There are two types of Vanning in my opinion. Adventure Vanning is about creating a completely sustainable living environment. Believe it or not, this is very popular. Many of these adventure vans are built extremely well and resemble a high-end condo. Typical destinations for adventure vanning seem to be California deserts, national parks, Oregon, Alaska and other scenic locations.
Here’s a few great examples:
- The Vanual (thevanual.com)
- A Girl and Her Van (agirlandhervan.com)
- Sprinter Van Diaries (sprintervandiaries.com)
- Expedition Happiness (expedition-happiness.com)
Urban Vanning, on the other hand, is all about utilizing your surroundings. That’s why I picked out a very inexpensive van ($2,000) and kept the interior simple. Only a bed and some storage space. I’ve probably spent about $100 on the interior. Adventure Vanners truly “live” in their vans, I only drive and sleep in mine. The rest of the time I spend at libraries, book stores, restaurants, coffee shops, gym, pool, friends houses, movie theaters, etc.
What if you have to go to the bathroom?
I’ve only had a problem finding a toilet once. Here’s how it went down:
I finish my lunch in a suburb and decide to drive to the Harvard campus in Cambridge, MA. I walk out of the restaurant, get in the van and realize I should go. “Nah, I’ll just wait till I get to the campus.”
A half hour later, I park the car and walk briskly towards main street. Starbucks was the first place with potential I could find. It was a two story version. I locate the bathroom on the second floor and—shoot, there’s an electronic code lock on the door. The bartender kindly gives me the code. I walk back, unlock the door and—no, there’s someone in the stall.
Only one stall in a two story Starbucks? That makes a lot of sense.
After a few minutes waiting outside, a man walks out. I go back in. What? There’s still someone in there? Okay, I’ll wait longer. Five minutes pass and another man walks out. Finally! I push open the bathroom door and it hits something. Now, somehow, there’s a guy waiting behind the door in this 10 square foot bathroom. And there’s still someone in the stall!
Where are these people coming from?!
I was very upset at this point so I just left. The anger and frustration eliminated the need to go, so it bought me some more time. After walking around town for 20 minutes it came back. But this time I found salvation. A ritzy hotel! There has to be a nice bathroom in there. Second floor, there it is! Everything covered in marble, very high-end, and the first stall is—open! I give it a test flush and—clogged. The other stall—occupied.
Thankfully this story had a happy ending, but not for the guy next to me. When I went back in to use the good stall, there was a guy in the other one that didn’t flush. The worst part is—he was destroying it. The sounds this guy was making, and breathing heavy too. He eventually flushed and I hear, “Oh no”.
But what if you have to go during the night?
It’s extremely rare that I would need to go number 2 during the night. So far it’s never happened. I bought a 32 oz. strawberry banana smoothie by Bolthouse Farms, one of my favorites, and saved the bottle. So I just use that if I have to go pee. It actually works really well. Even better than my apartment because I don’t have to walk anywhere or turn on the light. The only problem is if I bobble or drop the bottle. Or on a hot day I reach for a water and grab the wrong one.
What are you gonna do when it gets cold?
I have a blanket, medium comforter and heavy comforter. Then I built a canopy and draped two thick blankets over the top. So I am completely enclosed in blankets. The heat is contained and it actually stays very warm in there. It surprised me how well it’s been working. Before I go to bed, I’ll drive and crank the heat up, so it’s usually a little too hot when I first lay down. I think the coldest it’s been outside is somewhere around 27 degrees. The air gets a bit cool, but still not bad at all.
Home Depot sells insulation in a roll that I plan to use under the bed and on the back and sides. This will help prevent the windows from sucking out heat when it gets even colder. I’m not sure yet how cold I will be able to go, but I’m anxious to find out.
Where do you park overnight?
During the week I just stay in my work parking lot. I don’t have to worry about being bothered and it brings my commute to about 27 seconds. On weekends, the three best locations are travel stops, hotels and Walmart parking lots. Travel stops are meant for that, so nobody bothers you there. Walmart allows overnight parking at most locations and there are always campers, semi trucks and other people sleeping in their cars or vans there. Hotels are great because they are everywhere and you blend in. Hotels typically ask guests for their license plate, but that’s just in case there’s an issue with a car (alarm continuing to go off) or something like that where they need to contact the owner. There’s no way an employee is walking through the parking lot examining every plate to match it against a master list.
I know this is a much longer post than normal. I could keep going, but I’ll save it for the Q4 update.