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Starting Vanlife: The Differences Before and After 2020 and How to Succeed

Are you thinking about joining the vanlife community? Well, let me tell you, it's been quite a ride since the pandemic hit. Luckily, we started our vanlife journey in 2018 when we bought our van. Vans were easier to find back then and less expensive. We built the majority of the interior the summer of 2019 and hit the road with lots of adventures planned months before the full lockdown hit. I truly believe living in our van helped us navigate the emotional stress of the lockdown and changes that took over the world. This lifestyle has taught us to go with the flow and adapt more easily.


Before 2020, the vanlife movement was a tight-knit community of individuals who were passionate about living on the road. We were the rebels, the outsiders, and we loved every second of it. We each had our own reasons for building our tiny homes on wheels and for hitting the open road. But, since the pandemic hit, the vanlife community has blown up like a balloon! It's like everyone and their grandma wants to join the road-trip party. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome to see more people embracing the nomad lifestyle, but it does come with its own set of challenges.


Firstly, finding a sweet spot to park and sleep has become a bit more difficult. It's like a game of musical chairs, you gotta be more stealthy and aware of your surroundings to snag a spot in urban areas and on the eastern side of the US. Out west there are still many options. In fact, many locations like Walmarts and Cracker Barrels are now restricting overnight parking. In my opinion, a few people are ruining it for the rest of us by using these convenient spots as places they think they can spread out like a camp site. Our philosophy is leave a place better than you found it. But, don't worry, us vanlifers are still a friendly bunch, we might even share our secret spots with you.


Secondly, the media and government have taken notice of the vanlife movement, which has brought both good and bad attention. On one hand, it's great that we're getting more resources and support, but on the other hand, it means more restrictions on where we can park and camp. But, you know what they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!


Lastly, starting vanlife has never been easier! Before 2020, we had to rely on word of mouth and a limited number of online resources to learn about the lifestyle. But now, there's an abundance of information and resources available all over social media, YouTube, TV shows, and websites, making it easy for new vanlifers to jump on board.


One of the great things that have gained more attention from the recent vanlife boom is the number of tiny home and nomad festivals/events that have popped up all over the country. These events are a great way to connect with other nomads who have built the vehicle and lifestyle of their dreams, learn about new gear and products, and get a taste of what it's like to live on the road full-time.


Starting vanlife before 2020 and after 2020 may be different experiences, but the lifestyle remains an attractive and fulfilling way of living for many people. Isn’t it funny how many people know the SNL skit with Chris Farley’s character living in a van down by the river and shamed that lifestyle. Now, it’s a life goal! So, what are you waiting for? In 2017 we tried a “practice run” in our Honda Fit on a grand adventure through 27 states in 8 weeks. You don’t have to have the perfect rig. Just grab your keys and hit the road! And don't forget to check out some of the festivals and events to help you on your vanlife journey. We just won the “Best Van” award a few weeks ago at the Suncoast Tiny Home Festival where we reconnected with our nomad friends and met new ones. One of the most fulfilling things we get to do is help and inspire people who want to experience this lifestyle for themselves.


If you'd like to watch how we navigate our nomad vanlife, watch our tv show "Just Roll With It" coming back out for the second season February 2023 on OnestNetwork.com or Onest Network on Roku and Firestick.

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1 Comment


You make so many points in this, that my path to life on the road has taken a logical path. Gone is the larger RV/Conversion van. I will go with a stealthier mini-van. Keep up the great work!

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