What is #vanlife and where did this movement start?
Van life is a fast-growing bohemian lifestyle wherein people buy, rent & remodel vans and other vehicles, repurposing them as mobile homes on the go. This ‘travel and live on the road’ lifestyle has its own set of characteristics, ranging from minimalism & simplicity to adventure and a life lived on one’s own terms. First made popular by Foster Huntington (an ex-designer), the term #vanlife can be found all over social media – though it doesn’t just describe living situations. The term is used to caption many different kinds of pictures – from thirst traps to women in nature, starry night skies & bustling neon-lit streets and more. It’s a simple phrase (and hashtag) that exemplifies a number of modern aesthetics and trends, which include a revitalization of the romance of the quintessential American road trip, a move away from the stagnation of life in a dead-end job (or boring office cultures), and a contemporary hippie lifestyle spent as a modern nomad. Van-life has grown from being a descriptive term, to one that is all-encompassing; it reflects the journey of people trying to find news ways to live affordably, and minimally.
#Vanlife Influencers: Who are they?
Since it blossomed as a social media trend around 2017, a number of social media influencers have used it to promote the idea and their own unique ways of living life. Through their social media pages, these influencers give potential van-life enthusiasts a taste of what they can expect by offering their followers tips on the best vehicles for each purpose, survival and budget conscious lessons, live documentation of adventures & places to visit, and advice on mobile home friendly places to park in. Here are a few ‘vanlifers’ (or ‘vandwellers’) that have made an impact, furthering the ideals behind the #vanlife movement.
- Naomi Grevemberg – @irietoaurora
Noami Grevemberg is a social-activist, digital nomad and self-sufficient entrepreneur, who embarked on her van-life journey along with her husband, Dustin, in 2016. They moved into a 1985 Volkswagen Van and figured out how to make their lives sustainable within this environment. They bring in income by taking on digital work and practice a zero-waste lifestyle. Noami used her knowledge and skills to create a community of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ van lifers with Diversify Vanlife, her van-life page.
- Ben and Katie Zweber
Traveling as a family of 3 with their daughter Juniper, Ben & Katie have remodeled more than three totally unique campervans by themselves. They have incorporated their vanlife into their travel blog, Two Wandering Soles, which they have been running since 2014.
Most recently, they launched the Van Conversion Academy – an online step-by-step guide that takes you through all the necessary steps to build your own campervan from scratch. This course helps newcomers avoid information overload, by simplifying the entire process of remodeling a vehicle through their academy.
You can find them at twowanderingsoles.com
- Whitney Whitehouse – @whitwhitehouse
An avid animal, nature, and outdoor photographer, Whitney Whitehouse uses the van life motif as a recurring theme within her travels. Framed within her photographs and videos, Whitney features lovely dogs, furniture, outdoor areas, camping themes, beautiful vistas, wild animals, and more!
- Laura Edmondson – @laura.endmondson
Featuring breathtaking photographs of Americana traveled by land, incredible mountains & beaches, tips on how to life off the land & road, and organized vanlifer communities, Laura Edmondson uses her Instagram to give her followers a unique and often mesmerizing peek into what it means to travel, while living life to the fullest. With a penchant for capturing America’s open, untouched spaces, she also finds space for cute dogs on her page!
- Kathleen Morton – @tinyhousetinyfootprint
Kathleen Morton is a vanlifer, journalist, and photographer, who co-founded Vanlife Diaries, Tiny House and, Tiny Footprint. She lives out of a remodeled ’87 Toyota van and travels around the Western US, getting in touch with nature and alternative lifestyles. Her content showcases national forests, organic farms or beautiful landscapes of nature.
- Noel Russell – @noel_russ
Noel Russell, born and raised in California, lives with her partner and the sweetest little dog. Her feed usually presents the vast outdoors, a plethora of jaw-dropping panoramic views, van-life stories and remodeling updates. She also is an avid mountaineer, who frequently treks out in the wilderness with her campervan, named Francis Ford Campola.
- May – @mayandtravel
May and travel is a wonderful page to follow, since it is quite unique from the other pages on here. The page is focused on showcasing authentic van-life experiences, along with a lot of music played by May. This engages the audience in more ways than one, and certainly makes the page a standout, along with its West Coast centric aesthetic. You can also find some really laid back travel photos on here.
- Daniel Young – @danmaniel
Taking to TikTok, Daniel Young showcased how he converted an entire school bus into a tiny home, giving people step-by-step instructions, hacks and DIY knowledge. With over 2.5 million followers on TikTok, Daniel instructs his followers in everything from remodeling doors, to taking out the paneling. He is well versed in how to furnish a mobile home with luxuries such as a wine rack and comfortable seating.
- Kevin Long & Sarah Smith
Co-founders of The Dyrt, the No. 1 app for camping and camping based information, Sarah Smith and Kevin Long are beacons of guidance to many mobile homeowners world over. They aim to use their platform on The Dyrt to expand, advance and better inform the camping community, while helping people realize the joy of interacting with nature. The app is free to use, and helps users post reviews and photos of campsites, while being able to interact with each other as an online camping community.
You can find them at thedyrt.com
10) Sami Syed
Sami Syed is the CEO & CMO of Project Van Life. He grew Project Van Life’s presence online quite organically, by listening to the needs of the community. He produces content based on the problems, pains and concerns that are brought up to him by his vast following of van lifers, and he seeks to provide solutions to these problems, easily and accessibly.
You can find him at projectvanlife.com