Instead of being satisfied with a seemingly stable yet narrowly confined life, many people are opting to live off-grid in a “mobile house”. It is undeniable that many people have grown to love this lifestyle that has been dubbed “van life”.
FOSTER HUNTINGTON – THE GODFATHER OF VAN LIFE
When thinking of van life, many people imagine that it is the only option for those with insufficient funds to rent an apartment so they accept to live temporarily in a small vehicle. However, this is not true. With the motto “home is where you park it”, the lifestyle has very much become a thrilling experience for travel enthusiasts.
Foster Huntington is the pioneer of this exciting nomad life. He is the creator of the infamous #vanlife hashtag on Instagram. In 2011, he quit his job at the Manhattan Group in America, bought himself a van, turned it into a mobile home and began life as a nomad on the open road. He drove to many parts of the United States and freely did what he wanted from anywhere as long as there was enough vacant space for parking. On his journey, Huntington tapped into a community of like-minded individuals looking to explore nature at their own pace and live a freeing lifestyle.
In the book titled “Van Life: Your Home on the Road”, Huntington collected the best photos from the nomadic community as well as informative and topical interviews with a few members to learn more about their lives in vans. The posted photos describe a life where you are free to do yoga, watch the magnificent sunrise on the beach, spend the nights in the desert and watch the glimmering starry sky through the window.
Huntington currently feels that he is “too old” to continue this adventure, so he opted to settle down in western Washington. Although he has left the journey of freedom, his successors – the future generations – continue to follow and search for their ideal lifestyle on the vast roads.
VAN LIFE ESSENTIALS
Lucas and Willa, an American couple often share their impressive travel photos on Instagram @Viathebay and get many likes. Two years ago, Lucas and Willa began planning to travel throughout the United States after getting married. The inspiration for the trip originated as they stumbled across the #vanlife hashtag on Instagram with millions of related posts. To make their dream come true, the couple bought an old van that had more than 400,000km on the clock for a few thousand dollars. Afterwards, they refurbished the vehicle. From a van specializing in transporting goods, it was equipped fully with necessary facilities for a mobile house.
At that time, Willa was on a break before starting a new job in San Francisco. Lucas was working as a customer manager at an analytics firm, so he could work remotely. Therefore, they made a plan for a journey where they can live where they want and meet who they want to meet.
Departing from New York City, Lucas and Willa travelled through 14 states of the USA in 4 months, before stopping in San Francisco. Living in a van helped them save money on accommodation. They spent most of their expenses on enjoying food, visiting destinations or watching music and entertainment performances. The couple spends around USD30 a day on essentials, including fuel. It was estimated that Lucas fueled 33 times during the trip.
Lucas also gave advice for those who are also interested in living the van life. “There are lots of guidebooks on how to prepare for this lifestyle, but you just need to get out there and do it. Selling or packing up your favourite belongings, buying a van and planning an itinerary are the things that people find most difficult. As long as you prepare adequately for your trip, the rest will become clear. However, as long as you are ready to make your trip, the next steps will gradually be clearer. Ultimately, if you really want to hit the road, start saving to buy a van and get going as soon as possible.”
WANDER AROUND THE FAVOURITE DESTINATIONS FOR A FREE LIFE
It is undeniable that van life has always appealed to travel enthusiasts because the lifestyle offers a fascinating insight into the world. Hannah Jenkins – a Scotland girl and Oliver Whittaker – an Australian boy shared their travel experiences on Instagram @whoknowswwherenext. Their story is also an authentic example of this epic lifestyle that many people desire. Having the opportunity to meet while working in England, the couple later bought a Volkswagen Transporter T5 and renovated it turn into a small mobile home. Inside the car, they designed not only a lovely little sleeping area but also a kitchen and a dining table.
Hannah revealed: “A lot of our friends have started to buy houses and settle down. However, for us, it is not the right choice. We have a true passion for life on the road, not stability or daily repetition.” Hence, the couple began their own adventure. They took a four-week trip to Scotland, then travelled around England, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium. During their journey, they had an amazing variety of fulfilled and unforgettable moments.
They started every new day relaxed, they drank cups of coffee and had breakfast together. Things that before van life they didn’t have time to do together. The couple travelled across European countries, sometimes they woke up in the cold snowy mountains or by a sparkling lake. What’s more, Hannah and her boyfriend often chose their next destination just two days in advance according to their interests, for instance, climbing, kayaking or swimming.
After seven months of travelling around Europe by van, the couple decided to move to Australia. Here, Hannah and Oliver embrace van life every weekend. Van life does not mean that you must spend your whole life travelling around the world. Van life allows you to explore and see the world differently. Driving around natural surroundings in a van at the weekends or taking a long journey to explore places on your bucket list, van life will show you a different side of life.
Thi Thi | Wanderlust Tips