VAN BOOM: Why Are Vans Trending & Is Van Life The New American Dream?

VAN BOOM: Why Are Vans Trending & Is Van Life The New American Dream?

(upbeat electronic music) – I bought my first van
in the summer of 2013 because I was sick of
wasting money on hotel rooms. In addition to being a film
maker, I’m also an author. I’ve written several
books and I used to go on book tours all the time, which basically means that I would spend between 150 and 200
days a year travelling. And it also means that I
used to spend between 15,000 and $20,000 on hotel stays. Now the worst part about it was that I didn’t really even get
to enjoy these hotel rooms, I barely set foot in them actually. Typically how it would go is
I would go to a town or a city and I would teach a class,
I would do a book signing, and at the very end of the night I’d go back to the hotel room
and I would just literally throw my bones on the bed and go to sleep. Six hours later, I’d wake
up, I’d get in the car and go to the next location. So this expense sucked,
it was 100% unnecessary, and the rational part of my brain told me that something had to change. Prior to purchasing a Sprinter van I did quite a bit of deliberating about which vehicle would be best for me. I needed a car that was both volumous, I needed a lot of room for
books and heavy film equipment, but I also needed fuel economy. I needed a car that I could crisscross the entire United States in and I wouldn’t just get
pillaged at the gas pump. Initially I had my eye
set on a VW Eurovan, but after perusing countless auto listings I quickly learned that a 20
year old beat up microbus with over 200,000 miles on it, sells for between 20 and 25 grand. This seemed like a ridiculous
amount to pay for an old van that could fall apart at any moment. So I kept looking. I looked into other options as well, such as trucks and campers,
pull-behind trailers and RVs, but was ultimately
deterred by high mileage, low fuel economy, lack of reliability, and/or hefty price tags. Then during a work trip to Europe I discovered the Sprinter
van and boy was it glorious. There was nothing embarrassing or shameful about this van whatsoever. It was spacious, it was practical, and yet it was somehow classy,
and I instantly wanted one. So when I returned home
from my overseas trip, I googled Sprinter van, and I went down to my local Mercedes
dealership and I bought one. I remember feeling extremely nervous because I’d never bought
a new vehicle before, let alone one with a $40,000 price tag, but again the money that I was
shucking out on hotel stays helped justify the purchase. I have owned my van for five years and I’m proud to report
that I’ve never had one ounce of regret, there’s
been no buyer’s remorse. Out of all the different
vehicles that I’ve owned in the past, this van is
by far my favorite vehicle, and I absolutely love it. I like to compare my van to the transition from a T9 cell phone to a cell
phone with a full keyboard. So if you recall, back in
the day we used to have those brick Nokia phones, and on those phones you had
to hit each button three times to get a desired letter. So texting was a pain in the butt. And then we all got
phones with full keyboards which means that we could
now write texts much quicker, it was much more convenient, (imitates explosion) our minds were blown, and it was evident that
we’re never going back to the old ways. It just seems archaic
now to do that, right? Same thing with a van. When you experience
first hand what it’s like to be able to freely move
around in your vehicle, to get up from the driver’s
seat and then go into the back maybe when it’s raining
or snowing outside, and yet you’re comfortable,
you’re standing upright, you’re warm and cozy. This is an incredible feeling and you just can’t replicate
it in other vehicles. So once you experience the
comfort and the convenience of a van, you can’t go back
to a sedan or a station wagon, it’s just not happening. It goes without saying
that paying for hotel rooms is now a thing of the past for me. Now when I travel I stay in my vehicle, and in doing this I save heaps of dough, and I’m way more comfortable
because I get to sleep in my own bed, surrounded by
my own smells every night. In addition to being great work vehicles, vans are also fantastic for leisure. Whether you’re going
adventuring with your buddies or visiting relatives in another town, traveling by way of van allows
you to be more spontaneous, more flexible, self-reliant, and free. Presently I don’t live
in my van full-time, I use it more like a weekender. So my girlfriend has
a house, I live there. And then whenever we
want to go adventuring, we fill up the van, and we go. Whether that be for a
weekend, or a week or a month, this works really well for us. And so we like to think
about it kind of like in spaceship terms, where
the house in the mothership, and the van is the rocket, and every so often the van has
to resupply like rockets do, and then we fly off somewhere
else and go exploring, go have fun, go to work, whatever. During the first couple
years of van ownership, one thing that I remember very distinctly is that people used to
stop me on the street, random strangers would
stop me on the street and they’d ask me a plethora
of different questions. They would ask me things like,
what kind of van is that? Do you like your van? What kind of gas mileage do you get? Where do you get it? How much was it? Et cetera, et cetera. And then one day all the questions stopped and people just stopped
coming up to me, period. And it was kind of strange
’cause it happened consistently and then, boom, nothing. After pondering on this for a while, I figured that the shift
had to do with the fact that there are more vans on the road. While vans and van life have been around since the early ’60s,
we are currently seeing one of the biggest van
booms in history right now. (crowd cheering) If you look at commercial
van sales in America alone since about 2016, you’ll
notice that Ford Transits, they’re the leaders in the U.S., they sell about 14,000 vans a month. Chevy Express sells 6,000 vans a month. Ford E-Series, 5.8. Dodge Promaster is next at 3.3 thousand. Mercedes-Benz is close behind at 3,000. And the Nissan NV series sells about 1.7 thousand vans per month. So that’s roughly 33,000
vans per month total. And 405,000 vans per
year in the U.S. alone. I’m no expert, but 405,000
new vans on the road per year seems like a lot of vans. Maybe that’s why it feels
like vans are everywhere these days, ’cause they literally are. Globally vans appear
to be trending as well. In the first half of 2017,
Mercedes-Benz reported that it sold nearly 200,000 vans, mainly Sprinters and Metrises worldwide. This marked the fifth year in
a row that their van division experienced significant growth, and according to expert projections this trend will only continue to increase. In addition to these sales figures, today there’s way more
resources about vans, and van life than ever before. There are literally countless
blogs, and websites, and social media accounts
and YouTube videos about vans and so people have a lot more ways that they can learn about van life, which means they no longer
have to stop random strangers on the street like myself, and get information directly from them. So what is this all about? Why are vans booming? Clearly there’s a need out there that these vehicles are meeting, and yet the answer to
this is anybody’s guess. In fact, even Mercedes-Benz has no idea. And I know this because they
actually sent me an e-mail where they said, Sergei,
why is it that you think vans are booming? So when they’re asking
somebody like myself, I can only assume that they have questions as to why this is happening
and what’s going on. Major publications such as
the New Yorker, Time, and Vice have their own speculations. In one way or another they all
claim that vans are trending because van life is
the new American dream. This intrigues me for several reasons. Number one, it’s a big bold statement, that I automatically want to challenge. And number two, it very
well might be true. Is van life really the
next American dream? If so then why? Are people moving into vans
because they can no longer afford to live in traditional houses? Or are they simply shifting their values because they’re finding
that alternative lifestyles make them more fulfilled and happy? Maybe that’s what’s going on. If this is the case, does van living actually make people
more happy and fulfilled? Is this a sustainable lifestyle? I want to know if van life is
a trend that will someday pass and we’ll think, oh my God, I can’t believe we ever
thought this was cool. Or perhaps this is a viable
lifestyle that’s here to stay. I’ve decided to act on this
curiosity and make a movie that investigates this van boom. This summer I’m gonna
jump into my Sprinter van and I’m gonna go wherever
the wind blows me to try and interview as many
different people as I can that are in some way, shape
or form, tied to vans. I want to sit down with as
many different demographics as I can, this being young
couples, seasoned vanners, solo travelers, nomadic families, companies that manufacture
vans and van products and anyone else that’s
willing to talk to me, and I want to get down to the bottom of why vans are so popular. I have no clue whatsoever
if this is a good idea, if this movie will be interesting, but I have this genuine
curiosity, and I’m going for it. – Okay, so I suppose you want a van tour. Let’s check it out. All right, this is our
cozy little Sprinter van. This is our bed, it’s
a twin, so we snuggle. Underneath we have storage
for our camping stove, extra camping gear, clothes. And then up top we have cargo nets, which we can store our
curtains, our window shades, or more clothes. We also have some little utility racks and cute hangers, as well
as some sparkle lights. Let’s go around back and
I’ll show you some more. So in the back here we
have our kettle bells. This is how we work out
when we’re on the road. And they also provide extra
weight and traction for the van. So this is another view
of the van from the back. As you can see, it’s super simple. We don’t live in the van,
we take it for weekend trips so this simple setup
works really great for us. Okay, on the back of the
van we have a ladder, it’s made by Prime Design. And it gets us to the top, let’s go. Here we have a little deck
made of plastic pallets. It’s perfect for stargazing, taking naps, or having picnics, and
extra storage if needed. Also on the roof we have a Road Shower. It’s exactly what it sounds
like, it’s a shower for the road and it gives us the opportunity
to clean off after surfing or being in the lake, or clean the car. Whatever we desire. So everything I just showed
you on top of the roof is attached to the roof via our roof rack. The AluRack by Prime Design. The last thing I want to
show you is our VertiRack. It allows us to store our paddle boards on the outside of the van, which frees up space
inside of the van for us. So that’s our van in a nutshell. – So today is June 2nd. We’re officially kicking off
the production of Van Boom and we start filming today. And we’re heading from Tacoma,
Washington up to Bellingham to take part in a van life festival. This festival is hosted by Freedom Vans. They’re an outfitter that
customizes Sprinter vans, and Ford vans, every other kind of van. And so we’re gonna go
meet some cool people, see some cool vans, and
hopefully gather some interviews. – Okay. What do I think we’re gonna learn while making this documentary? I hope to learn the real
truth about van life because on Instagram and social media, it just looks so gosh darn fun. And I want to know if
it’s really that amazing and how much you have to make
to afford that kind of life. And what kind of jobs you can
have to live that kind of life ’cause it seems like
an expensive lifestyle. And to have an expensive
lifestyle you need a job but if you’re living out of your van you can’t always have a traditional job. I don’t think I want to
live in a van myself. Though maybe someday it
would be a possibility, but I think it’s interesting
to know all of this because there’s a lot of people out there who are considering it and a lot of people who are considering buying
a van over buying a house. I just bought a house, so I’m gonna live in the
house and not the van, but maybe other people will
choose the other way around. I’m just a little confused sometimes because a lot of people when
they go into living in a van they say it’s because they can’t afford to buy a house or live in a house. When you buy a van it costs, if you buy a new van it costs
roughly like $40,000, Sergei? – Yep.
– Yeah. Okay, and then if you
want a really nice build, like something comfortable
where you have a kitchen and you can actually live in it, that’s at least another 60 grand. I would think. Probably more, but, so
you’re up to a hundred grand in this van. I live in an area that is appreciating so if I decide to sell
the house in five years I will make money off
of living in my home. If you have a van they just
break down, you put on miles, so there’s no way that
you’re gonna make money off of your van, you’re only
gonna lose money in the end. So I don’t see the benefit. Or I don’t see how people say it’s cheaper than buying your own home. Hopefully through this documentary we’ll get to the bottom of that and people can explain why it’s
cheaper than owning a home. (sweet chiming music) – [Sergei] Who says you
can’t have a lot of shoes if you live in a van? – My name’s Tom, I run a
company with my partner Kyleigh called Freedom Vans. And we are all about giving people chances to live off the grid,
sidestep mortgage if you want. You can live out of your
van, have solar power, have all your amenities,
comfortable living space, all in a tiny little space on wheels. Vans are popular and
gaining popularity because they take the automotive
industry and basically combine all of the genres into one space that performs as well as each of them, and actually outperforms a lot of them. They’re people carriers,
they’re efficient on fuel, they can load a lot of job
materials, heavy equipment. They can get from A to B comfortably. They do it all. I got inspired for the van life movement because of housing crisis. I’m a dog owner, but I’m
not a wealthy homeowner at the same time, and so when
I tried to move from one lease to find a new place I
couldn’t get anything. Nobody would sign me up. You have a dog, you can’t rent here. And then I had a van that I used to travel for mountain bike racing
and I started feeling like I wasn’t gonna have a catch net to land in when my lease ended, and I was like, I’m not gonna be homeless. So I took matters into my own hands and I built myself a weekender. I built a little Ford
Econoline from the mid ’90s that was an old conversion van. I gutted it and I put a desk in there that I used for a counter. I built a power system
and stuffed a fridge and cut in a sink and glued
a microwave to the desk. It didn’t know how to do pumps, but I found a pond pump and it worked, so that was kind of how
it all started for me. And I just felt so liberated when I figured out I could comfortably live for a month out of a van. For one whole month I didn’t have a house. So then I realized van life was sweet. It was 100% liberating, I felt
no longer like I was trapped by expensive real estate
that I couldn’t afford. I felt like, for a low investment I could get a comfortable space and that’s sort of stair-stepped me up to doing that same thing
for other people now. A lot of the things that we do build are for people who are
going on weekenders, they’re a weekend warrior, they want to go traveling,
get out of town. Stress relief, vacation and stuff. That’s important and it
matters a lot to everybody, so you need to be able to do that. But then there’s also the
people like traveling nurses who are going somewhere
for seven weeks at a time. They’ve got a traveling stipend and they’re getting paid for housing. My first full-time client-based
freedom van was Dana. She has her van named Amelia. She lives out of it in California. And that is a good example of a new way of thinking about how you can approach your living space. She pays about 700 bucks a month is her van plus conversion payment. It was all worked in on the same purchase. So her van purchase and her
conversion were lumped into one and the cost is about 700 a month. She owns it via the bank,
but in an area where a one bedroom apartment is $2,200. The San Francisco Bay
area is 2,300 to 2,600 for a one bedroom apartment. So her one bedroom van in the
spaces she was traveling in is 700 a month, and that’s
a pretty good system when you look at the numbers. – I think that economically it makes sense and there’s a lot of
people turning to van life for that reason, but the
motivator is more that our millennials are all
coming of age to buy things. And they’re seeing all these vans and these epic photos on Instagram and they see that and
then they want to live it. – [Sergei] The pictures you see of people living on Instagram and
they’re just like always having just a joyous time, everything’s perfect– – Yeah. – [Sergei] How does van
life on social media differ from real van life? – Yeah, I think that social
media just gives you a glimpse of what van life is. Yes, you’re in all of
these beautiful places and you’re having all these experiences, but I think what I miss the most was experiencing them with other people. And that’s definitely becoming easier as more people are into van life and more people are
traveling with their friends. But when we were on the road,
our friends were more grounded and couldn’t necessarily
travel everywhere with us. So I missed just having people that I saw all the time. And that community feeling. So it’s nice to see people
who are doing van life are building those communities, but again, that’s just a
glimpse on social media. I’m not sure how that actually
translates into real life. It didn’t translate for me. – [Kiley] And what about
the aspect of social media that’s like everyone posts
their like beautiful photos and it just looks like so idealistic. Is it really like that, like? – Yeah, so these beautiful photos, honestly van life brought me
to the most beautiful places and sometimes I think back
on my own photos like, I just need that right now. And I’m really fortunate
to live in a place that has all these
beautiful lakes and trees and I think that’s why we ended up here after traveling to so many places to see where we really wanted to be. Yeah, I just think back on some
of these photos that I took and how much I enjoyed those days. And those little glimpses,
there’s so much to those days that are actually not
portrayed in the photos. (light instrumental music) – So this is the Noggin van crib. It’s a 1995 Dodge old Transit
vehicle, we call her Rammie. We designed the bed, the kitchen. Everything so it would be
extremely useful and beneficial to our kind of lifestyle that
we thought we’d be living. And then in this back unit here, we’ve designed this huge kind
of box which is mainly storage but you can also have a
person or two sleep on this. This unit pops out, and the
cool thing about this is, her and I could both work
on our laptops all day. We have little cushions that you could sit on the wheel wells and so we built out these wood little things,
and then we have cushions, and then you could sit here
and work for eight hours. So it was extremely useful for
both of us to work and live. We both kind of had our
own spaces when we needed, which was great, which was
kind of like having a house or a separate room. Or you’d go to a coffee place or hop out of the van for a little bit. – [Sergei] What is the cost to van life? Everybody talks about
how much cheaper it is than house life. Did you do actual any calculations? – Oh yeah, oh yeah. – [Sergei] So what does van life cost? – So van life for us, like
so we had an apartment here in Bellingham at Darby. It was $1000 a month, then you
have internet and utilities and so it was about 13, 14 a month. And that was about two years ago. So we hopped in the van. We were spending, with
all of our bills together, and everything in our relationship, about three grand a month,
so we had a lot of bills. We had student debts and credit cards and starting the business,
and all this expense. We hopped in the van and
we were able to immediately get down to like 1500. And then we started looking
at our food expenses in LA. Well I have a problem
with sushi and really, I love Thai food and so we
were going out to eat a lot. And we’re like, okay can
really cut this down even more. Then we started cooking every day. Then we started getting into
the more of the vegan lifestyle and food, you know, fruits
and vegetables and raw organic kind of cooking, and that
really saved a lot of money. And so then we were down to
like a thousand bucks a month, even like 800 a month if
you don’t drive a whole lot. – [Sergei] Sweet, so if I
understand you correctly, you went from roughly $3,000 a month, – Yeah. – [Sergei] To instantly 1500, and then were able to go down– – To about a thousand, 800. And that was with a lot of travel and not being cheap on
organics and buying– – [Sergei] That’s a huge saving. – Proteins and stuff like that, so. – [Sergei] ‘Cause I’ve seen
some of these people on YouTube, like, oh van life’s so
cheap but now my coffee bill ’cause I hang out at coffee
shops has skyrocketed, so. – I had already been doing that, so that was already included in my costs. In Bellingham, I was going to (laughs) four to eight coffee meetings a day, and that really adds up. So what I would do in business meetings is I would take my Starbucks receipt, or Woods Coffee in Bellingham, and I would take it to
different meetings and say, “Hey, I bought one 30 minutes ago.” “I’m here every day, you guys see me.” So they got to know me, but I would try and save
a lot of money doing that, but LA, we would go to libraries, parks, beaches, you know, a lot of free Wi-Fi. Near malls, schools,
lot of things like that. Housing apartments. So we’d just bounce around like that and not try and go into coffee shops. – My name is Chris Paige Owens. Most people call me Ma,
from vanning at least. I live in Puyallup, Washington, I’ve been vanning since 1978. Traveled all over the United States and even into England with vanning. – [Sergei] So what does
vanning mean to you ’cause you’re like,
you’re, us young people, we’d say you’re the
original gangster, the OG. What does vanning mean to you? – It’s family. It’s friends. It’s life. You look around, you see the vans. Young people are coming back into it. There’s a lot of us old people,
I mean, I’m 71 years old. So, grandma and great grandma. But it’s fun. – [Sergei] Why did you get
into vanning originally, in the ’70s? – Somebody stopped us
on the road and says, “Hey, there’s a van
club meeting at Shakey’s “at seven o’clock on Thursday night.” So we went, and been vanning ever since. – [Sergei] Seems like vans are becoming more and more popular. Would you say that was true? – I would say that. A lot of these Sprinter vans, the vans are becoming more popular. A lot of people are living in
them because they can’t afford the houses, you know, and
they’re getting off the grid. Or just traveling, I mean,
do it when you’re young because when you get older
they call it the golden years, that doesn’t mean it is. I’m still waiting to see the gold. – [Sergei] And so can
you give us a tip or two of something you wish you would have known at the very beginning that
would have maybe saved you a little bit of headache? – We bought a brand new
van, Ford van in 1976. So what would I do different? I would have gone in 1976 to
some van runs and found out, like here, what they look like inside and what to do with the inside, ’cause ours was a blank screen type thing. And we put interior in it on our own and then we went to van events in ’78 and found out, oh we
should have done this, or we should have done that. The best thing to do is
go with a blank screen and see what to do. That’s the easiest way to find out. Make it yours, but you can
pick up ideas here or there. – [Sergei] Thank you so much, Ma. – Yes. – So the van rally just finished. That was literally my
first ever van event. And I have to say, I’m blown away by how genuine people were, how excited they were. I realized at the event that even though I’m in the van realm on
YouTube, and I make van videos, doing stuff on the internet by
yourself puts you in a vacuum and you never really get
to be part of the community if you only do that. For anything, whether that be vans or surfboarding or
skateboarding or whatever, I don’t think you can really
be part of the community unless you go out and meet
people that do the same thing, and actually shake their hand and look inside their vans. That’s really what makes that connection, what makes that tight knit. In this video I really
want to get to the bottom of why vans are trending. Some would say why they’re resurfacing, because they were a thing in the ’70s. And I keep attributing
it to this one thing, is it an economic reason. Is it adventure. What I think I’m gonna
learn in this documentary is that it’s all of the above. The van package is just
too good to pass up. It’s a truck, it’s an RV, it’s
a passenger car all in one. It allows you to be very
adventurous, it saves you money. It’s all of the above. So that’s my new
hypothesis moving forward. Next we’re heading to the Grand
Tetons to do more research at the Vanlife Diaries meet up. (light instrumental music) Car camping. This is why Sprinters rock. We got to a place kind of late. 10:30, 11. We didn’t have to set up any tents. We just hopped in the back,
over there, and we fell asleep. And then we woke up in the morning and we didn’t have to take down any tents. We just hopped in the van,
which we were already in, and we’re off. Okay, check it out you guys. There’s the van. And we’re gonna walk right over here. ♪ Dun du-dun, du-dun
du-dun, du-dun du-dun ♪ And there’s a nice little river. But when you feel it, it’s hot. It’s a hot spring river. There’s the van. Here’s our campsite. Hot spring river. So when you’re making breakfast in nature you always want to look around you because you might just find
some wild growing vegetables. This right here is wild onion. The easiest way to identify
an onion is by the smell. All onions smell the same,
just like a store-bought onion. And today we’re just gonna
harvest a few for our meal and we’re only gonna harvest the top. We’re gonna leave the roots intact so as not to disturb the plant too much. The seeds and fruits of
a plant are natures gift to the creature, to the
animal, to the human. And so it’s okay to take a couple, throw them in your meal, and it also makes your
meal more nutritious because they grow in top soil
that hasn’t been depleted. Their root systems are longer, so they’re like nature’s super food. Okay, update time. So Kiley and I are driving in the van, we’re heading to the
Vanlife Diaries van festival in Victor, Idaho. But I’ve been texting on the phone with Dave and Diane from
Aluminess this entire time, and they just agreed to sit down with me and give me an interview. So what this means is we
have to divert a little bit. And by a little bit I mean
like three to 500 miles out of our way. If you’re not familiar with Aluminess, they are a premium
company that manufactures racks and ladders for trucks and vans. Dave and Diane have been doing
this for many many years, they know all the ins
and outs of van life, and this is an opportunity
that I just can’t pass up. So this means that we
are probably not gonna be sleeping much in the next couple days because we now have to veer
north to Coeur d’Alene, which is a few hundred
miles out of our way. Then we’re gonna have to veer south back to our original destination,
which is Victor, Idaho. But you know what, I don’t even care because this is an
incredible opportunity and I just didn’t think I’d get it, whoo! I’m excited. – So, you wanted to know a
little bit about the van life and stuff, so I thought I’d
take you back to what I think is kind of at least a
decent starting point, and that is the Volkswagen camper van. And so that was around
for people to actually go camp in a van way back
in the ’60s I believe. I’m not sure exactly the first year. But a gentleman, Charles and
his dad started a company called Sportsmobile, in
I believe Austin, Texas. They also had a shop in Indiana and they scaled way up with Volkswagen, and then West Valley came on the picture, or was on there as well, and then they started doing
Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and so on. So that was kind of where the
whole van thing originally was in my mind started,
and then in about oh, ’91 or ’92 a gentleman Alan Feld, who actually owns Sportsmobile West, he had worked for me
when he was 20 years old in a stockroom at a
medical device company. And he went on to do some
other things beyond that, and one was sales, and he
ran into a sportsmobile, which was a van converted to a motor home, a class B motor home they call them, and he felt he wanted one. And he found out he had
to go to Texas to get one. And so he thought it’d be a
great idea to do a franchise or something in California, and Charles, who was the one who started
that, or owned it at the time, was not interested, didn’t
want to scale up again, didn’t want anything to
do with another business. Would just like to have
his little shop down there and build four or five
a month and that was it. And so Alan asked me to
go with him down there to talk to him and see if
we could talk him into it. So we grabbed on a plane
and went down there and Charles changed his tone
after talking to both of us and said okay, and gave us a go ahead. I chose not to do it
with Alan mainly because I didn’t want to lose a friend over stuff, and I’d done a big business for a group of open heart surgeons that, you know, I just don’t want to get
involved in that kind of stuff. So anyway, over the years Alan basically started making these vans
out of Chevies and Fords, and then he started looking
more at the younger people. Prior to that it was
kind of a retirement van. People would retire, get one of these, go see the national parks, stay
in a hotel once in a while, but they had some camp, and you know, small camping capability
but not a big motor home. So Alan started putting the big tires on, and hey you can go out in
the back country and so on. And then he got a company
called Quigley Motor Company to convert some to four-wheel drive. Quigley Motor Company’s back
in Manchester, Pennsylvania. And so they started making
them four-wheel drives for him, send him out an empty
van four-wheel drive, he’d convert it to the
whole pop top version like the one you saw out front. And then after about two
years all of a sudden there was a problem with four-wheel drive, the front ends were all
worn out, they were shaking, they were causing problems,
brakes were squeaking and so on. And they argued back and
forth about the problem, whose problem it was and
who was gonna fix it. And actually Quigley,
Mike Quigley back east, canceled all the warranties
on all the customers, sent them all a letter. Alan happened to call me up,
’cause I build the street rods and said, just tell me how to fix it. He’s really good on the marketing and customer service and sales and so on, but I’m kind of the nuts and bolts nut. And so I went up there
and took some apart, and flew back east,
worked with Mike Quigley, we redesigned the front end and so on. But one of the issues
was, they were putting these steel bumpers that
were mainly used on farms for pushing combines and stuff around that weighed three, 400 pounds, and the guy’s doing, you
know, 15, 30 miles an hour kind of thing. And so they were tearing up the front end as well as some other
issues that we solved. So I tried to get his suppliers to make them out of aluminum. They were quite rude about what type of a less than intelligent person would make something out of aluminum. If you wanted a beer can
or Japanese pot metal, go see Coors or Budweiser. So next thing you know I’m in my driveway with a sheet of aluminum
and a saw and a welder and I’m mumbling about those guys ’cause I’m trying to tell
them that fighter jets land at full throttle on a carrier and that’s lightweight material,
and it’s all about design. So I made some and took it
up and Sportsmobile liked it. I was retired at the
time, so I could do that. Then I went and found a
guy down on the boat docks that could weld way better than I could, manipulate aluminum a
lot better than I did. And so I just would buy all
the material, take it to him, all cut out and so on, he’d weld them up, I’d take them up to Fresno from San Diego, drop them off and then
after that it just grew. And then I just started adding more items, nerf bars, rear bumpers, roof racks, ladders, that kind of thing. We started building these things
actually in the parking lot of a sports fishing company with one guy, and then I got 800 square
feet, then 1000, then 2000, then 3000, 5000, 10,000,
we’re up to 30,000 feet now. And we bring people on and teach them how we want to do the product. We design it for the features and benefits that we think, or that we get
feedback from our customers. Many of our customers are
depicted in these drawings here, they’re pioneers. They find out a way to break
it, or something it doesn’t do, and they get a few arrows in their back, and so we invite them back in
and we replace it or fix it, or evolve it. So that’s kind of our
philosophy is to try and make the best product out there. And the reason for the aluminum
is one, it’s lightweight, and so it doesn’t take up
the suspension that you need when you’re going off road. Whereas if you compress that suspension, now you’re back to zero, even if you spend a lot
of money to improve it. – [Sergei] Okay, now
you’re in the hot seat. Why are vans booming,
what’s your assessment? – The new vans, one are
much more efficient, so they can get up in the
area of 20 miles per gallon. They have a lot more room,
they have a lot more features. Whereas the previous vans
were really pretty tight. And when you get two people in those, there’s not much room
to get around and so on. But in the Sprinter van, and
the Transit van and stuff, you can get different lengths, so you can get a lot more gear in there. And people are wanting to take more and more stuff with them. So it accommodates more of
their toys and their pleasures of kayaks and bicycles and motorcycles and that kind of thing. I think that they are more versatile, they’re more economical, you’re going from 10 miles
to the gallon to close to 20, and the longevity. You know, back early on, I’m an old guy, vehicles
lasted 80, 90,000 miles. And now, a Mercedes van has
got a track record of going four or 500,000 miles. So even though they’re
much more expensive, the cost for the life is a lot less. – [Sergei] How ’bout the types
of people that you’re seeing. Is it young people, old
people, or like a big mix? Who would you say your
average customer is? – On a personal opinion
basis, I would believe that our customer base is younger now because the original van market, I always labeled it as the blue hairs. These people are retired,
and they want to now go out and see the great old U.S. of A., and they got these vans
that they would camp in. They were two-wheel drive, pretty basic, and it allowed them to go to
national parks and things. Today, it’s the youth, the sports-minded who’s taking their mountain
bikes and their kayaks and their surfboards. Mexico’s a great
wonderland and I would say, the big market we had early on were teachers and fire
fighters who had the time off and could explore further
beyond the pavement. So a lot of people that went
to Mexico surfing, fishing, that kind of thing, a
lot of people that went off-roading and to the desert and so on. (bright upbeat instrumental music) – [Sergei] Bring the hits. – [Josiah] There we go. – [Sergei] You must be from Portland. – Nah, I’m from San Francisco,
I’m not from Portland. Jesus Christ. I’m a God damn San, wait wait
wait for I’ll go in with you, I’ll go with you too, come on, yeah. Here you go, cheers guys. (muffled chatter) – [Woman] I just wanted
to get closer to the fire. (uptempo electronic music) – My name’s Matt Swartz and I’m one half of The Van Project. Sort of a social media community blog, that my girlfriend Amanda and I run. We drive a 1964 Clark Cortez motor home. We ended up finding a small RV, but we still kind of refer to it as a van, it kind of feels like a van to us. And we’ve been on the road
for a little over a year now. Our home is our vehicle,
and we’re not tied down. So we can go wherever we want, and we do. We’ve been all over the
Southwest this winter and now we’re here in Idaho. – My name is Marcella Garofalo and this is our little trailer. – And my name is Taz Darian. We chose to go with a
trailer as opposed to a van because we have the
flexibility of leaving our home at the campground or
wherever we decide to stay and go explore in our vehicle. – [Marcella] Living with
less you actually live more. In that you have the
freedom to not be tied down by things and confined
in a box, essentially, dealing with all these possessions. You really don’t need much. – You don’t. People think bigger is
better, more is better, but in reality traveling full
time in our little trailer has taught us to minimize. We actually ended up going home briefly just to get rid of half of our gear ’cause we really didn’t need that much. You just need the simple necessities to survive, like the basic
needs really to be comfortable. And actually living this way
teaches you what you truly need to be comfortable and, I don’t know, you’re working with the elements more. We don’t have running water,
we don’t have a bathroom but it kind of teaches you to appreciate the things that you took for granted when you did have all those things. – [Josh] I’m Josh, and we’re driving a 1987 Vanagon Westfalia. – So I’m Jen, and we’ve been on the road for about three weeks, we’re planning to be on the road for many months coming up. We’re going up to Alaska and hopefully all the way down to Patagonia after that. – She’s an ’82 Vanagon Westfalia. And I got it a couple years ago. I had wanted one for a long time, and was just, it was lime
green, and that was it. Saw it, and I was like,
yeah that’s the one. – Sprinter was always
the best option for us. We wanted a four-wheel drive, we wanted the diesel for the gas mileage, and we wanted standing
room height in the van. – I think most people that do van life, they really love the
idea of sustainability and being off grid and minimalism. You can’t help but think
of all of those things when you think of a Tesla,
right, zero emissions, it’s small, they’re also
very sleek and minimal. And I love cars and it’s sexy
as hell, so how could you not? Living in a zero emission vehicle has offset my carbon footprint immensely and it feels great every day. Not just driving, but living in it. – My name is Seven Grey and
I am driving a step van. This is a 1996 Grumman Olson step van. A lot of people confuse a
step van with a box truck. Box trucks are typically
a cab separate front and that can either be a van front of a traditional truck front with a big square
rectangular box on the back. Step vans are more like bread
trucks or UPS or FedEx trucks. The front doors are sliding
doors, they slide into pockets. And also they have steps
right on the passenger side, which is where they get their name. So there’s just a bunch of steps and I’m sitting on the steps right now. I had a number of criteria for my vehicle, and one of those was primarily head room. I’m nearly six foot six, and a Sprinter van maxes
out at about six foot three, and I didn’t want to walk around with my head tilting all the time. So I needed a vehicle that
was tall enough for me and in my price range. I didn’t want to finance
it, I wanted to pay cash. And they’re built for industrial use. Like the engine in this
particular vehicle, a Cummins 5.9, is built
for a million miles because it’s an industrial engine. I bought it with 10,000 miles on it. That means I’ve got 990,000
miles of potential use. – We drive a 2006 Sprinter 3500 Dually. We got married in November 2016. But we were living in
Denver, had a great life, everything was awesome,
and I think we could just kind of extrapolate
out the next 15 years, and see what like normal
life was gonna be for us, and it scared us both a little bit and so we started thinking
about trips we could go on, just like things that we
could do to change things up. Started getting involved
in the van life community through Instagram and then
one Saturday afternoon we just kind of sat down,
got out a spreadsheet, and like actually built
out the whole thing. Like, okay, could we make this
work financially on the road, what would van life look like, and then exactly 10 days
later we bought a van. (funky upbeat music) – In 2016 we gave up our house,
put everything in storage and we started traveling
in a truck and trailer because it was a fairly
easy transition from a house to a trailer, it was 300 square feet and we could convince
our 17 year old daughter that it’d be a good idea. After traveling for about a
year in the truck and trailer we realized that we were limited
as far as where we could go and what we could see, and
we started brainstorming as to what we wanted to do and
how we wanted things to look and a smaller space was not
that big of a transition for us. And we started looking around
and we wanted something that would accommodate all of us comfortably, we’d all have our beds,
except for the two of us, and we could stand in. And was good on gas because
our truck and trailer was not. So we gravitated towards the Sprinter van. Because of the space and the height. – Quick tour on the van. Biggest, I guess struggle,
was to figure out how to put five of us in here. So one of the big things
that we came up with is kind of a bunk bed system for the boys. This platform folds out, allowing Josiah to have a bed down below. And then we got this bed here
that will kind of pull up into the ceiling, lock in on the walls, pull up on some straps in the front, and that’s basically Samuel’s bed. So that’s how we hold
the two boys in there. This is where the kids travel, there are seat belts in there. That was a big concern for a lot of people that we weren’t gonna keep our kids safe. So seat belts in there,
storage throughout the bottom. This will slide out,
allowing Sarah to have an almost twin kind of bed system. I guess in the back we have a full size RV queen bed for both me and Tracy. It also doubles as kind of our lounge area when it was movie night. Or when the kids need to stretch out. It’s Tracy’s favorite place to basically slide some pillows up, kick
the doors open in the morning, I make her a cup of coffee
and she takes in the view wherever we happen to be
calling home that day. Fabbed up this aluminum shelf. Runs the full length of the van, allowing each of us to have
two bins each for our clothes. If you can’t fit it in the bin
it wasn’t allowed on the van. – I’m 67 now, but in my late teens and early 20s I spent a lot of time
hitchhiking around the country. Then settled down, but I knew
that I wanted to travel again and hitchhiking it later
on was not that great. So I always wanted to do a van. So we kind of eventually
found a van that we liked, converted it, spent our maiden
voyage about five years ago going through New Mexico,
Colorado, Wyoming, and then back home to northern New York. And it worked out fairly well. – [Sergei] Sylvie, what’s
it like to live with Rich on the road? – I would say that 90% of the time, it’s incredibly comfortable, and I never thought I
would be able to say that because sharing a very small
space is very difficult. But we really are very
comfortable with one another, we listen to one another,
we give each other space. We know how to move around one
another, so it’s been great. It really has. And those little rough
moments, we work them out. – So we were just talking about
how and why we’re in a van, and we have no idea. Like, I really wanted to,
I saw stuff on the internet and I was like, that’d be super rad. And then I pitched it to
her and she was like, nah. And then like a month later
or something, she was like, actually we should do that. And so then the next week
we went and bought a van and then started building it, and so. And never really looked back,
we never really questioned it, it was weird. – Sit down. – [Sergei] Julia, what’s it
like to have two little ones in the van? – It’s challenging, but– – Good example right now. – Yeah. They’re very active, but
I think it’ll be good once we can be outside more and we’re in more even temperatures. – Which may never happen. – Yeah, may never happen, we’ll see. (upbeat musical interlude) – My reason for living
small has to do with environmental initiatives. I want to reduce my
environmental footprint and I felt that when I
was living in the city I had a hard time conceptualizing
how much I was using. And so van life was a
way for me to cut back on my water use, my electricity,
connect with nature. And play a bigger role in
being an environmental steward. And I think it’s definitely done that. I’ve been more aware. I live more intentionally. And through my social media
I try to encourage people to do the same. Even small things, even if
they’re not living in a van. And next month, July, I am gonna be part of a 30
day plastic free challenge, and I’m encouraging the van life community to be a part of that as well. And so it’s a step in the direction of trying to make some change, and I think together as a
community if we all change we can have a really big impact. – I personally think there’s like a minimalism movement, sort of. And I think that as that catches on more people are realizing that stuff really doesn’t make them happy. And it’s like the
experiences that you have that make you happy, at least
for us, that I’ve realized. And so having not very much stuff helps you to not be distracted
from the things in your life. And instead focus on the
experiences that you can have, and the memories that you can create. – Amanda and I were
living in San Francisco. We were both freelancing and we had been doing
a bunch of traveling. We took a three and a half month trip to South America together, and did the whole west
coast of the country. And when we got back to San Francisco and were living on our freelancer income, it felt like a tough
balance to strike there. The cost of living was really high. And just the amount of
hustle that needed to happen to exist there in a
comfortable financial state was just more than we wanted to do. You know, it was the threshold between just constantly working
versus doing something that we really loved and having
some free time to ourselves, it felt like the balance was off much more in the direction
of looking for work and being concerned about that, so. We love to travel and
we had this crazy idea. Not too crazy, really, but we said, why don’t we look for a van and
see how that could work out. That was pretty much it, cost of living in San Francisco, man, it’ll make you do some crazy stuff. – You know, I think exploration is, as a feature of the human
species, is kind of the thing that is maybe one of the
best parts of who we are and I don’t know I think
a certain group of people are tapping into that and not
everyone can go to the moon but damn it you can drive
out to the middle of nowhere in Bears Ears and watch the
sunrise over the Colorado River and have your soul filled. There’s some weird jolt of
serotonin and endorphins that I think feeds some
of the better instincts of our species in it, and so. I don’t know, maybe it’s an
expression of a good thing in the species, where, yeah
that’s about as much as I have. About as far as I’ve thought through it. I try not to over think it. Just keep going with what feels healthy. (upbeat instrumental interlude) – Right now, how I make some side money in order to support myself to
some degree is Lyft driving. And with minimal maintenance it makes it relatively beneficial, especially versus gasoline cars. And that’s kind of how I’m
trying to get by for now until hopefully something extravagant happens. – I guess we’re seasonal van
lifers, so we spend the winters working, and thinking about
the summers doing this. – Yeah. It’s good motivation to get through work. – So I’m an acupuncturist. I also have a health
navigation-slash-coaching business called Evolve Personal Wellness. And I’m always looking for
clients who are really looking to make long-term changes that they might have
struggled with in the past. – When I was actually an undergrad I started an education
company called Learn Fresh. It’s actually a non-profit
and we partnered with the NBA and made a fun math game for elementary and middle school students. So we work across 30 states,
about 35,000 students on a weekly basis, and
our whole team is remote. Not as remote-remote as we
are, but we’re spread out across the country, we’re
a distributed company. When I had this idea,
brought it to my board, shared it with some other staff members, and they said, “Well as
long as you can still “get to the place where you
need to fly to for work, “it shouldn’t be a problem.” And so I’m really
fortunate that I can work wherever there’s Wi-Fi. I do have to travel a bit for work, and kind of leave her doing
the solo thing with our puppy. But yeah, that’s been really great for us. – One of the places
that I lived for a while was over in Taiwan, and
while I was in Taiwan, not to be confused with Thailand, Taiwan has a very very low cost of living. You can live there, I had
an apartment $100 a month, included a scooter and internet. But you can live in places like Taipei for three or $400 a month
and then eat out every day. What’s unique about Taiwan is if you have a bachelor’s degree from Canada or the United States, you are guaranteed a job
teaching English over there, 20 hours a week and you can
earn about $30,000 a year. And then your cost of living, just a few hundred dollars a month, you can put $25,000 a
year in a bank account. And my idea was to save
up a couple of years working over there and
buy rental properties. And so if you can get two
or three rental properties you can live easily in a
van for 500 to $1000 a month and you can retire by age 30, 35, and just travel the
world, travel in a van, and never have to work again. So that’s my advice to
people who are fairly young is to go that route so you
don’t have to slave away in a cubicle for your entire life. (upbeat musical interlude) – The biggest non-glamorous
part of van life is sometimes the isolation and, you know, solitude’s a good thing, but isolation can be a little bit weird. ‘Cause sometimes it is
just you and your van. You’ve got your, I like to call it your, almost like your disposable relationships, which might be a cynical
way to look at it, but your friends you make for a few days and then you’re off on the road again. Sometimes that can be really beautiful and you make life-long friends, but sometimes it’s very transient. – I’m really longing for
some long-term connections. And I think this community
really offers it. These gatherings are a great
way to make those connections. But life on the road is about
impermanence, and spontaneity, and that can be a little
bit of a struggle at times. So I like the idea of resting
in between travels, and doing it as often as I can, but also just really
connecting with people and my surroundings a little bit more. – While it opens up a
lot of opportunities, you also lose out on a
lot of opportunities. You have to say no to
a lot of relationships. Or have someone be very understanding, or a lot of the couples you see out here have a lot of the same wants. I think for me what would get me out
of it is an opportunity that I want to say yes to
that gets me out of it. – I think there’s several
different classifications of people that are doing the van life. There’s those that are
choosing to do that, and they’re very actively
engaged in the world around them, either with employment and income, the way they dress, the way
they take care of themselves, the way they interact with others. Those people I think
flourish and do very well walking into Starbucks or into any retail establishment
or going to gatherings. I think the ones that struggle are the people that are
forced into van life without a choice who
maybe have difficulties engaging with others and
being socially interactive on a way that’s not confrontational. And I think these people would struggle whether they’re in a van
or living in an apartment or in a house, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just that they’re forced into a van. And those particular individuals
I think struggle a lot in the van life world and
relating with what we call sticks and bricks people that judge them. And maybe they view it as being
judged for living in a van but I think it’s probably not, it’s due to differences in attitudes
and maybe the social, I don’t know what the word
is, the social ability to relate and be able to communicate
effectively with others and they just are not able
to integrate with society, and the van is irrelevant, it just happens to be where they’re at. (upbeat musical interlude) There’s two factors that are
lending themselves to van life and the popularity of van life. One is the internet and the digital age. We now have really good
information infrastructure with Wi-Fi hotspots and internet access, which allows you to have
location independence, ability to work wherever you want. They’ve coined a term a few years ago called the digital nomad. Now we have all these digital nomads that are traveling the world, but some of them want to have
a place to put more stuff, they don’t really want to be
as minimalist as a backpack. So they can still live
a minimalist lifestyle and combine that with the digital nomad. So that’s the second factor is minimalism. – One of the reasons why
van life is booming is that people are just kind of saying no to this false
dichotomy of having to separate life and earning money from having fun and enjoying and doing the
things that you love, right. And so more and more and more people are trying to bring everything together into one holistic life
that is fun and adventurous and also hopefully works
for your financially. In this day and age so much of
what we want to experience is like out there, far out there, and then also there’s a lot
of like digital experiences, right, and so when you bring
those two things together, like being anchored in a place is less valuable to our generation. – I mean, I think a lot of
people get into it because of the financial difference. Like, compared to renting
a house or owning a house, and it depends where you live, but can be astronomically more expensive. If you want to be able
to live without the need to make all that money,
it gives you that freedom. – Or even people like us who really, this is like how we vacation. If we didn’t have a van
and we had to book hotels and eat out every night,
or for every meal, we wouldn’t be able to go
the places that we have been or be away from home for
weeks and weeks at a time. So it’s a way for us to be able to see as much of our country as
we can with our budget. – My take is that alternative lifestyles are really the thing that
people are exploring these days. And the van life is one
alternative lifestyle. And I think financial reasons
is I think an important one and freedom is an important one. And just the ability to just
go out there and explore and kind of break loose for a while is really important to a
segment of the population. And I think it’s great, I really do. I think there’s so many
ways of living your life. And the van life is one way. – I think the biggest
thing is just the freedom to be a creative individual
and not feel the pressure of having to earn this big
income to afford a house. I think that’s really
appealing to people right now, and I think especially people our age, in their 30s, 20s, anyone. This is independent of age,
but people are re-evaluating what success means, and they’re finding that they can be happy and
feel successful with less. And this is one way to do that. – [Woman] (mumbles) like broke something. – Here Heaths. – Hold my beer.
– Hold my beer. – [Man] Hey y’all, watch this. – [Man] Whoa, whoa whoa whoa. – [Woman] Uh-oh. (excited chatter) – Here’s a quick check in after
the Vanlife Diaries festival that we went to in Victor, Idaho. We had a fantastic time,
interviewed a bunch of people, I collected 23 interviews
throughout the weekend, which was a large sample
size of the people there. And the verdict is, different
strokes for different folks. A lot of people come to van life for various different reasons, whether that be financial, or adventure, and it seems like the driving
force for all of them, a theme that keeps coming out is freedom, freedom from something. Freedom from bills, paying for rent. Or freedom to adventure,
some form of freedom. Another pattern that I noticed
in my interviews is that typically people seem to
be doing the van life thing full-time for about a year and a half. There are people that just started and there are people that
have certainly done it longer, but it seemed like a year and
a half was kind of the mark people were hitting before
they craved stability. In my mind, I sort of drew a parallel between living the van life and traveling, ’cause a lot of times people
when they go traveling, they can keep that going
for X amount of time and then they crave just
being back in a stable place. So a conclusion I came to
surrounding that was that people really do use van life
as a way to see the country. Maybe they get out of
college or high school, they buy a van, and it’s
just an inexpensive way to cruise around, see the
southern United States, the northern, check out
the Pacific Northwest, and really get to know
this country in depth. In the wake of the festival
Kiley and I have been talking about it repeatedly
that we just want to travel more and make more time to be out in nature. (upbeat instrumental music) Smells good. Tetons, Yellowstone. June, 2018. Camp grounds are all booked. And I’d really hate to be
in a tent right about now. This is one of the magic
parts of owning a van because you could get
the best of both worlds. It’s like having a cabin on wheels. You could choose to camp
if you want to in a tent, but when the weather is absolutely awful, when it’s pissing rain and hailing, you can take shelter in your turtle shell. – Those buffalo were awesome. So awesome! (rhythmic instrumental music) So far this summer, we’ve
interviewed dozens of van lifers, people who live in their vans. We want to go ahead and
switch it up a little bit to get company’s perspectives, so businesses who may be
affected by this van life boom. We want to see if they’ve
seen an increase in sales, who’s buying their products, and what they make out of all this. – After a quick stop at
home, in Tacoma, Washington, where we backed up our footage and made sure that it looked good, woohoo! We hit the road again to
interview some van companies. We plotted a course south
to Fresno, California to interview Sportsmobile
West owner Alan Feld and his son Jonathan. Alan is in part responsible
for the camper van as we know it today. He’s seen all the ins and outs of vans as they’ve ebbed and flowed
throughout the years, and thus Kiley and I thought he’d have some valuable insight to share. – Okay, welcome to Sportsmobile, and this is how it all started here. This is a 1965 Volkswagen. We actually started the company in 1961 converting Volkswagens
into little campers. And then in the mid ’60s we
actually went from Volkswagens to Ford, Chevy, and Dodges,
and that’s what we’re doing now along with the Mercedes Sprinters. In 1965 in our government’s
wonderful wisdom they put a tariff on these
vehicles from Germany, it’s called the Chicken Tax. I guess the Europeans weren’t
buying chickens from us in the ’60s so in retaliation we put a tax on utility vehicles. And the little van got caught up in that. And I think back in ’65 this
van was like $1800 brand new. And they put a $400 tariff on it. So we sent one of our kits, camper kits to a company in
Germany called Westfalia. And you guys are too young,
but if you remembered in the older vans the tops
all went straight up and down, those are all Sportsmobiles. Just like our tops now on
the Fords and the Sprinters go straight up and down,
we have a patent on that. And then Volkswagen tops all tilted. And they did that to
get around our patent. Started bringing the vans in from Europe to get around the utility
tariff because now they were RVs they weren’t utility vehicles. So back then we lost all
our supply of Volkswagens and our sales were all
through Volkswagen America. So we lost our, you know, parts coming in, and our distribution all went away. So we went to Ford, Chevy, and Dodge, and we have sold direct since 1965. So these are all service vans back here. I mean, that is a really
old Dodge right there, it’s a 1980-something
probably, maybe early ’90s. And they brought it in to
have something repaired, something replaced, add
something, add solar panels. That one’s from Montana,
that one’s from Colorado. In 2015 Ford discontinued
the Econoline van. And the Ford Econoline was
kind of our claim to fame. We did a lot of four-wheel
drive conversions and everything and when they discontinued
it, we’re like oh my gosh, what are we gonna do. And luckily Mercedes came out
with their four-wheel drive that same year. So that kind of saved us, but people still wanted the Econoline because of the articulation, the towing capacity is 10,000 pounds. So Ford is gonna make what
they call their Cutaways for the next eight to 10 years, and they’re making them
for the motor home market, the ambulance market, and the U-Haul is one of their biggest customers. So what we do is we get
this Econoline like this which the good news is it’s half price. The bad news is you get what you pay for. And there’s not a whole lot there. – [Kiley] And then you guys have to build the whole back part. – [Alan] We’re building the
whole body on the back end. – [Kiley] Ah. – So again, if you look
this one’s got cherry wood, this one’s got the white wood. This one’s got the dark, and we have all different
kinds of colors, and show room. So we just signed a new deal
with a company back east called Quigley Motors. Which is this van here,
this is a Ford Transit, which is not made by Ford
with the four-wheel drive. So Quigley is converting these for us for four-wheel drive now because some people want the Ford Transit, they want a gas engine
versus a diesel engine. One of the issues with the diesel engines is we sell to a lot of people that like to do international travel. Well with the ultra-low sulfur
American diesel standards, you can go to Baja now, because
there are some gas stations down there that do have
the ultra-low sulfur, but mainland Mexico doesn’t have it. There’s a lot of countries
in central and south America that don’t have it. So a lot of people need a gas engine to go international travel. Okay, well this is our classic. So that one there is four
inches narrower on the inside. This is our one that’s
fiberglass on the back that we just built. And again, we have the
same box here, silverware, this all flips out, flips down. And this has got the light
oak in it, it’s got a little microwave in it. – [Sergei] Absolutely gorgeous. (muffled chatter) – [Woman] How are ya, love? – Now my wife and I have
this one with a pop top and we sleep up all the time
except in two situations. The first one, if it’s
really cold outside, we’ll camp like this, but
when we go to bed at night we’ll lower the top because
now the furnace is heating half the space and it’s
way more efficient. And the other time we sleep down below is when we’re stealth camping. At the Ahwahnee, the Hilton,
the Hyatt and the Marriott, we don’t put the top up, we
don’t put the awning out, and I don’t barbecue outside. And nobody knows you’re sleeping in it. – [Kiley] Yeah. – But like Apple, we
sell to a lot of people from Apple and Google
because the cost of living in the Bay Area is so high. And they’re staying on those
campuses in their vehicles. Get up in the morning and go to work, I mean, they’ve got cafeterias there, they got gyms, they got showers. We sell to a lot of doctors that have to be on call, they
have to be on the hospital. In fact, Clovis Community
here has hookups. And they’re 50 feet from the front door but they’ve got their own bedding. People aren’t slamming doors all the time and turning lights on. – Interesting, I didn’t
even think about that. – Yeah, a lot of traveling nurses, a lot of traveling
radiologists that travel and sit on other people’s businesses while they go on vacation
or at seminars and stuff. They’re living out of their vans. Because they have everything with them. My red van, my wife calls it my man purse. And every time we go somewhere
she goes, let’s take the car. I go, I want to take the van because I have everything with me. I don’t care if the hotels are booked because I’ve got a bed. I don’t care if the restaurants are closed because I have my own
refrigerator, I have my own food. And the best thing is,
we have a portable toilet and I can actually get
from here to San Diego 45 minutes faster ’cause I
don’t have to stop three times. I do slow to 55.
– Yeah. – But I don’t have to pull over, every time you pull over it’s 15 minutes. – Van life has grown exponentially. I don’t know if I could
put a number on it, but it’s easily doubled, tripled. I mean, probably more than that. I don’t know if I have
really a percentage number to quantify things, but massive. I mean, it has just been massive. And just in our business
and nearby businesses, and people who are involved
in selling parts for vans. I mean, every industry involved with vans just seems to be blowing up. There are definitely different
reasons for every individual why they choose the van life. I think the biggest one is adventure. They see the possibilities,
and a lot of our customers are into the outdoors. I get people that ask me all the time, who is buying these things? I mean, they see this factory full, I tell them we’re a year and
a half, and they’re like, who in the world is
buying all these things? And it’s like, everyone that
is interested in the outdoors. Do you like cycling, do you like skiing, do you like photography, do
you like mountain climbing? Anything that’s gonna
take you out of the city and into the outdoors, and I
can even go further than that, I mean people stealth camp in the city, they’ll go tailgating. They’ll use these as just
kind of road trip vehicles to take their buddies to Vegas. So there’s not just like
one individual reason to get in a van, I mean,
there’s just a multitude. People use them mobile dog grooming. There’s just a million applications that a van just fits really nicely into. (sweet instrumental music) – [Sergei] In August and September
we visited more companies operating within the van realm. We drove up to DECKED, a business
that makes pullout drawers for trucks and vans. We went to see VerdiRack,
a company that produces ladders and surf racks
for commercial vehicles. We spoke to Prime Design,
a van accessories brand. And Road Shower, the
pioneer of pressurized outdoor road showers
for adventure vehicles. I even flew out to the east coast to Manchester, Pennsylvania, to interview Mike and Todd Quigley from the Quigley Motor Company
about why vans are popping. Time and again we heard the same things. Business is up, vans are trending, social media is propelling
the movement forward, and vans are booming
because they offer people freedom and adventure in a
one-size-fits-all package. Curious to know more about
how and why social media has latched on to #vanlife, I reached out to several
popular internet personas to get a better grasp on what’s going on. I was particularly
curious how real van life differs from that which
you see on Instagram. – My name’s Kristen Bor, I
run the outdoor adventure blog called where I share information
about the outdoors and try to help people
build the skillset they need to have a good time outside. I also write about van life. I love having the van. It just makes it so much
easier to work from the road and get my job done and be
able to maintain my career while still having the
flexibility to travel. Van life has obviously exploded
over the last few years but I think people have been
doing this for a very long time but with Instagram and the internet just more and more people are finding out that this is a possibility. And I think also the internet
has made it easier for people to take their careers online
and be able to work remotely. Which makes living in a van
full-time more viable for people because they can actually
continue to explore their career passions
while also traveling. I do think Instagram has a tendency to romanticize van life. People are only showing
the prettiest pictures. Of super clean, tidy van, which is really unrealistic actually. My van is a mess all the time because you’re living in such a small space. And I think also it can be
tough two people in a van. So if one person likes
it and the other doesn’t that can be hard to reconcile. And you really have to communicate a lot. So I think for people who
are doing it as a couple I think they get in to the
van and it maybe challenges their relationship in ways
that maybe they didn’t expect. I also think you’re making
decisions all the time. What are you gonna eat,
where are you gonna camp, what are you gonna do? I think constant decision
making can be really challenging for people who are used to
just waking up, going to job, being told what to do. And then all of a sudden
you come to the van and you have like so many
decisions that you have to make. That can be hard for people. And I think, you know, you’re not always staying at
like a beautiful campsite. A lot of times you’re staying
either at a campground or a Walmart, or on the side of the road, and it’s not necessarily what
people show on Instagram, these beautiful campsites. There’s some of that, but there’s also like not beautiful campsites. And I think sometimes people
have these expectations about like what van life’s
gonna be and that every day is gonna be like the most
exciting day of your life, where there’s a lot of mundane also. You spend a lot of time driving, you spend a lot of time
looking for good campsites, and so I think that like some people like the challenges that come with it, and thrive in those
environments, and others don’t. And so when that sort of, when faced with those
challenges, it causes stress, and that’s not the
point of being out here. If you get a van and
all you are is stressed, then that’s not really, you know, fun. – [Sergei] One thing
that I just thought of as you were talking. So, maybe the part of the Instagram appeal is this carefree life. – [Kristen] Mm-hmm. – [Sergei] And then when
you get in a van you realize well life is still not problem
free, you have to find water, you have to find a place
to bunk up for the night. You got to figure out what the hell you’re gonna do every day. So would it be fair to say that you just trade in one set of
responsibilities for another. You don’t absolve yourself
of responsibility. – Oh, yeah, I mean, yeah. I think there’s a lot to think
about when you’re out here. I mean, we were just in Seattle, and like there’s nowhere
to park that feels really all that comfortable in Seattle,
so you’re in this cool city and you want to go explore, but then where are you gonna park. So I think there’s just always things that are on the back of your
mind when you’re traveling. There are tons of responsibility
that come with a van. I think cleaning a van is
easier than cleaning a house but it’s not like you just, I don’t think it’s as carefree and, it doesn’t free you from
some of the stresses that you face in daily life. Yeah, so I don’t want to make it seem like it’s all negative. I love the opportunities that van life has presented me with,
but in terms of just kind of thinking about
some of the challenges that maybe you don’t see on the internet and that people aren’t
always talking about, and maybe what causes some people to quit like a month or two in that
they maybe didn’t expect, I think that’s just some of, some of the causes I think that may not sit well with people once
they’re actually out here. – [Sergei] Is van life here to stay, or is it a trend that will, is fleeting? – I think van life’s here to stay. I mean, people have been doing
it since like way back when, when people traveled in VW buses, and now I think it is more, it’s a more accessible
lifestyle to anyone. You don’t have to be a
hippie living in a van to live in a van now,
you can have a normal job and like maintain a career from the road. And so I think as more and
more people realize that like, hey I can explore my career
passions and live in a van, it’s just like it makes you
able to think outside the box a little bit more in
terms of the possibilities for how you can make money and
still maintain your freedom from a normal nine to five
job and be able to travel and work it all together
in a nice, convenient way. I think it’s here to stay. (upbeat electronic music) – In October, as our film
production started winding down, Kiley and I continued
reaching out to van people. We formally interviewed several new folks, followed up on Skype with friends that we’d made over the summer, and repeatedly started
up casual conversations about van life with
strangers on the street. These additional dialogs confirmed what we had already learned. The majority of people
who come to live in a van do so because A, the cost
of buying or renting a home is a burden in today’s economy, and B, people have the desire
to live adventurous lives and travel more while also
putting a stronger emphasis on experiences instead of
things, i.e., being minimalists. We also discovered that reasons A and B are not mutually exclusive. Meaning that more often than not, vanners come to van because
of both lower living costs, and the higher likelihood for adventure. It’s also interesting to
note that at least one fifth of the van lifers that we interviewed in June, July, August, and September, ended up selling their vans
and renting apartments, remarking that van life
wasn’t sustainable long-term. While each party had their
own reasons and explanations for why they stopped van life, common threads could be observed. Ex-vanners explained that
while living in a van offered certain benefits, they ultimately found it to be
lonely and craved community, namely friends and family, missed their former
routines, stability, careers, and lacked an overall sense of purpose. In our conversations together,
Kiley and I came to agree that van lifers who tend to
thrive on the road full-time and last past the year and a half mark, are comprised of people who have a deep love and appreciation
for the outdoors. Such individuals tend
to spend the majority of their time outside already,
with or without a van, and thus thrive as full-time road warriors once they acquire a vehicle that’s conducive to their lifestyle. As for the rest of us, van life is a fantastic temporary break from a stuffy desk job, a
re-occurring mortgage payment, and a traditional, sedentary lifestyle. It’s also a great way to
experience heaps of adventure and see our country for a year or two. However, for most of
us, full-time van life seems to have big voids and is
not sustainable indefinitely. Since June 2nd, 2018, Kiley and I have traveled
over 18,000 miles while working on this film. 12,000 of those miles were logged crisscrossing the western United
States in our Sprinter van, and 6,000 miles were covered
by airplane and rental car. Over the span of summer and fall, we also interviewed 40-plus
people in depth about vans and informally spoke to at least 40 more. Throughout our conversations
we learned that vans are increasing in popularity
for several different reasons. And the first reason is flexibility. Vans are a complete utilitarian package. They are an RV and a
truck and a passenger car smashed into one. Hence, vans offer their
owners complete control over how they are customized and used. Do you want to start a mobile acupuncture or chiropractor business,
no problem, you can do that. Do you have a big family and
want to see all 50 states, easy peasy, and the list goes on and on. Regardless of what your dream
is, if it requires a vehicle, a van fits that bill. Secondly, vans are economical. As the cost of living
continues to increase many people choose to, or
are forced to get creative about how they exist on this earth. Vans are a viable solution
because they enable folks to maintain a high standard of life without the homeless stigma. By skipping a traditional home and moving into a gas-efficient mini-bus van dwellers can save thousands
of dollars every month. This in turn takes a
lot of the pressure away from having to bust your
hump at a job you hate. When life costs less,
you have to work less, and when you have to work less, you have a lot more free time to do that which makes you happy. Thirdly, vans offer people freedom. And freedom, as we all know, is heavily prized in our culture. For some people, freedom equals liberation from bills and the 40 hour work week, which ties directly into
the point that I just made about vans being
economical, but for others, freedom has more to do with
spontaneity and adventure. And vans are just as good
at spontaneity and adventure as they are at saving money. When you hit the road in a decked out van, you never have to book a hotel, or make a reservation at a restaurant. You can decide to stay
somewhere for an extra day or leave a day earlier. And you get to bring
the comfort of your home wherever you go. A van is like a turtle shell, providing you with most
of your necessities wherever and whenever you need them, and if this isn’t freedom,
I don’t know what is. At the beginning of this project Kiley and I set out to
determine why vans are booming. I think we were successful in this venture and determined that vans are trending for the three reasons
that I just discussed: flexibility, economy, and freedom. As for whether or not vans
are the new American dream, for me the jury’s still out. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. What is the American dream anyway? Is it the white picket fence,
is it the husband and wife, or the 2.5 kid family? After pondering on this
concept for many months, I’ve come to realize that
the idea of any one thing being the American dream is preposterous. There are roughly 300 million
people in the U.S. alone, and each one of those people
has their own unique idea of what their dreams and wants are. Sure, some people want a more traditional cookie-cutter lifestyle, but
others rebel against this, and strive for an existence that’s unique to their own values. And van life is no different. For some people, exploring
the U.S. in a van seems like an idyllic fun endeavor, but for others this type
of lifestyle probably seems irresponsible,
claustrophobic, and dreadful. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either of these stances. It’s ultimately up to
the individual, to you, to decide which American
dream works for you, and which one doesn’t. For what it’s worth I still
think vans are awesome and I have no plans to get
rid of my van anytime soon. And I have tons of new friends that feel exactly the same way I do. So there you have it, now you know. And last thing that I’ve
been asking everybody is if you had to describe
vans and van life in one word, what would that one word be for you? You can’t think about it
too hard, you got to just. – Yeah, freedom. – Possibility. – Sustainable. – Impactful. – Extravagant. – I’d say freedom. Definitely freedom. – Interesting. – Peace, I guess. – [Sergei] What does van life mean to you? – Sustainability. – Roller coaster. – Life changing. – So, van life is rewarding. It’s not always easy but
for me the exploration and the opportunity to explore
lands and myself is worth it. – Dogs love it. – It’s natural. – Enlightening. – Freedom. – Freedom. – I would say either the word
is independence, or freedom. – Freedom. – If I could describe
van life in one word, it would be fulfilling. – Unfinished (laughs). Our van’s not finished yet so it’s been, we don’t have running water yet, and we’re under-electrified. – I think that the idea
would be adventure, for me. – When you say van life, I say freedom. – I was gonna say dirtbag, but I don’t use that word very often. – [Sergei] You can use dirtbag. – All right, let’s do it. Freedom and dirt, a free dirtbag. – A free dirtbag, yeah, free dirtbag. – Exploration, for sure, yeah, explore. That’s just it, yeah. – Adventure. – Freedom. – Fun. – Freedom. – Freedom. – Simplicity. – I don’t know, it’s
freedom would be for me. – Learning. – Yeah (laughs) there you go. – Opportunity, really. – Freedom. – Adventure. – Pure joy. – I would just say freedom. – [Sergei] I say van life, you say. – Wild. I don’t know, I wanted to say free, but that’s not really
how my journey is, so. – Great.
– Cool. (rhythmic electronic music)

100 thoughts on “VAN BOOM: Why Are Vans Trending & Is Van Life The New American Dream?”

  1. Dear Viewers, first and foremost, thank you for watching my film and giving me input. I will consider your feedback in the future when making new films. As a content creator I make a concentrated effort to convey information as impartially as I can. While being 100% unbiased is not humanly possible, I think overall, I do a pretty good job. Secondly, I’m a bit confused by the bulk of the negative comments… It appears that my critics make judgements based on the first few minutes of the film and don’t take the time to watch Van Boom in its entirety. I’m confident that should these folks watch the movie at length, they’ll see that most of their critiques are addressed adequately throughout the film.

    Finally, in order to have an honest/productive discussion about the cost of a van build, we must first agree on the definition of what a van build is… Some folks drag an old couch into their vehicles, get a five-gallon water tank, purchase a propane stove, and consider this an adequate setup. If this is your definition of a build, then I can see why $60,000 seems offensive. On the other hand, if you build your van out so that you can comfortably live in it (i.e. install a proper shower, sink, bathroom, bed, drawers, etc.) than your costs increase significantly. $5,000 for a full build out seems highly unlikely to me. Unless you have the carpentry skills to DIY, own the necessary tools for every job, have a free place to park for 3-6 months while you build out your rig, and can take enough time off of work to build everything yourself, your expenses will be much, much higher than $5,000. It has been my experience that those who choose to live the van life full time and are successful at it, have spent some serious coin outfitting their vehicles. Ironically, a few years back, when I published a video about my own minimalist build, I got criticized in the opposite direction. It turns out that you can’t win on the Internet. ☺ If you want to see my van build video, you can find it here:

  2. Bet u won't ride those boards in deep Florida.
    I like the video but I think it would be better if you broke it up into several shorter videos.

  3. Whatever floats your boat, you get to take yourself with you where ever you go…so enjoy your life the best you can…

  4. I think that van conversion projects should be as cost effective as possible…vehicles depreciate…and with the wear and tear from so much driving and use, they will depreciate quickly….you will be restoring or purchasing a new van consistently…so save those “saved” funds.

  5. How could I have traded in my Transit Connect for a bug??? Live and learn. Now I am saving for a RAM promaster or a full size Transit. Happy vanning y'all.

  6. I think pooping in a van is a joke they are just a little too small a must 30×36" shower and a real toilet, I don't want to go out and look to dump my pee and not a wet bath I need a walk around bed I don't want someone crawling over in bed I want a real couch and the only way to get that 26.5' to 27' and screw going to gyms for a shower.

  7. As a white collar baby boomer approaching retirement age, who lives in a house, I'm looking at van life for "Travel purposes only". My view, it's about reevaluating your priorities. My advise for everyone make sure you have your basics in place, insurance, medical plan B for illness, retirement plan, some kind of community involvement and be friendly. Do you want to spend your life watching TV or living? As far as vehicle, there are plenty of used extended GMC or Transit van vehicles at cost effective prices 10 – 25K even with decent miles. As noted I have a residence and I would suggest you find a plot of land someplace to make that home base. Above all, Enjoy Life People!


  9. I would have too say the most brilliant of ideas! I think Van life is a great idea if you live in suburbia the cost of a house could run you 100 000 to 2 000 000 dollars depending on the house and where it is! Even in some rural areas we can be talking over a million for property and house. Van life provides opportunities to move around go to the market were your skills are needed save money and get the down payment for a house!

  10. For me in California the draw is the housing crisis. Housing anywhere the jobs and amenities are is prohibitively expensive even in horrible areas. Travel is just a nice side benefit. I’m only in the planning phase as I still have school aged children and a 9-5. Luckily we are in a rent control apartment as everything in the area has doubled in cost since we’ve been here. We don’t have the sort of long term job security of earlier generations, couldn’t buy onto the property ladder, probably won’t have pensions & have been told our whole lives not to expect Social Security. Being tied to one location seems to be a liability now. It’s a perfect storm of bad conditions and few good options pushing us in that direction at the same time technology, innovations, entrepreneurs and the growing community make it increasingly easy to do without giving up modern conveniences. I don’t think driving a vehicle around is a good environmental choice, conserving water and energy in a stationary home would probably be better, though the reduced consumption and accumulation of things required may help.

  11. you need to live in a house becuse not every one are made for live in a van, thats more for hardcore life foks, we how like to take care of are self, ish.. a saw judgment in year girl when talke about van foks=(

  12. It sounds wonderful but honestly I’m not sure I could stand it for long….being so crowded and the floor of the van being dirty all the regular showers..It seems like it would be exhausting to me…it has to really suit your personality. Maybe a very nice motor home…not huge or super expensive but comfortable. And easier to keep clean Not being critical..just realistic. Some of the tiny homes r very cute tho. That I could do..

  13. Why does everyone care about what he spent on his build out? It is HIS buildout. Let him do what he wants. Don't be jealous that he worked hard for his income and spends it the way he wants.

    Sounds like a bunch of negative and poor people posting on here. Those 2 things usually correlate pretty well 🙂

    Great build and video. Glad you are getting the most out of it.

  14. It's not about money. It's about freedom, independence and for people whose job involve travelling. For travellers it's much more safer and easier to carry their needs with them rather than carrying on buses, trains or planes. Instead of staying in hotels and strange rental places, it offers a place that is filled with your own energy that is soothing to mind.
    Simple living small footprint natural way of life.
    Big homes are not necessary for survival. It's is a useless status illusion and boost up ego that we are superior to others. Or misconception that we can become immortal by having big concrete homes. We are not bound to live life as to other's dream of life. Some are conscious but some are completely unconscious about life, mortality of body and temporary short life. Actually we are all travellers on earth planet for short period of time. What fools are doing to earn useless paper money, working hard for false ego and fake status. Wiser do not need all that. Wiser want inner peace , life experience, explore life and creation. Van life do not prohibit to get marry. How many people got divorce in on grid homes? How many people got divorce in van life, compare and tell figures. More crimes and criminal activities are taking place in on grid traditional buildings where cruelty is enjoyed at 9 to 5 pm jobs. Search find and tell about it.

  15. Portable shelters you live out of, not in. Small storage on wheels. Your the cargo. Nothing needs built in. There are portable everything now a days. If it can be changed you have more options for use. It is not a house. Most homes are at least 800 Square feet on a foundation. Value is location. Both vehicles and homes are taxed. Affordability is the question. But you can live out of a vehicle, but still need a home base. If you have a home you may need a camper of some kind, for adventures. If in a vehicle you need only basics. Big old RVs are very costly. Buy a life not a headache. You can save living in a steal box, but a home is more for people who live by traditional means, The grid provides you with more comfort and a mailing address. Environment and job is very important in early life. Schooling, friends, family. Van is a good way to travel if your nomadic and frugal. Not good for everyone.

  16. Thank you for doing and sharing your project. I am twice retired, military then civilian, and I presently rent…mainly because I do not want to get saddled again with a mortgage, years ago owning a house in San Antonio, Texas, and a condo in Wailuku, Hawaii. Now I want to live the nomadic lifestyle visiting new places and revisiting places I loved. My intention was to buy a travel trailer but after researching and watching You Tube videos such as yours I am now considering a van…again. While stationed in Arizona I traded a Mustang in for a custom Dodge van, loaded with the swivel captain's chairs, convertible sofa, carpeted, ice box, clothing closet, curtains and so on. I took my kids on numerous "camping" trips throughout the Southwest and it was incredible to see my children truly enjoy themselves. Now I want to do that with my grandchildren when they are on school breaks. Just for grins, I tested myself by living in a Jeep Compass and I loved it! I often wondered about the large vans that companies use for delivery purposes. As a "car guy" having owned sports cars it's hard seeing myself driving a large breadbox. However, your video opened my eyes to a world that I could get accustomed to enjoying. Freedom would be my answer to your question.

  17. WTF ? If you're looking for a 70's Van Documentary WRONG VIDEO TITLE . 👎 SHOULD BE HOMELESS BOONDOCKING DOCUMENTARY.

  18. Great video. When I saw how long it was, I was like WHAT. But yes watched it all and it was cool. I think you should get with Bob hit Arizona and deal with more lifers then travellers. Get a different outlook. But yes I am a loner and do a lot of things alone and if it wasn't for having a 9 year old daughter who I wouldn't (for me) raise her in, I would be out already.

  19. As someone who has paid off my house due to luck really, I’ve suddenly been faced with the reality that I own nothing because ultimately I’m still paying 600 a month rent to the state in property tax that if I fail to pay my house will be auctioned off for next to nothing and then there’s the homeowners insurance and flood insurance which is another cost. When put together I spend 800 a month to keep a house I own from disappearing out from under me. It’s depressing as I think about getting older and what happens when I retire. I’ve already been thinking of selling and getting a van when I’m older.

  20. parking at a campground on a monthly rent payment of 3-600$/month will offer the stability of a house (not to mention amenities of a resort) with MUCH lower cost of living. van life does NOT mean stress free. van life means OPTIONS. you can live a long time at rest stops and truck stops. you would do better in a house or apartment if you have a steady job in one location. if you have a job that travels, van life. its not for everyone and it AIN'T free. its all about options. vans/buses are the best way for some people. the instagram thing is a lie. the reason van life is important offers people more options than the current options (monthly rent at a hotel, yearly lease of apartment, or owning a home). its simply another option for some people.

  21. I paying half attention so take my comments lightly. Doing something else right now this is in the background but it caught my attention. I like it but you need more context. Data, over time, who buys these, who goes to parks, who camps, who mountain bikes, the trends surrounding van life that have made vans practical in ways other than 'better mpg'. Like actual government data.

  22. Nice documentary! Although, 60 grand is a really high estimate. Even if you go ape shit crazy and luxurious and make mistakes, it’ll be 10-20 grand.

  23. Yeh sweet, more fossil fuel fumes up for our lungs; stuff our sinuses that are already have infected with it, not that you'd notice and no matter how young we are. What about the babies and tiny children, to become not a matter when you're chugging your happy mobile engine home constantly up and down the roads and the country roads that also need y'all to congest you may bloody well try, eh?! More money than sense, eh? I think we need a balance of life, bring in the dandy highway men lol. By the way, don't mention it, you can thank me later, but for now just discredit my rightful opinion and call me a TROLL!

  24. Smart lady. She's right. The real reason to live in a van is for the adventure. It's not for profit. Seeing the country, versus watching TV every night.

  25. tell us all how u & g/f met the behind the seane ( behind the door ) stuff how old were u both & what was going on around u both at the time…….

  26. Just bought a ford transit. Started converting it. Its expensive but it will be worth it. So far all I have is a bed but thats fine by me. My wife on the other hand has a few more requirements…

  27. Ha WHY?! Because rents are INSANE, people take advantage of others in rental situations, no apartment should cost more than a house!!

  28. Seven Grey 58:17 : I have juste discovered what vanlife is and I am now literally obsessed. I was planning in my head ways to make this a reality in the future. Your advice was EXACTLY one of the plans I was thinking! You have no idea how you motivated me. Thanks you so much!!

  29. Great documentary! Thanks for sharing the light and darkness of the van. I've traveled a lot with just a backpack in a small suitcase for years and even though there were some tough moments, but I would never give it back because mostly they were wonderful experiences.

  30. I'm sorry but the women at the beginning hasn't got a clue, most people living in a van don't spend that much money on a van or the conversion!

  31. I bought my first van 1973 Dodge short Tradesmen, I fell in love with Vans and VW bugs. I have 2002 Ford E150 now, I'm 70 now. Home is where I roll. My house like said is the mother ship. I can't afford a Bug.

  32. Твоя девушка американка. Есть и русские девушки которые тоже бы с тобой по всей стране мотались. #giveaslavicgirlachance

  33. It's cheaper than buying your own home because there are some of us that buy a reasonably priced used van and modify it ourselves for less than $5000. $100000???? $60000 modifications? Maybe for someone of means….

  34. That guy at 1:00:50 nails it. He's right about the "strugglers" also- they tend to be people with mental baggage, regardless of where they live they would have problems with others.

  35. The Tesla guy has been fairly roasted over his completely stupid choice. Typical milenial.
    Edit- Roast video🤣

  36. Kristin Bor's perspective was particularly insightful, about the constant decision making. Even as a solo traveler.

  37. 2 People (couple) Van Life = Adventure freedom & no mortgage for house I can afford anyway. MILLENNIAL DREAMERS. The other side of the coin. 1 person Van Life = Homeless or lack of Rent Funds .Older people = Dont want adventure. Like trying to find a safe place to Over night. And avoid Harassment. No FUCKING INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT or Beach pictures or National parks . Guesstment 30% Young and Traveling. 70% Older trying to figure out how to survive with No Safety Net .Scared Shit less. What Happened to my Country ?🤢

  38. A lot of reference to the 1960s. But nomads have been around since prehistoric times. It's primal. Just like folks miss community… That can happen in stix n brix too. There's need of a tribe, as humans are social creatures. Some of these gatherings are formation of tribes.
    Look at square root human… The caveman if you will.
    Many answers will come clear from that.

  39. Insurance companies now ask a bunch of renovation questions if you buy a van. Even DMV asked vanlife questions when I bought my van. More people are deciding not to be trapped in cities and houses like it is Germany 1942

  40. Mobile technology is the answer which came about from the mobile phones and then batteries became better with lithium technology,and of course the internet which is now a digital address, the only down side is there are people who don’t like people living in vans unless there at a campground which goes against everything I’ve just mentioned, and those people will harass you because they think your homeless and that they paid more for there house and your in there suburb , so living in a van is not excepted ,but insurance companies will except the fact that you live in your van

  41. Liked your diy van build , paying too much , may it may it be a Harley or New Transit , don’t make a person a biker or van person , just a rich poser . I prefer your build to buying a identity to fit in .

  42. I love vans. The problem is, we live in Wyoming. No van is AWD or 4×4. One minivan is…The Toyota Sienna. So We are stuck with that, as we absolutely need to get around in the snow.

  43. $60,000?! She is NOT being realistic or reasonable. Most people, nearly all, DO NOT add $60,000 to upgrade their van.

  44. Hi i have to say that the gentleman at 18mins in nailed it, i too find it difficult to find rented accomodation here in the UK all because of a work related spine injury [so i could;nt work] for a number of years and before this i was a pretty good earner. I am now looking for a extra long wheelbase van to convert as all my friends are in either electrical, Engineering, Plumbing etc. The rent alone here in the UK is stupidly high and thats IF YOUR ACCEPTED for the property then you have all the other [HUGE] bills to pay BEFORE you can EAT, So i have worked out that by LIVING FULL TIME in a nice warm comfy van i could literaly save 15/20K a YEAR and thats on the low end, If i realy put my mind to it it would most definately be 5/10K more because i have a well payed job to go back to . Thank you for doing this work and finding out why A LOT of people are choosing van life because its literaly ALL you need to stop you being homeLESS CHEERS SCOOBS UK.

  45. The american dream is preposterous UHAHAHAHAH

  46. Comprehensive, informative & realistic. As someone researching this for my own self i found it very helpful nailing down my own expectations. Thx so much 👍
    To keep costs down buy used & do as much as u r can yourself. Hire out for what u lack the ability to do. Simple is my standard because my needs r few. I recognize that what works for me is not going to work for everyone. Keep evaluating ur why & that will guide ur build.

  47. My plan in somewhere in between. I intend to live in a van in a specific area or "home". Thereby I can have a job locally but be able to save money to make short to long term journeys. Good job on your work.

  48. What about health insurances ? Are those peuple have another home/appartement /family members to go to if needed ? What about address ?

  49. You should check the Atlantic east coast Canada. Beautiful!!! Sooooooo much to see. Isn’t there groups of vans traveling together?


  51. so that guy in the Tesla 'van lifes' full time? AND Lyfts for money?? YEA RIGHT!! bwahahahahahahahaha sure you do… guess he overnight parks at a charging station too.

  52. You can have a traditional job and live in a van…If you have a van and a house you have two sets of expenses get rid of the house make the van a house you have one set of expense it’s basic math…You’re cute but you just seem like you’re simplifying everything too much now everybody lives in $100,000 van very few people do as a matter fact you just seem I don’t mean it to sound insulting but clueless but you’ll see soon enough enjoy your trip learn a lot have fun

  53. Do people lose money when they own a home you do not always make money as Sergio how many times his van has broken down not too many I’m sure again you still have a dual expense if you have a house and car…

  54. I like what the guy in the green van said about driving out to Colorado River to watch the sunset 🏞️🚐 Sounds nice😎

  55. West coast has more "Free land" parking for Vanlife than east coast.🙄 & Canada has more too!… I'm curious to see how many rental properties are available now that so many are staying in vans🤔. It's sad when people work full time & can't even afford housing,food,etc. I've seen where people have to pick groceries or pay to go to Doctor or Dentist this wk. So sad & not normal to have to choose….

  56. Love the video! My fear like others here have mentioned is two-fold: Gov't will NOT stand for this for much longer, they want to corral their sheep as tight as possible, they don't want us running off roaming around living off-grid. Secondly, this trend is making Vans and other vehicles sky high prices! But one good thing Ive noticed is larger RV's like Class A and C's are coming down because everyone wants a Sprinter van LOL! Keep buying those vans! (Call me old fashioned and it is NOT trendy right now) but I want me a huge class A or larger C! hehe hehe. If I did get a van, I'd want one of them larger off-road vehicles that have huge all-terrain tires, lifted 2 feet off the ground and be able to go anywhere! And oddly enough (Didn't know this until your video) I LIVE IN FRESNO! Right where you interviewed SportsMobile! 🙂

  57. I'm working at Amazon and I see a couple people who I'm pretty sure are living in vans, I think it's pretty cool. That being said I don't think I would ever be able to afford a new van… I would be ok with a used ford transit, currently I'm looking at a 2005 Chevy Astro with only 100k miles for 3600. That is more my price range lol. I have seen ford transits and econolines for 6-10k but I would have to take a loan for that and I'm not huge into debt…

  58. I purchased my van for under 10K CAD and it's fully loaded with all the amenities. I'm living quite nicely. You don't need a lot of $ to start vanlife. I'm definitely glad that I did and only wished I had started much sooner!

  59. It is cheaper if you are already retired, then you already have the equity in you home. And you have a fixed income!!!


  61. Gypsy life-style (Wonders) can get out of hand. Why are some places "closing off/pushing out" this type of "Boondocking"? Walmart etc. Too much filth left behind. BUT on the other side, there are many, many people who just can't aford to pay rent!!!! That is serious.

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