Who are we?

Hi and welcome to our blog! As many of you can likely identify with, we love the outdoors and traveling. We love to bike, ski, trail run, camp, hike, explore new places and meet new people. After college, we both pursued corporate careers taking us to New York City, San Francisco and, for Jakob, to London. In February 2014, we both decided to leave our jobs to focus our time on preparing for an extended road trip through the Americas. We don’t want to bore you with too many details about us, but hope that you’ll get to know us through our blog posts and please feel free to reach out to us anytime at nikki@sprintervandiaries.com or jakob@sprintervandiaries.com!


In January 2014, we adopted a dog! We named her Leika (like the Russian space dog, but spelled differently). We hope she’s as excited about this trip as we are – she’ll be getting plenty of attention and time to run, swim and play with us.


Nikki Levi and Jakob Celnik


  1. Hello sprinter van diaries! My name is Chris Sommer and I live in State College. I’m actually a friend of your little sister, Kyra. I’ve been following your whole trip and think that what you did was so incredible! I too was living in my car for a little bit, but I found that a Subaru Outback was not quite as spacious as your van hahah. I saw your last instagram post and would like to say that I am interested in looking at and possibly purchasing (if the price is right) your van, if you are selling it openly. Let me know what you think!

    Thanks, Chris Sommer

    • Hi Chris! Great to hear from you! If you’re in State College now, we should certainly meet up and you can take a look at the van and what not. Shoot us an email at sprintervandiaries@gmail.com if you have specific questions or want to coordinate something.

  2. Hi guys, looks like an incredible experience. My Peruvian boyfriend and I are planning a similar trip, and to do up a van. We were wondering how you went in terms of safety? Were there any times you were robbed, or hassled? We were just discussing how much crime is in places like Lima and how it might be unsafe to travel in a van in some regions. Would be great to hear from you and your experiences 🙂

    • Hey,

      Safety was a concern, especially before the trip, and we’ve had our share of bad experiences (read more here). We noticed what we called “next country syndrome” – wherever we went, locals always told us that their place was safe, but the next country a total mess. In the US, people are afraid of Mexico, Mexicans believe Guatemala is unsafe, Guatemalans think Honduras is terrible, and so on.

      However, we certainly don’t believe that safety concerns should stop you from traveling, and that taking some basic precautions can go a long way, such as never driving at night and never leaving your vehicle unattended. So with proper care you can minimize (although not eliminate) the risks.

  3. Hi Nikki and Jakob, my wife and I just found your site. I was looking up something about changing a fuel filter. We have a 2009 Class B Leisure Travel Van that I removed all of the decals on and “Leisure Travel” markings on to make it a little more “stealth.” But one can see that it is a camper van from the venting and what not. But I think it looks better without the decals. So, I just read your “bad experiences” to my wife (as she’s cooking over the stove). The lesson of “never leaving your vehicle unattended” has us curious. We’re newer to the scene and don’t want to make any rookie mistakes. We certainly can’t empty the van every time we take a walk on the beach or take a trail. There’s simply too much stuff. Would you be so kind as to give us a little more detail on how you accomplished this? I think you had said that sometimes you ask the locals to watch the van for you. So, is this mainly a concern when traveling outside of USA? Thank you in advance! We’re loving starting to read about your journeys!! Thank you for sharing!

    • Dave, thank you for your comment. Outside of the US, most countries have a lot of guarded parking lots where you can leave your car attended. That worked well for cities. In the countryside we would often just ask in the nearest village. It takes a bit of extra effort but definitely worth the peace of mind. Hope this helps.


  4. Nice work on the van build guys! what was your experience in finding uLSD (ultra low sulpher diesel) on your trip through central and South America? We are looking at a new 4×4 sprinter and that is one of the requirements to not void the warranty.

    • ULSD wasn’t available in most countries on the route – some parts of Mexico (near the US border and around Cancun), Costa Rica, Chile, and Argentina. If you’re considering a trip with a new 4×4 Sprinter, you’ll have to make modifications to your emissions equipment to avoid trouble. I suppose that would void your warranty, but I’m not sure your warranty will be helpful outside of the US regardless.

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