Thursday, February 4, 2010
This is a topic that comes up quite often if you live in a van, usually when discussing whether or not to admit to it. Many people are uncomfortable letting people in on their van life due to concerns of perception or repercussions in one way or another. There are all kinds of interesting views out there of who and what kind of people would choose this life, many are quite disturbing, I have to wonder if we don't sometimes contribute to the messed up perceptions with attempts at stealth or seclusion.
We know there are a ton of people living in vehicles that really don't want to be, but are forced to. It is a lifestyle that is more sustainable that they can handle, but maybe they are not satisfied with the comfort level or stigma they believe is attached so they can't wait to go back to "normal" life.
We also know that there are just as many of us that embrace this lifestyle and love the freedom and simplicity it makes possible. Those are the people this topic is really for. The stigma and laws are the problems we fight with, but how do we change it?
One very understandable and troublesome view is derived from the fact that criminals often use vans to carry out their crimes. We see this often in the news or some show where a plain looking van was used in an abduction, drug trafficking or heist. For those of us in more obvious class B vans, this isn't as much of a problem, but there many who choose vans that will blend in to avoid being scrutinized. While being stealthy is needed in some cases where sleeping overnight in a vehicle is illegal, I wonder if being stealthy where it isn't needed makes you more of a target for harassment. For example, a place an obvious tourist might be fine, someone attempting to be stealthy and hide or blend in may be adding to the criminal perception and even draw unwanted attention. Trying to blend in after all is what a criminal also does.
I honestly don't care if someone I know (even a relative) thinks less of me for our choice in how we live. It is our life and to me, their opinion shows a need for growth on their part, not change on ours. I feel very strongly that to make this lifestyle more acceptable to society, I should do what I can to show them there is no reason for shame or sympathy or disdain. I want them to know I and my wife love this lifestyle an show them why. If I am going to aid in changing their perceptions, it seems necessary to make sure mine is in line as well.
Of course there are many things that differentiate various vantramps/dwellers from each other. There are many of us who have to be able to stand up, shower, have a fridge and more for comfort over the long haul and there are those who really take great enjoyment in the minimalistic approach and enjoy getting by with very basic methods. Both are valid and great lifestyles, part of changing the perception also I believe is in us accepting each others choices as equal and valid. We all have to do what we feel best with and make sure Joe Public doesn't discriminate towards either as far as it is in our ability to prevent.
I really find this particular topic rather fascinating. It is not meant to say anyone is wrong for keeping their van-life hidden for any reason. It also is really a separate topic from parking away from folks in the name of privacy and serenity, we do that often too for the same reason as people who live in the country in their houses. This is just a lifestyle my wife and I love and would like to see more accepted.Any input on how to make that happen is always appreciated!