The wandering vagabond has always been a symbol of freedom. From the wandering minstrels of the Middle Ages to Jack Kerouac’s On The Road inspiring a young generation and beyond. Now, there is something called van life. Everywhere, people are riggng their van as a home away from home and turning it into a real home. This is more than just a long vacation. It is a new style for life that doesn’t treasure material things as much as you or I might. Their treasures are the sights and memories along the way. If this intrigues you, here are a few things to consider.
The last thing you want when you hit the road for a van lifestyle is a mortgage or a student loan. Expenses can add up as you travel down the road. It is amazing how many bills you collect from the material world. To escape and live life on your terms, leave the mortgage at home. In fact, leave home at home. You will still need gas and groceries and quarters for the laundromat but do you really need Netflix when you’ve got gorgeous scenery or a dark night filled with billions of distant lights? Keep your expenses reasonable, even if this IS a vacation.
This is not a dirty word. And, in the age of the telecommute, it will really mean what it says. If you are a professional writer, you can easily cover expenses on a few hours at night before you go to sleep. Even in the old days, finding an income was not hard. Many picked a temporary job and sometimes just worked for meals. Jobs could be helping move boxes to sweeping out the barn. Nowadays, van lifers might do simple yard work, local seasonal work or be a freelancer. Of course, if you do not have a young back, many retired couples use their Social Security to get by.
Everyone will need to sleep or shower eventually. The shower is more available than you might think. Any good-sized truck stop will offer showers. Some campsites have showers if you park for the night. Some enterprising van-lifers even maintain a membership at a nationwide health club and use the facilities in every city along the way.
For sleep, rest areas will allow motorists to stay for up to eight hours. Some camping sites in my home state can have free camping but they are a first come/first serve basis. You can always find a large parking lot that seems abandoned for a long nap. Walmart stores are becoming known among the van-life community as many seek out the dark corners of their parking lots for this purpose. Many van lifers will check out their “neighbors” to see what customized improvement or tricky gadgets they have come up with to make life easier.
Many have taken the van-life route simply to get away from all of the unneeded complexities of life. Don’t want a boss telling you how you aren’t worth your paycheck? Fire your boss and hit the road. Tired of a city telling you how tall your grass can be? Sell the house and let someone else mow the yard. Be who you are with all the freedom that comes with it.
What else can you do if your home has four tires and moves down the road. This is the lifestyle to see the world. First, you can travel through each state and see the beautiful scenery along the way. Next, you can hit all the lighthouses up and down the east or west coast. Whatever is calling you, you can find it.
Van-lifers tend to be a self-sufficient group of people. If you asked them, they would admit they didn’t know enough when they started out. But, by being someone who could teach themselves, they have learned along the way and many of them would never trade what they have for what they had. It isn’t for everyone, but it is already for a lot of people who never dreamed of this lifestyle just a few years before they tried it.