What the hell is a Vanagon?


We  search.  And search.  And then we do it some more.  Through a myriad of posts, websites and YouTube videos we wade, hoping for our ‘aha’ moment to happen. We need our gypsy wagon to hit the perfect mark for us.  The more we search the more options come out of the woodwork. It’s not hard to picture ourselves living out of just about anything anymore. The whole situation has become rather comical. We have reverted into kids in a candy store, noses pressed against the glass, counting the quarters in our pockets.

If you remember from my first post, I mentioned something called a Vanagon.  Chances are you already know what it is, you just didn’t know that you did. We see them in commercials and movies as the stereotypical peace sign coated hippie bus. Complete with surfboards and dreadlocks and thick clouds of smoke. Like, has anyone seen Scoob?

As I began to search through copious amounts of information one thing became very clear.  I had to ignore a lot of what I was reading or I’d be at it for days.  Not only is there an incredible amount of information about the transformations VW has undergone but there are a lot of ties to less than favorable times in our history.  Every research door opened another interesting thing I wanted to explore.  I had to stop.


Originally, the VW Bug we all know and love was meant to be a vehicle accessible to the German masses.  Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Hitler were the collaborators behind a campaign to provide the working class affordable vehicles.  Plans and production were impacted greatly by the war.  The more I read though, this seems to have helped with better designs.

Focusing on exactly what a Vanagon or Westfalia Camper is, because there is a lot in between, it is the evolved Type 2 Transporter.  The Transporters were used for exactly what it sounds like they would be.  Transporting food, mail, ammo and other goods during the war and many years after.

Vanagons are the perfectly self contained camper someone like me dreams of.  This incredibly durable bus turned camper has all the basic needs for nomadic freedom.  The spacious living area includes a stove, refrigerator, sink and two beds.  For my husband and I, that would mean a lot more space as we wouldn’t need to utilize the bed on the ground floor.  When parked, there is a pop up on the roof for the second bed.  My only worry with this is the actual comfort level of the thin mattress.  Sleep is my greatest hobby!

With all that being said, I don’t believe this will be our chosen method as of now.  Production stopped long enough ago that the prices are pretty high.  I have seen a lot of great options for Vanagons, but we are not spending $8,000-$25,000 on a vehicle for this adventure.  I am fairly certain that defeats the whole purpose.  Not to say, however, that I am not secretly planning to own one someday.  It’s a bucket list item.


Ample options exist for the type of experience we are looking for.  From converted work vans to teardrop trailers, we are only limited by our lack of imagination.  Thankfully that is not something we suffer from.  Every day we talk about another avenue to explore and find YouTube videos so we can study pros and cons.  It’s a lot of fun!  Today we talked about getting a small enclosed trailer and converting it ourselves.  As nice as it would be to simply buy something and go, we want to put the work in and feel that much more vested.

While no exact decision has been made, we know that we would be happy having a small bedroom to pull behind our Tucson.  A safe place to sleep at night that makes us comfortable and happy.  There are great ways around everything else you would have in a conventional camper.  What kinds of sacrifices would you be willing to make for nomadic freedom?  Think about all the aspects of our daily lives we take for granted.  Could you deal without having a sink/shower/toilet at your disposal?  An oven?

Thank you for stopping by and have a great week!







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One thought on “What the hell is a Vanagon?

  1. weebluemixer says:

    There are so many options out there and I know what used to be popular in the UK ( and still are) are Mazda Bongos, quite like the VW campervans. I couldn’t do without a shower or bath or toilet or oven, but then this is your experience and your hubbies, so its what you want and need from your accommodation to make it the perfect place for you. Good luck finding your home from home!


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