Small Spaces

The mysterious allure of #vanlife, and what we can learn from it

By Beth Stebner | August 5, 2015 - 1:59PM

What to make of people bunking in vans? Grateful Dead acolytes? Tiny-house types? A fascinating Atlantic  documentary short, “#VANLIFE,” delves into the lives of those opting to set up house in beat-up VW’s by choice, and they're loving every second.

The filmmakers speak to several prominent vanlife-ers, many of whom have thousands upon thousands of Instagram followers. Colorful characters like @poseidonsbeard (real name: Ryan Sellmeyer) relay why they gave up comfort for cramped living conditions.

“It’s what’s behind the vans that matter,” Sellmeyer tells the Atlantic. “We don’t have television or anything like that.” Instead, he focuses on building relationships with other vanlifers and his own children.

Others, like Foster Huntington, the creator of the original #vanlife hashtag, quit his high-stress job in Manhattan and packed everything up, living out of his van for three years before finally building a small cabin in Oregon. “Vanlife is like sleeping at a Walmart parking lot and looking for a bathroom and having your van break down,” he says.

We’d like to think that all the agony and the ecstasy of #vanlife could be had, say, as near as the Catskills and not just out west, though the most dedicated #vanlife devotees work to live only when they must, making the idea of doing it on the expensive east coast somewhat daunting.

For those hoping for just a taste of #vanlife, you can experience the joys of sleeping in a cramped van right here in New York: A man in Long Island City is currently renting out his own van on Airbnb. And, at only $22 a night, it’s a relative bargain. But no word if you’re able to take it into the mountains.

Watch the video here.


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