A little while ago I wrote a post about this new 'vanlife' trend that is hitting the streets, beaches, forests and car parks near you. Fuelled by blogs and youtube channels some of these vanlifers are making some money using advertising and product placement. You can see the original post at https://samsimillia.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/hashtag-vanlife.html
After I wrote the post I started to question myself, whether I had been a little hard on the 'vanlifers' and a bit negative. Now I have been back on the road properly fulltime and travelling I feel I have a little more to say about it all.
Lets start with the positive, (cos yea soz there is some more negative stuff).
In the last few weeks in Portugal I have met a whole spectrum of people from all walks of life, all ages, from different countries and with different campervans. From dirty hippies who want to get stoned and party to retired rich folk who want a nice quiet life in the sun and everyone in-between.
Pretty much everyone I have met have been lovely and friendly and interesting and under the masks they put on to fit into their social groups they are actually more similar than they think. They all want to be liked and to be listened too and to feel like they are doing it right.
I have spent a bit of time on a campsite which I have never done before but have met some wonderful people who I would never normally have mixed with. This is the danger of isolating yourself into one group or sub-culture, you can stop mixing with people from other groups and actually become quite closed minded even if you might think you are open minded and accepting of others.
I recently had an incident where my front bumper got caught on a log that had been fixed to the ground to make parking bays. My friend and I got help from a couple of older men in plastic campervans who were away with their wives. Very 'normal' rather than 'alternative' but happy to help lift the front of my van off the log and stop and chat for a few minutes. The flip side of that is a 'vanlife' film maker and blogger who was there who saw what happened didn't come out and offer to help. How do I know he saw what happened? Well that dear reader is a story...
After getting my van unstuck when trying to fit my van in a small car bay, (this is to try and not use 2-3 bays by parking sideways) I park my van side on. Many other vans were also side on but a certain 'vanlifer' decided to come and pick on just me to tell me it was selfish to park that way. I agreed with him in principle but explained many campervans were too long to fit in the car bays length ways. He said he had seen me get stuck (hum, didn't help though) and he had lived in a van for 6 years. Not sure what that meant, maybe he thought he was an old hand at van living! He then ran off to get his business card which he presented to me telling me he had made a film about van living and also did a blog.
What is all wrong about this situation is firstly he only picked on me, why? Because I was the only one actually outside my van and possibly because I was the only one on my own. Why not knock on everyone's doors and say the same? The knowing I had been stuck annoyed me with no offer of help and the fact he thought telling me how long he had lived in a van made him some sort of expert on parking etiquette. Finally then after the telling off bringing me his card as if I'll then want to watch his movie!
He wasn't interested in me, my van, my lifestyle, why and how I live on the road in a van. Strange really from someone who makes films and blogs on that very subject. Which brings me onto another couple I met who displayed the same behaviour.
I met a couple who do a popular YouTube channel on alternative living although mainly covering 'vanlife'. Their short films are usually showing you around someone's van although they do others on 'vanlife' in general as well as other stuff. I recently met them at a local hippy market where they showed absolutely no interest in looking at my van, my lifestyle or my market stall selling amongst other things traveller inspired art!
Are these people so caught up in getting the right people for their videos, the right shot from their drone or the right location for that stunning picture that they have lost the point of this lifestyle? They certainly don't seem very interested in it.
To counter that I must say I met a young couple in a converted van who would fall into the 'vanlife' group I guess but who didn't do a blog or a YouTube channel and were lovely and interesting and interested in me and my life.
To finish this little rant I must mention another YouTuber who does another 'vanlife' channel. This guy has set up a patreon system whereby you can pay to get told where secret park ups are!! He says in his latest video that some people do not think it is right to put park ups online in the public domain but he is not getting into the rights and wrongs of it. Its seems to me he has made his view perfectly clear, pay money and he'll tell you, don't pay and he won't. It doesn't matter what sort of person you are as long as you have the cash you can go and spoil a beautiful park up. Personally I've never had a problem with posting park ups online, share the beautiful places I say, but if you believe they shouldn't be posted I respect your opinion, but charging money for them seems pretty low and unethical to me.
To sum up I guess what I have seen so far on my travels is that all sorts of travellers and van dwellers can be lovely but some can get a bit blinkered and not very accepting of other types of van dwellers. I've seen that once you are doing films or blogs for money you get caught up in that aspect of it and loose some of the interest in the subject that might not make you the money you want. I've seen that people are already cashing in on this new movement. Its all a bit sad really.
My thoughts? Go out and connect with people, live in the present, take time to listen to people, wonder at the beauty of nature and even if you have to make money out of something never forget that things that at first seem like they are not worth investigation might end up being your goldmine.
Thanks for reading :) love only love ❤ xxx