Just picture it: waking up in your cozy cabin on wheels and walking out the door to gaze toward a far mountain. After soaking in the sights and sounds of your surroundings, you return to your wheeled home, take a shower, and brew some coffee in the kitchen before heading to the next epic destination. That’s what Van Life has to offer.
But life on the road isn’t all about ever-changing backyard scenery and charming photos. Before throwing everything to the wind and take the plunge into Van Life, you need to do lots of research. This post will discuss everything about Van Life, from its history, reasons behind its popularity to the latest trends.
What is Van Life?
Van Life, also known as van dwelling, is a lifestyle that involves living full-time or part-time in a vehicle, typically a van. The van is fitted with all basic amenities, such as sleep quarters, a kitchen, some form of toilet or shower and storage space. Van life affords you the ability to pick up and move to a new destination at a moment’s notice.
A Brief History
Vandwelling has its roots in 19th-century wagons that were pulled by horses and used for leisure travel. People have also been living in vehicles since the invention of the automobile. In the 1960s, Volkswagen vans became a favorite for road trip and camping enthusiasts.
Today’s growing nomadic movement is credited to Foster Huntington. He left his designer job, started exploring in a Volkswagen van, and began posting pictures of other campervans he came across. In 2011 he started the #VanLife hashtag on Instagram. Other Van Life fans began using the hashtag, and Today the hashtag has more than 9 million posts on Instagram.
Why is Van Life on the Rise?
Here are a few reasons why Van Life is gaining ground:
Perfect Option for Minimalism - Van Life is an excellent option for people who want to embrace minimalism. This means owning fewer possessions and living with the things that you only need so you can focus more on those things that matter most.
More People Want to Explore the Outdoors - Our itch to hit the open road seemed to have increased when the pandemic struck. People who have always dreamt of swapping building shadows for open horizons have finally made up their minds and decided to discover the world from the comforts of a van.
Allows Social Distancing - At the height of the pandemic, recreational vehicles, including vans, quickly emerged as the safest option to explore the outdoors without putting your loved ones or those around you at risk. And the fact that they are cheaper to live in compared to larger RVs makes them very attractive.
Taking Back Control of Your Life - Some join the movement after getting inspired by others and deciding to quit their demanding jobs. These individuals feel that Van life allows them to seek a more manageable pace of life and gifts them the freedom to do what they want when they want to do it.
Financial Freedom - Some have turned to van life to reduce financial burdens such as debt and the rising rent and housing prices. You can work on the road as a consultant, do temporary jobs, or freelance and save most of what you earn rather than spending it on housing and other avoidable expenses.
Defying Society Norms - Some millennials are ditching the traditional life of owning a home and choosing to travel the world in a cabin on wheels. They want to have the freedom to determine their lives and make the most out of the limited time we have on earth.
Types of Vanlifers
There are different types of Van Life adherents you need to know about. They include:
Full Time vs. Part Time - Full-time Vanlifers have dedicated their entire lives to live, work and travel in the Van. Part-time Vanlifers only use the campervan to adventure during the weekends, holidays, or when they have a flexible schedule.
Young vs. Old - Most of the Van Life pictures we see on social media include young people. But before young Millennials or Gen Z’s started adopting and popularizing this nomadic lifestyle, others were already living in vans. Some retirees have always foundvans to offer a simple, affordable, and fun way to enjoy their golden years.
Basic vs. Luxury - Some vanlifers simply use the van as a launchpad for their outdoor hobbies. Their vehicles have few home comforts but offer ample storage space for outdoor gear. Others prefer to have a feeling of luxury and have equipped their vehicles with classy features like an entertainment system, full kitchen, water heater, folding sofa, and roof fan.
Budget vs. Avid Explorers- Some choose the Van Life because it helps them live a more carefree life without the financial burdens of rent or mortgage. Others just want to explore different places, experience different things, and connect with like-minded souls.
Solo vs. Family - Van Living isn’t just for young couples and solo adventurers. There are many families that adventure with their kids or even pets. The vans that most families use come with extra seating and sleeping space.
Van Life Travel Trends to Watch
After the pandemic forced many to cancel their vacation plans, recreational vehicles became the most sought-after mode of travel. Outdoorsy, a trusted RV and camper van rental marketplace, reported a spike of 4,500% of RV and campervan bookings, underlining the desire for people to go outdoors.
Here are some of the Van Life industry trends you need to be aware of:
Flexible Work Arrangements Expected to Attract More People - Empowered by new remote work arrangements, more people are expected to join the Van Life movement. Those who were previously held back by work constraints can hit the road without having to quit their jobs.
Camper Vans Have Become One of the Most Popular Form of Travel - Camper vans are now one of the go-to options for people seeking closer contact with nature. Some of the latest models are designed to access natural spaces and remote locations that other RVs can't go.
Owning a Campervan has Become a Lucrative Side Hustle - For those who travel part-time, they have an opportunity to make some money when the vehicle is sitting idly at home. Renting a campervan now costs around $220 per night, potentially making you a cool $1,550 a week.
Electric Vans Are Coming - Vanlifers were quick to adopt solar energy to reduce their footprint. It’s common to see their vehicles outfitted with solar panels and batteries. Many companies have taken note and are already producing electric campervans in Europe. Soon, people will have the option to buy electric campervans locally.
An Effort to Improve Support Infrastructure - Infrastructure for campervan travel is poor or non-existent in most places. That's about to change. New campervan stopovers are coming up, providing much-needed amenities for nomads traveling through. These rest areas include air-conditioned and heated restrooms, wireless internet, ample parking space, improved security, and information areas.
Van Life Community
There is an incredible support group of vanlifers. Many of the manufacturers have their own Facebook groups that allow for open dialogue about challenges, mods (modifications that people do to their vans), upgrades and meet ups. #vanlife is great hashtag to follow on Instagram too. There are also a number of van life events you can attend to find out more about van life and meet other vanlifers. Here are some of the expos and rallys that support van life:
Van life, once a small movement, has now gone mainstream. This lifestyle perfectly combines the comfort of a tiny home on wheels with daily adventures. Whether you want to work while exploring the country or focus more on your outdoor hobbies, you are bound to create some fantastic memories living in a campervan.
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