Some time ago, Thomas, Pritch and I sat around a musky, small apartment in downtown Manhattan, contemplating making an “InkerVan” that we would use to tour the country to show the stars and stripes what the Ostrich shoe really stands for. While the idea never transpired, it always remains a real possibility for our future.
However, now more than ever, we feel like being on the open road would truly offer a breath of fresh air—offering a glance of what a life in perpetual social distance feels like. While the van we build out will be embedded with memory foam, have a retro, Grade-A leather interior, and smell like a fresh pair of loafers, some of the ones we've found are making us rethinking to what level we should furbish the van.
These are just a few of the DIY van-ers(?) that we found in our spare time that will help you forget where you are, and just might make you rethink a few of your priorities:
Two Denver residents, Danielle Boucek and Tommy Krawczewicz, opted to bag on the mile-high city and take life on the road with their Toyota Odyssey that they built out themselves. They faithfully call it Nigel. The van, or Nigel, is also a home to their two pups: Missy, a Akita/Chow mix and Trip, a Golden/Lak mix. They’re currently in Arizona, and the Red Rock park has never looked so vibrant and welcoming.
Two German wedding photographers went rogue and are now touring the world in their DIY van. They’re in Portugal at the moment, and seeing their photos will make you want to not only hire this DTE couple for your shoot, but also just grab a beer with them and discuss the nomad life. One of their most recent shots is with a series of sheep: imagine not only being able to fall asleep counting the wool creatures, but also waking up to them.
James and Courtney are a British couple Eurotriping in a bright orange, self-converted Sprinter van named DeeDee. They are currently in Spain under lockdown, and have some pretty stellar youtube videos that provide an essential escapism during this time. DeeDee’s exterior aesthetic is vibrant and naranja, with a crystal clean interior that will make you want to pop open some white wine, cook up some paella, and kick it by the Mediterranean.
Elsa is not only a pretty awesome graphic designer, but she also converted a 78' Mercedes407d to her now new home. Another German getting after the van life (what do the Deutsche seemingly know that we don’t?) who has encapsulated all the seasons of life in color. I’ve always sort of wondered who takes the photos of a solo traveller—be careful on that bridge girl!—as surely without opposable thumbs the wildlife are no use.
Sometimes you do it for the dog shots—Katja and Björn and Balthazar are a Swedish couple that converted a Mercedes-Benz 508D from 1984 into what they faithfully call “beezlebus.” Balthazar is their dog who is a extremely compassionate and sensitive pup, who can only be woken up with scratch under the chin, perhaps followed by a 500 miles journey (The Proclaimers anyone?).
Chris is a badass—something you might not generally want to hear that about someone who drives a school bus. Hooked onto traveling at a young age, Chris wanted the ultimate escape, and opted for the school bus lifestyle as the vehicle could hold a lot of weight so he wouldn’t have to constantly restock on gear. He calls his ride Zep II, which features 1700w of solar, 900ah of lithium battery storage, 26quft. of cold food storage and 200 gallons of fresh water capacity. Really dig the juxtaposition of the school bus and Chris’ self sufficiency. We should all try to learn something from this universal teacher.
Danny O also another school bus DIYer—and the interior is so rustic, relaxed and real it drives me crazy. He is a man with simple pleasures, and can teach us all a thing or two about want vs. need. The bus utilizes a wood burning stove, so he can live off the land as much as possible without leaving too much of a carbon footprint.
One of the most instagram-ready vans on this list, and with good reason—it’s pretty damn cheek. Jake, Gianna and Luna are a family of three (seemingly about to be four) who have such a finished and clean aesthetic that it makes van life look so enticing. They are Florida residents, and always have the best backdrops. The idea of waking up to the water just inches away sounds like a dream.
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