the modern nomad

What started almost a century ago as automobile camping, is now a lifestyle for millions out there who want to live a simpler life with more freedom. 

With the earliest rise in the movement in the 1970s, the “hippie culture” saw Van Life as a symbol of anti-consumerism and a lifestyle choice.

In 2011 Foster Hunington left his job at Ralph Lauren to live out of his 1987 Volkswagen and reignited the movement. What started as a simple #vanlife Instagram post turned into a global phenomenon with over 7.5 million Instagram posts today. 

What exactly is Van Life and why do people do it?

Unsplash Caleb George

Van life quite simply put is living out of your vehicle. It is usually renovated to accommodate for a living but does not come close to the comfort level of homes. Many do not have a shower, toilets, and the security of a home

Why do people do it then?

It is the idea of nomadism with the ability to be free and go where your heart desires. The #vanlife started a voguish trend of classic road trips, free spirited desire of outdoorsiness, and a break from the hellish 9 to 5. Mix in the housing crisis and you have got millions of millennials who not only adopt the lifestyle as a choice but a necessity. 

The van life helps reduce the tight grips of consumerism. The tight spaces make you reconsider every purchase made. It reduces the carbon footprint of owning and operating a home and  encourages one to be more sustainable. You are more mindful of your belongings. Reducing your material possessions, only the essentials. With advancements in the ability to work remotely, people had the opportunity to travel full time with the security of a fixed income. People chose to leave the conformed lifestyle of the American dream of owning a home and are trying to live their dream of the nomads in the 70s. 

The bad

Apart from losing out on the obvious creature comforts of your home. Living with a significant other magnifies everything in the relationship. Such a confined space with someone over long periods takes its toll, the good becomes better the bad becomes worse. It’s not always a picture perfect scenario, there will be days you will spend in parking lots and having to time your bathroom visits with your schedule. 

Is it worth it?


Personally, yes. I know it’s not comfortable, but there is beauty in being at peace with the discomfort. You’ll live more with less and start appreciating the little things. It will teach you things, introduce you to people, visit places you could only dream off. It will force me to focus on myself and the things I care about. I romanticize the feeling of being free. Sleeping to the tune of the waves. Waking up with the smell of the ocean. Campfires in the mountains. Idyllic drives. Cozy chilly nights and warm mornings. The ability to truly be free and independent is what got me. 

When was the last time you were at peace in discomfort?

Maybe one day.

Links to know more


Kombi Life 

He has travelled over thirty thousand miles in his van. Picking up people and making memories along the way.

Exploring Alternatives

Honest account of her van life story.

Best Blogs for Van Life 

Nomads with a purpose

Van Clan

Best subreddits

Van Life

Van Dwellers

Meet Shah

My dreams are big. My mistakes? Bigger.