The modern #vanlife movement began with Foster Huntington. Huntington gave up his apartment and job as a designer at Ralph Lauren to move into a 1987 Volkswagen Syncro. Instead of stomping the concrete jungle, Huntington now spent his days surfing, exploring, and taking pictures of his van backed by picturesque locations. Huntington used the new photo social media platform, Instagram, to share these photos, pairing them with tags such as “#homeiswhereyouparkit” and “#livesimply” and “#vanlife.”
From one person posting photos on Instagram of his travels to now over four million posts tagged #vanlife. The movement is “a one-word life-style signifier that has come to evoke a number of contemporary trends: a renewed interest in the American road trip, a culture of hippie-inflected outdoorsiness, and a life free from the tyranny of a nine-to-five office job.”
Van life represents a sense of freedom, a way to live any way you want. With van conversions, the vintage practice of tinkering makes a comeback. Travelers are turning their vans into a custom home on wheels, forgoing the traditional house for a more mobile option. With custom van-sized furniture and the “minimalist” lifestyle, many people are taking to the road in the pursuit of the perfect backdrop for their seemingly picturesque lifestyles.