‘No plans, no agendas’ — Maine and Mainers discover van life an excellent match


The rear of Luke Krummel’s 2014 Dodge Caravan, which features a mattress and cupboard space. Luke Krummel picture

Van life. For a lot of it’s an opportunity to hit the open street long-term — perhaps even without end — nicely outfitted and self-sufficient, however with out having to take care of tents or tag-along pop-ups or giant and costly RVs.

And with their residing situations set, for a lot of pursuing van life, the touring turns into extra in regards to the journey, not the vacation spot — though the Pine Tree State has attracted many individuals residing of their autos full or half time.

“My van has been everywhere in the state, from Sugarloaf within the winter, to Previous Orchard in the summertime, to Acadia within the fall. I benefit from the exercise these locations supply, but in addition the power to get out of the hustle of those locations. I may be there, however not be rushed,” stated Luke Krummel, a particular training trainer at Leroy Smith Elementary Faculty in Winterport who lives half time in his 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan when college’s out.

A fast Google seek for “different life-style” yields a dozen hyperlinks to social media accounts and YouTube channels of wanderlust-stricken millennials and retirees embarking on indefinite sojourns throughout america and North America. Some have the cash, and purchase or retrofit properly appointed journey vans with all of the bells and whistles.

For others who need to journey, budgets are tight. Flights are pricey. And for a lot of, transferring to their supreme vacation spot is out of the query.

However almost 92% of Individuals personal a car — that’s 276 million autos registered. And with costs for leisure autos at an all-time excessive, van-lifers are utilizing what’s at their disposal: their very own autos.

Because the title suggests, vans are the most typical sort of car used, though vacationers have gotten artistic and refitted their on a regular basis SUVs, station wagons and vans to accommodate their wants. Many accomplish their retrofits below a decent finances, however the associated fee to change these autos may be as pricy as shopping for a brand new one, which might vary, primarily based on supplies and home equipment, wherever from just a few hundred {dollars} to the-sky’s-the-limit.

Madeleine LaPlante-Dube, a 28-year-old digital strategist who for a time known as Lewiston her dwelling, constructed out the again of her Subaru Forester throughout the first summer season of the pandemic. Her objective was to see how cheaply she may make a snug van life construct, and over the course of per week she and her father managed to outfit her car for about $350, which included a platform, some drawers, a pull-out desk and a cupboard unit.

“For me, as a lifelong outside nerd, van life will get to the soul of being outdoors: having the ability to get up precisely the place you need to be. I’m of the thoughts that it doesn’t have to be fancy — a picket platform behind your Outback is simply pretty much as good as another person’s . . . Sprinter (van). It’s safer than a tent, and extra accessible than hike-in-hike-out tenting,” stated Dube. (For extra, see Madeleine’s tackle van life accompanying this story.)

Madeleine LaPlante-Dube took this picture of her Subaru Forester construct whereas at a campsite within the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. Madeleine LaPlante-Dube picture

“It makes getting outdoors simpler for folks, and that’s a win to me. Maine is the right place for van life. It has actually every part. When you’re a hiker, you may basecamp at any trailhead. When you’re a surfer, you may get up and catch a wave right here. And for anybody trying to simply be in nature, van life means you may go wherever and nonetheless keep comparatively secure and comfy,” she stated.

The purpose of the approach to life for a lot of is embracing the spontaneity of journey and a do-it-yourself angle, one thing that attracted Krummel straight away throughout his first van tour together with his sister to go to a number of nationwide parks in 2018.

“We did issues on a whim and as we selected. It was my first style of untethered touring. No plans, no agendas. It additionally helped me outline what van life could be — changing into untethered, whether or not it’s to journey plans, dwelling/home plans, and so forth.,” stated Krummel, 39.

“I found some nice benefits of really residing in a van. I knew what I anticipated out of van life at this level, however now I’m realizing meet these expectations. I spent a number of (months) observing vans and the way they labored. As soon as I obtained again to Maine, I started planning my very own construct. I put weeks into studying new hobbies that I’ve by no means tried earlier than: CAD (computer-assisted design applications), carpentry (to construct) my cupboards and mattress, and photo voltaic electrical energy, and powering and wiring the van,” stated Krummel.

That sense of journey is a sense Krummel shares together with his spouse and two daughters, together with the purchasers he rents his van to.

Thomas Betor of North Carolina, who flew into Bangor together with his spouse and rented Krummel’s van for a tour of the state, appreciated the retro-fitted van’s many advantages. “We felt that the van was the easiest way to see Acadia (Nationwide Park) because it supplied nice entry to probably the most distant areas of the Seawall and Blackwoods campgrounds. It was additionally very price efficient in comparison with a lodge and automotive rental mixture,” he stated.

“We love visiting nationwide parks and are avid hikers, however not so skilled with the tent tenting features of wilderness exploring. We’re additionally hesitant to go full bore on an RV primarily resulting from maneuverability and restricted entry to some NPS campgrounds. Plus, we like the thought of the van doubling as our major transportation possibility, moderately than pulling a second car behind an RV,” stated Betor.

The inside of the Mathers’ Sprinter van features a sink, range, and a seating space that converts to a mattress. Kevin Mathers picture

Kevin Mathers, 30, of Ventnor Metropolis, New Jersey, and his spouse, Taylor, have traveled throughout america of their 23-foot Sprinter van, documenting their travels on their YouTube channel. The couple came visiting Acadia Nationwide Park and fell in love with the pure great thing about the state.

“Maine’s shoreline is totally breathtaking and it has arguably the very best nationwide park on the East Coast with Acadia. The meals can also be excellent, which is an added bonus!” he stated.

The Mathers have introduced virtually all of the facilities of a home into their van, compromising area inside however adhering to the general minimal-living aesthetic of van life.

“When it comes to cooking we now have a 12-volt fridge that’s powered by our ‘home’ batteries (deep cycle lead acid batteries) and a two-burner gasoline range high so we are able to cook dinner loads of completely different meals. We additionally rely closely on GPS apps like Google maps, for driving to and from areas and we use apps like iOverlander for locating free locations to camp. Another van life necessities are our bathe and 35-gallon recent water tank, we even have a composting rest room. To remain cool we now have a number of home windows and a roof vent fan to maintain the air nicely circulated when hanging out within the van,” stated Mathers. 

Whereas some vans are outfitted with showers and loos, 39% of van lifers use public restrooms, based on statistics on Thrive My Approach, an internet site geared towards incomes earnings on-line. Different attention-grabbing statistics: Whereas 36% of van lifers are going it alone, about 44% are sharing the expertise with one different individual.

Whereas for a lot of, van life is a technique to journey extensively and see the nation for a set time interval, for others it’s a everlasting lifestyle, whether or not touring or staying put. Thrive My Approach statistics present that 51% of van lifers reside of their vans full time. The 2019 U.S. Census knowledge says 140,000 folks reside of their autos, although it’s not recognized what number of are doing that by alternative.

“Full-time van lifers in Maine have extra Moxie. They’re ready for 4 distinct seasons. They (have) Yankee ingenuity and use it. It takes a sure degree of preparedness to prepare for fall/winter residing in a van, and Mainers have that,” stated Krummel.

“Van life in Maine for me is easy — it’s dwelling. I’ve spent nearly all of my life right here and I can confidently say yearly, any time of the 12 months, I uncover new issues that I had by no means heard of in our stunning state.”

Kevin and Taylor Mathers with their Sprinter van, which they reside and journey in whereas documenting their adventures for his or her YouTube channel “Mathers on the Map.” Kevin Mathers picture


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