Ian Dow is living his best life — out of an ambulance.
The nomad, from Newport Beach, California, revamped the unconventional wheels to travel the world.
He said he was inspired to buy the ambulance after getting in a motorcycle accident.
“I’d been searching for a van to convert and was blinded by the Sprinter fad,” Dow, 33, wrote to ABC News of the trendy Mercedes van. “After getting burned by a Craigslist seller — he backed out after I drove 12 hours to buy his Sprinter — I was depressed and I crashed my motorcycle. Then I had an epiphany. I was in pain and needed some emergency help. Sitting on the couch that night with a busted shoulder, I searched eBay for ambulances, found a cheap one, and even Google Earthed the charity listed as the seller, finding the ambulance parked right outside.”
He paid the charity $2,800 for it last year, and after some work, he said, the interior makes him feel “comfortable and happy.”
“Considering the Sprinter would have cost me $8,000, I felt like I got a screamin’ deal,” said Dow. “I finished it with materials I like. The teak floors, subway tiled kitchen, exotic hardwood table, cedar-lined closet, bamboo cutting surfaces and guitar inlay accents all keep a smile on my face.”
The adventurer even added a sundeck on the roof with an extendable umbrella.
“It’s a beast of a machine and draws a lot of interest from locals and travelers alike,” he told ABC News.
But there are some drawbacks.
“It’s really heavy and restricts my ability to get far off the beaten track,” said Dow. “I’m accustomed to traveling on a motorcycle where I can get up or down any trail but I’ve thrown that away for my comforts. Although I’ve brought the bike along with me I can’t leave the dog and ambulance for days on end while getting lost somewhere.”
How does he make a living to pay for his travels?
“I have been on the move for 10 years now and haven’t had a steady job the whole time,” he said. “I once was an art director on a film, a set designer and fabricator, an artist manager, music producer, graphic designer, painter. Life on the road is surprisingly cheap and I manage to survive with very little funds.”
Dow said a big reason he is living this wanderer life, although he loves it, is due to a nasty breakup.
“My ex-fiancé and I spent a year making music together which she now sells in Poland and has yet to send me a cent for,” he said, adding, “Ew, I sound bitter, but then again I guess I should.”
He said that’s what made his travel companion, his friend Dylan Griffin, such a good match for the road.
“Dylan also recently was broken up with by his fiancé in Australia so we had a similar mindset for traveling together,” said Dow.
For four months, Griffin, Dow and his pup, Dino, have traveled south through Baja, across the ferry to mainland Mexico, then “hugged the Pacific coastline surfing and fishing along the way south through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua,” he said.
They are in Costa Rica now with no immediate plans to leave, because Dow likes to “play it by ear.”
His advice for others looking to do something similar?
“Just do it,” he said.