Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More

The Reality of #VanLife – Full Documentary Movie – 2018


(soft music) – [Forrest] Hi, my name
is Forrest Stevens. I spent many childhood summers
traveling in my family’s van. These were some of the
best times of my life. That was me, the kid in the
picture with the big ears. It came as no surprise that
after I graduated high school, I bought a minivan. I didn’t even know about #VanLife. I didn’t even have an Instagram. When I was 21, I bought a Chevy 20 van. I included myself in
the Van Life community and I even tried to
capitalize on the trend, but my pictures didn’t get may likes. CLIF bar and Kettle brand
didn’t reach out to me with a sponsorship deal. See, I love traveling in vans, but I found the space cramped. Cooking was a drag and the winter’s cold. For me, it was a great way to travel, but a hard way to live. The Instagram pictures of #VanLife always show beautiful beaches, beautiful people, and beautiful vans. From my own experience,
I knew what a parking lot looked like, my hair not being
washed for days looked like, and mold in a multi-decade
old van looked like. I figured it was time for
me to get to the bottom of what the reality of
#VanLife actually is. (intense music) My experience in van life
is limited and biased. I decided that the best
way to answer the many questions I have about van life is to have honest conversations with
people who live in vans. So I posted an ad to Craigslist. One thing I wanted to figure out is if Van Life could replace
the current American dream of the home with the white picket fence. (knocking) – Hey. – [Forrest] Hey. – How’s it goin’? – Gabriel. – Hey Gabriel. – [Gabriel] Nice to meet you. – Is this an option for
the white picket fence? – OK well, I don’t think it’s for the normal person. Just a nine to five, likes their comfort, like I feel like van
life can be comfortable but you do have to be a little bit comfortable with the uncomfortable. – I think van life is a
movement towards freedom and exploration and
there’s a lot of things that partake in that,
but I don’t think it’s the American dream. I think that van life is kind
of a young person’s game, generally speaking. I definitely know people that are older that are in the van life and what not and there’s definitely a
sect of vehicle dwelling that is retirees, but generally speaking, it tends to be younger people. I think that’s just due
to the fact that it’s a little more rough of a lifestyle. – I think so, yeah. I mean, it really is very similar to the American dream if you’re
talking about the freedom. Success part’s different
for different people. Ya know, being able to
live freely and keep moving and have that kind of
free-spirited adventure is for sure the American
dream in a lot of ways. – I do know some families
that live in vehicles. But for the vast, vast majority of people, it would be impossible
for them to have a family in a vehicle and I think that, I don’t think the American
dream or the new like, common striving is ever gonna
move away from the family. – [Forrest] And you guys
are about to have a child. So I wanted to just see
what you guys thought about having a family in a van. – You should take it up on Instagram, there are tons of like– – Yeah, we looked into it. There’s some very cute
– Baby beds baby bed photos.
– and stuff like that. – It’s hard to say how
many of those people are living full-time in their van and it’s discussed we
won’t be full-timing it when the baby comes. Just to make our lives simpler and more comfortable, I guess. But it certainly, I think,
would be a really cool thing. Honestly, if I was raised in a van, I would be super proud of it. Maybe not very initially in like, ya know, elementary school, but right now, I would be super proud of my parents for being that open minded. – It seems to me that the biggest obstacle that the van life has
to overcome if it wants to compete with the societal
norm of the American dream is comfort. The house in the suburbs can be cushy and van life can be challenging. – Everybody asks me,
“Where’s your bathroom? “Where do you shower? “Where’s your fridge or
where’s this, where’s that?” All their comfort that
they have every day. But for me, I do have some of it. I don’t have a bathroom
and stuff but, I make do. I get a shower at work or at the pool or something. It’s just, sometimes stuff
like that is a little bit more time consuming and people
don’t really want to go shower at the pool or something. I feel like it’s worth it. – What’s some different
aspects of this lifestyle that get overlooked? – You have to like yourself. You’re by yourself usually
unless you’re with a partner. It’s a lot of alone time
and it’s a lot of alone time in a very confined space. So it’s not like you know,
you have an apartment to yourself, you can move around, you can put your TV on,
you can do all these things that occupy your hands and your time. In the van, especially if it’s cold out, you’re in the van. – For me, I’m doing it as a single male and I’m nomadic, like quite nomadic. A lot of people are relatively stationary. So that changes the game a lot. You got the difficulties of being nomadic, as well as living in a tiny space, which that’s kinda the biggest difficulty with the biggest change with van life is just living in a smaller
space and not having everything that you need. By not having everything you
need, I mean not having a bathroom and a shower because you can have everything else you need in the van. – The vehicle will break down eventually and you’ll get a knock
on the door by some drunk or a cop, which has never happened to me, or so much little things. And the stress of having it
parked somewhere overnight. That way, if you’re with friends or even parked for a week if you’re leaving, the stress of that, that’s
brought me a lot of stress. That’s one of the worst things for me, just not knowing if my
van’s gonna be towed. That’s a huge one. – With all these challenges,
it’s hard to believe what social media shows us
when we look into van life. How do you look like a
model in front of your Volkswagen bus if you
haven’t had a shower? Is this just a facade? So, often times, in social media, van life is kinda romanticized. What do you guys think
about that whole aspect of maybe portraying something
that isn’t exactly real? This lifestyle.
– Too cramped, isn’t it? – The platform is made for that, to just create this magical photo, this capture, this moment in time that is perfection.
– Like a fantasy. – Unobtainable to live that way, for sure. You can get those moments
but it’s not gonna be your every day life. – For anybody looking at van life, if that’s the only
thing you’re looking at, you’re gonna get a
non-accurate representation of what the life actually is. That’s one of the things
I don’t really like about the van life is a
lot of people are moving into a vehicle to create
an Instagram account so they can make money off of their van. I just find that kind of disingenuous. For me, I moved into a vehicle because I needed to, it was kinda the only option to continue like, the goals I have, a van is a means to get to those goals. It was never like, “I
wanna live in a van because “I wanna live in a van.” It was like, “Alright, I have these goals “and living in a van
will get me to those.” Help me reach and attain those goals. – Instagram filters can
make anything look nice. – Obviously, you have to shit
in the woods once in a while and no one’s posting a pic on Instagram of that shit right in the woods. – We clean this bus every day. You have to sweep out everything. You put everything back
in its proper spot. Otherwise, it’s just full chaos as soon as you hit the road. – Life is messy, dirty, and that’s some of the fun of it. – Van life is amazing but sometimes, it’s not as nice as the pictures, right? Ya know, you’re shitting in the forest or you’re ya know, dealing
with parking in sketchy spots where you’re not sleeping
super well at night because you think maybe
someone’s gonna wake you up or something like that. – I think that romantic
vision gets a lot of people interested but it’s not really a reality. – [Forrest] No? – No, not for me anyways. – Who wants to wake up in a
day and share the worst part about your day? I think that’s where it gets
over-glamorized that way. It’s not all pretty. I mean, you want the truth. I pee in a bottle, you know what I mean? When I’m in the van, so
it’s not all glamorous. – Van life is so popular right now. West values, ya know,
gettin’ that west valley on the coast of Oregon,
it’s like that’s the shot that everybody wants to get but, at the same time, it’s not all like that. Those vans that look all clean, most of the time is
spent just living amongst your own junk and your own stuff and going through a transition
of what do I really need and what really do I not need
to be happy and to function? – I mean, I guess I am
partly doing this because I saw others do it at first, and maybe that was a
bit glamorized, I guess, but for me, it was more
like a financial decision to live this way, to
travel this way really. You put the bells and whistles
on homelessness essentially ’cause that’s what this is. Ya know, it gets a larger
amount of people doing it but in this case, I don’t
think that’s a bad thing. I think that a cultural shift is happening because of economic pressures on people and I think this is just a way for people to survive and to get ahead and to live a more comfortable,
financially comfortable life. – Sometimes when you’re
out living in your van, people look at you like
you’re a homeless person. I’d say that’s the main
thing I had to get over is caring what other
people thought about me and now, I mean, I’ll go
fill up my water jugs. Some days, you fill em
up in a water fountain and everyone’s looking at your
like, “What are you doing?” – There’s a lot of people who
won’t ever live this life. So they like the escapism,
they’re looking for those perfect moments. – The pictures and stuff
that you see don’t always equate to the real life. Having said that, if you’re
willing enough to do it, then you just work it
out in a different way. – Van life allows us
to live coast to coast. It allows us to kind
of chase our passions, which right now, are mountain
biking and exploring. And it kind of, it’s freedom. It’s just freedom to kind
of decide moment by moment how we’re gonna spend our time. – Something like this can
allow someone to become an entrepreneur, can allow
you in this day and age of everything being on the
internet and digitized for that graphic artist
to travel full-time and work on the road. I mean, if you’re tethered to the internet and you can work through your computer, you do not have to stay in one location. – The sense of really,
you know afterwards, you go home, you put your feet up, you have this (sighs) feeling? That is now what I get
when I get into my van. So, being able to do all these adventures and still feel at home,
that’s pretty cool. – I feel like if I was in my home, I could stay there, watch Netflix, clean a huge house, not
focus on minimalism. This eliminates all
those distractions for me and then I could go do
photography, whatever I want. Read, spend time with
my friends on the beach and even go travel to places
where I might have stayed cozy at home otherwise. – But I mean, at the same time, as much as Instagram does romanticize it, it is amazing and the
best times of my life have been in this van. I would not trade it
for a house right now. I mean, I’d love to have
a shower and have WiFi and have the amenities of a
house, but I wouldn’t trade it for the freedom that I have. – This is the beginning
of something bigger and because it’s glamorized, it’s maybe becoming more
popular to more people that maybe would otherwise
not even consider doing this. – Like why is my photo
not getting as many likes or comments and then you
compare it to other peoples and see, “Oh, well this one looks so much, “this has a skinny woman in
a bikini sitting on a van,” ya know, and neither one
of us is a skinny woman. (laughs) In a bikini, so that’s
not gonna happen in our life but how do you compete with that? Why should we compete with it, but yet, we want the likes, we want
the likes, we want the likes, you know? People like the images
that are over-sexualized or over glossy or Hollywood-ized and that’s just not reality. There’s so much diversity in the world and that’s really what makes it beautiful but you don’t see that diversity when people on Instagram are
feeling like they need to post these images that match
this idea of what beauty is that isn’t actually true. You know what I’m saying? It’s like it’s a larger societal problem that we think of beauty in
one way instead of seeing it in a broader way. It’s harder to share that on social media. – I don’t think Instagram is
an accurate representation of anything, (laughs) it’s Instagram. That’s why it’s fun. – It was time to talk to
somebody who was truly famous for van life, Jimmy and Sabrina Harell, of Wonder Bus. These two are often
very harshly criticized for their over-glamorization
of living in a van. – Can’t hear you. – Can’t hear me? OK. Can you hear me now? – I’m Jimmy. – And I’m Sabrina. – And we travel in this
1973 Volkswagen bus. – We figured like, let’s buy a van. It’s a lot bigger than a backpack. I grew up thinking that
money was the most important thing in my life, so I
studied really hard in school, went to a good college,
got a business degree, worked out a Fortune 100
company before I was 25, and all for nothing almost, all to realize that at the end of the day, money isn’t what matters. It’s happiness and being
free and loving what you do. Often times, we find that with less, we’re happier than we were before. – [Forrest] What do you two think about the over-romanticization
of the van life experience on social media? – I think that everything
is over-romanticized on social media. I think that parenting or
being a professional athlete or being a celebrity,
everything looks better on social media, but honestly, that’s why we love it so much. I mean, you get to focus on the good. You get to highlight the
good parts of your life. You see happy babies smiling. You don’t see when they’re crying or when they give you
a diaper full of shit, so I think that’s what van life is. It is over-romanticized because you see the good side of it, but
that’s also what makes it so appealing, that’s why
we’re willing to sacrifice things like comfort. – Social media and
particular entertainment, our way to show, to entertain the people and to show the good side of it. Gotta sell dream, gotta inspire people, that’s why we focus on the
positive effects of van life. – [Forrest] What do you say
to people that accuse you of over-romanticizing van life? – I just try to not pay
attention to those people. I think people always have
something negative to say but, that we should just follow our heart and see what makes us happy. You know, for me, I’m
all about peace and love and I love spreading positive vibes and I try to focus more on
the people who come back and they feel something good from my art and from what I put out
there on the internet. – [Forrest] A lot of people
get into this lifestyle by choice, but what do
you say to people that live in a van just out of necessity? – I imagine it must be
a lot more difficult because there are moments when we struggle feeling like we don’t have
a home or we don’t have enough space, we don’t have
enough privacy or comfort, and at the end of the day, we
know that that was our choice because we just love to
travel, we love adventure, we love being out there. So it’s like we have
that kind of to remind us why we do what we do but if this was just complete necessity, I
think it would be hard but at the same time, it’s better than living on the streets. I mean, you have a roof over your head, you have a tiny bit of privacy, a tiny bit of comfort
and a tiny bit of space. Ya know, it depends on how
you look at it, I think. – [Forrest] I actually met up
with a man who lived out of his motor home out of necessity. He definitely had some
issues with this lifestyle and one of them was even
finding a place to park. – I was parked on a private property, paying a bit of rent, and
the authorities from the municipality, I think, came and knocked on my camper and asked me, “Are you living in the house “or are you living in here?” I said, “I’m living in here.” They said, “No, you can’t
live in a camper in Sanet.” I left and I parked down by the ocean and I was OK there and
talking to other people who were in a similar circumstance. I heard that the authorities
were being lenient because they realized the
urgency of the housing situation. So people in campers who
were living in campers were being left alone. But at 2:00 in the morning, some people, with their flashlights and
banging on the side of my house. “You got a driver’s license?” I said, “Who are you?” They said, “We’re the police.” They said I gotta go to a place that is a regular RV camp. “We’re here to enforce the bylaw. “You’ve gotta go.” I said, “OK, I’m outta here.” – If I’m to truly understand van life, the hash tag, the
glamorization, the lifestyle, then it only makes sense that I try to become van life famous. The only problem is, I
don’t even live in a van. This is going to be difficult and so, I need some help. Christina Adams from
Adventure Dorks from earlier is actually the owner of a
social media management company. So I gave her a call. (phone ringing) As somebody who wants to
become Instagram famous really quickly, I wanna
become, like rapidly get a lot of followers, what
would you suggest to them? – [Christina] There’s
two really key things. One is to post frequently using
hashtags that are popular, well actually, it’s
kind of multiple things. It’s great quality
content, post frequently, use the relevant hashtags
and the other key thing is to search out
influencers with a similar target audience and try to
build a relationship with them. – I’m just down at
Clover Point in Victoria, British Columbia right
now and I’m gonna meet up with Quentin, he’s a van dweller. I hope to do some photo collabs
to make my Instagram pop. This is his van again. We’re gonna do a little Instagram shoot. Say what up!
– Van man, let’s shoot it up! – [Christina] Strategy is
gonna get you quality following but it does take a little bit longer. – What is your stance on the idea of just buying followers? Just clicking a button
on a website and it says, “We’ll give you 1,000 followers?” – Those are all gonna be probably bots or people like farms out
there and it’s just not actual people who are engaging
in what you have to say. You have to watch out
for getting black listed. If your account suddenly
becomes super, super highly active, then
Instagram may shut you down because they know it’s a fake, right? OK, bye!
– Thanks, bye. – Not following much of
the good advice that I just received, I bought
2500 followers for 20 bucks. 300 of them fell off the next day. None of these people engaged in my posts. So, to make up for that,
I spent 40 bucks a month to automatically gain 500 likes per post. I also gave my password and 50
bucks to some guy in Slovenia who then put my Instagram
account into an algorithm that likes, follows, and
comments really bad comments on anything related to #vanlife. Now, this worked. I got about 50 to 100
followers a day from this. I also paid about 20 bucks in
legit advertising on Instagram but it didn’t really
yield anything noticeable. If I’m to become van life famous, I need to look the part. So I enlisted my friend Greg
to help me with the most important part of the look, the man bun. I think it just clips in. – Yeah so we gotta like,
trying to figure out how this actually works. – So these things. – Your hair would go in
between these things. You have no hair, it
just slides right off. – How do we do this? Emyleh. – [Emyleh] Yeah? – We need your help. – I’m thinking we should
almost do it upside down so his bun goes up better. Does that make sense? – Yeah. Part your hair wherever
you would normally. And then, section off
the hair perpendicularly from your part down to your ear. ♪ Hit it ♪ ♪ That’s what I’m talkin’ bout ♪ ♪ Wait ♪ ♪ OK now ♪ ♪ From the beginning ♪ ♪ Hit it boys ♪ (upbeat music) ♪ All these men with suits and ties ♪ ♪ Just sittin’ in the
crowd smokin’ big cigars ♪ ♪ I hope you’re ready
for what’s coming now ♪ ♪ I’m the one, I’m the man,
ya gotta bring me down. ♪ (jazzy music) ♪ There’s ones on the shoulder
where the big boys play ♪ ♪ Where the whisky’s
flying like a ribbon ♪ ♪ But they all– ♪ – OK lean down, we
gotta get this out then. But it’s a great first prototype. – [Greg] Yeah, it was. ♪ Hop this place ♪ ♪ Hop this place ♪ – An important part to the journey of becoming van life famous
is a tour of your van home. So I did what I could. Hey, what’s up guys? It’s Forrest. I’m here to show you my micro dwelling. It’s a Honda Civic, so
extra small, extra stealth. People do not know that
I’m camping in here and this is the epitome of #vanlife. It’s gonna be a short tour, obviously, ’cause it’s a small space but here we go. I got lighting set up, just some small little twinkle lights. This is usually how I run power. So sometimes I’m off
grid, sometimes I’m on. I just run an extension cord to kind of wherever I can get power. Show you where the magic happens. This is the mattress. This is a nice, thick
piece of memory foam, just from Wal-Mart, your
friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart. A little Mexican blanket,
it’s like spring time here even though it’s Canada,
even though it might snow. So this is what I would
like to call the garage. It’s got my skateboard. It’s got the jerry can, the extra oil, everything you need. I pretty much, for water,
it’s a question I get a lot is what I do for water. I keep it really minimal. I’m really into just
keeping it minimal here in the van life. Just an Aldi. They didn’t sponsor this video
at all or anything like that, just a regular old Aldi mill. We’ll come around to the other side maybe. So the other side, you
just bump this open. I like to keep a little
bit of reading material. This is the backroads
maps of where I’m at. I also do a lot of journaling. That’s kinda my creative outlet. So, do a little bit of journaling, a little bit of vlogging,
everything like that. Fix it all, duct tape. – So, I’ll show you the kitchen set up. This actually works really great. Just a really simple butane stove. Two pieces and the probe
and the butane can here. So, this just acts like, just think of it almost
like your tailgating, like this is the tailgate of a truck. Set that up, you have the rain protection, everything like that. So that’s the tour of my micro dwelling tiny home on wheels. It’s the Civic, I like
to call her Betty White. She’s old, she’s white, but
she’s still going strong. (light music) – [Camera Man] You know
this isn’t a van, right? – Well I mean, not technically but, you think about it, it’s
kinda like a mini, mini. OK, I was trying to say it’s
like a mini minivan, ya know? OK I can’t do it. Yo, cut dude. I can’t do these hair extensions
man, they’re so itchy. Yo Greg, you wanna help me
get these hair extensions out? Can’t really see what I’m doing here. Should I just rip it? Ow. I have like four hair ties in here too. Alright, let’s go. (light music) the 1992 Honda Civic hatchback
just wasn’t cutting it, but luckily for me, my videographer Gabe, actually has the perfect van. I just had to convince
him to let me borrow it. – Hey buddy. This is it, eh? – Uh yeah, so the thing is, my girlfriend actually
really needs the car for school right now.
– Oh OK. – So I brought you this. It’s pretty good, ya know? Ya know, get ya around at least. Little folder bike. – Yeah um, sure OK. So you want this for the van? – Using Gabriel’s van and switching up social media platforms to
cross-promote onto my Instagram, I made the ultimate romantic, cinematic van life experience video. (light music) Freedom of the open road. Traveling around the country, not purposely going anywhere, but seeing everything with purpose. It’s a dream for so many. Your headlights being the only
thing giving you direction. (light music) Enjoying the simple things, solitude, feeling the warmth of substance in an otherwise cold night. Travel helps figure out who you are even if you weren’t wondering, even if you forgot who you want to be. Joy and pleasure being the
main emotions of the moment. It lets you live like you have always been doing what you please. Professions only holding
a place in the past. (light music) What is it that you want to do? What is it that you have never done? What is it that thrills and scares you? That puts you so close
to the edge of your seat that you either have to stand or you fall? These are the things that we do when we have no other
choice but to live the life we have always wanted. We stand, we walk, we swim, and we surf. (light music) And then, we start again. The day, a cycle. We get cold, we get warm. We stay and then go. Van life is the vehicle we choose, the van our home, the life is ours. Our dreams, only a picture away. (light music) When we live simply,
we choose to be happy. Van life is the answer to
the call of simplicity. Van life can be romantic. It can be difficult and it can only be what we make it to be, a journey, a home, a connection to nature,
the ability to grow, a community, opportunity, an experiment, a goal, a dream, a fantasy, an escape, a necessity, a reality. The choice is yours. (upbeat music) (light music) – Are we doing it right now? – We’re filming right now, yeah. Classic (laughing). – I just had reverse but it clunked in. I think my clutch cable’s loose. My clutch just gave out so, we’re gonna have to go
under the van right now. – [Forrest] Really? – I guess this is good enough. Good place as any to do a little repair. Welcome to van life. (laughing) – You cross em. Sometimes van life genuinely really sucks but other times, it’s
kind of a bit of a goof and a gag and a laugh and a gaf. So ya know, always take the positives out of the negatives, right? Now, I can say that ’cause I don’t have to put on some overalls and get underneath ’cause Gabriel’s the Volkswagen man. I’m just the man with the camera today. – Volkswagen whisperer. Wonder what this looks like
from an outsider’s point. The clutch cable has a
wingnut at the back of it and so you can just tighten the wingnuts. So let’s just do that. Oh it’s a puddle. Haha, that’s wet! Holy crap. So let’s get the vice-grips
out and give her a tighten. This is back straps. Got an ax. See if they have a pair
of vice-grips in here. – [Forrest] Got em. So the clutch is tight? – The clutch seems tight. Might be too tight. – [Cameraman] Dude, this is
gonna be such a sick cover with the birds. You’re the bird man. (imitates pigeon) Check this out though. Yeah, we’re good. – So, I got you this. Wanna give me a hand dude? Really got this thing in here. (laughing) Maybe we’ll redo it (laughs). With all these challenges… With all these challenges– with all these challenges (laughs), one more time. (upbeat music)

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