Camping and RVing is very much tied to alternative lifestyles. This is true even if you don’t full-time. It’s these interesting alternative lifestyles and his fondness of traveling and happy memories of taking trips with family in a van that first drew Forrest Stevens into the world of Van Life.
The #VanLife movement is one that’s really taken off in the last few years. Through Instagram pictures with heavy filters, it looks like a life of luxury and leisure, filled with beautiful landscapes and people.
The reality of the experience is a little different. Forrest saw the merits of the #VanLife, but he also wanted to give people an honest vision for what living in a van or camper van is really like.
An Honest Depiction
Forrest Stevens is a full-time YouTuber and filmmaker with a strong following. In order to show the reality of living the #VanLife, he shot a documentary called The Reality of #VanLife to show the world what it was really like.
He interviewed several people living the lifestyle and tried it out himself while shooting, editing, and directing the documentary. The honest depiction of the lifestyle peels back the Instagram-filtered veneer and shows viewers what it’s really like to live in a camper van or a converted van. It was released in August of 2018 and can be viewed on his YouTube channel.
This project led to his current YouTube channel videos, which are tours of people living in vans, tiny homes, sailboats, and campers. Basically, anyone who’s living an alternative lifestyle in a mobile or unique dwelling.
Forrest uploads a new video weekly, providing unique insight into the lives of people living differently than the majority of Americans.
“For me meeting these people and finding the different elements they use to live minimally and sustainably is a way for me to learn.” He said. “I’ll be able to use these things I’ve learned in the future.”
Forrest said that he really enjoys the work, too. He enjoys meeting with people and bringing their lifestyles to people through video content.
He did tell me that he isn’t just doing it because he likes it, though. Forrest did a video tour of his own van once and it garnered many views online. He said that he felt the need to double down on that type of content to get more views.
An Alternative Lifestyle Lover Himself
Forrest isn’t just an observer of alternative lifestyles. He’s lived it, too. As mentioned above, he tried out the Van Life while shooting his documentary, and before that he and his girlfriend spent time camping in a minivan in Canada while visiting family.
Forrest has upcoming plans to buy a van and convert it into a living space designed specifically for himself. With that, he will be better suited to hit the road and visit people so he can shoot their unique living spaces for his YouTube channel.
“In a way, it will be a weekend warrior van, but I plan on using it for extended trips,” he said.
He said his affinity for these alternative lifestyles come from a desire to live a more sustainable life with a smaller footprint. He hopes to one day buy a property and live a fully sustainable life on it.
Forrest said he noticed many people living alternative lifestyles feel the same way.
“When you’re living in a small space like a van you have to be conscious of your electricity use, water use, etc,” he said. “Whether you’re environmentally conscious or not, you end up being so because of the small space.”
Alternative Lifestyles Are Worth It
Forrest spoke to the fact that living the lifestyle you want to can have a serious impact on your mental well-being.
“I find myself happier and more enthused about life when I’m outside and in what people would consider wilderness,” he said. “That feels like home to me, so creating my own space that facilitates that is worth it, and that’s going to be different for everyone.”
He wants to have a sustainable and environmentally friendly home base and have the ability to travel and live on the road as necessary
Forrest said his YouTube channel is all about educating people about different lifestyles. His content is there to provide a true and honest look at what those are. While some of it may hit on the negatives of these lifestyles he said that everyone he talks to says it’s worth it.
“There’s one section in my documentary about Van Life where everyone is talking about the challenges, but then they all say ‘what’s most important to me and why I’m living this way and why I like living this way is the freedom.,’” he said. “Every single one of them said that.”
Forrest said freedom always comes up for people wanting to live this an alternative lifestyle: financial freedom, freedom of mobility, freedom from renting a space to live, and so on.
Throughout our conversation, it became clear that Forrest’s lifestyle and the lifestyle of all the people he interviews is about finding a way to live that’s right for them. Not subscribing to an accepted way of life.
It’s something that all of the people I’ve interviewed in the Why We RV series thus far have said. Camping and living in an RV or a van is all about having the bravery to pursue your own personal freedom, and today it’s more possible than ever before.
So, whether you want to live the #VanLife or you want to travel the country in a Class C or Class A motorhome, you should do it if that’s the kind of freedom you truly want in your life. Just be aware that it’s not all sandy beaches, beautiful sunsets, and Instagram-able moments.