Humz had been researching vans and vanlife for years, but I was pretty new to the whole idea. But after living in a small 702SF in Hoboken, that’s kind of like a tiny house, right?...right?
In order to figure out what we really wanted we made a priority list. My top 2 demands were that there must be a bathroom and a shower on board….and Humz basically said he would live out of a cardboard box on wheels. We did however both agree that it had to be safe for our beloved fur-child, Lucy, and we would also have to work out a decent wifi situation. (But that would have to come later.) I also refused to have a composting or cassette toilet, and Humz would of course have to deal with all of the dumping.
In determining the size of the actual vehicle, we decided we wanted it to be as small as possible so it wouldn’t be difficult to maneuver and so we could park in regular parking spots fairly easily. We wanted something that we could zip through city streets without being a major hassle. A large RV would not really offer that capability unless we towed our car on the end. We didn’t want to have to park the RV somewhere like a campground only to have to unhook our car to get to where we actually wanted to go. The larger RVs are usually parked at campsites for extended periods of time and we don’t plan on being in one spot for more than a few days.
We (ie: mostly Humz) also explored building out a school bus. Hellllllo @alwayshomebus, @fernthebus, and the newest member of Skoolie Nation and our friend from college @twentypiece who have some SICK bus build-outs. Alas, we knew if we pursued building our own bus or van, we would have to delay our trip until at least summer of 2018 because it would take us that long to do research, make decisions and actually build it, with our severely limited construction skills. I may have an architectural degree, but I wouldn't know where to start with a van/bus conversion, and it would drive me crazy not having everything perfect-ish. We needed something more move-in ready.
Another option we looked into was towables , ie: Airstreams, which are adorable little metallic hot dogs on wheels. But they would have the same problem as the larger RVs of needing somewhere to store it while you’re out and about. Also, our Honda CRV doesn’t having the towing capability to haul an airstream, so we would have needed to purchase a new larger vehicle on top of the Airstream cost. Although the Airstream was very cost effective, purchasing a new vehicle with it was not. So Vanlife it is.
Ultimately, after a trip to Colonial RV in Lakewood, NJ, we decided the Winnebago Travato 59g would be the perfect van for us. It is 21’ long and 6’-9” wide so it can fit in a regular parking spot with some slight overhang. (It’s around 22’-6” if we have the bike rack folded out.) The interior has a fold-down full bed, a wet bathroom with toilet, sink, shower head and hand shower (ohhhh, fancy!) In the kitchen area, it has an apartment size fridge with small freezer, microwave, 2-burner propane stove, sink, and push/latch cabinets/drawers for utensil/appliance/pantry storage. The “living area” features a small loveseat banquette with a table that can be lowered down to make a big bed for Lucy. The van's front seats also swivel around so you can fit almost 6 people around the table when it's fully extended! There is a 24” TV and stereo system in the living area for all of our Netflixing and Spotifying. It has everything we need, just smaller and compressed into a tiny rolling package.
* Disclaimer: All Travato models shown in this post are not our actual Travato; they were just the ones on the lot at the time.