Van Life: The Story Behind the Idea – Get yourself on the road!

Updated May 6, 2018 / João Leitão /
VAN LIFE

VAN LIFE

Van Life
The Story Behind the Idea – Get yourself on the road

When I hear talk about van life, I am almost always immediately reminded of surfers’ lives or hippies traveling on mythic road trips.

With a notorious passion for driving, I am emphatic about heading out on the road and traveling. With the ability to decide where to go to and where to stop, I have a full sense of freedom while on the road.

VAN LIFE - PEUGEOT G5 CAMPERVAN IN PORTUGAL

VAN LIFE – PEUGEOT G5 CAMPERVAN IN PORTUGAL

Van Life is most closely synonymous with freedom and total deliverance to free-range destinations. For independent travelers, it is quite possibly the best way to travel. Who hasn’t dreamed of traveling in a van across incredible landscapes? While enjoying magical moments, such as spending evenings by a fire in the wilderness?

VAN LIFE - SPRINTER 4X4 CAMPERVAN IN TAJIKISTAN

VAN LIFE – SPRINTER 4X4 CAMPERVAN IN TAJIKISTAN

This van life philosophy is not new and has existed since the mythical Sixties’ hippie era. Today, the vast majority inspired by low van prices along with social media networks such as Pinterest or Instagram, the phenomenon has taken on an entirely new dimension with a vast amount of additional possibilities.

VAN LIFE

VAN LIFE

The rebirth of a nomadic and self-sufficient spirit has never been so alive! The motivation to seek alternative ways of living is the necessary factor in engaging into van life, a lifestyle-on-wheels where your van is your home.

The story:

My history with vans goes back a few years ago when I made the decision to purchase a 1992 Peugeot G5. The primary reason I bought the truck was that I needed to move from Portugal to South Morocco in the cheapest possible way. After cross-examining all available options, I deduced that paying 4,000 euros for a professional moving company’s services was completely out of the question. That is when a friend offered to sell his old surfing van to me, for only 1,500 euros. After the purchase, I embarked on a 1,400 km (900 mi) road trip to the city of Erfoud, in the Sahara Desert, where I lived for almost five years before relocating to Ouarzazate, also in south Morocco.

A bit later, my wife and I flew to Portugal, from where we traveled for a month while living inside my Peugeot G5 converted into a very simple DIY-campervan. An incredible and liberating experience, with no need to pay for accommodation we truly enjoyed our complete freedom of movement.

VAN LIFE

VAN LIFE

After driving from Europe to Central Asia, my wife and I committed ourselves to explore Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, making a Nissan Primera our “home on wheels” for a few months. This was an epic trip that once again made us understand the necessity of having a proper campervan.

TRAVEL AND DRIVE (Nissan Primera in  Kyrgyzstan)

TRAVEL AND DRIVE (Nissan Primera in Kyrgyzstan)

During an 18-month journey around the world a few years later, we then purchased and lived in a small car while driving in South America. From Ecuador’s Mitad del Mundo, we drove to Fin del Mundo in Ushuaia, Argentina. Driving in South America was extraordinary, giving us our final resolve to travel independently thereafter and to seriously consider investing in a proper campervan vehicle in the near future.

Recently, my wife and I took the decision to go on the road for an unspecified and unlimited duration of time. The thrill of exploring, together with our passion for travel, encouraged us to save money in order to go and hit the road again!

This time, our main objective was to have a means of transportation suitable enough to live within comfortably. For us, the best option was to find a vehicle giving us total autonomy and this is where our #VanLife project came to life. We decided to stay on the road for a full year, driving from Europe to Central Asia and back to Europe.

Van Life – Life inside a van

I suppose there are moments in life when we find ourselves with a profound desire to leave everything behind. For some, adopting a nomadic attitude coincides with an intelligent and logical approach to life together with a need for obtaining even more wisdom.

Mercedes Sprinter campervan interior at Kyrgyz Ata National Park

DIY Mercedes Sprinter campervan interior at Kyrgyz Ata National Park in Kyrgyzstan

While either searching for adventure or just the thrill of exploring new lands, hashtag #VanLife is becoming more and more fashionable among travelers. True Van Life, living inside a traveling van, is an alternative way of life experienced while having a predisposition towards freedom and a new philosophy in exploring the Unknown. The Van Life phenomenon is a lifestyle, or a way of traveling, based on the prerequisite of making and experiencing your van as your home.

On several van life blog posts, I will guide you through my own VAN LIFE. While compiling key points of various aspects of this venturous subject, I will also highlight useful topics for your own research and motivation. In the end, it should, hopefully, make it easier for you to dive straight into this way of living as I did! From campervan conversion technical details to personal tips, tricks and ideas – Rest assured, you’ve journeyed to the right place and this Van Life blog will not leave you indifferent!

4×4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van Conversion

2005 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 316 CDI 4X4 model near Kolduk Lakes

2005 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 316 CDI 4X4 – DIY campervan

If you think converting a van is easy and all it will require is interior trim panels and floor mats, you’re far from reality! Actually, there are a vast number of things to do before you can even consider comfortably living in a campervan.

VANLIFE

Mercedes Sprinter campervan interior at Kyrgyz Ata National Park in Kyrgyzstan

On my van life series, I will provide a rather extensive list of the most important steps necessary to convert a normal van into a campervan, following my own self-taught process. Useful for people interested in a DIY (do-it-yourself) conversion, this page is also very beneficial for those who will have a professionally executed campervan conversion while also understanding the entire process themselves.

Our 2005 4X4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2.7, 316 CDI was originally purchased as a minibus. After an intense conversion process into a campervan, the vehicle can now accommodate four people in total comfort. However, significant changes needed to be made to the van’s structure in order to achieve our ultimate conversion result. First and foremost, before thinking of converting your own van, it is of utmost importance to define your accommodation needs and thoroughly plan what you desire your living space to be during your course of travel.

See you around! Happy travels!

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