The idea of travelling in a van certainly isn't a new phenomenon. The original van dwellers may well have been beatnik writer Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters who embarked on their drug-fuelled odyssey across America in a school bus in 1964, aswell as a generation of hippies in the 1960's who would don their VW campers and set off on crosscountry roadtrips and congregate at festivals, spreading love and music as they went. Since then, there has always been a sense of nostalgia, a yearning for freedom to travel that can only be fulfilled by a life on the road.
There has been a steady rise in people who are deciding to reject a 9-5 lifestyle, haul what few of their possessions they can fit into a van and live the simple life of a traveller. But why are more and more people choosing to live in their vans full time?
For most, it's the simplicity of van life. Living minimally, without need for many possessions or a daily routine. Just living with less. There's no need for big TVs or lavish kitchens or any of the other shit we're told we should buy. No expectations to meet.
Moving into a van with no more than 60 square foot of space means you really have to prioritise what you need. And there's something therapeutic about realising you don't need half of the things you own. You could start the van life tomorrow with a mattress, a tin kettle and a change of clothes.
Then there's the freedom, the unencumbered sense of liberation in the knowledge that you can pack you your stuff and just drive.
Anyone who;s ever taken a year out to go backpacking around a foreign country will know the sense of uninhibited freedom travelling gives, relish in the culture shock of a daily changing scenery. Living in a van makes you independent, gives you the autonomy to go where you want, do what you want when you want to and how you want to.
Furthermore, the van life is adaptable, Anyone from surfers to photographers, bloggers, climbers, hikers can take on this lifestyle and fit it to suit their needs.
What other reasons could there be to give up everything and start a new life in a van? Well, maybe it's the ever-increasing cost of living, The new generation of van-dwellers are rejecting the trope of normality: get a degree to get a job to pay for a mortgage for a house you'll spend the rest of your life paying for. You'll be paying £800 a month all for a house without wheels. The vanlifers can buy a van and turn it into a mobile home for over 1/100th of the price of a house or just a couple month's wages. You can live self-sufficiently, rent-free, wherever you want. I'd take breakdowns over water bills any day.
Travelling in a van also affords the lifestyle travellers have always dreamed of, Why buy an expensive plane ticket and spend £100 a night on hotels or resorts when you can stick £20 in the tank and be on your way? A van is your accommodation, transport and meal out all in one- you can literally have your cake and eat it. Sleeping in a hotel room or camping under the stars? Eating out at a restaurant or eating good cooked outside on a campfire? The modern nomad lifestyle rejects the norms of holidaying and gives the ultimate sense of freedom.
The van life: it's affordable, simple and open to all.
Ken Kesey - The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test