Volume 16 Issue 2-3 2019 Applied Research Notes 14

Ulrike Gretzel
University of Southern California

Anne Hardy
University of Tasmania


Information and communication technologies enable the emergence of new digital lifestyles that are characterized by high mobility. This paper explores #vanlife as an emerging phenomenon that inspires a hyper-mobile life on the road. It connects it to digital nomadism and compares and contrasts it to RVing/camping. Using the visual components and hashtags of 200 Instagram posts, it specifically delves into the role materiality plays for vanlifers and discusses how the seemingly opposite of materiality and mobility are reconciled in this context. The resulting portrait painted of #vanlife adds significant knowledge to the mobility, digital nomadism and online consumer tribe literatures. Methodological and practical implications are also discussed.

Key words: vanlife, digital nomads, mobility, materiality, Instagram, netnography

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