Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A grey 2022 Chevy Suburban is shown from the side off-roading in the desert.

Conquering Vanlife in an SUV

Just looking at the new 2022 Chevy Suburban, you can see it has a lot of space, just like its predecessors. In a Suburban, you can comfortably fit seven to nine passengers. Put down the seats for you have an expansive 144.7 cubic feet of room, and you can haul up to 8,300 lbs with the right configuration. So whatever the case, you know the Suburban has got you covered. However, some creatives out there have found a more unusual use for the Suburban’s size and power. #vanlife has been trending all over social media in the past few years. The bohemian movement that boasts minimalism and adventure all in one has become a bold lifestyle choice among social media influencers, artists, and twenty-somethings while becoming a life goal for many others seeking to leave it all behind and find something new out on the open road. However, if you don’t have a van, the Chevy Suburban will do just fine.

Outside the Van

So what is vanlife or vandwelling really? Is it the equivalent of something retirees did? Buying an RV and taking a road trip once a year to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon? Well, that’s the basis of the idea. Only instead of grandma and grandpa trucking around in a supersized, all-equipped RV, it’s usually embraced by the younger crowd from their twenties upwards to their mid to late thirties.

In the vanlife movement, the person typically lives full time in their van, or at the least half time. Many of the folks who embrace this lifestyle lean towards professions in freelance photography, design, and content creation, while the vanlife experience tends to be documented every step of the way on social media for followers to watch. The more followers, the more the creator makes, hoping to sustain their particular minimalist lifestyle, or at least that’s the idea. After all, things like converting a vehicle to live in and fees for overnight parking at a campground, plus gas, can really add up.

With the movement only seeming to grow each year, with more and more young people yearning for the simple life on the open road, it appears the trend #vanlife isn’t going to slow down. The trend continues to inspire people to create their own home on wheels, but one problem is plaguing wannabe vanlifers–the van! Most times, an actual camper proves to be too pricey for young people just starting out, and a used van can lead to any number of problems, from the initial expense to converting it to a tiny living space to the mechanical issues that can arise on the open road. But always creative, people haven’t let the little things quell their wanderlust. Hence the emergence of the converted Chevy Suburban.

The infotainment screen in a 2022 Chevy Suburban shows the rear view camera.

Vanlife Conversion

While not as tall and dominating as a cargo van, the Suburban has quickly become a favorite among van dwellers. The dependable and functional, often rugged SUV presents itself as a traveler’s perfect home on wheels with its large cargo space, the seats can be taken out, and a twin mattress put in for a comfy night’s sleep. Further up, a kitchenette and basic amenities like a mini propane stove can be added, which allows for cooking or meal preparation.

If vanlifers know anything, it’s how to make storage space out of anything, with a stove and sink often folding down or covered over when not in use for additional counter room. Add on top of that numerous hidden cubbies and drawers under the bed and along the walls, and you have the perfect space-saving solutions for food, clothing, and equipment. Additional outlets and temperature controls are often powered with an auxiliary battery system connected to solar panels on top of the vehicle. So, in this case, it’s all sunshine. One man even went so far as to add a pop-up roof extension to his Suburban to account for more headroom. While many haven’t gone that far, they’ve still managed to convert their Suburbans to a cozy caravan for around $3k-10k, depending on what features you want your new home to have.

The idea is that while you want a dry, warm place to sleep at night, you don’t want to live in the vehicle. So you don’t need all the extra space, something like a full-size RV or extended cargo van boasts. With something like the converted Chevy Suburban, you can live outside in the world, see nature, and travel to new places in a reliable vehicle to get you there safely and comfortably. Then you can focus on your adventure and not wonder if your van will leave you stranded.

On and Off the Road

Oftentimes an SUV is easier to navigate than a van. The Chevy Suburban has the option to get four-wheel drive, something that isn’t always available with a van. This makes the Suburban ideal for campers looking for that tough off-roading capability they need when exploring national parks and other hard-to-reach places. You can even get a Suburban that is specifically geared towards off-roading if that is where you prefer to do most of your adventuring.

Considering many vanlifers are adventurers at heart with hobbies such as rock climbing or hiking, they need a vehicle that will take them where they need to go. Content creators are constantly seeking out of the way places, hard to get to beaches, and to-die-for mountain views. Cargo vans and recreational vehicles just can’t compete with the rugged performance of the go anywhere and everywhere Suburban. Many find that the strength of the Suburban is good not only for hauling themselves and basic amenities around, but if they need more towing power, they can always add a trailer for overflow. Be it sports equipment like skis, bicycles, or work-related equipment like cameras and tripods; the Suburban can handle that too, no sweat.

Many who have been living in their converted Chevy Suburbans have also disclosed the fact that the vehicle isn’t only rugged and reliable off the road, but on the road, its longevity is hard to beat. A well-maintained Suburban can reach upwards of 200,000 to 300,000 (an average of 13,500-15,000 miles a year) miles before it needs to be replaced. That’s a lot of life to expect from a vehicle, but the Suburban delivers, often ranking among the top five when it comes to SUV longevity and performance.

A grey 2022 Chevy Suburban is shown from the rear driving along a dirt path.

Here, There, and Everywhere

As long as people, young and old, are gripped with that wonder of open spaces and far away places, they’ll inevitably need something to get them there with as little hassle and as much convenience as possible. With someone choosing to go the way of expense and maximalism, there will always be others who choose the simpler route of minimalism with a bohemian outlook, wanting not to simply be out in nature but surrounded by it—wishing to get to those hard-to-reach spaces at the end of the rutted road, or windswept peaks on a mountain top. Places many vehicles couldn’t, or perhaps wouldn’t, dare to tread. Places the Suburban was built for, carrying its nomads safely over highways and dusty country lanes. Form, function, and price are what have pulled countless adventure seekers and dreamers towards the likes of the 2022 Chevy Suburban, where all they see are possibilities for the next great trip while providing that comfort of home on the road.

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