“Let’s get out of here!” is most the popular line in cinematic history. And When we think of our Wanderlust + Wildhearts Sprinter Van, this phrase is what invariably comes to mind. She is our Black and Gold, Four-wheeled Escape Hatch. When we load up provisions, climb aboard, and crank up the tunes, we are usually preparing to get the hell-out-of-dodge in some way, shape, or form. It is truly an emancipating feeling: “Let’s get outta here!” And yet, she is so much more to us than just a social media backdrop or simple getaway vessel….
Lets face it, DIY Camper Vans have become pretty much cliche these days. A few years back, when we began researching interior ideas for our newly acquired Cargo van, we were both over and underwhelmed. There were the photos of some fancy goon with his feet up on a white-cushioned sofa, heroically peering out his propped-open back doors at some Western Panorama... Or a Beach scene with two blondes giggling over their camp stove; just behind them, surf boards strategically strewn about, their sliding door ajar for all to see inside. It wasn’t easy to navigate the polished, the prosaic, and the phony.
Other setups appeared eye-wateringly complicated. Extravagant. Expensive. Borderline unattainable. Rocket science and refinancing were not what we planned on taking up when constructing this Third Tiny house of ours (more on this later). Fed up with these obnoxious and boisterous images, we began assimilating what we could afford(and stomach) to draft up our own blueprint.
Not every van build-out needs to be fancy or expensive. In fact keeping it simple, affordable and practical are really the keystones of Van Life. From the get go, we knew that we also wanted to use our van like any homestead would use a good pickup truck: as a workhorse. Over the years, she has hauled countless loads of horse manure for our garden, bales of hay, round pen panels, thousands of pounds of lumber, firewood, furniture from Mexico, antique glass display-cases, and mountains of inventory for our stores. It has proved to be one maniacal Tetris game after the next, fitting anything and everything inside. We do our best not to scratch her up, but we also don’t polish her with a micro-fiber cloth for van selfies at the Grand Canyon. She has to pull her own weight around here and she is an ever-evolving creature.
However, all work and no play makes Sensei a dull girl. We’ve made wonderful memories being on the road. After all, it’s what Van’s such as these do best. Marvelling at the constellations in Joshua Tree Nat’l Park. Bombing down washboard roads in Moose, Wyoming. Sweeping out the sand after a day on the beach in Key West…
Our advice to any new or prospecting Van owner is to disregard most of the junk out there on “How to deck out your Camper Van” or “DIY Van conversions on a Tiny budget.” Notice that we say ‘most’, not all. We learned a great deal from Van gurus and YouTube tutorials. But like anything, it’s all about the takeaway. It’s important to look within your own means and bounds. Assess what you want to do, where you want to go, and how comfortable you really need to be. Not how comfortable all of those fancy hipsters and instagrammers depict you could, or should be. Above all, don’t get forget that it should be a FUN and fulfilling process. My favourite things about our van are things that nobody explained or showed us how to do. There is inherent beauty in the imperfections. Laugh at them, embrace them, celebrate them. And then crank up the tunes and exclaim those liberating words: Let’s get the Hell out of here!
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