There are many ways of living off the grid, for some it means buying up some land, putting up a small cabin with solar panels and such, growing a garden, hunting and living as close to the land as possible. For others it means something entirely different. There is a whole culture around van living, ie living in a vehicle, usually a van or camper, not setting roots in any one place, being free to move around as they please.

When I was a kid, my dad had converted an old Dodge van into a camper, he completely gutted the inside, in the back he created a U shaped bench with a table in the middle, the table could be lowered to the same height as the bench and a cushion placed upon the table top to match the cushions on the bench, it made a great sleep platform. There was a cabinet that ran the length of one side of the van, it contained an ice box, yet a real ice box, you purchased a big cube of ice and it kept the contents of the ice box cold for several days. There was also a small sink with a pump handle to bring the water up from the water tank, the waste water from the sink drained out under the van. Next to that was a small 2 burner propane stove top. There was some storage in the cabinets as well as under the bench in the back. Just behind the passenger seat was a chemical potty.

My mother sewed curtains for the windows and a long curtain that went around the potty for privacy. I was a young kid, with my younger sister and brother and both of my parents, we traveled from southern California to Fort Worth Texas, it took about 4 days to complete the journey. Driving through the desert, I was entirely enchanted with it and wanted to live in the desert after that. This would have been back in the mid 70s.

Today van living is quite a different affair, with modern materials, solar panels and electronics, I suspect it is a lot easier to live or travel in a van or camper. I understand one of the problems with living in a vehicle, is the legalities of it, there is always the concern about finding a place to park over night, security, what to do if your van breaks down and you have to use a repair shop, where do you stay and what do you do with your stuff? I do know that WalMart will let people “camp” in their parking lot overnight, perhaps even for a few nights, they do that as a courtesy as well as hopefully creating instant customers. Some people will park at friends or family’s homes, you can also stay at state parks and such. Many choose to drive to a different location each night as to not attract unwanted attention from neighbors or police.

I searched out some videos of people living and camping in their vans, some by choice, some because of circumstances. They are some very creative people, they are also ingenious, being able to carve out a life in a very small space, often having to remain somewhat hidden, especially since society as a whole usually looks down upon the homeless, and they consider anyone living in a vehicle as homeless, or close enough to it that they consider it the same thing. Many of these van dwellers have gym memberships so that they can use the shower facilities, they certainly do save lots of money by not having to pay rent on a home, as long as they are able to buy fuel, insurance and do the general maintenance on their rolling home, they are usually in pretty good shape. With wifi nearly everywhere, it’s pretty simple to stay in contact with the world, even earning money through the internet.

This one is a montage of tricked out vans.

There are lots more videos on YouTube and other places all about van living or vandwelling.

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2 Responses

  1. I’m Storm. I live in Joplin, MO. Of course, I live in my Dodge Caravan. :) It is a great life. I park right next to my grandmother’s, where all my family is, and I go to work every day. I just graduated May 19th, 2013. I don’t plan on going to college. The only problems I have encountered in my Van Dwelling life, is the cost of fixing my vehicle. I am currently saving up money to fix the vehicle or buy a new one.
    I wouldn’t recommend staying in one spot, mostly in the woods, but you could always find somebody that needs a helping hand on their property in the woods, and also earn money. :) Good luck.

  2. i am graduating high school early to drop off the map and live in a van that i can hopefully do custom work on. but im not going to have hardly any money. is it possible to just drive far into the backwoods somewhere and camp out for long term surviving off the land? i am also going to survival colledge once i graduate so i can have confidence in my survival abilities.

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