Imagine walking out to your backyard and all you see is a valley of wildflowers, or maybe crashing waves and the smell of sea air?
People have created this oasis for themselves by taking their homes on the open road.
“Van Life” is a growing trend among the creative adventurers who find old buses and vans and convert them into dream mobile homes, ready to take them wherever they fancy.
The founder of ‘Van Clan’, an online campervan and travel addicts community page – Brandon Saltalamacchia mentioned that the whole reason people find the lifestyle so alluring is because of the freedom it offers.
“People want freedom to escape the ever daunting bills, stress and constraints of “real life”. The thought of having a minimalist lifestyle for a little while is certainly an aspect of van life that intrigues many newcomers, and it’s certainly true.”
Utilizing space in economical fashion, these travel homes are crafted to fit all the necessities one may need on the road – from ovens to closets, beds t fold out tables, even Marie Kondo would shed a proud tear.
Another perk is the cost. According to Saltalamacchia, “All you need to sort is insurance, food and gas, and then you can go anywhere your heart desires, all while taking in the ever-changing world around you,” – adding that cost is one of the most frequently asked questions they receive.
Unsure about the ‘Van Life”? People from all walks of life have let go and as you will come to find – all you need is an adventurous soul.
It’s your typical adventurous human who just wants to live a little, you could be 18 years of age straight out of school, or freshly retired, there’s no real type of person who takes on this lifestyle, but you can bet your money, that each one who does has an adventurous streak in them that wants to discover new places and meet new people,” said Saltalamacchia.
Starting out may seem a bit daunting at first, but Saltalamacchia has some advice to get going:
“If you’re looking at taking on the van life we really suggest you think about it hard. Is living in a tiny box really what you want? Do you want someone knocking on your vehicle at 2am in the morning one day because you’ve parked in the wrong spot? Do you want to pee in bushes now and then? These are some of the things that will most likely happen, but you’ll be rewarded with many incredible experiences along the way.”
If you’re still keen to take on the great outdoors, the founder recommends considering these logistics:
“Firstly, if you’re buying an already converted van, you may have to redesign it to your style if not, then you’ll have to do a conversion that has multiple uses, for example, your seating will convert into a bed, and then convert into a desk, and while all that’s going on, it’s storage space at the same time. Secondly, do you want a toilet and/or a shower? If so, again, prepare to somehow fit it in to your vehicle, for smaller vehicles this might not be an option. And thirdly, test drive it. Find a rental, and rent it for a weekend, see if you can deal with the space, does it drive well? And is it something you can LIVE in.”
How much would a van conversion set you back?
“Van conversions vary in price, you can go as cheap as $1,000 if you really want the bare bones and fancy finding scrap wood, or you can go all out and have conversions well over the $10,000 mark, ” explained , “It all depends on the size of your van, and how deep you want to go with the conversion, we recommend doing it yourself with a budget, it makes every inch feel more YOU.” As for monthly expenses the cost is very little, he said, “Your biggest outgoing is gas, then food, then insurance. You can do it all on as little as $250 a month, but your average van lifers is most likely spending around $300-$600 per month living in a van, and that’s including gas.”
Some have concerns about missing out on the larger luxuries – especially a commonly asked question – “how does one shower?”
“This could not be further from the truth, yes, there’s times where you don’t shower for a couple of days, but getting to a water source, or using a portable shower bag is very common with van lifers. Most of them are very clean!”
Who actually has the time or resources to take off for a year?
“Many people think you have to do van life for years, no, you could be doing it for a year, a few months, or even a couple of weeks, hell, you could be a weekend warrior, someone who likes to do it on the weeks only. Van life can be a day, or a lifetime, it’s your path, you can choose how long it lasts.”
One cannot help but to daydream about travelling, spending the most glorious nights under the stars, waking to the most breathtaking views, but Saltalamacchia warns to take social media with a pinch of salt.
“Van life is one of the most glamorized lifestyles on social media, not everyone eats strawberries on top of their van, looking at the sunset with their cute dog but I think knowing this will let you take each picture with a grain of salt. These moments can happen, but trust us, it’s not every weekend, some weekends you’ll be stuck in a shopping mall car park, but then some weekends you’ll be on a beach with a cold beer, reading a book with no care in the world.”
If you however weigh out the pros and cons and would still love to hit the road, the van life enthusiast mentions that it’s well worth it.
“The most rewarding part about this lifestyle is the peace of mind you get when you’re on the road. You have very little outgoings, you have the choice to go wherever your heart desires and you get to meet a lot of incredible people. The lifestyle is the rewarding part, it all comes together to be a relaxing, slow yet eventful way of living that many can’t wait to start. Time slows down when you live the van life.”
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