Sitting at our remote campsite hundreds of feet above the crashing surf of central California’s Big Sur coast, my friend and I had the broad Pacific Ocean spread out before us like a midnight-blue tablecloth. Tucking into steaming plates of scrambled eggs, we relished the fact that our humble breakfast table had the best views on the planet.
This unforgettable moment was just one of the many distinct perks of living the “van life.” While the RVers passing by on Highway 1 below had likely spent the night in some crowded campground, we had turned our four-wheel-drive camper van off the pavement and followed a dirt side road that led to this idyllic spot seemingly a million miles from everywhere.
GO WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
Contrary to the belief that an RV has to be big to be good, my experience has shown the opposite to be true. Over the years, I’ve traveled in camper vans of all shapes and sizes. In my wanderings, I’ve found this more compact type of RV to be vastly more practical than any full-size motorhome. There are simply no worries about finding a parking place, maneuvering in tight quarters or passing slower traffic on narrow roads.
The good news for the van life-curious is that several companies specialize in this “Class B” subsegment of the RV rental market. Among them, Moterra, a company with outposts at some of the most scenic locations in the western US, focuses on putting guests behind the wheel of fully outfitted “luxury” four-wheel-drive camper vans designed to go where few RVs can follow.
EVERYTHING AND THE KITCHEN SINK
Now, don’t get the idea that hitting the road in a more compact RV means giving up any amenities of importance. Think of it as trimming off the fat to improve the entire experience.
Take, for example, Moterra’s 19-foot Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, which feature a full kitchen complete with a two-burner stove, sink and dorm-size fridge big enough for several days’ worth of provisions on the road. Add all the linens and cookware needed to make yourself at home, and you have a virtual vacation cottage on wheels.High-roof Sprinters also feature an enclosed bathroom with an easy-to-use portable toilet and shower. For chatting purposes, the front passenger seat swivels to face the comfortable sofa that folds down to a queen-size bed (another option ideal for families is a low-roof van with a pop-top that creates a comfy treehouse-like upper berth).
In short, my years behind the wheel have taught me that, when it comes to exploring uncharted territory, van life is the only way to travel.