Many, many moons ago — most scholars say it was about midway through the first half of the 19th century — some intrepid traveler covered a horse-drawn cart with a thick piece of cotton fabric in order to keep the stuff inside hidden from the prying eyes of would-be thieves and also protected from outside elements. It was a seriously ingenious design that was immediately copied by other travelers. Pretty soon, whole groups of these covered-cart crews, packing all kinds of cool stuff, set out on big adventures. And they called their traveling groups “caravans.”
Americans, ever the purveyors of lazy if not inventive linguistics, shortened the term caravan to just “van.” And with all the time these folks saved by ditching those two syllables, they were able to sort out ever more creative ways to outfit their covered wagons, as well as ever more adventurous places to take them.
Van life was born.
With the advent of the motorcar, Henry Ford and others changed the size, shape and utility of these van things. In the 1970s, some longhaired van life interior decorator was like, “Man, if every inch of my van’s interior was covered with shag carpet, I could like live in the thing.”
Van life got better.
Fast-forward about a half a decade, and the van life movement has catapulted moving your stuff around so that you can discover cool new stuff into an art form. And countless new outdoors adventures happen every day thanks in large part to boxy vehicles packed full of creature comforts and outdoor toys.
Of course there are the naysayers, the grumpy few that see van life as nothing more than the marketing of really expensive German maxi-vans to wannabe Instagram celebs. But those naysayers are wrong. Van life is about keeping your gear close, always being ready for adventure, and finding out what rad ride might be hiding just over the next mountain pass — even if your van has barely enough power to get there.
Van life. You get it.