Van Life – the call to adventure

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There is a growing trend towards alternative ways of living and van life seems to be at the heart of it.

Whether full or part-time, van life has now developed into a culture all of its own that is somehow separate from the every-day world of the 9 to 5 and the ‘system’.

On this page we’re going to delve deeper into van life and explore the culture, psychology and spirituality of this growing movement.

So let’s explore van life…

VW T4 motorhome at Walberswick, Suffolk

The van life movement

When Foster Huntington published his book Van Life in 2017 he encapsulated a movement that was already building momentum. The book’s launch coincided with us acquiring our van, Cree, as if it was written in the stars.

As we flicked through the pages, looking at the incredible photos and reading people’s stories, it confirmed to us even more that we were on the right track.

Being in the van felt like home, right from the off, and it still does.

But if you haven’t got your van yet, this is the question…

What is driving that search? What are you hoping to get from van life?

Understanding your motivations to join van life

We’ve pondered this question a lot, spending hours wondering what really drove us to join van life.

Was it about escapism? Was it about returning to a more natural way of living, nomadic, if you like, from the times of our ancient ancestors?

Maybe van life is about freedom from the system and the drudgery of the 9 to 5? Perhaps it’s an alternative to paying off a 25-year mortgage or never-ending rent?

And it’s the same if you’ve been doing this for some time…

As a seasoned van-lifer, what drives you to keep going? Is it through choice or necessity? Perhaps being in the van meets a deep need in you, maybe the need for autonomy or a sense of freedom?

Is it simply about the joy of jumping in the van and the thrill that comes from taking a road trip for a week or two?

Whatever the reasons, it’s worth exploring your motivations. You can bet your bottom dollar that underneath those motivations, you’ll be hoping that owning a van helps you feel a certain way.

The van itself – and the adventures you take – are the catalyst for a new way of being in the world.

Van life as a call to adventure

To us, van life means all of these things…and more…

Nearly five years on from getting our VW Cree, we still get a buzz every time we turn the key and set out, ‘On the Road Again’ – as Canned Heat famously sang in the hippy-trippy days of the mid to late 60s.

We’ve wondered about The Merry Pranksters’ psychedelic bus trips and Jack Kerouac’s long drives east and west right across America in his famous ‘beat generation’ book On the Road.

What fuelled the urge to do such things?

These stories and songs tell us that, maybe – just maybe – van life and travelling is in our very DNA. Perhaps the nomadic gene is still alive and well deep down in our souls, a reptilian hunger needing to be satiated.

Who knows?

There seems to be a ‘call to adventure’, as if life itself is asking you to get out of your comfort zone and into the wild unknown territories of far flung places. Perhaps that is what drives us to mostly avoid campsites and go wild camping instead?

Perhaps it is what drove Chris McCandless into the wilderness, the story told poignantly and beautifully in the film and book, Into the Wild.

into the wild film image 142 school bus
Photo source: Allocine

A deeper sense of meaning

In our article The Hero’s Journey in a Motorhome we speak about how a deeper sense of meaning is met when life is enriched by stepping out of our comfort zones. Travelling will do this for you.

Indeed, it seems necessary to step into unknown territory at certain stages through life. Sometimes we are forced to do so.

Getting a motorhome or campervan is just the start. Then, each journey will take you some place new. And we’re not just talking about location.

Sure, there’s the essential practical stuff you need to know. But more than that, every trip will affect you mentally and/or spiritually in some way, feeding your mind and soul with new challenges, new learnings, knowledge, wisdom and, hopefully, gratitude.

A road trip is as much an internal experience as it is external.

This is the invitation of van life. This is the call to adventure.

Getting started in van life

So, if you’re still at the pre-van life stage, make sure you download our free ebook that will help you choose the right van for you and give you lots of tips for your early days on the road.

motorhome hobos free ebook

If you’re interested in campervan conversion make sure you check out the two great resources we recommend that will help you turn an empty shell of a van into a beautiful home on wheels.

And if you haven’t bought your own van yet, have you considered the option to ‘try before you buy’ to give you a taste of van life? There are lots of RV rental companies out there, some better than others. We’ve done some research to save you the hassle…

Find out what you need to know about motorhome hire.

Whether you’ve got your own van or will be hiring one, you’ll want to go places which will involve either staying on campsites or going off-grid.

For our thoughts on UK campsites go here. We talk about uber-organised, warden-controlled sites and those more chaotic – ‘do as you please’ kind of places. Then there are the smaller ‘CS’ and ‘CL’ sites to consider.

The hot topic at the moment is wild camping. Is it legal? Is it safe? What’s the latest situation in the UK?

Find out more here about wild camping in an RV, campervan or motorhome.

And if you have time take a moment to check out what makes the Motorhome Hobos’ van life possible – our old VW T4 motorhome – without whom none of this would be possible. She really is our teacher, guru and travel guide rolled into one!

Tell us about your van life adventures!

Where are you on your own van life journey?

Wherever you’re at – beginner or experienced – we’d love to hear your stories. Indeed, that’s one of the great things about van life – meeting others on the road and sharing tales.

It’s something else that makes van life even more enriching.

Please get in touch if you’d like to share your story or if you have any questions.

And if you own a pre 2000 van and you’d like us to add a picture of it to our vintage vans and motorhomes gallery feel free to send it via email.

We hope to see you on the road.

Two old motorhomes (and motorhomers!) in Scotland
Making new van life friends on the road in Bonnie Scotland

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