Van life has become ever more popular among outdoor enthusiast. I dreamed about the day I would have a Sprinter Van. I would be able to make epic climbing road trips around the US. Thus, my dream was put on hold. Until recently, I sold my pickup truck and purchased a Pontiac Vibe.
Now I have been on two amazing road trips, one to Moab, Utah and another to Bishop California. I’m a fan of the van life movement but I have been able to achieve much of the same freedom with my Pontiac Vibe hatchback. I also get to boast 36 MPG. Most of the F-350 vans I see at the crags could not possibly be getting. Do you need a $10,000 Volkswagen van to live the van life? No, I’ve found that I can live that same lifestyle in my $5,000 Vibe.
Maybe Vibe life, or hatchback life, or extended car camping road trips are for you. The following lessons will make the most out of your space and time.
Car Camping Tips
Have all your camping gear set up in storage bins that you can move easily into your vehicle. I want to be able to load up the car and get on the road in under an hour. Being prepacked is how I am able to do so.
Have two clear “under-bed” storage bins for food and food preparation items. This makes it so easy to access your dry foods without rummaging through bags.
Bring body wipes for the times showers are unavailable. You’re on the road and time is valuable. Just use a wipe before bed and you will be feeling as fresh as a daisy.
Use Frisbees with wax paper on top as reusable plates. Throw the wax paper away after the meal and be thankful for less camping dishes. Less dishes = more time to look at the stars.
When packing away sleeping mats on multi day trips I just roll it up and stuff it into my pillow case. No need to get it perfect. = More time to climb rocks!
What I bring car camping.
Food preparation; Colman stove and propane, frying wok, fish filet spatula, Frisbees for plates, wax paper, aluminum foil, can opener, zip lock bags, jet boil, and small cooler.
Sleeping; inflatable sleeping mats, sleeping bags, and I bring my pillow because I’m spoiled.
Food; eggs, spinach, canned black beans, coconut oil, seasoning, oatmeal, coffee, avocados, water etc.
A Day in The Life
Vibe life looks like this. We fold down the seats and load up the car with our bins. We load and pack our cooler, and were off.
If it is a long trip we can stop at a rest stop, unload two bins and setup our mats in the back of the vibe. We sleep in the Vibe for free. Wake up, drive to our destination, and enjoy adventuring to our hearts content.
Our cost of a week long climbing trip in Moab, Utah was $200 each. This includes our $60 mountain bike rentals, food, and gas. This is the best vacation I have ever had in my entire life!
This is my challenge for you. If you plan to continue to live in a home and dream of van life, consider the alternative of vibe life. It’s inexpensive, efficient, and a hell of a good time.