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Q&A: Canadian TikTok influencer on #VanLife with her dog

Emily Inson — online as @thealmostvanlife — lives in her van and shares her ups and downs along the way.

The "I'm living in a van down by the river" meme based on the famous Chris Farley sketch from Saturday Night Live is more of a life motto for some in the Sea to Sky Corridor. 

Some choose to live in a van out of necessity, due to the increasingly expensive local housing market. For others, it is a way of life or philosophy of living that focuses on the freedom to roam. 

Many others dream of the opportunity to hit the road, un-tethered by their jobs or mortgage. 

Canadian Emily Inson, 34, made her dream a reality and became a social media darling along the way. 

She can be found on all social media platforms as @thealmostvanlife where she has developed quite a following. She has amassed 6.5 million likes on TikTok alone.

And it is easy to see why. Unlike some influencers who broadcast a sanitized, impossibly perfect version of themselves and their lives, Inson, who — no surprise — works as a social media manager, isn't like that. She talks about the tough times and her own personal struggles. 

The Squamish Chief caught up with her to learn more about living on the road, her pup in tow.

What follows is an edited version of that conversation.

What are the specs of your van? (year/model?) Did you modify it? 

It is a 1977 Ford Econoline 150. I bought it already retrofitted.


A post shared by Em (@thealmostvanlife)

Why did you want to live in a van to begin with and when did you begin?

I want to travel while working and still have all the comforts of home! I began in January of 2021.

Where do you stay? 

I stay in all different places, like a quiet place with amazing views that I found on the iOverlander app or a truck stop. I will occasionally stay at a campground.

You are (adorably) open and honest about some of the hard moments of van life. What are some of the lowest points folks should know if they are going into this? 

The lowest point about van life is finding a place to park and sleep overnight.

@thealmostvanlife Reply to @sarah.tx2 it’s essentially a bucket with a toilet seat #thealmostvanlife #vanlife #vanlifetravel #traveltiktok #londonontario #california ♬ Love You So - The King Khan & BBQ Show

What are some food/eating hacks for folks living in a van?

I cook all kinds of different recipes from my van; I love cooking in there! 

Check this out:


A post shared by Em (@thealmostvanlife)


Being from Ontario, you know cold. What are your tips for staying warm in a van?

Layers. Wearing layers makes all the difference when it's chilly. I also will boil water and fill up water bottles to sleep with. The bottles act as little heaters.

@thealmostvanlife Before you suggest it, I’m not ready to have any type of heaters in the van again!#vanlife #thealmostvanlife #LinkBudsNeverOff #OREOBdayStack ♬ original sound - emily | doing whatever I want

What did you learn about yourself, others during this time?

I have learned how resilient and resourceful I am.

You have your dog, Marty, with you. What are some tips for living with a dog in cramped quarters?

Well, Marty loves living in the van. I would recommend spending as much time as possible outside your van in nature! Marty loves all the walks and exploring we do, and when it's time to be in the van, he loves that too because he gets to be very close to me.


Would you recommend other 30-somethings try van life? Why or why not?

Yes, I recommend van life! Van life is a simple and rewarding way to experience the world!

@thealmostvanlife This campground had natural hot spring pools and hot tubs! So excited! #vanlife #thealmostvanlife #vanlifetravel #ShowUsYourDrawers #MaiselChallenge ♬ Send Me on My Way - Guy Meets Girl