I just watched Sergei Boutenko's documentary about #vanlife: "Van Boom"
This video is a GREAT overview of the vehicles, drivers, and industry!
Unlike some of the people interviewed who are full-time van dwellers, I believe the majority of van owners don't actually LIVE the "van life". Instead, they use their vehicles for part-time and seasonal escapes. Their vans are their "Escape Vehicles" that transport them to destinations for exploration and outdoor activities.
For both full-time and part-time van dwellers, the KEY to a satisfying #vanlife is to NOT live in your van!
Your van is where you sleep. It hauls your gear (climbing, bikes, hunting, paddle sports, etc.) You may cook inside some of the time, but you primarily LIVE outdoors. The van is the VEHICLE that makes your outdoor life both possible AND economical.
People of all age groups have adopted camper vans to make traveling cheap, spontaneous, and self-contained. When a sketchy motel costs $75 to over $100 per night, travel is far from economical. When a greasy meal at McDonald's costs a couple or a family $20 or $30 your travel budget is blown-up quickly.
With a camper van, you carry your clean and comfortable bed, pillow and bedding with you. You actually eat healthier with fresh foods from your cooler. You never have to pack and unpack your clothes. And you have access to the best spots to spend the night, often off the paved roads where normal highway travelers are excluded.
The GoneCamper Dodge Grand Caravan "boondocking" outside of McCarthy, Alaska
The GoneCamper Dodge Grand Caravan (shown above) transported us to Alaska and back - providing a comfortable place to sleep, a traveling kitchen, and an economical way to travel nearly 10,000 miles at 30 MPG's.
Finally, as Sergei demonstrated with his Sprinter van, part-time van campers may have "real lives" when not traveling. Vans are the perfect vehicles for work and/or family when you are not traveling. Like Sergei, our GoneCamper Chevy Express has a removable bed so that the van can be easily transformed back into a work vehicle when needed. Unlike Sergei, we also chose a standard height van for easy of driving and parking - and more stealth for urban camping.
The GoneCamper Chevy Express camping at Bryce Canyon National Park
"Van Life" is definitely here to stay - unless environmental wacko legislators make the manufacture of vans illegal. There simply is no other vehicle that is so versatile! Building van beds and kitchens has allowed us to meet some amazing people who are seeking the maximum freedom and opportunities to live outside!