visiting
friends at their houses, but sometimes we are very far away from any of that so it can be difficult to find the time to work.”


Courtney offers up some advice, from her firsthand experience, for those interested in adopting the van-lifestyle.


“Make sure you have a plan and do your research before you jump into the deep end. We saved money before we left, but we have friends who didn't save any money and both work full time online jobs while living and travelling in their van.

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“It depends on what kind of lifestyle you want to have while travelling. [Our friends] have to be on Wi-Fi a lot more often than we do, which they really hate sometimes, but they do have a steady income. So, I would either get started by budgeting and saving money, or looking for a way to make money online, or both!”


“I also watched a lot of YouTube videos of people living full time in vans. That was really helpful for me, because it showed me that other people can do it and it gave a little insight on what their lives are like on the road.”


For more information on Courtney’s story, way of life or her content, have a glance at her YouTube Channel and Instagram: @courtneyzinckgraf

Check out last week's Nine-To-Five Nomads with Kyle Vandever