If you’ve ever thought about quitting your job, breaking your lease/selling your house, and traveling the world, you’re not alone. Our homies Andy + Luke took their fare at #vanlife recently, heading cross-country through 15 states and over 5,000 miles in a VW Vanagon Westfalia. We caught up with them to see what insights they gained and how to make the road feel like “home.” Here are the 4 things they said were essential:
Not rocket science, obtaining a van suitable for living out of is the first step to life on the road. Luke always had an affinity for Volkswagen Vanagons, specifically the Westfalia Syncro version (4wd, pop-top camper/kitchen outfitted). They’ve been donned the “swiss army knife” of RV options, small enough to handle city parking but large enough to sleep 2-4 people comfortably (fold-down bench bed and pop top bed on roof). Westfalias are older, a rare find, and not made anymore (the Westfalia Vanagon was built from 79-92).
It just so happens a Vanagon expert, Transporter Werks, was right in their backyard (Raleigh, NC). Transporter Werks (TW) has over 20 years of experience with Vanagons, helping with everything from major renovation to searching for the perfect van (rust free Vanagons can be tough to find, Sean + team know all the things to look for). TW had a beautiful white Westfalia Syncro available to borrow for the road trip (Luke + Andy pinky promised to return it in one piece).
Or no plan. That’s cool too. With Andy + Luke, their trip would last 2 weeks. They designed a route that allowed them to camp FO’ FREE all across the US. Most people are unaware, but 1/8 of the US is made up of public land, which is land that you can dwell on for up to 14 days. Better known as dispersed camping or “boondocking,” there’s a huge opportunity for exploration without spending a dime. This is most commonly land administered by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and National Forests (a great resource to find free camping is campendium.com)
Andy + Luke said there was nothing better than parking the van at night, popping the top tent, and sleeping under the stars soaking in their surroundings. Along their route they planned to hit as many national parks and monuments as they could.
Some of the places on their list:
The Grand Canyon
The Great Sand Dunes
Valley of the Gods
It’s more fun to share memories of long road trips with others. Like forming the ultimate golf scramble team, perhaps the most valuable partner is the Long Drive Champ. That is, the homie who can put in long hours of driving when getting from destination to destination. Andy + Luke drove 33 hours straight on a route that got them out west as fast as possible, switching shifts in highway driving to get through the plain states (sorry Oklahoma, we know you have good golf, we’ll be back, says Andy).
Another thing to consider when selecting a travel compradre is their music choice. Our rule of thumb is that the driver gets to ultimately choose what’s playing through the speakers. In the case of “West By Westfalia,” there was a swapping between trap music (Luke) and country (Andy), with the occasional Joe Rogan podcast. If you really don’t vibe with the driver’s tuner, there’s always headphones too.
Lastly, you’ve got to figure out what all you need inside your new home. Since size is limited, tough choices are required (hoarders need not apply). One thing that’s non-negotiable, always have your golf sticks with you. Pair your bag with some Jones duffles and you’re good to go on the luggage situation.
If you want to truly get off the grid when living out of a van, then food (storage, cooking, preparation) is of consideration. Luke + Andy had a custom cabinet in the Syncro, fitting a cooler and propane camping stove. If your rig doesn’t have a fridge built in, a Yeti cooler can do the trick.
For down-time, Andy + Luke brought along a skateboard and Raleigh Redux iE to stretch the legs when not driving. Additionally, they had a hard-drive with some classic flicks like Caddyshack or Dumb and Dumber, helping with Netflix withdrawals (if you’re dispersed camping, chances are you’ll be without signal).
We could sit and listen to Luke + Andy recounting stories from “West By Westfalia” for hours. We will continue to share their adventure over the next few months. Until then, #vanlife photos on Instagram will have to do.