8 Weeks of Rental Van Life

Van Life Begins: Renting and Outfitting

Eight weeks in a rental van is an ambitious experience! Everyone I talk to about this trip tells me they are very jealous. That’s a sign of a great plan. But I don’t see my friends making reservations for a van for several weeks. It’s harder to be staring the plan in the face, packing gear for eight weeks and wondering if the vehicle will even be there on the other side of a cross country flight.

I was scared! Not completely, but in that overlap between scared and excited that you feel deep in your stomach.

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Our plane travel went smoothly. I wore a 3M Aura n95 mask the whole time. I didn’t take it off during the flight even to drink water (although I did chug a water bottle when we arrived on the other side).

On the BART to our car rental destination, we called Hertz and confirmed what time we would be there. They offered to pick us up at the station which we gratefully accepted, given our three suitcases and three smaller bags.

Everything was miraculously going according to the plan we formulated 3,000 miles away.

We saw our van parked under a tree and headed inside to fill out the paperwork. The van turned out to be a Ram Promaster 2500 (we had reserved a Ford Transit or similar). It was tall! I could easily stand up in the back. I took a video walk around of the van to have my own record of any existing damage.

After a terrifying exit from the parking lot at literally 3 miles per hour (the seat in a van is way higher than in my Honda Civic) we headed to our first pickup.

My partner, Facebook Marketplace whiz, lined up two bed pickups before we even got on the airplane. Our first pickup was a futon and futon couch frame, which easily slid into the back of the van. The frame fit so perfectly it was like it was built for it. We hadn’t originally counted on having a frame, but it worked amazingly well. The second pickup was for a queen size mattress (which we hauled down three flights of stairs). We ended up ditching the futon and keeping the mattress and futon frame only.

Our new friend with the free mattress also generously gave us a sheet, comforter, and pillows. The gray sheet was instantly useful to create a privacy barrier between the seats and back of the van.

Combined with a few things brought from home (my own pillow, for example) the van transformed into a cosy, comfortable, and restful space!

I love my new LED lantern – I bought a second one for this trip and the warm white color was perfect to light up the space in the van for a cosy ambiance.

I was nervous about setting out on our van life adventure. But between our resourcefulness and the generosity of strangers getting ready to move out, we had a comfortable sleeping space that first night. As we drifted off to sleep to mostly silence and a few cars driving by, I knew I had made the right decision to embark on this endeavor.


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