Vanlife – Colorado Van Camping Adventure
“Ready” by Wide Awake
When everything in life goes sideways, our instinct is to return to what is safe and familiar. We gravitate towards comfort, but for me, the safety and comfort of my parents’ basement in a suburb of Wichita, KS was a far more scary prospect than spending every last penny after a crippling injury to buy a $500 van and eliminate the expenses of alcohol and rent from my own Colorado mountain life.
As I edited this video together, I wish I shot more of my campsites and Colorado van camping experiences, but the video does demonstrate how amazing and adventurous life can be when your home has 4-wheels and fits into a standard parking space.
My Colorado van camping adventure taught me a lot, and one of the biggest discoveries was that it is extremely easy to live without the creature comforts most of us have grown up with.
It’s amazing how horrific of an absence of running water, power from the grid, and a brick and mortar home is for most Americans. At the same time, I can see that the younger generations, which have not grown up with the same opportunity as our parents, are starting to get wise.
It may be a bit too late for me, I’ve already obtained an university degree and paid off all of the student loans, but those who are getting out of high school now are starting to realize that not everyone will benefit from rushing straight to school to rack up astronomical debts just to get a degree for jobs that take them so far away from the lives many of us desire and deserve to live.
So the goal with this Summer’s van expedition was to keep working, stop paying rent, and avoid spending any money on alcohol or other non-essentials. I broke this rule for several days of downhill mountain biking, but life is about experiences, right?
By the end of my Colorado van camping adventure, I had saved an estimated $3,500-$4,000, and in my case, money saved was definitely money made. In fact, without the van, I would have definitely ended up living in my parents’ basement in a city I don’t like and in a market with very little opportunity. Not to mention, I’m too old to boomerang back to my retired parents’ home if it isn’t a huge emergency.
During my camping and traveling adventures, I found free and legal campsites that still had 5-bars of 4g service in Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail Colorado. I did get chased off by a cop at the site with the large bridges overhead. Apparently, it was badly posted that there is no driving or camping there. Fortunately I was let go with a warning.
Now, after my 3-month Summer of vanlife, I’m astounded at how many van-dwelling adventurers, nomads, retirees, and bums I see consistently staying at truck stops and Walmart parking lots. Campers and vans that I have become familiar driving past and seeing around town.
The reality is that it took very little effort to find the places to explore and discover my camp sites, so if you decide to go on a van camping adventure in Colorado or elsewhere, don’t take the easy route and stay in parking lots or other stealth camping spots any more than is absolutely necessary. You will thank yourself once you get to spend your first night legally camping in a national forest or other beautiful and natural place.
Another thing I learned on this journey is that each person’s van camping adventure is different and their desired outcomes are different. There is a lot to learn from others, but don’t feel like everything they are doing is right for your quest.
I hope my Colorado van camping video inspired some of the viewers to find a way to live their own adventure.
If you want to see more cool Colorado mountain activities and explorations, please follow Colorado Mountain Life on your favorite social media channels!
Video and article by Mike Gamache