In the pandemic era, can #vanlife go on? It depends on your rig

Some van fans are getting REALLY socially distant.


April 24, 2020

How do you shelter in place when your home’s a van?

The answer might seem simple — just keep it in park? — but widespread stay-at-home orders are complicating #vanlife.

To flee or not to flee, that is the question

Some van dwellers have hightailed it to homes (or driveways) of family and friends, or to properties of willing strangers.

There’s even a “Space for Roadlifers” Google doc that’s connecting travelers with people willing to lend a spare room or parking spot.

Others are getting REALLY socially distant

Some van lifers have found places to legally park and stay (for free) on the wide open spaces of federal lands.

While developed recreation sites with campgrounds, toilets, and running water are closed in most places, free, dispersed camping (outside of designated camping spaces) is still fair game on most Bureau of Land Management and National Forest properties.

Determining whether it’s safer to head on a long journey toward family/friends or to hunker down on an uncrowded piece of public land depends, in part, on your van’s setup.

Take it from some van fans

Grizel Williams and her boyfriend found some quiet BLM land in southeastern Colorado to hunker down, and their situation sounds about as socially distant as it gets.

Their Extended High Roof Ford Transit van is equipped with running water, a 35-gallon tank, solar panels, and heat.

Williams says they can go 2 to 3 weeks before needing to head to town for a resupply. But if you don’t have a toilet or running water, like Christina Hadly, it’s much tougher to get by in your vehicle.

Don’t judge the van by the ‘gram

While stereotypes of van life involve constant traveling and way-too-staged lifestyle shots, many real-life van lifers say they’re in it for other reasons.

Williams says living in a van isn’t about traveling, it’s about “finding joy in things beyond consumerism.”

People in this camp, whose vans are well-equipped, can take the pandemic as an opportunity to slow down and focus on the things that matter most, kinda the point of #vanlife anyway.

But if federal lands close to dispersed camping, as some fear might happen, many more van lifers may need to consider posting up in relatives’ driveways.

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