Millennials take vacations differently from any other generation. They skip tourist traps for unique experiences, creating picture-perfect memories that will later be on their Instagram feeds.
A year ago, Lucas and Willa Via decided to shun traditional vacations and become road warriors. They bought a van on Craigslist, remodeled it with bohemian-chic interiors, and left New York for wide open spaces. The couple drove across 14 US states over four months.
Between filling up the tank and eating out, they spent less than $US35 a day on the essentials.
“If we flew by a teeny tiny log cabin cafe that looked straight out of ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ we’d make room in our budget to turn right around and give it a try. This goes for signs that said, ‘world’s best doughnuts.’ There are a lot of those,” Willa told Business Insider.
Real life has picked back up for the Vias, who live in San Francisco now. But they plan to take the van out for weekend getaways as a way to vacation more frequently and affordably.
Lucas and Willa shared some photos of their adventures with us. Follow them on Instagram for more snapshots of their #vanlife.
Lucas and Willa Via are living their most Instagrammable lives.
They were inspired to vacation in a converted van-dwelling after seeing the unmissable hashtag on social media. (There are over 2.3 million Instagram posts tagged #vanlife).
Van dwelling is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice among creatives and tech workers, as a way to live in urban centres without spending half of income on rent.
You know that party you once had with the excess confetti/ sprinkles/ unnamed totally unnecessary party accessory that you are STILL finding pieces of today? For our van, that party was the Salt Flats and the accessory, teensy bits of salt. I will be finding those little guys in the crevices of this van until the end of time. [Ps that og party I'm referring to wasn't even mine… It was my mothers' who is way cooler than me.] -WV
Lucas and Willa started planning their great escape shortly after getting married in 2016. “Being New Yorkers, in our twenties, we weren’t rolling in cash by any means,” Lucas said.
The van, which they named Roosevelt, cost $US3,500 and had 250,000 miles on it. It was once owned by a construction crew that unloaded tools, glue, and cement into the back.
A friend offered to keep the van in his driveway upstate. Lucas, who grew up building skateboard ramps and fixing stuff with his dad, spent every weekend working on the van.
With help from Willa’s stepdad, Ron, they outfitted the van with a U-shaped bench that serves as storage, seating for lounging around, and a platform for a memory-foam mattress.
This was right around the time I first thought, dang- this van is legit. One of the reasons we started our blog was to share some of the amazing build ideas we got from my stepdad, @unikornkiller (like that handle?). The whole thing took about five weeks and we couldn't have done it without him. We're going to try our best to get two #vanbuild posts up by the end of this week. We've already started one on the bathroom, what should the other be??? -WV
With a fresh coat of white paint and some shiplap, the van was transformed.
Willa, a grade school teacher, took a sabbatical before starting a new job in San Francisco. Lucas, who works as an account manager for an analytics company, could work remotely. They charted a course that would bring them to friends and family along the way.
Jessica Day once confirmed that if she had to choose between planning a trip or actually taking the trip, she'd always go with planning. The greatest thing the internet has ever given me has to be the endless resources attached to #travelporn. From Hopper to Google flights, Pinterest to Instagram, Airbnb to VRBO I can keep myself entertained for hours. Still though, there's nothing like a good adventure log and a paper map to get you in the mood. -WV . . . #sprintervanlife #vanlife #vanbuild #vanconversion #vanideas #homeonwheels #homeiswhereyouparkit #viathevan
Most weekdays, they camped outside coffee shops and public spaces with WiFi so that Lucas could work from his “home office.” Willa explored new terrain and blogged.
By night, they set out to find dive bars — the best place to meet locals. (A waiter recommended this hidden gem of a campground on Green River in Utah.)
They parked and slept in campgrounds and WalMart parking lots.
With more than a handful of nights under our belt we've realized a couple of things about living in a van. Most notable for me? I can't do anything in a hurry. If I do, I walk away with a semi-mangled finger and a lemon-sized bump on the head from colliding with the furniture. Slow and steady. FELLOW VANLIFERS, what were some of the biggest surprises you found when first beginning your van adventures??? [If curiosity strikes, check out the link in our bio for a full list of what I found to be vanlife's biggest little surprises ????✌????????.] -WV
Living in a van created a “fairy tale experience where you can live outdoors,” Willa said.
The weekend road warriors discovered national parks and natural wonders.
The van made it through blazing temperatures in Arizona and rain storms in Oklahoma.
Though they avoided paying for motels, Lucas said they racked up serious expenses on their vacation by stopping every few hours to eat out, visit a local museum, or see a band play.
He estimates they filled the tank – which cost about $US60 – roughly 33 times during the trip.
Lucas and Willa made it to their home state of California earlier this fall and settled in San Francisco, one of the most expensive housing markets in America. They’re selling the van.
The couple is asking $US40,000 for the mobile home.
Solar, fan, and final windows are installed and operational. Now to finish the bed and wiring! -LV . . . #vanlife #van #roadtrip #sprintervan #vanbuild #vanbuilds #viathevan #vanlifesociety #vanlifeculture #vanlifers #vanlifemovement #vanlifeideas #livingsmall #vancrush #vangrrrl #vanlifejournal #vandwellinglife #vanlifemagazine #renogysolar #renogy
But they already have plans to remodel a new van. This time around, they want a smaller vehicle with a platform bed that they don’t have to disassemble every morning.
We're nearing the end of this leg of our journey- the four months we had planned to live full-time on the road, no permanent address to speak of. How is it already in our rearview mirror??? Time is a crazy illusion and the more I try to understand it, the less I really seem to. I'm a cryer- movies, books, difficult arguments, the last day of a spectacular vacation. I wish they had an off button but alas, they be flowing. I cried the other day knowing our big trip is behind us now but as I curled up in the back of the van, I was reminded the means to our adventures isn't actually going anywhere. We didn't have to buy plane tickets, pack for hours, plan out itineraries or require weeks of paid leave. The beauty of van life has been that the moment you hop inside your mobile home, you're back to your Wilderness Explorer self, ready to see the world. If and when the road (or the mountains, or the rivers, or the stars), call us, we can go… We're already scheming when we can hop in the van and explore indefinitely but for now, we'll be based in the Bay Area, ready to wander Northern California. See ya out there! -WV
With her best friend at her side, Willa said, “You feel like you’re in the childhood fort of your dreams.”
I can't remember if it came from a romance novel I once read (???? yeah, so I'm kinda into them) or a few early Disney films, but I've always had a major jones for Montana. Two years ago, Luke surprised me on a roadtrip by dipping into this beautiful state and asking me to marry him ????. Now as we drive through for only our second time, we're flooded with the desire to sit our butts down, buy some land, and never ever leave. But yknow how it goes- more people, more fun????. Anyone else want in?!- WV