Why are young adults all over the world hooked on car camping and the vanlife?

Why are young adults all over the world hooked on car camping and the vanlife?

Vanlife is all the rage nowadays

  

While the term may not be common in Japan just yet, the whole world is currently experiencing a "vanlife" boom.

  

After experiencing the vanlife abroad for five years, let me tell you plain and simple what vanlife is all about, how it came to be, why young people are gaga over it, as well as the endless lifestyle possibilities abroad!

 

What is vanlife?

 

 

Vanlife is the new lifestyle combining work and living in your car or van. You turn your vehicle into a comfortable living space where you work, sleep, and play, enriching your life with permanent travel.

  

If you go on Instagram, you'll see over 5.5 million posts with the hashtag #vanlife. It's become the newest lifestyle trend in the world but primarily on the West, and literally means living in a van (different from the Japanese 車上生活 "car life," which sounds like you're lost on the road).

 

Vanlifers seek spiritual richness through transforming their vehicle into their abode and making connections with people and nature while traveling.

 

Vanlife origins

 

 

In 1997, American architect Sarah Susanka started the "Tiny House Movement" in an effort to promote simple, no-nonsense living in a tiny house.

  

Two years later, American artist Jay Shafer followed up with the Small House Movement and built a 4.2m x 2.3m mobile house (ELM). In 2005, the US suffered from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, heightening the country's disaster prevention awareness. In 2008, Lehman Shock raised interest in minimalist living among people, and the publication of "The Small House Book" the following year further sealed the place of tiny house in common parlance.

  

Former Ralph Lauren designer Foster Huntington published a photo book called "Home Is Where You Park It" in 2014. The book was shot from 2011 to 2013, showcasing minimalist living in a Volkswagen van, and has popularized vanlife all over Europe and North America.

  

Why is vanlife such a hit among young adults?

 

 

In Japan, the term "car camping" usually elicits an image of senior citizens enjoying leisure time on the road. In contrast to this, the term "vanlife" appeals to a wider age group but especially Millennials (born between 1980-1995) and Generation Zers (born after 1995) as can be observed through their overwhelming presence on social media like Instagram with the hashtag #vanlife.

  

Here are the top 3 reasons I think why Millennials and Gen Z love the vanlife:

  

① Netizens love things that are out of the ordinary

  

  

Vanlife is certainly out of the ordinary. In a world where everyone lives in an immovable house and uses a car or some form of public transportation to get around, the idea of living and working in a mobile house, for most people, is just inconceivable. And the amazing photos people see online that are exclusive to the vanlife experience further add to vanlife's popularity, and of course, thanks to the ability to collect thousands of likes and views on different social media like YouTube and Instagram.

  

This resulted in the increase of influencers around the globe promoting vanlife as they blog about their lives and earn a living on the go through remote work. A dream-like life of travel and freedom that the young generations covet. Even in Japan, YouTubers like the Watanabe Couple and Tabiwa Life have gained popularity.

  

② You can attain spiritually wealth without spending money

 

 

The number one reason vanlife is extremely popular among young adults is because it's cheap. It's so easy to rent or buy a used van in Europe and North America that, in fact, it's not uncommon for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and college students in the bay area to live in vans to save money.

  

Also, after the Lehman Shock, many people started questioning the capitalistic view that having more material things is better. Buying a house that you pay off the mortgage for 30 years, shuffling between house and work all the time, spending time with your family only on the weekends, and loading your house with things you don't need... all don't appeal to people like they used to. In addition, the Internet has become as common as oxygen that you can connect to almost anywhere. Both of those make people seek a post capitalist way of life through vanlife. They pack their vans with only the essentials and choose to spend more time with family and nature to attain spiritual wealth.

 

③ It frees you from the shackles of society

 

 

The last but not the least is the freedom you get from vanlife. It gives you liberty to live anywhere, anytime, and experience whatever you want. As sharing economy is gaining traction, more and more young people are choosing bed and breakfast accommodations over hotels, co-working spaces over traditional offices, and co-living arrangements over the usual apartments and houses. "Freedom" is only becoming the it word in the coming years. Not to mention the development of 5G technology and autonomous driving will bring a paradigm shift to the concept of "mobile space," opening up a more advanced ecosystem for the vanlife lifestyle.

 

Join us and take your first step towards a richer life with vanlife through Carstay! 

 

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バンライフが大好きな27才!車中泊旅ライター。 「VANLIFE」の魅力を多くの人に知って貰えたら嬉しいです! ・Twitter: KCarstay
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