Road tripping gained widespread popularity in the 60s thanks to Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, a travel diary documenting his journey across the U.S.
Ever since, the idea of the road trip has become glamorized as a way to free ourselves from the doldrums of our everyday life. In the age of social media, the idea of the great American road trip has shifted a little, but remains romanticized as ever.
Back in 2011, Foster Huntington left his job in New York to travel and live out of his van. He uploaded photos of his journey on Instagram with the hashtag #VanLife, and thus was born a revolution. Since Huntington’s photo story of his adventures began, the #VanLife movement has gained significant momentum; the hashtag has gotten around 2 million posts and shows no sign of stopping.
Pictures usually contain beautiful landscapes overlooking cliffs, on beaches, in forests, etc., and a quintessential beautiful couple enjoying the spoils of the wilderness, tucked in their cozy reupholstered van. There are also non-commercialized photos that show the realities of living out of your vehicle, including road issues, maintenance and repairs, rainy days, blustery weather.
All told, #VanLife is a movement that shows no signs of stopping.
What is #VanLife?
Who here thinks they could live the #VanLife? #📷 @megantaylor.creative #letskeepitwild . . . . #homeiswhereyouparkit #vanlifediaries #arizonahikersguide #campervan #camperlife #campvibes #winnebago #withoutwalls #freedomvessel #freedomthinkers #ontheroad #campervanster #checkoutmyrig #livelifeoffleash #optoutside #campcoop #discovertheroad #adventuremobile #departedoutdoors #campingcollective #rei1440project #funontheroad #dirtbagdiaries #vanlifers #vanlifeideas
The idea behind #VanLife is pretty simple: you travel and live out of your van. Living out of a van is purportedly supposed to help you enjoy the journey, connect with nature, ditch what you don’t need, and give yourself a certain freedom.
Many vanlifers convert these vehicles into a temporary (or, for some, permanent) home. These restorations are no joke; vans can come decked out with comfy beds, kitchenettes and even desks for work. Take a gander through the most popular #VanLife accounts, like @laducb, @bluemoonthecrew, and @noel_russ, and you’ll see that living out of a van doesn’t actually have to be as bare as it might initially sound.
Obviously, our interest in #VanLife comes from the decluttering aspect – we’re all about keeping the stuff that matters, which inherently means ditching the stuff that doesn’t. So if the idea of the van lifestyle sounds appealing to you, where do you begin with your stuff?
Here are some basic tips to get you thinking about how to tackle your stuff, before you embark on your own #VanLife adventure.
Ditch the Clutter, Hit the Road
We’ll admit it: the idea of actually decluttering your home can be tough and overwhelming. That’s why we created a 30-day decluttering challenge which helps you go through each area, group of items, and themes in your home to help you evaluate what needs to go and what needs to stay. Even if you don’t take part in the challenge, this is a great checklist to help you get started in tackling your excess belongings.
Need more help with decluttering? Check out some of our best blog posts on how to get started:
- 9 Decluttering Projects to Tackle
- Advice From Peter Walsh: Don’t Focus On The “Stuff”
- 7 Decluttering Books To Read Before You Start
- Strategies For Room-By-Room Decluttering
Make Money From Your Things
Thanks to technology, there are myriad ways to make money from your unwanted things. Consider Poshmark, Etsy or Ebay for your clothes and shoes. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are wonderful and effective ways to get rid of big items like furniture and appliances. Other places to try:
- Amazon (less expensive than eBay. If you have the basic seller’s account, you can list for free, after which it’s $0.99 per item sold on top of the commission for the sale. Best for books, DVDs and video games)
- Free apps like Letgo, OfferUp, VarageSale, Close5 and Decluttr
- Consignment stores (great for high-end clothing, purses, home décor and furniture)
- Word of mouth (tell friends, coworkers, family members, your social networks, local forums, neighbors, and local businesses)
Store the Stuff You Can’t Get Rid of Yet
Unless you manage to get rid of, donate or sell everything you own, you’ll probably find yourself left with a handful of things that you simply can’t bring with you. Storage offers a great compromise for the #VanLife hopeful; you’ll be shelling out a small sum to keep the things that matter, but you’ll also have peace of mind knowing that your cherished possessions are safe.
Modern storage has also come a long way, meaning you’ve got several storage options to choose from. Traditional self-storage, full-service storage (your stuff gets taken to storage for you), and portable storage (like PODS and ZippyShell) are all things to consider when figuring out where to keep your most important things.
Another movement gaining momentum over the past few years is overlanding. Originally popularized in Australia, overlanding has basically the same concept as #VanLife, except maybe taken to the extreme. Overlanding enthusiasts to do some pretty gnarly things, like climbing over big rocks, taking primitive roads, and decking out their vehicles with rooftop tents and other complicated gear.