- Jordan Wolfe
Travel the trends: Exploring the country in an RV
Exploring the country has never been easier. In recent years, social media platforms have helped cultivate new and creative ways to travel. The concept of living in a mobile home, such as an RV or van, has become a new sensation and many people have decided to give it a try.
The popular app TikTok has played a large role in this, with tags such as “vanlife” and “rvliving,” amassing more than 10 billion views on their videos. These short clips are giving viewers “how-tos” and have recently gained traction.
It is not only the younger generation who have followed this trend, but also entire families who have decided to pack up and begin their own journeys on the road. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2019 a 38% uptick for those living in a van, contrary to three years prior.
Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in remote work, the statistic above prove an increase of people participating in van life. Rising costs for housing and sustainable goods have also contributed.
“Some pros of van life are that we won't have to worry about hotel expenses or a house payment,” Julianne Burk said, a junior at Palm Beach Atlantic University. “A negative is that we won’t have too much room for clothes and gas prices are expensive.”
Burk plans to travel full-time with her fiance in their home on wheels once they both complete schooling in a few years. They hope to spend time in Tennessee, California and Washington.
“Ever since I was little I have traveled - I’m so used to change and scenery,” Burk said. “I don’t like that a house is stationary. I wouldn’t be able to change scenery a lot. Therefore, a van is perfect.”
Many doubt the feasibility of full-time van life. The upfront costs of living in a van are smaller than those of living in a house, however, gas and food must be covered monetarily.
Indiana natives Stephen and Leslie Stashevsky have found a way to make this work. Stephen now works as a full-time travel physical therapist. Their assignments require them to stay in one part of the country for 13 weeks at a time before packing up and moving to the next location.
In addition to the positives in flexibility that travelers have, Stashevsky also noted a hidden cost with RV life.
“It is more expensive than people think with gas and campgrounds - especially if you are unable to do dry camping - and things are always breaking because you’re in a moving home,” Stashevsky said.
Plenty of companies have allowed for remote work as well, giving those interested in full-time travel the opportunity to do so while earning a living. Travel content creators can also expect to earn comfortable working wages while being able to live in these mobile homes freely.
“We really wanted to be able to travel full time and see the country. Van life is definitely feasible for travel medical professionals or people who work remotely,” Stashevsky said.
While van life is certainly booming, safety issues can always pose risk. Travelers living full time in a moving vehicle can be expected to take extra precautions to secure their living area and look after their surroundings. Added time on the road, and in deserted areas lead to increased risk.
For those interested in packing up their things and traveling the country, the time is now. The post-pandemic world has changed society, and work has become much more dynamic. For those interested in packing up and moving out, now is the time to get out of the mundane and explore.
By Jordan Wolfe