Can We Score a Free Van?

7 Apr
Posted in: Adventure Prep
By    2 Comments

We’ve been brainstorming vehicles for a while.  First, we thought we’d do a truck or SUV, then a minivan, now we’re thinking Dodge Sprinter.  We have four criteria — MPG, space, handling, and cost.  We don’t want a car that gets 11 MPG, we need enough room for a bed and all our stuff, we don’t want to drive a beastly bus, and we have a limited budget.  But what if there’s another way?  Are we stuck on the wrong approach?

Well, yes, we are.  Take miles per gallon, and let’s do some math.  Over the course of 10,000 miles, the cost difference between a vehicle that averages 20 MPG and a vehicle that averages 30 MPG is around $650.  That’s just not a lot to get stuck on compared to the cost to purchase a vehicle ($10,000 – $20,000).  Agonizing between 27 MPG and 25 MPG just isn’t worth it on a one-year trip.

And then what about cost to purchase?  Our underlying assumption has always been that we will buy our vehicle from a dealership for some set amount of money.  It’s a transaction people do every day.  But what if we can avoid it?  Can we score a van for free?  Because, honestly, after selling our house and boat, this is going to be the next biggest hurdle.

Overland Expo 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: indigoprime | May I have your van, sir?

So I’d like to try.  Here are the options as I see them:

1) Win a van in a contest

This certainly seems unlikely.  Not really aware of any of these contests, but I’ll be checking the Google shortly.

2) Find a van in such poor, worthless shape that assuming its ownership is free

And this seems like a terrible option.  We don’t want to spend our trip doing repairs (although we’ll definitely need one epic break-down story before this is a real adventure).

3) Steal a van

Didn’t say that.

4) Get one of those advertising-clad, hideous looking vehicles

Most of these seem to be Minis and other “cute” cars.  And I don’t really want to spend a year in the Red Bull-mobile.

These ideas kinda stink, but there’s got to be a 5th, 6th, or 7th option that’s fantastic.  Got any ideas?