PAGE UPDATED: 08.11.2022
When Foster Huntington published ‘Van Life’ in 2017 he captured in words and pictures the dawn of a new era in alternative living. The book’s launch coincided with us acquiring our old motorhome, as if it was written in the stars.
Since then, through choice or necessity, an ever increasing number of people worldwide have taken to living in motorhomes, old buses, and RVs.
And with the ‘cost of living crisis’ set to ensnare us in a worldwide recession, we expect the trend will continue throughout the rest of this decade. Maybe there’s no going back to bricks and mortar?
On this page we’d like to share with you how we got started in van life on a budget – and how you could do the same.
Let’s dive into van life and answer the call to adventure…
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The growing trend toward #vanlife
Whether full or part-time, van life has now developed into a movement that offers an alternate way of living, free from the every-day world of the 9 to 5 and the ‘system’.
For sure, societies the world over have always had a maverick element – those ‘alternative’ types who wanted to do things different, to go against the grain; look back a hundred years and you’ll see some folks living in vans and buses even then. The nomadic or gypsy gene might be in us all.
However, there is no doubt that in the 21st century the van life movement is growing. All over the world, people are walking away from the ‘American Dream’ and seeking alternative ways of living, driven by need or necessity or something even more urgent springing up from deep within.
Ask yourself, ‘Why am I interested in van life?’
Or, if you’ve been a van-lifer for some time, ‘What keeps me going? After all, as shown in the movie Nomadland, it’s not always sunshine and blue skies.
So, why do people join van life?
So what’s really going on here? What is the allure of van life and RV living? Why are thousands of folks all over the globe deciding to live in vans?
We’ve pondered this question a lot, spending hours wondering what really drove us to join van life…
- Is van life about escapism – a desperate attempt to flee the drudgery of the 9 to 5?
- Is it about returning to a more natural way of living – nomadic, like our ancestors?
- Maybe it’s an attempt to break free from the ‘system’ and the norms of society?
- Perhaps folks are fed up with paying off 30 year mortgages?
- Perhaps it’s driven by necessity?
Whatever the reasons, it’s worth exploring your own motivations, whether you’re just starting out or have been living on the road for some time.
What’s almost certain is that underneath those motivations, there will be a need, tagged with a powerful emotion. We do van life because it makes us feel a certain way.
The van itself – and the journeys you take – are the catalyst for a new way of being in the world.
Van life as a call to adventure and a new way of living
To us, van life means all of these things…and more…
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 trippy-hippy days of the late 60s.
We’ve wondered about The Merry Pranksters’ psychedelic bus trips and Jack Kerouac’s long drives back and forth 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 van life (and the call to adventure) is in our very DNA, as if deep down in our souls there is a reptilian hunger waiting to be satiated.
The ‘call to adventure’ – a term coined by mythologist Joseph Campbell – forces us out of our comfort zones and into the wild unknown territories of far flung places.
Perhaps it is what drove Chris McCandless into the wilderness, the story told poignantly and beautifully in the film and book, Into the Wild.
Van life as an inner journey
Getting a motorhome or campervan is just the start of that call to adventure. Then, each journey will take you some place new. And we’re not just talking about geographical 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, a whole heap of gratitude for life.
In this way, van life is as much an internal experience as it is external. The roads out there reflect the new pathways in your mind.
Perhaps this is the ultimate reason people take to living in a van; to feel more connected to the earth and to honour a calling from deep within.
Tips to begin your own #vanlife journey
If this makes van life sound like some kind of utopia, you might be chomping at the bit to get started (if you’ve not already done so).
So, how to begin?
Explore these pages to find out more…
- Find out how we got £1500 off the asking price of our old van
- Take a look at our vintage vans and motorhomes galleries where you’ll see over 100 older RVs and campervans that will give you an idea of what’s on the market
- If you’re interested in campervan conversion (where you turn a shell of a panel van into a cosy home on wheels) make sure you check out the two great resources we recommend
- Grab a copy of our latest ebook, How to Find Your Perfect Motorhome, that talks you through 4 simple steps to your ideal RV
- If you’re already on the road, read about our thoughts on campsites and the laws about wild camping in the UK
- Find out how to prepare your motorhome for the summer season
- If you’re going fulltime, you’ll want to know how to winterise your motorhome
- And if you are worried about the cost of living, read our blog post on vanlife money saving tips and advice
What about hiring a motorhome?
Of course, if you don’t want to dive into van life at the deep end, you might like to hire a motorhome for a week or two. After all, buying a motorhome can be a huge expense.
RV rental gives you the chance to ‘try before you buy’ – and you should get an epic road trip out of it as well!
But there is a whole heap of stuff you’ll want to know before you go renting a campervan or motorhome.
See our motorhome rental tips and find out what you need to know before you hit the road…
Tell us about your van life adventures!
So, 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.
Please get in touch if you’d like to share your story or if you have any questions. We’d love to hear how you got started, your best road trips and of course, find out about your motorhome.
And if your RV is more than 20 years old and you’d like us to add it to our vintage vans and motorhomes gallery just send us a couple of photos via email.
Already a full-time van-lifer? Check out our van life health and wellbeing section to help you stay sane on the road
What is a Hobo? Why are we Motorhome Hobos? Read our blog post!