Setting Yourself Up for Vanlife Failure
I make a conscious effort to get out of my bubble as much as possible, so when I saw a Jalopnik article proclaiming Vanlife Can Be Cheaper, Weirder, And More Accessible Than Instagram Would Have You Believe, I bit.
I’ll give Anna Merlan the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she started with the idea that vanlife could be cheaper, weirder, and more accessible than Instagram might lead you to believe, then set out to prove that by living in a 19-year-old Chrysler Town and Country while she travelled from Los Angeles to New Mexico. She spent a lot of time complaining about heat in the desert in the summer, the inconvenience of not having a shower or toilet in a van she did not add a shower or toilet to, and mediocre meals from mediocre food, though, interspersed with complaints about the vanlife community’s homogeneity. For the most part, it read as a hit piece. I agree and support her point that this lifestyle does not require an expensive luxury van or expensive accessories, but if she actually set out to show that, her general lack of preparedness set herself up for failure and made sure that she did a poor job of it.
So what should she have done? Without spending a dime, she could have dealt with the heat by staying out of the desert in the middle of summer, lined an old bucket with a trash bag for a makeshift toilet and used an elevated water container for a makeshift shower, and invested some time planning for tasty, easy camp meals. Basic camping tricks. She could have had some better, long-term solutions for the price of a few dollars, but her point was that this lifestyle does not require expensive things; she could have actually made it for the price of a bit of effort.