One look at any news website at any given hour and it’s painstakingly clear the world is going to shit.
Terrorists continue their attempts to have the free world fear for its safety, global warming continues to cripple Earth as we know it, Tiger Woods is a mess, and Donald Trump is still president of the USA—and arguably responsible for all three former issues.
Closer to home, finance experts are predicting a massive crash in housing prices across Sydney and Melbourne that could bring about the type of recession we’ve somehow managed to avoid for the past 25 years. Combine that with the fact a $5 flat white is now standard across the country and it’s hard to see the bright side of 2017.
While 2016 was a tragedy in the sense of losing some of the most influential musicians, artists and actors in our history, 2017 is shaping up as a tragedy for Mother Earth herself, if not mankind. Then there’s the $19 avo and toasts and crazy prices of rent…Quite frankly, it’s all too much. Which is why the time has never been better to get around to buying that van, hitting the road and getting off the grid to avoid the impending apocalypse (creeps everywhere rub their hands together).
And you wouldn’t be alone—#vanlife is one of the fastest growing topics on Instagram, with almost 1.5 million posts since its inception a year or so back. There are now hundreds of accounts specialising in #vanlife content, folks sharing their lives on the blacktop daily. Couples, singles, families and dogs, the #vanlife movement doesn’t discriminate. And few perpetuate it better than Zach Both, whose 2003 Chevy van has turned not only into a mobile home but a mobile office.
The photographer and art director cobbled together $15k (AUD) and turned his late night drunk declaration into a reality last year, building his own motorised home and workspace in the space of eight months with nothing more than YouTube tutorials and more patience than the Dalai Lama. He says he’s barely even picked up a toolbox before hand.
We’re talking a convertible sofa/double bed, full kitchen, wifi, solar power, office station and custom windows that turn his van into a free-flowing paradise. It’s a home on wheels, and it’s power efficient and stylish to boot. Better yet, the dude’s a saint, and has done for free what most wouldn’t accept money to suffer through—he documented the whole experience and created a website, The Vanual, so you can build your very own.
Almost a year later, Zach still lives in his van and The Vanual has helped countless others get in on the dream, their only monthly expenses being phone and fuel. Zach says the website is more a general guide than strict paint-by-the-numbers instructions, allowing for users to make their own tweaks. But he is insistent on one thing:
“I saw a video of rock climber Alex Honnold, who travels to various places with his van… and it was just so practical and functional. That’s what inspired me to get a cargo van and not some hipster Westfalia (Kombi) or something like that.”
Because the apocalypse stops for no one, let alone hipsters.