Vanlife: Adventures in Small Spaces

van and tent in nature

Today we have a guest post by my friend Ari Adler from over at on van living.  This concept has been gaining a lot of attention over the past few years and something I’m really interested in. Thanks Ari!

Traveling and camping in a Class B RV comes with awesome perks, but those don’t come without their share of challenges. We have a 2008 190 Popular 4×4, built on the Chevrolet 3500 extended van chassis.

The first advantages that usually come to mind are size and maneuverability.

Our van is 19 feet long in its base configuration. With the brush guard up front and spare tire off the back, we’re closer to 21 feet. Even at 21 feet, our Class B RV still fits into a standard parking space.

Only using one parking space, no matter where that space happens to be, is a huge perk. That includes heading down a two-track forest road in northern Michigan to find a last-minute campsite for the weekend.

One of the most significant disadvantages to vanlife is that every living space has a dual purpose. While the ingenuity behind the design is remarkable, it can pose challenges. For example, the living room and the bedroom are the same space. Our sofa folds down to become a bed, so you have to decide which activities you’ll be doing and when.

sofa bed inside a van

We usually put away the bedding each morning, so we have a sofa and more room to walk around during the day. But if one of us sleeps late, the only other seating available is in the front passenger area.

We have a decent amount of kitchen space for the size of our Class B RV, but it still is quite tiny and a disadvantage over larger RVs.

kitchen space inside a van

We have a small two-burner stove, a small sink, and a small countertop. That means you need to use and put away things as you go to keep from dropping stuff on the floor or in the sink.

An even bigger disadvantage than the kitchen is the little refrigerator.

It’s smaller than your average dorm fridge. Trying to fit even necessities can be a challenge due to the height and width restraints. Trying to add a pound of hamburger, a head of lettuce, celery, a bottle of juice, or a bag of grapes kicks off Refrigerator Tetris.

Despite all of that, we still manage to fit in a tremendous amount of stuff on our quest for adventure. We hike, we bike, we kayak – and all of those hobbies come with their own set of equipment storage needs.

It’s not just about bikes. It’s about helmets and water bottles. For hiking, it’s about having different backpacks, hiking boots, water bladders, and more. The inflatable kayak takes up the most space, both in terms of the boat itself and its collapsible seats, paddles, and life vests.

We did a video for our YouTube channel explaining the various things we manage to cram into our van for long trips. It’s tight but manageable.

It’s not always easy, and, yes, we often stare with envy at larger RVs with their giant storage bays. But every RV has advantages and disadvantages no matter the type or size.

Our storage spaces might be tiny and multipurpose, but we feel the advantages of a Class B RV far outweigh the disadvantages. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we tend to live out of our van, not in our van.

The reason for our RV is to travel and see the sights. We like to call the van our  adventuremobile. So, a few minor inconveniences are well worth it if it means ending our day someplace special.

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