The nature of full time RV living is changing. Like any series of changes, some of it is good, some changes are neutral, and some are not an improvement.
When my wife and I started in the lifestyle it was more of a convenience to get from one place to another. Once we got where we were going, we just stayed in the camper because it was easy living.
Today it’s a different group out there. There are more young people, most of whom I would classify as tech nomads, and various groups trying to escape traditional society.
In the early days van dwelling was basically a spam can with an air mattress, a charcoal grill and a cooler. Today dwelling in a van is a much different experience. High tech insulating materials, sophisticated electronics, and computer-aided design have turned van interiors into compact living spaces that would be the envy of many in the world. New van models, some of which have interior heights that range from 77 to 87 inches, make the interior more comfortable for taller people and rival campers.
There are two basic types of van dwelling nomads: Urban stealth campers and high tech adventure nomads. Adventure nomads value travel and experiences, many times centering around an activity like mountain biking, surfing, or kayaking. For them van living is a travel convenience.
Urban van dwellers are using vans to escape the high cost of urban housing. In some high cost areas cities are clamping down on vandwellers, classifying them as homeless. Not every van dweller is clean and stealthy. Some van living homeless leave streets and parking lots a mess. Another case of the few ruining the experience for the many.
Tech nomads can be found in all aspects of full time RV living, from vans to travel trailers, 5th wheels, and Class As. Some travel extensively, others remain at the same park all year. For tech nomads RV living is basically a mobile apartment. Anywhere they can get high speed internet is home.
The Road Schools
We had our first experience with a tribe of road schoolers at a nearby state park. There were three campers full of kids. I counted six in one 5th wheel and 12 total for the three campers. Apparently such groups are becoming more common. The state park rangers said such groups were regulars and seldom any real trouble. Most adopt the lifestyle for religious reasons but some to escape what they consider the limitations of public school. They don’t tend to stay in one place very long, moving park to park every week or two. They coordinate online with other road school parents and frequently group up at specific campgrounds and arrange educational field trips for the kids.
Not all parks welcome road schoolers and I can’t say we enjoyed the proximity. Yet, with housing bordering on a national emergency, there will certainly be more individuals and groups seeking an alternative. As campers and mobile communications continue to advance it’s a guarantee that RV living will continue to change with the times.