Why We Bought a Van.
Updated: Jun 30
Growing in significant popularity is the term “#vanlife.” You can check it out for yourself. Google it. You’ll see hundreds, if not thousands, of various types of people who have quit their jobs, sold their homes and moved into a van. Some part-time, some full time, all looking for adventure and a way to break the monotony. Since before the idea of Van Why, we had been looking to find a van. Chad, in his style, started researching. In our quest, we even borrowed a friend's van for a weekend trip to see if we really would love to travel and temporarily take residence by van. We borrowed the van when we went to pick up our new rescue puppy, Titan. On the trip, we quickly learned that we loved the simplicity, yet ease of traveling and sleeping in a van. We loved it so much, it sparked further research into various types of vans, and how easily they can turn into camper vans. The search was arduous, but finally, we settled on a Ford Transit.
Why We Chose a Ford Transit
In the research, we found there was a spectrum of vanlife vans. People can spend over $100,000 and set their van up with full showers, refrigerators, and all the transformative setup inside that a person could ever need. We even found one company that after purchasing a van they outfitted, you could take this van and earn money with it at festivals as a rep. This company, VanDoIt, is growing nationwide and is one of the best if you are looking for a fully outfitted van.
After months and months of research, we settled on a Ford Transit because the reviews on a Transit as far as reliability, maintenance, and customizability ultimately were the best. The startup cost was significantly lower than that of other adventure van setups. We also had a good friend finally lose a long battle with a Sprinter after years of issues; this was the same friend who had loaned us his van when we went to pick up Titan. Not signing up for that. The Ford Transit offered fuel-efficiency in an eco-boost that was better than our 4-Runner, making it a van we could not resist. We chose the 350, 148" wheelbase, non-extended passenger van with a high roof, as Chad is 6'5" and Tracy is 5'11.” The space is beyond enough for our family of four...us plus two furry children. Although the Ford Transit van lacks a V8 option in the 2016 year, it makes up for this in its ability to pick up speed quickly with the eco-boost, handle surprisingly well, and has an easy turning radius. The new 2020 editions come with an all-wheel-drive function, which we will definitely consider for our next purchase. Each model year comes with a variety of roof heights, body lengths, passenger vs. cargo options, as well as engine options. We chose to go with a 2016, because we were ready to embark on our van adventures quicker than a 2020 was going to be ready, as well as we were unsure of the incentives for buying new. Plus, Amazon went and ordered 15,000 of the 2020 models on the exact day we went to order one, making the potential delivery date unknown. We went with a used model and found a great van to start our adventure!
How Are We Going to Configure the Van?
We are not planning on selling everything and embracing the vanlife in its entirety, yet. We still have a mortgage, Chad is still counting beans, and Tracy is attempting to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up. In the meantime, we started out with a crazy amount of seating in the back, which the pups thought was pretty amazing, but decided to remove all of the seats but two. After several trips to Lowe's, Chad has built the bed frame in the van. While researching vanlife beds, he found a lot of opinions on configuration of beds and van’s in their entirety. After much deliberation and even a test build that failed, he defaulted to his original idea for the bed. Again, keeping to simplicity in the bed build. Since we are not moving into the van except on week and weekend stints, all we needed was a van, place for our gear such as snowboards, skis, mountain bikes, storage, and of course, the dogs. If all in our lives continues to shift, then perhaps we will build a more permanent setup, including a kitchen space and shower option. For now, we kept things basics with a bed, max-air fan, goal zero yeti 1400, swivel passenger seat, and homemade insulation for the windows. All of these things we mentioned can be researched and loads of people have gone into extensive detail on each.
Amateur Tip: Anything purchased with the Lowes credit card does not need a receipt when returned. Keep track of your item numbers. We bought more than we needed each trip, then returned everything we didn't use at the end. No joke, the Lowes associate said: "you should teach a seminar on returns."
What is Van Why? Awhile back, Chad came up with the idea that he wanted to tell the inspiring stories of others by learning how they took the steps to living their dreams and understanding what drove these people to pursue this one thing above all else. Perhaps they are living their dreams through their jobs. Whether it be through teaching at a Montessori school, owning a bike shop, or becoming a hemp farmer. His idea was the birth of Van Why. The name comes from Tracy's grandmother's maiden name, Van Why, and it perfectly states our concept of owning a van and asking the question ‘why’ of those who are following their dreams. Our hope is that we can bring you the answers and confidence you need in order to step out and pursue that thing that makes your heart beat faster and gives you purpose. Maybe it's a dream trip you’ve been wanting to take, maybe it is quitting that job in order to groom dogs full time, or moving to another country to work, or to finally start writing your own book. Whatever your why is, we are here with the goal of sharing stories of the passionate in hopes they will inspire you to seek a bigger purpose you’re your life.