Van Life

I’m not even sure how it started. 

One day I’m sitting in my house planning how to survive on what’s left in the pantry and three rolls of toilet paper during a pandemic and the next I’m driving a 2016 cargo van home from the used car lot.

Is this one of the symptoms of COVID-19? Seemingly irrational decision making?

Truth is we so enjoyed our driving trip last fall to the West Coast that we wanted the freedom to do it again. And again.  But not crammed into a Honda Civic this time.  We got lucky with hotels and AirBNB last time but making reservations weeks in advance had forced us into a strict itinerary.  Since we were going to most places for the first time, we didn’t really know how much time to allow for each and would have gladly spent more time in several.  But a van?  All my life I had been taught that if you didn’t work hard and save 80% of what you earned you would end up living in a van (down by the river).  Turns out there is a whole social movement geared toward that now!

When I saw that my wife was on board with the idea of a van and very excited by it, I knew I had gained the traction I needed.  We started looking at plans and dreaming.  Our morning walks were spent talking floorplans and naming pros and cons (and then forgetting most of them by the time we got back to the house).

Just when we would be on the verge of scrapping the whole plan, an Instagram post would spark our imagination and we were jumping in again.  Ultimately it came down to a desire to see America at our own pace and, somewhat, within our own control.  If we are going to do this retirement thing, we don’t need to do it only at home.  Not while we are ‘young’.

After going back and forth on van choices, we set our sights on Ram ProMasters and Ford Transits.  Ultimately we settled on a used ProMaster with standing headroom.  After several days of online shopping we found a 2016 that was fairly clean, low mileage, and within a couple hours drive.  When we called about it on a Friday around noon the salesman told us he couldn’t hold it until Monday when we really wanted to come.  We made the 2-1/2 hour drive that afternoon.

I hate buying vehicles. I’ll spare you the details for now, but shortly after midnight we were pulling into our driveway with our “new” van.  Our #vanlife was about to begin.

Why do it? 

Why do ordinary people train for marathons or eat 75 hot dogs in a contest?  Because it is a challenge, a project to keep us busy as we learn new skills, and in the end a means by which to enjoy our retirement.

Stay tuned.


  • We have a van it has been a huge utility asset! We use it for our art shows and Dave’s band events. We haul the grandkids and lakeside beach stuff in it. Building lumber, etc. It has been a work horse so I would think it would be a travelling sleeper too but Dave’s not crazy a out that idea. We do like driving it on trips because it rides higher and you can put more stuff n people in it. Best wishes on your travels! I know 2 other couples who have done what you have done and they love it!

    Rosie Floyd
  • Dave, you are too funny. Your van is great, and you and Jenni have done a beautiful job with it. You are going to love the freedom.

    Helen Ammons
  • Enjoy this season, dear friends!

    Betty MB
  • Sounds like typical David McAda. Know both of you will enjoy your travels without a schedule. Enjoy


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