Van-life aficionado Jordan Tarver talks life, how he started, and why he loves van living

Jordan is a part time van-lifer based out of Los Angeles. He’s a self-taught photographer and writer who spends his time traveling in his van to different parks and documenting his travels. We asked him a few questions about being a DIY explorer, and what he loves about the van life.

When and why did you first start traveling?

One year ago, I bought my van. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into at the time. I could only think of my obsession with the outdoors. Camping with my family every summer for as long as I can remember, it was hard not to love it. The six of us would pile in one big tent and attempt to not annoy each other. But I’m sure if you asked my mom, she’d have a few words about that.

I remember always wanting to help my dad pack the car, but it was always a quick “No.” So I’d pout, have a few words, kick some dirt around, but eventually find myself sitting on the driveway watching closely. I’d pay attention to his Tetris-like method as the gear would slowly fill the back. Just dreaming of doing this on my own one day. That one day is now.

I started with a Volvo wagon and I’d pack it tight with weekend essentials - beer, surfboards, firewood, food, and friends. This was just a stepping stone. Next, came tackling my dream of converting my own van. Without owning a single power tool, I somehow convinced myself I could do this. Through patience and tears, I pulled it off. The van has taught me more lessons and taken me to more places I could have imagined.


Keep Exploring Flag Utah


What are three things you have to bring on every trip?

My digital camera, a point, and shoot film camera, and my journal.

I’m a storyteller and these are the tools that let me do that best.


Sketchbook Page


What’s the biggest tip for those thinking of doing van life?

The biggest tip for van life would be to go into with patience and the understanding that it’s an ongoing project. Your rig will never feel complete; there will always be something you want to update or change. It’s a part of the process and it’s what keeps it interesting 24/7. That shouldn’t scare you, but I think it’s worth noting.

I do this kind of adventuring because it fills my life with energy, appreciation, and gratitude for the things that surround me every day. It’s not about how you start but that you started. I started by watching my dad pack the car, and now use his techniques to pack my own van. It’s the things that unfold after the beginning that are the most beautiful.


Van in front of "Welcome to Utah" sign


Check out Jordan’s social channels and book at these links,


Websites: /

Main Instagram: @jordantarver

Van Instagram: @thestoryonwheels

Self-published solo backpacking book on Amazon: 

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