Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why do you want to live in a van? part 1

All Posts:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

This is my rough guide to choosing a mobile lifestyle and what your options are.

First and foremost, ask yourself these questions Why you want to live/travel in a van? What part of this is appealing? What are the downsides? What are your needs/wants?

These questions need to be answered first because they dictate what type of van would be ideal for you. If you happen to be a retired couple wanting to visit state parks and need a queen size bed with full shower and TV then prepare to start your search with a traditional full size Motorhome. A full size motorhome comes with a different drivers license requirement, different and more expensive insurance, limitations to where you can park your motorhome as well as really bad mpg.

If the big bed, shower, and TV are not very important but you still want to travel around in comfort then consider a pull behind trailer like an Airstream or pop-up. Some have showers and toilets while smaller units do not. This option requires a tow vehicle capable of pulling the trailer as well as registering and insuring the trailer but has better access to locations across the states. Expect the tow vehicle mpg to drop due to the extra load, also extra maintenance due to increased stresses on the motor and other parts like brakes and tires.

At the basic end is car camping where you load up all your camping gear into the car and drive to a campground where you unload everything in the dark and try to sleep on the ground. As cheap as getting a tent, sleeping pad and bag, and a cooler. I have had fun doing car camping and also some hike in too. No shower, stove or toilet but the mpg is what you get when you drive daily and you already have one. I would recommend starting here to see if you actually like being outside, if not please leave my blog and go buy stuff at the mall and stimulate the economy so my stocks go up.

Finally we come to what is known as a conversion van and although technically the VW Westfalia is closer related to camper it fits in very well with the conversion van category because it really was a converted van. Conversion vans were made by most auto manufacturers at one point so if you have a brand preference then start searching. The defining characteristic of a conversion van is that it still looks like a regular van on the outside but contains the comforts of home in miniature scale but still has regular car insurance. Very few will have showers or toilets but all have water, cooking systems and relatively comfortable beds. Conversion vans can be taken anywhere, some come with 4x4 abilities so you could really venture into the wilderness and the best part is they have similar mpg to a regular midsize van and look the exact same.

What is so great about conversion vans if they do not have showers or toilets? the simple answer, Stealth. Park a 30ft motorhome or trailer in front of house or city street for a few days and someone will notice, put a normal looking van and it is easily ignored, even better if you advertise a generic business on the side like plumbing. However, having said that it is very important to maintain the exterior because appearances are very important, beat up and broken are noticeable but clean and shiny isn't.

Being able to live anywhere allows you to live near work or travel to a new job if you are unemployed or simply to stop paying the monthly housing expenses. Party too hard on friday night, sleep in your van right outside the club. :) If retired you get to stay with friends and family for longer periods without being an inconvenience or burden.

This is part 1, in the next part I will put the mods necessary to improve the Westfalia.

All Posts:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

No comments:

Post a Comment