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Vanlife: A Parking Story

Living in your van and finding safe parking where you are welcome can be dificult. It can take a while to get used to a new town and find safe reliable parking. This is my vanlife parking story.

By Sam Mohun

June 1st, 2022


When I turned 19 I bought my trusty little RV and set off for college on the coast. I planned to live in my little studio on wheels while I went to college, to save money and enjoy the coastal beaches. Putting my 1985 four-cylinder RV down the coast I felt free, independent, and ready to explore. By the time I got to my destination, the sun had sunk and the town was dark. I drove and searched for a parking spot for my RV and wound up in a shopping center. Just when I thought I was ok to tuck in for the night, there was a loud bang on the door and a voice saying “SECURITY”. I got up out of bed and answered the door, the security guard told me I had to move and I couldn't stay in the parking lot. 


I was on the road again, in the dead of night looking for a safe area to park. I drove around for 30 minutes searching for a safe place to sleep, finally deciding on a spot in a neighborhood next to the college. I pulled over, parked, and got some sleep. The next morning around 7 am and the parking police woke me up outside my door by writing me a ticket for not having a parking permit. 


Over the next few months, I established a routine, pulling in late to where I was sleeping and leaving early. I showered at the beach and made coffee in my RV to warm up. All I had in my RV at the time was a bed, everything was torn out from the previous owner. So, I cooked my meals on a camping stove outside. After a few months, this lifestyle of trying to dodge parking tickets, feeling unwelcome in neighborhoods, and cold showers began to take a toll. I had made some friends from college and one of them offered for me to stay in their driveway close to where I had been parking at night. I was stoked! Safe from the parking police in my friend's driveway, they let me shower, cook and use their bathroom and refrigerator. I was so grateful to be able to sleep in and relax.

A few years later, I was at university in another coastal town still living in my RV. I always thought what if more people were willing to share their driveways and homes with the Vanlife community. Then I met some fellow students who were doing just that by trying to help other students living in their vehicles find safe parking. What blossomed out of that community was Vanly, the app that connects people like me to communities and neighbors to find safe parking and amenities.  

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