I know what you’re thinking: "So what’s up with the mini van?” Soccer moms and swim meets. Baby seats and germs. That’s what people typically think of when talking about mini vans. I know it because Mich and I had the same thoughts just a few months ago. Until we seriously started thinking about our epic road trip. And then, slowly but surely a mini van started to make more and more sense. Until it became the only realistic option for us.
The idea of spending a few months on the open road came to us as we were wrapping up our 15 month trip around the world at the tail end of last year. (For an admittedly spotty account of that adventure check out michangabi.com). Somewhere around month 13, country 18, while trekking in the Himalayas the idea of exploring the American west was floated. The closer we got to returning to the USA the more certain we became we were not ready to give up our nomadic lifestyle just yet. Plus, the further we traveled from home the more we realized how much we have to explore in our own backyard.
As the dream crystallized we were ready to make our next adventure a reality. Like millions of others, we’ve been drooling over #vanlife images on Instagram with surf boards and prayer flags, perfectly painted 1960’s VW buses, and tricked out Sprinter vans.
However, we realized quickly there were some obstacles to obtaining our van life dream. After traveling non-stop for 15 months our savings account was not ready to handle the investment of a VW bus or a reliable sprinter van. Not to mention that although we know what a wrench is, we do not have the technical wherewithal to deal with the time consuming and presumably frustrating process of maintaining an old, rickety money pit.
We wanted to get on the road quickly, with low investment and in relative comfort. We needed a reliable vehicle we could use as our primary driver in Colorado while working on rebuilding our savings. We couldn't spend six months building out a Sprinter when we needed it for daily commuting. We needed something we could construct outside the van and install quickly before hitting the road. As you can see...Sprinter vans and vintage buses were just out of the question for us.
We knew there had to be a solution for us. An easier entry point into everything we loved about those dreamy Instagram photos - freedom, simplicity, adventure. More time, fewer things.
One night, during a craft beer fueled conversation with my brother in law, mini vans came up as a distinct possibility. After we listed ALL the requirements we needed in a vehicle, he took a long, thoughtful sip, closed his eyes and slowly said, “Well, it seems like you guys need a mini van”. And he was right. It was not what we wanted to hear but it was the truth. We were excited to buy something remotely cool to cruise around and a mini van did not seem to fit the general bill.
But, when we gave thought to why we wanted this van-home, we realized it had nothing to do with being "cool". Actually, it was to get away from societal pressures and the "keeping up" bubble that seems to surround your 30's. A mini-van was exactly what we needed: cheap, reliable, easily (ish) to convert, and roomy. Mini vans are a perfect, budget friendly alternative to camper vans and people all over the world already know this. It’s no surprise that mini vans are super popular as campers in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and all over Europe. And the U.S. is jumping on the bandwagon with mini van camper rentals popping up all across the country.
We're so happy with our little van and can't wait to show you how awesome mini van campers can be. We'll be showing you the conversion soon so make sure you subscribe below so you don't miss an update!