The Van Life Has More Perks Than You Might Think

Elevation Road outfits vehicles and tiny homes that give buyers freedom to travel safely.
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The Kellermans were certain they’d be working with Millennials. And they are—but members of that generation aren’t the ones who are most interested in Elevation Road’s camper vans. No, that distinction goes to retirement-aged women.

Photograph by HATSUE

When Steve and Rachel Kellerman started Elevation Road, their Amelia-based camper van and tiny home company, in 2013, the van life craze had been underway for a few years. “Van life” simply refers to the lifestyle of living out of a van that’s been outfitted as a small—very small—mobile home. Think 19 or 20 feet. Narrow. The bed sits on a lift that presses into the ceiling, below which is an eating space. There’s a small sink. Hot water tanks. Cabinets, shelving, and storage tucked into and against every possible cranny.

And what surprises customers the most? “They can’t believe how much we can fit inside of a van,” says Steve, Elevation Road’s president.

Photograph by HATSUE

Customers can purchase a fully outfitted van from Elevation Road, or the company can retrofit a customer’s existing van. Since the start of the pandemic, this way of living has become even more attractive. “[Van life] was popular before COVID, but now it’s 10 times more popular,” Steve says. If you don’t want to be around the crowds you’ll find in a hotel, these vans include built-in social distancing. Recently, Elevation Road has started building tiny homes, too. There’s no official size requirement for a structure to be deemed a tiny house, but Elevation Road’s tiny homes are 200 to 400 square feet, Steve says.

Photograph by HATSUE

As of mid-January, they’d built three and were in the process of showing the homes, which are intended to be transportable. Owners can move them around on large trucks, using them as lake homes or as part of a tiny home community.

Despite their size, tiny homes are incredibly functional, Rachel says. “You think ‘tiny home,’ and you think, ‘Oh, that’s impossible. There’s no way I could stay in a space like that,’ ” she says. “Then people see them. You can see people’s wheels turning: ‘I can take this near the beach or go in the mountains and have a space of my own and not have the cost of an actual brick-and-mortar house.’ It gives people the opportunity to travel and have some freedom.”

Photograph by HATSUE

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