Tired of the daily grind? Crave adventure on the open road? Want to live off the grid and see the world on your own terms? If the answer is yes, then you’ve probably already fantasised or perhaps even begun planning your own #vanlife adventure.
With a +1575% growth in interest since 2015, there is now an ever growing community of nomadic wanderers. Choosing #vanlife means committing to living in a van or similar vehicle. Whether it’s full-time or part-time, occupants can work, travel, and explore all while waking up to a different stunning view every morning.
Nationwide Vehicle Contracts analysed a myriad of data including; Instagram hashtag data, Google search volumes and ratings, TikTok data, the World Economic Forum’s natural beauty score and petrol prices. This data was then combined to create an index ranking the countries embracing vanlife the most, as well as revealing the best viewpoints both worldwide and in the UK for those traveling by van.
According to the data, the country embracing the lifestyle the most is the United States, where it would seem the pioneer spirit of cross country living remains alive and well. #VanlifeUSA has had over 28,000 insta hashtags and over 3,000,000 TikTok views proving its popularity online. America’s stunning and diverse natural beauty also scored 5.8 out of 7, meaning many of its international tourists visit the country for its natural assets.
Van-life is popular amongst Americans with over 391,400 #vanlife searches on Google coming from the US. This, coupled with the price of petrol at 69 cents per litre make #vanlife an accessible enterprise, as well as granting the US the top spot in our ranking!
Unsurprisingly, Australia comes in second place. The stunning and expansive land mass has inspired more than a few to embrace a life on wheels. This is clear from it’s Instagram presence with 116,946 hashtags, it’s very high natural beauty score of 6.2, and its impressive TikTok impact - which bumps up its total #vanlife score to 96.76. On the video sharing network it #VanlifeAustralia has amassed a staggering 14,400,000 views.
#VanlifeCanada rounds out the top three. With a natural beauty score of 6.3, the North American country ties with Mexico and Spain as the most naturally beautiful countries in our top ten. 23,962 instagram hashtags, 2,400,000 TikTok views and 74,800 Google searches help give this 'home and native land' a total #vanlife score of 91.73.
The Blue Ridge Parkway which runs between Virginia and North Carolina, officially tops the international bucket list. The All-American Road, connecting the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park runs 469 miles and takes in some of the most varied and breathtaking woodland views the States have to offer. A dream destination for all road dwellers, it scored a solid 5 in google reviews, racking up 555,743 Insta hashtags. With a petrol price of less than a dollar (92 cents) Blue Ridge has scored a perfect 100.00 viewpoint score.
Across the Atlantic, Lake Kardyvach in Russia comes in second. The “King of the mountain lakes” is located in the Caucasus mountain range that stretches between both Europe and Asia, all the way between the Black and Caspian Seas. It has over 100,187 hashtags on Instagram, scoring another solid 5 in google reviews, and has a viewpoint score of an impressive 96.97.
Fernando de Noronha in Pernambuco, Brazil comes in third. With a 5 in google reviews, 850,048 Instagram tags, a (surprisingly high) $1.13 petrol price, it totals a 95.15 viewpoint score.
The latter two places of the top 5 are reserved yet again for locations within the USA. The iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco comes in 4th with a 92.12 Viewpoint score, while the famous Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming comes in fifth with 90.03.
For an island of limited size, Great Britain punches well above its weight in terms of the beauty, scale and variety of its often breathtaking landscapes. It’s no surprise then that van life has taken off in Britain, when you can travel to the rugged mountainous terrain of Northern Scotland, to the turquoise blue waters of Cornwall in just a few hours.
Of all the UK has to offer, it’s mountains however that take the top spot. Specifically the Mourne Mountains in County Down which managed a 100.00 view point score. The most dramatic mountain range in the south-east of Northern Ireland, which includes the province's highest point, Slieve Donard. It is officially designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, so it’s no surprise that it has racked up 121,243 Instagram hashtags. That coupled with its 4.9 rated google review and affordable petrol of 124p per litre makes it the UK’s premium #vanlife location.
Another mountainous region comes in second, but this time one which also encompases a spectacular coast line. Snowdonia National Park in North Wales rates 4.9 on google and has amassed a staggering 939,122 hashtags on instagram, but with a petrol price of 132p per litre it's view point score is a, still very respectable 96.00, placing it just behind first.
Northwest Scotland is home to both 3 and 4 on our list. The Isle of Skye comes in third, with a 95.20 viewpoint score overall. This is down to its 4.8 google score, 125p petrol cost and its 789,563 insta tags. It’s followed on the list by a spot which is located actually in the North of that Isle. Number four is Quiraing, which is a landslip at the northernmost summit of the Trotternish, the upper peninsula of Skye. Quiraing has a google score of 4.9, 45,100 instagram hashtags, petrol costs 125p per litre, giving it a final viewpoint score of 88.80.
In fifth place, and the only location in the top five located in England, is the iconic Peak District National park. Located in the Pennines in the North of the country and straddling five different counties, the upland area has a relatively low google rating of 4.8 despite amassing a phenomenal 1,654,080 insta hashtags. Petrol is 130p per litre in the region, putting it's final viewpoint score to 88.80.
The United States is one of the most expansive and diverse countries on the face of the earth. It boasts a long and illustrious history of celebrated wanderers who seek to find themselves in the wide open nature of the great nation. It’s perhaps unsurprising then that it’s the US that has perhaps most embraced #vanlife, with the hashtag, #Vanlife, actually starting there as a project by a photoblogger named Foster Huntington in 2011.
Everyone of the 50 states has embraced #vanlife to varying degrees, but it’s Colorado which comes out on top. The eighth most extensive state, it boasts the Southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. #VanlifeColorado has been hashtagged 8,491 times, it has a 14,020 Google search volume, a substantial 43,900 TikTok views, and an average petrol cost of just $2,019. This gives it a 100.00 total #vanlife score.
The second largest US state also comes in second on our list. Texas, with its gorgeous desert landscapes, has just 350 hashtags, but a very impressive 34,370 Google Search volumes, 6,831 TikTok Views and the average gas cost is just $2,326, giving it a total score of 95.92.
In third comes Florida. Unsurprising given that it boasts tropical and subtropical regions, coral reefs, the largest tropical wilderness in the U.S., the Everglades National Park, and a unique selection of wildlife. No wonder the sunshine state managed a respectable #vanlife score of 80.10, due to its 675 insta tags, 28,720 google searches, 118 TikTok views, and $3,280 petrol costs. Georgia, Florida’s Northern neighbour, home to the Stone Mountain State Park, comes forth. #VanlifeGeorgia has a total score of 78.06, with 364 Instagram hashtags, 13,280 google searches, 626 TikTok Views, with an average petrol cost of $3,237.
#VanlifeCalifornia comes in 5th. The Golden State, conveniently home to the Golden Gate Bridge, the 4th top #Vanlife bucket list location globally, has a #vanlife score of 77.04 based on its 2,528 hashtags, 76,990 Google Searches, 12,700 TikTok views, and $4,430 average cost of petrol.
If you want to try and get the feel for a #vanlife before taking the plunge and committing to life on the open road, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has a number of van leasing options to help you get behind the wheel and dip your toe in the waters of this alternative lifestyle. If you fancy still seeing the sites but want to travel in something a little smaller, there are also a number of great car leasing deals to choose from.
To calculate the popularity of the #vanlife lifestyle in each country, a #vanlife score” was calculated using amassed data. The data sources were an “attractiveness of natural assets” score, sourced from a World Economic Forum index (countries missing from this source were assigned a 2) and petrol prices per litre ($) in the region. We also incorporated the number of Instagram hashtags for the term “vanlife” followed by the country, as well as TikTok hashtags and google search volumes for the same term.
The same was done to calculate the popularity of #vanlife in American states, only removing the natural beauty score.
Popular viewpoints were calculated through researching trends which emerged over articles, blogs, pinterest, reddit, unsplash and travel guides to amass a long list of viewpoint locations. Each viewpoint was then assigned a viewpoint score based on Google reviews, the number of Instagram hashtags for the location and petrol price per litre. (USD for worldwide and GDP for UK.)