VanLife Lighting

Vans are unique, like the humans that occupy them. Lighting concepts are no different. We’ve toured many vans and have experienced the full range of creative lighting solutions, from psychedelic flashing LED strips, to small puck lights, fluorescent fixtures and sometimes a minimalist headlamp.

Lighting gives us the ability to carry on into the night. We cook, roll our clothing, read books, hang out and gaze deep into each other’s eyes. And there are numerous ways to meet our nighttime needs.

A Practical Approach

Our approach to lighting is practical. How can we maximize light while minimizing auxiliary battery draw and our efforts?

Four years ago we installed a small LED lighting fixture over the stove/sink that ran off of our 12 V auxiliary battery system. However, we opted out of installing additional 12 volt lighting fixtures, as we didn’t want to run more wires through the van.

Instead, we found it relatively effective to use small magnetized lights that ran on rechargeable AA batteries. However, the batteries needed to be recharged often and replaced. Over time this was expensive. Another downfall was that the plastic housings lacked durability, and eventually every light broke, temporarily mendable only with duct tape.

A MORE Practical Approach

This year, redoing our lights was on our to-do list. Corey planned on spending a few hundred dollars and hours of his time redesigning and installing a new lighting system.

In comes UCO

“Guys, look at this!” Our friend Aidan popped out of his Vanagon, an interesting object in hand. Turning a nob, the item lit up like Corey’s eyes, gradually increasing in brightness. He turned the nob the opposite way and the object emitted a soft blue light. Using a little orange magnetized disc, Aidan hung the object from his side view mirror illuminating the space between our vans. A light bulb went off in Corey’s brain. Excited, he asked Aidan if he could borrow the light. He proceeded to hang it in every position possible. Could it fit in the loft? Could it light up the closet? Could it hang from the awning?! Rapidly, Corey’s enthusiasm grew.

“Aidan, how many batteries does this latern take?” Corey asked the potential deal breaker question.

“None,” Aidan replied, his slow smile bathed in blue light.

The UCO lanterns are charged using a USB plug located in the lantern’s secret compartment.

Corey’s light dream is awakened, a simple utilitarian light that can be hung or stand alone, anywhere, and is easily recharged using our existing battery system or USB.

We connected with UCO and have been blessed with the opportunity to product test two of their lights, the Rhody+ Li and Madrona+ Li. In the past month we’ve recharged them only once. And we use them every night.

If you’re in the market to upgrade your camping light set up and are interested in UCO’s products, in collaboration with UCO we are offering a discount code for the month of May only. See the form below. Live the dream. <3


Our New Yorker Magazine Response

Reflecting on the New Yorker article, and subsequent press and conversation was a learning experience, a transformational test of my inner strength.

The writer lived with us for 8 days. She selected moments from only the first 3 days to paint her picture.

Omitted was soaking in hot springs. Omitted was days surfing. Omitted was breaking down in a national forest. Omitted was sharing ideas and beers with the GoWesty crew. Omitted was essentially why we love life and why we live in a van.  

I was confused. Why is mainstream media focusing on the financial aspect of vanlife and especially influencer marketing, a new work territory for us all? And why the friction?

Here’s what I am learning…

Us human beings create belief systems, highly complex relational structures that determine our desires, thoughts and behavioral patterns. We often present this as who we are. I am a woman. I am a man. I am 33. I am a vanlifer. I am a capitalist. I am a neo socialist. I believe in God. I don’t believe in God, etc.  

We surround ourselves with thoughts about who we are in an attempt to define ourselves.

However, our beliefs can divide us because we seek validation through our reflection in the people surrounding us. Essential, we make others a part of our inner model and want them to be predictable because it reinforces the walls we’ve built. When they change, we feel disturbed.

The problem with this mode of operating is that change is the only constant in nature. By attaching to unchanging thoughts we fight our own nature. Life moves in cycles of creation, preservation and destruction. 

We live in a van because we love it. Plus, our lifestyle of movement has helped us reclaim real wealth.

Wealth, by ancient origin of the word, means abundance, happiness and wellbeing. 

We reclaim real wealth when we work with purpose.

We reclaim real wealth when we engage with nature.

We reclaim real wealth when we adventure beyond our comfort zone.

We reclaim real wealth when we follow our passions.

We reclaim real wealth when we radically accept our differences.

We reclaim real wealth when we make health a priority.

We reclaim real wealth when we realize other’s opinions are not our responsibility.

We reclaim real wealth when we redirect our focus inward when challenged and work all the way through our response.

We reclaim real wealth when we remember we are pure awareness having a fractal experience called life.

How do you reclaim real wealth?

Secrets to Vanlife Longevity

Vanlife is a piece of cake. There is a tried and true formula. First, decide if it is the leap for you. Then, simplify your life and purchase the right van to meet your needs. Last, create remote work. That’s it! Now drive off into the sunset and snap a few photos to inspire your friends on Instagram. Piece of organic sugar-free vegan delicious cake, right? Well, sort of, no, not really. 😉

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