(NewsNation Now) — So-called “van life” picked up steam during the pandemic, when people packed up their lives and hit the road for freedom, nature and fresh air. To some, it’s seen as a referendum on materialism and the status quo.
The minimalistic lifestyle is now being talked about across the country in the wake of the Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie case.
Six months ago, Quin Gable, 29, quit her corporate job and converted a van to become a nomad with her two cats.
“You can do whatever you want, wherever you want,” Gable said. “You can choose to be with people who are like-minded; you can choose to be with people who maybe put you outside of your comfort zone.”
Gable, now a brand ambassador, is part of the growing trend: people who can work remotely and see the natural wonders of the country. While there are no exact numbers as to how many people choose to live in their vans, there have been more than 2.1 billion TikTok views under the hashtag #vanlife.
“We’re kind of following each other throughout the state or the national parks, or by myself, you know, alone, just going from place to place,” Gable said.
Gable focuses on teaching others, especially women, how to live her lifestyle safely.
“I will text my family my coordinates every single night,” she said. “I also have a satellite GPS phone, which lets me breathe so well there’s an SOS button, I can text outside of service.”
For her, and her fellow van lifers, Gabby Petito has been top of mind. Gable said she’s now traveling in a caravan, instead of solo.
“It just really hurts my heart that this happened to Gabby. I don’t think van life is to blame for this or the safety of Van life,” Gable said.
Still, the enchantment of America’s natural wonders and a life free of constructs and constraints continues to draw in Gable, and others.
She said she doesn’t see herself living in an apartment anytime soon.
“I don’t know where I’m going to be tomorrow,” she said. “I would say a couple of years, I love it. It just really pushes you to grow as a human and what I love about the van life community is everyone is incredibly self aware.”