SAN DIEGO — As the pandemic drags on, more and more Americans who can work remotely are making a major lifestyle change.
The growing culture known as “vanlife” has exploded during the pandemic as people trade in homes, apartments and offices for life on the road.
Lane Reisig has been living in his RV for about two years, a lifestyle he was extra thankful for during the worst of the pandemic.
“Because I had my RV, I could still be by myself and quarantine safely and travel around a little bit,” he said. “And that made it really easy to kind of keep my sanity during the first few months of quarantine when things were really crazy.”
Giulio Colleluori saw the trend increasing right before the pandemic hit and developed the app Vanly with the goal of keeping vanlifers safe.
“We’ve definitely seen a huge spike in vanlife and van rentals,” Colleluori said. “Definitely been a lot more people during the pandemic that adopted this lifestyle.”
Vanly’s mission is providing safe overnight parking spots which offer the opportunity for beautiful experiences, meaningful connections and sustainable world transformations. The app launched in December 2019 and Colleluori believes the need for safe overnight parking will only increase.
“I think vanlife was already a very quickly accelerating trend but the pandemic kind of acted as a catalyst,” he said.
Colleluori is also part of the data; he started living in his van full time about five months ago.
“I’m one of those people,” he laughed. “It’s been amazing, honestly.”
According to a Travel Trends Report from Outdoorsy, self-contained travel is here to stay.
Ninety-one percent of survey respondents say they are planning to take a road trip in 2022, with 83% of travelers adding they would be either somewhat likely or very likely to vacation via RV or campervan if there were COVID surges in 2022.
“What we’re hearing from travelers, and what was further confirmed by our internal data, is something we’ve known all along,” said Outdoorsy’s co-founder and CEO Jeff Cavins. “The pull back of leisure travel in 2020 and 2021 has created a slingshot effect, a revenge travel effect if you will, that we’ll see spring to life in 2022.
Thanksgiving topped Christmas and New Years for the holiday weekend with the most RV rental bookings this season. Top destinations for holiday travel include, respectively: Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Austin, San Francisco, Miami and Las Vegas.
Experienced vanlifers say the lifestyle is not without its own expenses and newcomers will still need to budget.
“We have a lot of friends who were working in offices and now they’re working from home,” Reisig said. “But when I want to I can just pack up and leave and go to another town and there’s a beauty in that that I really enjoy.”