I hate blog posts that start with, “Sorry I haven’t been posting lately,” so now I feel the need to also say, “Sorry I’m starting this post with ‘Sorry.'”

Sorry! And Sorry I’m sorry! Wow, the more I write that word the more meaningless it looks. Sorry.

The thing is, I don’t feel like I know enough about any one area of living and traveling in a van to write about it – though I can write about what I’ve been reading and link to those sites. So here you go:

The vandwelling community is just that: a constantly moving community of people who love the way they live and love to share what they’ve learned.

I found a hilarious blog recently – HoboStripper.com – which is just what the name implies: she lived in her van for a long time and traveled around the country for stripping jobs! Now she does what she calls eco-porn. Seriously.

I about fell off my chair reading her post about how women can pee without a bathroom in full view: wear a long skirt and squat down to pet your dog while taking a stealth leak. Um, I probably won’t be doing that. I don’t like wearing skirts of any length but when I do, I’ll be wearing undies. No, it will be a FUD (Female Urination Device) for me.

Most other blogs of van- and rv-dwellers are less startling, but many are clearly written by distinctive characters. There’s Mobile Homemaker (a man) who gives fascinating and thoughtful advice for being homeless in a vehicle after having spent four years at it himself, by choice.

The thing is, a lot of people consider living in a vehicle to be the equivalent of homelessness (i.e., the poor souls you see with signs at stoplights). I think most of us see the difference between a vandwelling homeless person and an adventurous soul as choice: did you choose this life or were you forced by circumstance to live in your car or van? And that difference is how people who live in vehicles often define themselves.

The word ‘homeless’ itself is so emotionally charged that pinning it on anyone is practically like saying they have a social disease. This subject deserves a post of its own, but I just want to note that we categorize and judge people (and ourselves) way too easily by surface descriptions. Are you happy with your life? That’s all that matters.

One van dweller who definitely chose the life, and loves it, is Hollywood composer/arranger/musician Glenn Morrissette. His blog, To Simplify, was the first that I started reading on the subject. I spent hours digging through his archives and reading his story.

Three years ago, Glenn gave up his apartment and sold or gave away almost everything he owned, including a fancy sports car, in order to live in a Class B motorhome (basically an RV squeezed into a tricked-out cargo van). He parked on the streets of Los Angeles, enjoyed living at the beach or in nearby state and national parks whenever he wanted, and continued his successful freelance career. Eventually, he realized he wasn’t stuck in L.A., and he started roaming the country, working remotely from his roving sound-studio/home.

While many would consider Glenn’s Chinook impossibly small for living and working, to me it is the ultimate in tiny luxury. He has everything he needs and he gets to take it all with him wherever he goes – his van is like a giant man-purse on wheels – what’s not to like?

What I love about these blogs and others like them is the sense of community. They all seem to know each other, and they often have real life meetups where they socialize, share tips, and help each other. Think of more informal versions of SXSW, WDS, and BWE.

I was feeling a little shy about introducing myself to these folks, just like I did when I started commenting on blogs in this little corner of the blogosphere. But I knew they’d be just as friendly and welcoming as so many remarkable people were back then. So I’ve been commenting on a few blogs and joining some discussion lists and forums… and I was correct.

One group that made me feel right at home was a Yahoogroup that’s just for women who travel and camp in what they call “Class Z RVs,” meaning any car, SUV, or van that can be slept in without special conversions. One member has already invited me to meet up with her in October so she can show me the ropes.

I’m looking forward to that.

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Showing 18 comments
  • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef
    Reply

    How cool! More and more people are giving up the “American Dream” to own a piece of the road instead. I wonder what the actual numbers are in the U.S. alone? There are so many people these days living this lifestyle that it seems like there should be a census somewhere. I’ve always dreamed of doing the RV thing myself, but wish I had access to a TARDIS (where it’s bigger on the inside and doesn’t need gas to travel). Fun blog!

  • LaVonne Ellis
    Reply

    Hi Tea! Yes, I’ve been amazed at how many people are living this way and how active the community is. Can’t imagine how an accurate census could be taken, though.  

    Since you’ve dreamed of doing the RV thing but aren’t quite ready to try it, feel free to live vicariously through me. I’ll be taking my first 2-week trip in January to learn the ropes before jumping off for real in April. This first trip will be in my station wagon — gulp. A TARDIS would be a much better vehicle, methinks. Hoping to buy a nice van for living in by launch day.Thanks for your comment!

  • Van Nan65
    Reply

    Nice Blog LaVonne.

  • LaVonne Ellis
    Reply

    Thanks, Nan!

  • Caroline
    Reply

    I am just so tired of not having enough to pay everything and I don’t remember it being this way a few years ago. I think this is a dynamite idea.

    • LaVonne Ellis
      Reply

      I know what you mean, Caroline — money is such a stressful issue, especially these days. Thanks for visiting, and I hope things get better for you soon!

  • Bradford Harris
    Reply

    I enjoyed the site! I’ve been living in a van for nearly two years, much of the time on a relative’s property – sometimes traveling around. I work as a driver for railroad crews and love the freedom of living in a van and the rest of the time working out of the company’s van. It’s a great life for a single guy.

    Keep up the good work!

    • syd
      Reply

      How do you meet people?

      • LaVonne Ellis
        Reply

        Hi syd! You meet people by going out on the road and talking to them as you run across them at campgrounds, parks, rest stops, whatever. But I know what you mean. I’m uncomfortable talking to strangers too, in person. Online is another story. If you feel the same way, try going to http://cheaprvliving.com and click on “Forums” in the top menu. Lots of like-minded folks there will welcome you with open arms and answer all of your questions.

        p.s. Sorry for the delay in my response. I spaced out for a few days. I got your email but can’t find it now, so I hope I’ve answered your questions.

  • J
    Reply

    Hello, I’m a car dweller by choice and read your post reg. the women’s group of Class Z Rv’rs. I’ve searched and searched for their meetup group but have been unsuccessful. I would like to possibly caravan along. I’ve been looking to hookup with other ladies who are just as bold as I am to live in their vehicle. For me it’s an adventure of a lifetime, however, I’m still learning. I’m a retired, single female & my children are grown. I’m very excited about seeing the globe….now that I can. Can you point me in the right direction?

    Thanks.
    J.

    • LaVonne
      Reply

      Hi J. —

      That is a Yahoo group. They asked me to remove the link to their site because they don’t want to be easily found. I will email you privately with the link.

  • farmerjeani
    Reply

    35 years ago, my husband and I plus 4 children and 2 dogs lived and traveled in a bus for 3 years. We saw every part of the country, staying in any one place as long as we liked and then moving on. My husband was able to find a job easily in those days so sometimes we stayed in one place for a few months, sometimes only a few days. Even then there were an incredible number of people on the road and on the move, most all friendly and intelligent and on the road by choice. They lived in everything from cars to RV’s. I would think that number has increased significantly in these hard times. Even now, almost 70, we feel the call of the road. These days our traveling is abroad in an effort to ease the suffering of the worlds poor,but I still remember the total freedom of those bus days; no address, no phone, no schedule. priceless.

    • LaVonne Ellis
      Reply

      @farmerjeani, sorry for the late reply. You and your family were living my dream! Back then, I was a wannabe hippie but I never had the courage to leave my familiar haunts and go on a great adventure like that. I’m going to do it now, though. You can read about it here: http://completeflake.com/my-great-escape

  • Scott
    Reply

    Thinking of doing this myself , freaks me out a little but more afraid not to try it and wake up ten years from now wishing I would have!

    • LaVonne Ellis
      Reply

      I was freaked out too, Scott, but you’re right — regrets are far worse than if-only’s!

  • Storm Whittington
    Reply

    Living the life. I am 18-years-old and I live in a Dogde Caravan. I go to work every day and park my van next to my family home. I love the vandwelling life and can’t wait until I save enough money to travel. All of you people inspire me to be more than just a working young-adult. Thank you! 🙂

  • Jen
    Reply

    Loved reading this! I too would like the link to the lady vandwellers. I am in the infancy stages of starting to accomodate my SUV. I don’t know where to begin when i hit the road other than just hit the road. But it would be great to communicate with like-minded ladies living the dream. Thank you.

    • LaVonne Ellis
      Reply

      Hi Jen,

      Sorry I don’t remember the link to that group but if you don’t mind interacting with guys too, the forums at http://cheaprvliving.com are very helpful. That site also has a wealth of information about vandwelling. Good luck, and I hope we meet on the road someday!

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