Living In a Van


Well-Known Member
So, my base (HPN) was closed this past month. I'm now once again commuting, this time to IAD. I've been considering buying a high mileage work van and using it as a crashpad. I figure I only need to use it once a week to sleep in before my trips. I can throw an air matress or even a double bed in the back and sleep in peace. If and when I don't have to commute I can sell it back and re-coup a little of my money, unlike a crashpad or hotel.

I don't think the employee parking at IAD is anywhere near the Potomac so please spare me the "Van Down By the River" comments (though anything a little more creative and funny is welcome). Also, yes I know it will be cold in the winter. I've slept in the back of my VW Golf on sub 20 degree nights here in CT. Just wondering if anyone else has considered or done this?
I'm in SW Connecticut. PM me. You can crash on my couch if you need a couple nights out of the cold.

Also look into couch surfing. I've done it twice. If you find the right people, its a lot of fun and a great money saver.
Just wondering if anyone else has considered or done this?

I personally have not. I have worked with people who have.

Zap (yes he even admits as such) and 2 others from the old shop (who Zap also knows). One guy even used his mom's expired plates on the van.
In the morning make sure you walk around the outside of the van wearing nothing but your pilot shirt and tighty-whities while you warm up your coffee on the engine.
Why not get a little motorhome? I had a 21'(about the same length as my F-350) Class-C and loved it. It was 80's vintage but everything worked. I paid 2k for it, used it for a few years and sold it for $2500. Nice to have a shower, fridge, toilet, etc.. I see them all the time on Craigslist and Ebay. If you are stuck on a van, I got one for ya... 1995 Chevy Mark III conversion van, will sell cheap!
Three primary concerns (actually more, but these are the biggies):

1) Where would you pee and poop?
2) Where would you shower?
3) Coffee in the moring?

Solve those and the only other potential problem I would see is where to bring a chick back to? It is still more of a turn-on than living with your parents, but not much.
I'm actually not to far from the van down by the river. In fact I was thinking about it if i got an instructing job in DFW. Fortunately I got a job teaching at my old college. Bad news is it's like 2.5 hours away from home. So until the house gets sold (soon i hope) I am living in a buddy's work shed in his backyard.

A van wouldn't be to bad. If it's only a "not day in day out" sort of thing i would say doable. As far as showers go...if there aren't showers at work I would suggest going to a truck stop like pilot or petro and using their showers. I know, stop laughing. They actually keep them pretty clean. Private sink, shower, and toilet. Problem is it costs like 5 or 6 bucks a shower, but all the drivers get free showers for buying fuel. They end up with a lot more showers than they use. Just wait outside the truck driver entrance and offer a cup of coffee in exchange for a shower. Probably get some hits.
First off........I second the cheap RV idea that 38Bat suggested....

Secondly and more importantly......why is it as pilots we have to subject ourselves to such BS for our jobs?
I will make a good story for the local Fox affiliate's investigative journalist. :)
"If all pilots make 6 figures and have 27 days off a month (and we know they do), why are you living in a van down by the river?"
IAD parking lot is a good place. There's a gas station right around the corner for a crapper and coffee. There's showers in the airport, I'm sure some rampers would guide you to them. But personally, I'm not sure how long I could do all of that for.
For modest monthly fee, you can get a gym membership that will likely include shower/locker room facilities as well as a place to work out.

I've actually thought about doing something like that not as a commute option but just to save money. If I was single, I'd probably consider it.

Problem is that I would STAY single in that situation, y'know? :D
Livin' in a Cessna...down by the hangar.
I used to work at IAD up until August. The parking lot is not that bad of a place to sleep in. I personally know of at least 2 people that have and there is one guy that lives in the back of a camper you put in the back of a truck. There are several people that even live in the terminals.
I know a guy on reserve who lives in his van, commutes home on days off.

Ahh.. the high life.

guys, I like to fly too but perhaps this is a sign that something aint working with this career path?

Sure, if someone was actually living in a van. I own a home and have a wife and son. I just hate throwing money away on rent and hotels and thought this might be an option. My sisters are big rockclimbers and they know several people that live in vans full time just so they don't have to have jobs. That sounds sort of interesting also.

A motor home seems like an ok option but then it would also stand out. I'm not sure if van dwelling would be considered kosher in most parking lots.