WE SLEPT IN A VAN
Camper vans are blowing up my Instagram feed.
They exemplify a life of freedom and access to the open road from the comforts of a tiny home. At the time I started this post we were thoroughly considering purchasing a CV. After a weekend in one, we determined that it wasn't for us. Here's why:
In the past, I drove cargo vans as part of my job description so I was perfectly comfortable behind the wheel of this beast, but this wasn't the case for Ry. He started doing that not so subtle "my back hurts" motion with his neck just an hour into our trip. He also didn't love the decreased visibility from having no side panel windows- something that most live-in-vans have to provide privacy.
It should come as no surprise that our ideal camping spot is about ten miles down a dicy dirt road full of potholes and boulders. This was another major issue with our rental- it was 2wd. I understand that vans can be upgraded or purchased with 4wd (for some serious dough), but the folks I've spoken with that have this option told us that they still don't have the clearance or control to take it on unpaved terrain.
The final, and most glaring issue, was the way that beast sucked down gas. I actually cried on our third stop to fill up, feeling an immense sense of guilt. We do our very best to make environmentally conscious choices and the camper van seemed like a giant hypocrisy. That being said, the folks that live in these things have a much smaller carbon footprint than weekend warriors such as ourselves.
Our experience with a CV wasn't all negatives, however.
The idea of access that is projected all over social media is accurate. We really enjoyed the freedom that came with being able to pull up to a campsite at midnight in an unknown area and have everything we needed available right there in our rolling home.
We are originally from Oregon, so rain has always been a big part of outdoor playtime. When your vehicle is your tent you don't have to worry about setting up your sleeping quarters while getting drenched. You can also cook inside, heck you can even go to the bathroom inside if you bring along a gatorade bottle...er, portable toilet.
My absolute favorite aspect of the camper was the freedom to move quickly and easily from campsite to trailhead and back again. You don't need to ransack your bags to make sure you brought everything you need for the days activities, you won't spend an entire hike trying to remember if you left a bag of almonds in your bag for the creatures of the forest to have their way with. You also don't have to worry about quickly packing all your gear in the event of an emergency, again, it's a quick and easy escape.
In the end, we determined that a camper van was not the best option for our family and went a different direction (more on that to come). If you are to take any recommendations from this post it would be to TRY before you BUY- there are rentals of just about every adventure mobile option out there and it's certainly in your best interest to test them out before making such a large investment.