By Mark McConville
LIVING nomadically on the road has become so popular that vanlife gatherings are now uniting hundreds of people who favour this non-traditional way of life.
Incredible images and video footage of the recent Descend on Bend event in Bend, Oregon, USA show the huge array of vans and mobile homes after more than 400 showed up.
The striking shots show people who are used to living life on the road and travelling from place to place coming together as a community.
People are pictured chatting, exchanging ideas and sitting around a campfire as night approaches while a big cookout was held and food was shared around.
Breanne Acio, 30, from Thousand Oaks, California, documented Descend on Bend after attending with her wife Lacey Mayer, 28, of West Hills, California.
“There are over six million people in the United States living in non-traditional housing (i.e., RVs, vans, and boats), not including tiny houses,” said Breanne.
“However, this is how many people report their non-traditional residences. The actual number is estimated to be millions more.
“Because of the stigma, most people don’t realize what a common lifestyle this is and people don’t often share it freely. Gatherings help you to realise that there is a community out there.
“There are only two or three large annual vanlife gatherings in the United States. People travel from long distances to go to them.
“Sometimes, this lifestyle can be lonely because the community is so spread out; plus, the lifestyle is often stigmatised. Gatherings give people an opportunity to connect with community, collaborate, and learn from others who are living an alternative lifestyle.”
Descend on Bend featured potlucks, scavenger hunts (hosted by Hydroflask), a fundraising breakfast, yoga, and live music.
Breanne explained the reason so many people are turning to this way of life and rejecting societal norms.
“Many people in this movement feel disenfranchised by a system with declining wages and increasing costs of living,” she added.
“The ‘American Dream’ of owning a home, having a secure job that pays well, and having time for family and friends, doesn’t seem like a possibility to many people in our generation.
“So, people are pursuing happiness and a lifestyle that allows for more time to pursue the things they love.
“Unfortunately, in America, and many other societies, our economic system has smother our ‘unalienable rights’ to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’, with the pursuit of monetary survival.
“Vanlife, minimalism, and the tiny house movements are primarily comprised of people trying to carve out their own, alternative path, and to regain these rights.
“Gatherings are important because they allow you to meet and collaborate with people who are changing the dominant narrative.”
Seeing the effects these gatherings can have Breanne and Lacey have started to host bi-monthly gatherings in San Diego, although these events only last for a day rather than a weekend.
“Our first one was in September and we had over 50 vans throughout the day,” Breanne said.
“The next one is November 4th, and our meet-up page has over 200 members, just in San Diego. We plan on starting have workshops on building and collaborations on making a living digitally.
“We also started an Instagram account, @vanlifegatherings, to help people share and find more events and places to connect.”