Thinking about buying a van (1 Viewer)

adventurekid

Pilgrim
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
58
Location
Pennsyltuckey
So my original plan was to just hop trains and hitch rides, which is good and all, but I started thinking about maybe taking a van instead.

So I have a few questions..

Van reccomendations? (I was thinking like either a service van or an old VW bus. I want to rip the seats out and put in a bed and storage things)

Vegetable oil? (I heard it is cheaper to run your van on vegetable oil. Has anyone tried it? does it work better?)

I worry a lot about some things that go a long with a van, though. Like, with train hopping and all, you don't necessarily need to be responsible for a car. I just hope if I get out there, I will be able to park it and all and no one will fuck with it.

But, I've been thinking about a van because there's more pros than cons. You have shelter if it's super cold or storming you at least have some sort of roof over your head. More storage- I can bring my rifles with me and a tent and store food. Also, with a van, I can get places a bit quicker and know more or less where I am going lol
 
We sell all kinds of other stuff in our Etsy store!

DrewSTNY

Vagabond
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Messages
331
Location
Gang Mills, NY
CheapRVLiving recommends work or cargo vans very highly and I would tend to agree. Nobody looks twice at a work van parked on any street in any city. Where I live, there are a lot of cable company techs who park their vans at their house or on the street at their apartment.

A ladder rack on top and a sign of some sort on the side or just blank sides will pretty much go unnoticed.

Interior-wise, the options are wide open. You can be as elaborate or simple as you want.

Running on vege oil can be done with a diesel, but these days, it's getting harder to find since there are a lot of refineries buying it from restaurants. If you can get it by stealth and have your own filtration system, you'll probably be fine, but it does take up a lot of space. Probably 2 55 gallon drums or 2 30 gallons drums with heaters, pumps, and filters to get started.

Youtube has hundreds if not thousands of videos now about van living, so there's lots of ideas out there.

Unless you are really handy, I would stay away from VWs. They are under powered and can require a bit of maintenance. I would recommend a Ford or Chevy van above all. My only hesitation with Ford is their craptacular coil on plug system which can fry the ECU if one, yes, one coil goes bad. (Been there, done that, $1500+ repair bill)

Good luck starting this adventure!
 
OP
adventurekid

adventurekid

Pilgrim
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
58
Location
Pennsyltuckey
CheapRVLiving recommends work or cargo vans very highly and I would tend to agree. Nobody looks twice at a work van parked on any street in any city. Where I live, there are a lot of cable company techs who park their vans at their house or on the street at their apartment.

A ladder rack on top and a sign of some sort on the side or just blank sides will pretty much go unnoticed.

Interior-wise, the options are wide open. You can be as elaborate or simple as you want.

Running on vege oil can be done with a diesel, but these days, it's getting harder to find since there are a lot of refineries buying it from restaurants. If you can get it by stealth and have your own filtration system, you'll probably be fine, but it does take up a lot of space. Probably 2 55 gallon drums or 2 30 gallons drums with heaters, pumps, and filters to get started.

Youtube has hundreds if not thousands of videos now about van living, so there's lots of ideas out there.

Unless you are really handy, I would stay away from VWs. They are under powered and can require a bit of maintenance. I would recommend a Ford or Chevy van above all. My only hesitation with Ford is their craptacular coil on plug system which can fry the ECU if one, yes, one coil goes bad. (Been there, done that, $1500+ repair bill)

Good luck starting this adventure!
thank you so much! I will keep that all in mind when I look for a van. Hmm I am pretty handy (and so if my boyfriend, whose traveling with me), but now I worry if we do get a VW and fix it up, it will break down or something and we will go broke trying to fix it. So I will have to keep that in mind.
 

drea99

Wayfarer
Joined
Aug 28, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
VW buses can be tricky. now a days they are very expensive to buy one that actually runs. I would go for a cargo van or mini van depending on how much space you need. Whatever you do though, make sure to have specific savings put aside just for repairs cause i would suck to have to ditch it on the side of the road. good luck!
 

Zaphod

Wanderer
Joined
Jul 27, 2015
Messages
117
Location
Cincinnati
also, VW's are a big red flag for cops cause all the hippies want them. Definitely I'd recommend a cargo van. I helped a buddy build his van out of a conversion van and I think it would have been way easier to start from the blank slate of a cargo van. Plus, Hitler invented VW; do you really wanna drive a car invented by nazis? lol.

All in all, I think van dwelling offers more stability than hopping or hitching does but at the cost of a bit of freedom. after all, you'll need to come up with money for maintenance and insurance and occasionally a bit of gas (when your gas jugging isn't going well.
 

roguetrader

Vagabond
Joined
Oct 24, 2015
Messages
466
Location
Exeter, United Kingdom
remember its only diesel engines that can be run on vegetable oil ! also this (veg oil) is a complicated subject so recommendations can't be made in just a few sentences - a lot depends on which type of injector pump the engine uses... also while most diesels can run on straight veg oil for a short period if you are going to do this long term you'll need to modify the vehicle in various ways....

i can't recommend actual makes of vehicle to choose as i live in England where we don't generally see US vans but i would personally choose a commercial / delivery type van that has been run and serviced regularly - motorhomes are frequently expensive compared to the same model van 'empty' and often spend long periods not being used which often leads to seized brakes and other problems, so beware vehicles advertised with really low mileage - regular light use is much better than standing for years.....

finally if possible don't be in a rush to buy something - the longer you look the more you'll have to choose from and you may be lucky and grab a genuine bargain, people have vastly different ideas about what a vehicle is worth...
 

FromNowhere

Wayfarer
Joined
Jul 6, 2017
Messages
53
Location
Seaside, OR
I'm a van dweller since last spring and I love it. If you know VW's and love to work on them, then get one! Otherwise don't. Depending on your budget, I would probably start looking at Chevy Astrovans. They are affordable, relatively dependable, and easier on the MPG. If you wanted to run something on vegetable oil it would have to be a diesel. The only diesel vans available are Mercedes Sprinters or older Dodge Sprinters. All of which can be a nightmare to repair if something goes wrong. Used Sprinters typically have a good reputation though, if you can find one! Personally I prefer American vehicles in North America, because you can find a Chevy, Ford, Dodge mechanic pretty much anywhere, but finding a Mercedes mechanic out in the boonies is probably going to be next to impossible.

Had I been living in Europe I would be looking for a Sprinter or a Ducato probably.

For my van I went with a newer Ford Transit. I justified the cost because I knew I wasn't going to be paying rent anymore. It looks like a work van and it's very stealth. The downside to most domestic vans is that they are invariably V8 motors. However, you may come across an Astrovan, or maybe you would get lucky and find a deal on a Toyota Hiace, or a Mitsubishi.

Your absolute best resource on the internet for van dwelling would be on reddit dude. www.reddit.com/r/vandwellers

Good Luck!
 
Last edited:

nomadic poetess

Pilgrim
Joined
Nov 6, 2017
Messages
29
Location
Danville Virginia
This is exactly how I would do , and am considering myself right now , get me a van ..

Free love and Free Vans ? Taking donations for the Van only LMAOOO

I'm definently scared AF to get on a train .. aint gonna lie .. I'm just not the typical traveler girl , I can live remotely without conveinence, but I must be clean and able to get myself too and from without having to deal with the creepers for transportation . I may look soft but I'd tear a fckers throat out with my teeth if needed, Imma soilder too. Get the Van and pay attention to what the dude above says bout gun laws. I personally prefer blades for protection.
 

creature

plastic wingnut in a microwave
Banned
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Sep 23, 2009
Messages
1,710
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folks who know me have my #.
one major question to ask yourself is "how much shit do i have?".
dedicated vehicle dwelling requires knowledge of the vehicle.

def search on here for threads about engines, power trains, tools & learning.

if you're solo, completely ignorant of automotive princepls (despite wanting to learn) & all you have is a backpack, you can get away with a small wagon or mini-van & a long cargo carrier, assuming you have a decent rig that will go for 30,000 miles before any significant work. Figure 3 grand for a decent toyota or suby or other Japanese vehicle with not more than 120,000 miles on it.
that's a very high end estimate, but it gives you an idea of what you need to throw down to get on the road & *stay* on the road for the first 6 months.

rubbertramping is work.

stay off the fucking interstates when possible, & avoid having fixed destinations.

learn to read maps *well*. do NOT become GPS dependent.

learn basic mechanics.

work, save up money & then split.
be as independent as possible.

carry a bicycle.
learn about stealth parking, and i don't mean walmart or city streets.

the nice thing about a rig is that you can carry food, cooking gear, a few changes of clothes & a basic set of hygienic essentials.

you can choose your company with a bit less risk & randomness & you can control your personal space with more certainty.

nothing is perfect & we are not of infinite intellect or talent.
there are always trade offs, so decide what is most important to you regarding your desire to travel.
you might love music, but if you need to break your knuckles learning how to troubleshoot & change radiators & alternators, you have to decide if that means more to you than being able to live wherever it is that you want to be, within the options & capacity that Distance offers you.

anyways..
check out some of the threads.

vehicle dwelling is cramped, & honestly?

a bicycle may be the best one of all.. i dunno..

the required toolset is def a hell of a lot smaller...
 

FromNowhere

Wayfarer
Joined
Jul 6, 2017
Messages
53
Location
Seaside, OR
one major question to ask yourself is "how much shit do i have?".
dedicated vehicle dwelling requires knowledge of the vehicle.

def search on here for threads about engines, power trains, tools & learning.

if you're solo, completely ignorant of automotive princepls (despite wanting to learn) & all you have is a backpack, you can get away with a small wagon or mini-van & a long cargo carrier, assuming you have a decent rig that will go for 30,000 miles before any significant work. Figure 3 grand for a decent toyota or suby or other Japanese vehicle with not more than 120,000 miles on it.
that's a very high end estimate, but it gives you an idea of what you need to throw down to get on the road & *stay* on the road for the first 6 months.

rubbertramping is work.

stay off the fucking interstates when possible, & avoid having fixed destinations.

learn to read maps *well*. do NOT become GPS dependent.

learn basic mechanics.

work, save up money & then split.
be as independent as possible.

carry a bicycle.
learn about stealth parking, and i don't mean walmart or city streets.

the nice thing about a rig is that you can carry food, cooking gear, a few changes of clothes & a basic set of hygienic essentials.

you can choose your company with a bit less risk & randomness & you can control your personal space with more certainty.

nothing is perfect & we are not of infinite intellect or talent.
there are always trade offs, so decide what is most important to you regarding your desire to travel.
you might love music, but if you need to break your knuckles learning how to troubleshoot & change radiators & alternators, you have to decide if that means more to you than being able to live wherever it is that you want to be, within the options & capacity that Distance offers you.

anyways..
check out some of the threads.

vehicle dwelling is cramped, & honestly?

a bicycle may be the best one of all.. i dunno..

the required toolset is def a hell of a lot smaller...
You may have van life aspirations on a bicycle budget. I've met people who are successfully living out of minivans and hatchbacks too, which is a great option if MPG is a critical factor. Hell, I slept in my old Corolla a few times. I suppose pitching a tent would be an option if you wanted to be comfortable in a small vehicle, but you would need to be living in the sticks to do that. There's nothing like pitching a tent in or near a city that gets people really upset.
 

Jerrell

Vagabond
Joined
Aug 27, 2017
Messages
316
Location
I..da....ho?
Get a storage locker or leave them with a friend or family or sell them before hitting the road.
I agree. I have two rifles. One was my grandpa's and the other was my best friend's. They're the only two people I ever went shooting with as a kid and they're both dead. I keep a storage bay/locker for those and a few other things with special meaning. That way I don't have to worry about a relative getting them stolen or selling them or whatever.

I know there's something about Michigan's gun permit being accepted in a lot of states, but I think you'd have to be a resident to get that deal.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2010
Messages
136
Location
Anywhere, USA
Allot of this had already been said but it bears repeating. If you go with a van, you're mostly not going to be train hopping. It's just not practical to leave your van and your possessions in a random parking lot and leave for an indefinite amount without expecting it to get impounded. Maybe if your have a really cool friend's house to leave it at.

Seriously don't get vw microbus. Unless you are wealthy you'll be lucky to find one that runs that your can afford and even if you can work on it, parts are basically collectables at this point. You'll pay 500% more for used parts than your would for new parts on almost anything else. Furthermore, they are small. Basically a minivan. I lived in a minivan with my girlfriend and it's really not enough space for two people.

Veggie oil isn't worth it. Takes allot of space and knowledge and the days of free grease are over. It used to cost companies money to get rid of their used oil but now other companies pay them for it. They have contacts. Times change.


Don't bring guns unless you just want to drive around Texas and not leave. State to state laws will fuck you up. There are lots of other ways to protect yourself.

As for van recommendations. That's s very personal question. Your mentioned a boyfriend. If it's two people you'll probably want a full size van like a conversion van or work van. diesel is still a nice option. Ford's 7.3L turbodiesel is a solid beast. Mines got a quarter million and going strong. 4x4 is cool if you'll use it but if you just want to go to cities, it'll just be a waste of fuel economy and you'll spend more to get it in the first place. Lots of people are scared of vehicles with over 100k on em but I've personally never owned one with less and honestly I've never been disappointed. Always make sure you get a mechanic to look a vehicle over before buying it.

I hope this is helpful.
 
D

Deleted member 20975

I deleted myself
See if you can find an out of commission ambulance van. I had one but lost my license before i ended up getting on the road with it. It was TRAGIC. But the van would have been perfect with a little work. And price is probably decent.

Storage built in, usually maintained pretty good, outdoor camp lights, insulated, secure. They have a badass electrical system with a second or third battery you can work with. A bunch of random things to make travel more interesting.
 
D

Deleted member 21429

I deleted myself
I got a Step Van because I'm tall. I got an old Step Van because I can work on it with very little tools. I got a Step Van under 20 feet so I can park it in more spots. I searched a few years on and off on CL before finding it. My two cents on this is to look for old fire department vehicles for low mileage and cost. I paid 2500 and got a 1973 international with a 345 v8 and 3 speed automatic transmission with only 50,000 miles on it. Plus they don't rust. Lots of good advice on this thread. Best of luck to you ~ peace
 
D

Deleted member 21429

I deleted myself
I got a Step Van because I'm tall. I got an old Step Van because I can work on it with very little tools. I got a Step Van under 20 feet so I can park it in more spots. I searched a few years on and off on CL before finding it. My two cents on this is to look for old fire department vehicles for low mileage and cost. I paid 2500 and got a 1973 international with a 345 v8 and 3 speed automatic transmission with only 50,000 miles on it. Plus they don't rust. Lots of good advice on this thread. Best of luck to you ~ peace
 

Sameer

Wanderer
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Messages
100
Location
Southwest
Chevy Van G20 is a good model and hopefully you can find a high top so it is comfortable for you. You can't do vegetable oil because you can't carry around a 40 lb drum or something like that ....... 0429181840a.jpg you need to be light.
 

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klaiash

Rambler
Joined
Feb 15, 2016
Messages
33
Location
Ventura
This thread is a but old, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

My car was overnight parked in a million dollar neighborhood and still got broken into (clothes, cameras, years of artwork all gone). Please never leave important/valuable things like rifles in a vehicle without supervision. The feeling of having it jacked from you, by low life scum nonetheless, sticks around for a long time (at least for me it did). Pick rubber tramping or pick hitch-hiking/train hopping. Leave your vehicles at home if ya ain't sleepin' in 'em. Of course, this is just based off of my personal experience. Safe travels everyone.
 

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