I was raised on road trips, with the best always being weeks-long trekking across the American West. They usually ended with all of our neatly packed stuff spread out in every corner of my parents’ van. A bed that my dad constructed in the back for my brother and me to hang out on became a sea of scattered books, discarded ripe socks, and torn candy wrappers covered in melted chocolate.
Ah, good times.
On Instagram, road-trip life has taken the more trendy form of vanlife culture—adventurous travel by living in customized vans. Posts frequently include remodeled Sprinter vans with rear doors opened and a couple laying on a bed facing picturesque scenery. There are beautiful galley kitchens with subway tiles and wood floors. It always looks better than my first Chicago apartment.
A closer look at the reality of vanlife, however, shows that it isn’t always as glamorous as it appears…