Is This the Year of the Camper Van?
Camper Van Popularity Soars
You’ve probably seen at least one image from the #VanLife movement on Instagram. It’s almost always with the backdrop of a beach or breathtaking mountains, and it’s these images and videos from the Van Life crowd that are part of the driving force behind the camper van movement.
Camper vans and Class B motorhomes are becoming more and more popular, and with more people than ever hitting the road to go camping, 2021 might be the Year of the Camper Van.
According to Curbed, millennials and others hoping to escape the office and the regular grind are flocking to camper vans for both full-time-living on the road, and for easy weekend trips. With little to no learning curve when it comes to driving and operating these vehicles, all-in-one campervans are the ultimate entry-level RV.
That same article notes much of the RV industry is behind the curve when it comes to offering camper vans and enough Class B options to millennial customers. This has resulted in many people building their own campers using a van chassis. Some are spending quite a bit of money doing so. Savvy entrepreneurs have jumped on the trend, making a business out of offering custom van builds for choosy millennial customers.
With this becoming more and more popular, and RV companies starting to take notice of the Van Life, you will see more options out there in the future.
The Campervan Surge No One Saw Coming
COVID-19 has gutted plenty of businesses, but the pandemic has only accelerated the Van Life trend.
According to The Denver Post, many people canceled their vacation plans, opting instead to buy or rent an RV to travel. A good portion of these rentals and sales were camper vans.
In fact, Spectator Life notes that second-hand vans are actually hard to find for a good price right now. So many folks have bought them and converted them into campers that prices for well-cared-for used vans are up.
The publication also notes that many of the vans undergoing conversions aren’t simple machines. They’re being crafted into small luxury coaches ready for anything. There’s also a subsect of the Van Lifers that have a toe in the Overlanding scene, making camper vans that are equipped to take on all kinds of difficult off-road terrain.
It’s worth noting that Spectator Life is discussing the movement in the UK, but there’s a definite surge in the U.S. as well, and this is a trend that’s been building for years now. A notable percentage of campers seeking some adventure post-COVID-19 lockdowns will undoubtedly turn to vans and Class B motorhomes as a way to get out and see the country.
There are already signs of this happening. According to Business Insider, camper van conversion companies are seeing a surge in customer interest. This was happening even in the early stages of the pandemic, and there’s little to suggest things will slow down in 2021.
Companies like Vanlife Customs, Freedom Vans, and Ready.Set.Van. have all seen good business during the pandemic, and have made adjustments to their businesses to be able to continue meeting demand while attempting to keep workers safe.
All of this is to say COVID-19 hasn’t put a damper on the Van Life movement. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, and things seem to be accelerating.
Why Camper Vans and Class B Motorhomes are so Popular
Camper vans and Class B motorhomes are a fantastic alternative to the typical, large RVs. They come with a lot of positives, though they lack some of the space and features you’ll find on those bigger rigs.
Driveability and Ease-of-Use
Have you ever driven a large motorhome or towed a large travel trailer or fifth-wheel? It can be stressful. For someone who has never—or only seldomly—towed or driven a large truck or bus, they’re beyond daunting.
A big part of the popularity of camper vans is their ease of use. Sure, they lack the space of their larger Class C and Class A counterparts, but they make up for it in their inherent drivability and approachability.
Anyone who has driven a car or SUV can drive a camper van. The overall length of the vehicle isn’t all that much larger than your everyday vehicle.
In addition to being easy to drive and handle, camper vans are also versatile. You should be able to take them pretty much anyplace you can take any other RV, but you can also take them to most places your SUV or car can go.
This opens numerous options in terms of camping, parking, and generally getting around. Large RVs can’t go everywhere. They’re too big. A camper van, on the other hand, can go down that tight narrow mountain road and park at almost any museum parking lot with ease.
You can more easily boondock, too, because you don’t need as much space. This opens up all kinds of possibilities for your camping adventures.
Price (If You’re Careful)
I’m going to say this first: camper vans and Class B motorhomes can be expensive. In terms of the Class B motorhomes, you’ll find these vehicles are very expensive for the space you get.
Also, paying to have a van converted or transformed into a camper isn’t cheap either. There are numerous reports of folks spending upwards of $100,000 on their camper vans.
Here’s the thing, though. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re willing to buy an older Class B motorhome or convert a van yourself (that means you do the conversion work yourself) you can get a nice camper for a reasonable price.
The whole Van Life phenomenon is popular right now. If you’re living that life even as a part-timer you’ll be a part of a rather exclusive club of nomads and adventurers.
I know we’re not out there RVing to serve our egos, but buying an RV and going camping is often an emotional process. You’re satisfying an inner need to break free from routine and go against the grain, so to speak. Camper vans embody a classic counter-culture, one that has long been romanticized for its freedom, simplicity, and nomadic spirit.
Camper vans and Class B motorhomes give you that en-vogue look you might be looking for. They can also satisfy that inner lust for adventure in a way the big rigs can’t.
It’s safe to say that living small and simple is an experience that interests people. Look to the tiny house movement. The same thing is happening in the RV and camping industry. There’s a move back to basics and back to tight, cozy spaces. It doesn’t get cozier than a camper van.
The experience of camping in one of these is unlike RVing in a Class C or Class A motorhome. It’s different from the towable options, too. And even different than camping in a tent. It’s a unique experience giving the driver the opportunity to chart long-forgotten roads.
It promises endless possibilities for exploration, and that’s something that people seem to be craving right now. An eagerness to get outdoors, away from crowds, and distanced from the hustle of everyday life will drive the camper van to be extremely popular in 2021 and beyond.