What would you say when asked "What made you want to do this?"
For me the answer begins simply. Freedom. There are a handful of moments I can recall in my life that have given me such an unbridled sense of freedom. The speed of cruising a motorcycle down a winding forest road with no destination. Wandering through the unfamiliar sights and sounds of a foreign port city. Or the alpine scent of a mountain breeze tugging at the tree tops near the end of a long hike. At each moment I remember wishing I didn't have to return home.
‚ÄúWhat if this could be the rule and not the exemption?‚Äù
‚ÄúWhat if my life became the adventure?‚Äù I thought to myself.
To me living in a home that travels with you is like a never-ending adventure. There is no going home because your home is with you wherever you are. Whether you choose a nomadic lifestyle and constantly travel or decide to stick around your favorite city the choice is yours. You have the capability to live in the forests of the north, the arid deserts of the southwest, or near the oceans of the pacific all within the same year. The world is your backyard and if that's not freedom I don't know what is.
Part of the reason living in a van is so freeing is because it‚Äôs affordable. Beyond the joys that come with this lifestyle there is also practicality. Personally, I used to spend about 70% of my income on expenses. The remainder was spent on entertainment and things to distract myself from the dissatisfying life I was living. I wanted to be out in nature where I knew I belonged. I wanted to see the giant redwoods, paddle through deep canyons, and stand beneath flowing waterfalls, but I could never get time off of work. Nor could I afford the trip. I was starving for it, but it was unattainable. Just out of reach‚Ä¶
So, with what little I could save. I bought a van. That big number spent on rent can now be saved or contributed towards investments and travel. No more spending an entire paycheck for a place to sleep at night.
Beyond that a van is relatively small. How does that save money you ask? Well it comes down to minimalism. You can only fit so much into a van in the way of material possessions. This forces you to really only keep what is needed and not fill closets and garages with clutter. This ideology extends to food as well. You become much more conscious of¬†what you consume. There is no space for items to get lost in the back of the fridge or cabinet, so it becomes natural to only buy what you know you will eat.
It's not common for young adults in their twenties like myself to build and own a house. A rented apartment can feel homely but there is only so much your allowed to do to make it yours. Taking a van and stripping it down to nothing and rebuilding it presents that opportunity. From the very beginning you make all the decisions in its construction and inherently it will reflect your own personality, skill, and passion. From the floor, to the wood work and cabinetry, every van is unique. In the end you literally sleep in the bed you made. There is just no equal to living in something that you built with your very own hands.
The sense of freedom, affordability, and homeliness of van living enables a radically different way of life. It's a means to break free of the rat race and see the world you live in.¬†It‚Äôs a chance to experience new things. An opportunity to travel and explore. A way to truly find yourself and gain a personal understanding of the world like never before. There are challenges, times of loneliness, and hardships, sure, but it pales in comparison to living a fulfilling and happy life.
Why did you choose to live in a van? Comment below and share what makes van life worth it to you.
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