House prices are rising, #KonMari is trending, and the bestseller list is full of experts advocating abandoning consumables for joy. In this age of environmental enlightenment, it is frugalism and climate reality that’s trumping excess and denial. So it’s no wonder that 11 million people seriously consider renouncing their footprint and joining the vanlife. We learned all this and so much more from two very happy campers sharing their insights and business model to help us make simpler dreams a reality.
Lacey Mayer and Breanne Acio of SD Campervans design dream homes on wheels and share their love of travel and community via their app. When we met them last fall they were far from the beginning of their journey. They had been on the road for many years together building the brand, finding new places, and tricking out vehicles like you wouldn’t believe. Their quest goes beyond renos and into the digital with The Van Life App. This is your one-app stop for finding local resources including campsites, facilities, gatherings and other vanlifers nearby.
We hopped in with Lacey to hear more of their road warrior stories, travels, inspiration, and #VanLife philosophy.
Jessica: How did vanlife become a reality?
- Breanne and I love to travel. We’ve been to 25+ countries and decided it was time to travel the US. We discovered the vanlife community on our first road trip to Canada and absolutely fell in love with the people within the community. Their values aligned with ours completely. We decided to hold bi-monthly vanlife gatherings when we got back to San Diego and have since brought together more than 50 vans each time (once reaching 350 vans and 600 people)! We absolutely cannot wait until we can hit the road again full time!
Jessica: What are the common values vanlifers share?
- Sustainability, minimalism, and freedom
Jessica: What benefits does living the vanlife offer?
- Travel. Nature. Remote work. You have the freedom to go where you want to when you want to. By exploring new towns and environments, you break the monotony of sameness every day and invite new thoughts. You also meet a beautiful community with your home right there with you.
Jessica: Sometimes vanlifers get a bad rap. What do you say to that?
- Vanlifers are stigmatized significantly that we do drugs, are helpless, are homeless, and are mentally unstable. Most vanlifers though, choose this lifestyle and are very empowered by this lifestyle because it is synonymous with freedom.
Jessica: Help us picture a vanlife meetup.
- A vanlife gathering is one of my favorite places to be next to watching the sunset or being at a music festival. We get to meet other people that are extremely like-minded, we get to be ourselves completely, and we get to mingle with other creatives and take time for ourselves that sometimes the real world doesn’t allow us to do. It’s always amazing.
Jessica: How does camping/sleeping work with new laws and overnight rules?
- We generally park and sleep anywhere we want that doesn’t have a “No Parking” sign on the spot. We love parking near beaches, in national parks, on BLM land (free land to camp on), or in a friend’s driveway. In San Diego, it is illegal to habit your vehicle. More cities are making this the law but some are making it legal to habit your vehicle due to the houselessness issues.
Jessica: How do you relax?
- So many ways, but by doing the things I love: journaling, napping, writing rap songs (yes, really!), creating poems, going in the jacuzzi or taking baths, sitting and meditating in nature or on my van roof. And I LOVE stretching and dancing freestyle (in competitions, with friends, and at music festivals). I’m also big on hula hooping and am excited to learn to fire hoop one day. And that’s all in addition to hanging out with loved ones.
Jessica: How do you currently cook and prepare your food?
- My wife, Breanne, mostly does the cooking and I clean. But I love my Instant Pot! It’s really the only way you’ll get me to cook and enjoy it at the same time.
We couldn’t think of anyone more qualified to road-test our Adventure Kit, as a compact system that fits the minimalist beliefs and nicely inside a van! As Lacey said it’s nice to have one vessel you can heat up all your food in and then even eat out, as it takes up a lot less space and is super convenient. We also loved the couple’s input on the overall food storage system and especially the bamboo lid and the need for it to be intuitive to use. Their thoughts, as well as great feedback from all of our early testers have led to great product upgrades, as well as some ideas for future reVessel products.
If you want to see how their mission, app and lifestyle come together to make vanlife accessible to all check out their latest at https://sdcampervans.com/.