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Gas Prices - How Vanlifers Are Feeling About the Crunch

Have you seen gas prices??!

It’s the conversation topic the world can’t stop bringing up. But while we sit in our stationary tiny homes clutching our pearls over the calamity, we have to wonder what the spike is doing to our vanlife brethren.

Like… actually. Are you all OK??!

Here at the Great American Tiny House Show, we care about all of our tiny-dwelling friends, and that’s why we sent an anonymous scout out to check on them. Are they feeling the crunch the way we imagine? Is it the same all over the country? How have their plans changed as a result of increased gas prices? And finally- the question we had to whisper: is anyone considering leaving vanlife forever?

Whew! That got dark fast. Before we dive into the answers, let’s first take a moment to review the situation at hand. After all, we know gas prices are high, but how bad is it really?

Well, according to AAA, the national average rose to a record-breaking four dollars and fifty-two cents on Tuesday (May 17th). And according to CNN Business, California just hit six dollars per gallon as an average price. Ouch. But what does the future look like? Are we going to be able to get to work? Or is this the part of the story in which we all start growing potatoes out of those bright orange, five-gallon Home Depot buckets?

As tiny housers, we like to think of ourselves as pretty level-headed people, but even we might need to prepare ourselves for this one. Because unfortunately, it sounds like this is one situation that could get worse before it gets better. Why do we suspect this? Well, that’s what Natasha Kaneva said.

Unfortunately, Natasha Kaneva (the head of the global commodities strategy team at J.P. Morgan) wasn’t available to comment on vanlife directly, but we did read up on her latest projections for gas prices. And, well, it sounds like a six-dollar per gallon national average by August is not outside the realm of possibility. It could even be a teensy bit higher.

But as those of us in stationary tiny houses begin burying our potato starts and finding jobs within walking distance, let’s get back to the topic at hand: how are the vanlifers feeling about it all?

Well, honestly, the sentiments expressed were as varied as the characters who pursue vanlife, but it’s worth noting that none of their answers were as discouraging as one might expect!

The Mythical Claudia, the DIY vanlifer behind the Instagram account @rolling_resilience, had this to say.

[Gas prices] are causing me to be much more deliberate about having a specific reason to change locations, rather than just exploring spontaneously. I also spend much more time in one location than I did previously to save on travel costs.

So how much does gas cost her? Well, true to the nature of vanlife, she wasn’t able to give us a hard and fast answer, but Claudia reports paying between eighty and one-hundred-and-fifty dollars to fill up her tank. She also notes that her frequency of filling up can vary as much as the bill.

Sometimes I fill up once a week, sometimes twice a month, other times, three times in a day if I’m on the move.

She goes on to thoughtfully point out that pinpointing how gas prices are going to affect vanlifers is a tricky business because people come to the movement from such a wide range of situations.

For some, [gas prices] can make or break the experience. For those of us on a budget, high gas prices mean that you don’t get to explore or live the dream you had in mind. It can instead mean that you become local in one city, state, or region, which for some, defeats the purpose. For others, vanlife is a way to save money compared to traditional housing, and since they may work an in-person job anyway, continuing to stay local is no big deal. For part-timers in luxury vans, gas prices may have no impact whatsoever since they have “vacation budgets” set aside for travel.

Claudia brings up a good point; the crunch at the pump will affect us all differently, and vanlifers are no exception.

So how is the surge affecting other van-dwellers?

We asked one vanlifer (who shall remain anonymous) if gas prices had her regretting the lifestyle, changing her plans, or if there was anything she would do differently were she getting into this lifestyle today. We also asked about the highest and lowest gas prices she’s encountered. She answered us succinctly: no, no, and no to the first three questions. And as far as when she paid the most? When she was in Quebec, Canada (eight dollars plus per gallon). And when she paid the least? 1972.

We have to appreciate the vanlifers who keep us laughing, so we don’t cry. YouTuber and vanlife comedian Matt Watson is one such beautiful human, and we very much enjoyed stumbling upon his YouTube video in which he jokingly solicits for a #vanlife roommate. And yeah, we know gas prices aren’t exactly funny, but we truly couldn’t hold it together when he referred to himself as a “vanlord.”

Alright, folks, well, there you have it! Gas prices are hitting vanlifers the way they are hitting the rest of us- it’s affecting them all, but some more so than others. The encouraging news is that while many will be adjusting their plans, we didn’t talk with anyone who has decided to leave vanlife behind. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by this, though. After all, our friends living in vans are some of the most adaptable people on Earth. So, of course, it would take more than a little spike in gas prices to make those hardcore humans shake in their tiny boots. And thank goodness for that because tiny-world would not be the same without them!


Too long, didn’t read: vanlifers see your six dollars per gallon, California, but the party continues. Good talk. Now everyone go download Gas Guru.


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