The Top 7 Documentaries About Living in a Van (Ranked)

Is it realistic to live in a van? What are the costs? Do you do it alone?

Here are 7 documentaries about people who live in vans (aka “van dwellers” or “nomads” or “van-lifers”).

They should be able to answer all your main questions:

1) Foresty Forest Van Life

My sister is the first person who told me about Foresty (thanks, Diane!). I love this guy Foresty and his canine best buddy “Rocko”.

The Foresty videos give a nice mix of life inside the van as well as fun hiking and chainsawing expeditions.

He and Rocko, of course, get stuck in some jams too.

Some of Foresty’s top videos directly about his van include:

Watch Foresty Forest for free on YouTube at

2) Surfwise

9 kids, one camper van. They roamed the U.S. west coast in the 70s and 80s. “Surfwise” (2007) weaves past home videos with fresh footage and talks.

It profiles the Paskowitz family. A clan deeply connected to surfing.

Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz led them. His philosophy? Nature, health, and waves.

The doc uncovers layers. It’s about freedom and confines. Love for surfing contrasts family tensions.

It’s an emotional ride. You witness highs and lows. A tale of radical choices. The ocean’s allure dominates. Traditional school for the kids must take a back seat

Offers insights into alternative living. And the price of non-conformity.

Watch Surfwise for free on Kanopy (with library or university ID) at or on Prime Video at There are more options (Vudu, renting from Apple TV, YouTube, Microsoft, Flix Fling, Google Play, etc.) here:

3) One Man and His Campervan

This BBC TV series covers Martin Dorey as he tours Britain’s regions in his 1970’s classic Volkswagan Bus. Locals share regional dishes.

Episodes include:

Martin’s home, Devon beckons. Beaches, fishing, and tide challenges arise. Sandwich-making tests him.

New Forest:
Foraging in New Forest, danger lurks. Mushrooms and goats challenge. French cuisine gets a twist.

Martin braves crabby mud. Fresh samphire’s his prize. Aussie flavor meets Norfolk orchard.

Yorkshire surprises with exotic birds. Chorizo, local style. An accident threatens the journey.

Holy Island calls early. Tidal races and lobster quests. Martin’s feast is set.

Scotland welcomes Martin. Barrel-smoked smokies entice. Tradition meets campervan cooking.

Martin hits Trossachs Park. Brown trout beckons. Fishing? Inflatable armchair’s the trick.

Lake District:
Risky Wrynose Pass climb. Wild boars and off-roading. Bilberries for clotted cream tea.

Wales hosts campervan festival. Classic camper judged. Lamb curry takes center stage.

Martin’s journey ends. Foraged cordial and family burgers. Trip’s end comes unexpectedly.

Watch the TV show One Man and His Campvervan on Tubi (with ads) or Roku. Both options’ details are at

4) Without Bound – Perspectives on Mobile Living

“Without Bound” dives into nomadic life.

Michael Tubbs filmed it. His journey? 4,500 miles, 14 days. The inspiration?. Finding CheapRVLiving led him to Wells and others.

Van lifers include:

  • Bob Wells: A seasoned van dweller.
  • Randy Vining: From Mobile Codgers “”.
  • Josh and Meisha: Behind Vaga Bloggers “”.
  • Steven Ballee’: From Arizona Explorations “”.
  • Laurie Theodorou: A fellow enthusiast.

Wells is a central in van life and is widely interviewed in this doc.He rejects societal norms.

Michael started skeptical. Why live in a vehicle? His views changed.

Watch Without Bound for free on YouTube at

5) Sue Perkins’ Big American Road Trip

“Sue Perkins’ Big American Road Trip” is “The Great British Bake Off” meets “Nomadland”.

In this doc, comedian Sue Perkins dives into the heart of #vanlife across California and Colorado. Perkins’ encounters are raw — theuy shatter the curated images of Instagram.

Director Michael Tubbs, known for “Living Small”, showcases Perkins’ quirky yet insightful approach. Released in 2021, this 2-episode doc captures vanlife’s highs and lows.

In California, Perkins chats with three YouTubers. She meets the NomadLand icon, Bob Wells.

“BOB WELLS: Freedom is out here.
SUE: It’s a challenging freedom.”

In Colorado, Perkins witnesses family life on wheels.

Van interiors range from chic to functional.

Sue’s campervan? Surprisingly basic.

Highlights of this doc include a hilarious attempt at capturing the perfect Instagram shot and a revealing chat with vanlife Youtuber Alexandria.

The doc’s most candid moment? Sue learning wilderness bathroom basics.

To stream Sue Perkins’ Big American Road Trip, check out

6) Tour of Converted Sprinter Van with Shower

The tour of the Sprinter van includes:

Danna and Christina, of “Weakened Cerebrum”, showcase their Vancouver-based van tour. Here’s a summary:


They begin in brother’s driveway, heading to Hatcher Pass, Alaska. Some highlights of the Sprinter tour:

  • Cab: Seats upgraded with heaters; lowered seat base added.
  • Entryway: Additional handle installed; step built for kitchen cabinet; hooks for footwear.
  • Living Area: Storage beneath bench; movable lagoon swivel table; cushions upholstered with Sunbrella fabric.
  • Kitchen: Custom butcher block and sink. No built-in stovetop; propane camping stove. Deep sink for dishwashing and personal use. Two faucets; main one for cleaning, secondary for filtered drinking water. Cabinets for utensils, dishes, and pots/pans.
  • Bedroom: Almost king-size mattress. Bed slats for ventilation. Storage compartments for personal items.
  • Shower & Bathroom: Dimension: 24×32 inches; made from RV fiberglass shower pan. Nature’s Head composting toilet: urine-diverting, no odor. Shower curtain with outwards-extending rod; regular faucet with water-saving on/off switch.
  • Windows & Ventilation: Two Max Air fans for cross-ventilation. Custom window blinds for light blocking.
  • Temperature Control: East bar heater beneath passenger seat; controllable thermostat near bed.
  • Controls & Electricity: Water pump, light, and drain switches. Bluetooth battery monitor for the lithium setup. Inverter control.
  • Additional Features: Magnetic screens on doors. High bed platform for “garage” storage beneath.
  • Garage Storage: Accommodates mountain bikes, gear, water, and batteries. Drawer slide with 250-pound weight limit.

Watch “Tour of Converted Sprinter” for free on YouTube at

7) Descend on Bend

“Descend on Bend” is both the name of the doc and the event in Bend, Oregon that the movie is about.

It features a community of van lovers who values the nomadic lifestyle.

Initially, just 18 vans, the gathering now attracts hundreds.

Ryan stands out as a central figure. His story, from communicating via hashtags to being the helm of the event, anchors the narrative. His genuine passion for fostering community in this unique setting is evident.

The film features a near-disastrous fire, impromptu music sessions.

The inclusion of different types of vans, from Sprinters to Volkswagon Westfalias, provides a visual treat.

Despite being in an age dominated by technology, face-to-face interactions reign supreme at “Descend on Bend”. The film captures moments where strangers become lifelong friends, highlighting the event’s essence.

Watch Descend on Bend for free on YouTube at

Thanks for reading.
-Rob Kelly