Van Life: answering the call to adventure

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PAGE UPDATED: 20.02.2022

When Foster Huntington published ‘Van Life’ in 2017 he captured in words and pictures a movement that was already building momentum.

As we flicked through the pages, looking at the incredible photos and reading people’s stories, we were really excited to have joined the ‘van life community’. The book’s launch coincided with us acquiring our old motorhome, as if it was written in the stars.

In this section of our site we will…

  • Share our personal van life story and tell you how we got £1500 off the price of our old van
  • Explore a gallery of over 100 RVs and campervans that will help you choose the right type for you
  • Give you our top tips if you’re thinking about buying an older motorhome
  • Showcase 2 fantastic resources for campervan conversion
  • Share our thoughts on campsites, pub stop-overs, Britstops, and the laws on wild-camping in your motorhome
  • And we’ll delve deeper into van life by exploring the culture, psychology and spirituality of this growing movement

Let’s dive into van life and answer the call to adventure…

Image: Drew Bernard

The #vanlife movement

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’.

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. 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, why keep going? After all, as shown in the movie Nomadland, it’s not always sunshine and blue skies.

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?
  • Maybe vanlife answers our urge to travel, programmed into our DNA?
  • 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 van-lifing for some time.

What’s almost certain is that underneath those motivations, there will be an 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.

Image: Balkan Campers

Van life as a call to adventure

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 mid to 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.

How to get started in van life

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 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.

If this makes van life sound like some kind of utopia, you might be chomping at the bit wondering how to get started (if you’ve not already done so).

Tips to begin your #vanlife journey

So, how to begin?

Here are some suggestions…

Van life in the UK

When you get started in van life and acquire your own van (or hire a motorhome for a week or two) the adventures really begin!

But questions will abound…

People often ask us things like, “Where can you park a motorhome in England overnight?”

Or, “Is it legal to sleep anywhere in a campervan?”

As an alternative to campsites you can wild camp but this has become a contentious issue since the pandemic. Is it legal? Is it safe? Can you wild camp anywhere in Scotland?

Find out about the latest situation in the UK in our page on wild camping in a motorhome.

wild camping in a motorhome

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.

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.

van life: motorhome hobos playing music in the sunset

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