#VanLife: how a pandemic impacts life on the street | Funds Journey


#VanLife. It’s been all the fad for some time now. Dwelling in your van or automobile can present freedom. Freedom from hire, freedom from the mundane, and infrequently most significantly, freedom to journey the nation.

However what occurs when a pandemic hits, bringing journey to a grinding halt? What occurs whenever you’re ordered to remain house however your private home is a van? I spoke with two individuals for whom van life is the norm and discovered among the methods COVID-19 has impacted their group.


Jen Nielsen, @jolly_jen, within the 2009 Toyota Matrix she calls house six months out of the yr.

The place to Go?

When COVID-19 hit the fan in March 2020, going “house” to folks or mates was an possibility for some vanlifers, however not all. For a lot of, touring throughout the nation to stick with mates or household would do extra hurt than good as a result of they might be placing not solely themselves in danger however each individual they got here involved with alongside the best way. Moreover, those that usually have somebody to go to may not have that possibility anymore if these people are at a excessive danger of being severely harmed by the virus. Then there’s the truth that some individuals don’t have mates or household they’ll stick with in any respect.

So what have been vanlifers to do? Nicely, a lot of them selected to self-quarantine by tenting on Bureau of Land Administration (BLM) or Nationwide Forest land. It was one thing they knew learn how to do safely, it stopped them from touring, and it meant they might solely be near different individuals after they went into city for meals or gasoline.

There have been a couple of issues, nonetheless. Certainly one of these was time restrict restrictions, normally 14- or 16-day limits in these areas. To make issues worse, some areas even closed down for individuals who have been from exterior the county. Halle Homel, a full-time vanlifer, summed up the scenario in a weblog publish on her website: “We depend on public lands to have the ability to stay in our houses when we’ve no different choices […] However recently, BLM and Forest land has been threatening closures too, and for these of us who stay on the street, I’ve to ask the query: the place are we presupposed to go?”

An element-time vanlifer named Jen Nielsen skilled this drawback first-hand. She quarantined in Utah on BLM land for some time earlier than receiving an order to go away. Then she packed up her automobile and headed next-door to Colorado the place she quarantined on extra BLM land till she needed to depart after 14 days. The fixed want to maneuver clashed together with her want to be accountable, shelter in place, and are available into contact with as few individuals as attainable.


Being a vanlifer throughout this time had different unfavorable results, a type of being in-person harassment. For instance, Jen was yelled at by a neighborhood for having out-of-state plates whereas in Colorado.

Cyber harrassment was additionally an issue for a lot of vanlifers who doc their adventures. Halle was energetic in sharing her experiences on-line throughout this time and confronted backlash. On Instagram, she would publish pictures of her secluded campsites and in change acquired unfavorable messages from individuals telling her to go house.


Halle Homel, @halleswanderingsoul, sitting on high of her van in California.

Suggestions for Van Life Journey Shifting Ahead

As restrictions now let up and tensions concerning the pandemic subside, vanlifers are beginning to transfer once more. With help from Jen and Halle, I gathered a couple of ideas for serving to vanlifers accomplish that safely.

1.Plan forward: Do your analysis to verify campgrounds, roads, and recreation areas are open earlier than you head there. Additionally, make the most of apps like iOverlander, a community-based instrument, to discover a place to sleep earlier than shifting.

2. Search out unpopular areas: Many nationwide parks are being slammed with guests as they reopen, which makes it troublesome to social distance whereas exploring these areas. Focus your travels on much less well-known areas of the nation.

3. Keep away from unhealthy roads: As there are much less individuals touring than regular, there are additionally much less individuals happening distant, unpaved roads. Subsequently, should you get caught on one in all them, there’s a smaller likelihood that somebody will move by and assist you to out of the mud. Moreover, these roads are sometimes in no-service zones, so being unable to name for assist might depart you stranded.

4. Contemplate your route, not simply your vacation spot: Routes main you thru giant cities ought to be averted. Not solely does this permit you to evade the crowdedness that’s synonymous with these cities, but it surely additionally offers you the chance to assist the economies of smaller communities.

Lastly, I need to encourage you to share your personal ideas for touring safely throughout this time within the feedback beneath! This new surroundings is a difficult one to deal with, but when all of us assist one another out, it doesn’t should be harmful.

Martha Anderson is a Funds Journey intern for summer time 2020. She is a graduate of Kennesaw State College.

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