Once a contestant on 'The Bachelorette,' Dean Unglert now lives out of a van and travels the world. Here's why he says it was his best decision yet.

Dean Unglert 1

  • Dean Unglert is an American television personality and travel blogger/enthusiast who is known for appearing on season 13 of The Bachelorette, seasons 4 and 6 of Bachelor in Paradise, and Bachelor Winter Games.
  • In June 2019, Unglert was looking for a change - and moved into his van full-time.
  • Living in his van has given him more freedom to travel - he doesn't worry about expenses back home, and wants to embark on more domestic travel.
  • There are hardships: He doesn't have a toilet or shower in the van, so he has to plan out when he'll use the restroom and often bathes at the gym or jumps into a body of water.
  • But he says he's living out his dreams, and his journey has only just begun.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

If you've been paying any attention to the travel industry, you have probably noticed that van life is becoming more of a wanderlust pipedream than ever before. Through platforms like Instagram and YouTube, you'll see thousands of photos and videos glamorizing a lifestyle that's been looked down on by many for so long.

In fact, it might be enough to make you want to move all your belongings into a tiny home-on-wheels and hit the open road … or maybe not. There's a lot of reasons why the van life is so appealing, but it also comes with its hardships.Advertisement

{{}}

Before I went on reality TV (for the first time), I worked a 9-5 job in an office in Los Angeles.

Before I went on reality TV (for the first time), I worked a 9-5 job in an office in Los Angeles.

I graduated from business school with a degree in business management and had been slowly working my way up the ranks as a recruiter in Silicon Beach. Life was good. There was no reason to complain; it was comfortable, enjoyable, and, more than ever, predictable. My experience on The Bachelorette didn't yield the result I had hoped, but it did begin to paint a picture for me that is ever-changing. It was through that experience that I learned there is more to life than an office grind of 50+ hours a week and I decided to see what that was.

About a year after leaving my job I started to feel stuck, yet again. I was still living in Los Angeles, but I had higher hopes to leave the city and get a change of scenery. That process of deciding where to go next was a lot easier said than done. I had moved from Denver to LA just three years prior, had established a great group of friends in SoCal, and had a lot of opportunities worth pursuing that kept me wanting to be around the area. It was a difficult time — I knew I had to try something new for the sake of my own desire to grow, but felt tied to an area, lacking the freedom I constantly chased.

Then, one day, it hit me: The perfect compromise to leave LA but still have a piece of home ... I moved out of my house in Venice, CA and moved my life into a 2006 high top Sprinter.

Then, one day, it hit me: The perfect compromise to leave LA but still have a piece of home ... I moved out of my house in Venice, CA and moved my life into a 2006 high top Sprinter.

This decision gave me the liberty to travel freely, whether it be by land or air, while also allowing me to come and go with ease. If I need to be in LA for a friend's birthday, or to record a podcast, I can leave the van in whichever town or city I'm passing through and catch a quick flight in and out of LAX. When I travel internationally, in an effort to explore as much of the world as I can, I don't have to feel guilty about paying rent for a room I barely use.

When I first started sharing my idea with friends and family, it was met with laughs and uncertainty. No one seemed to really understand why I wanted to do it, and the thought of living in a van didn't really make sense to them. All this did was ignite the spark inside of me to ensure this dream became a reality. I don't know why I've always had such a strong desire to be different, but this proved to be another opportunity for me to break out of the mold and fight against the cookie cutter life I had felt trapped in.

Advertisement

In June 2019, I officially moved out of my house and into my van full time.

In June 2019, I officially moved out of my house and into my van full time.

My initial investment on my new home can be seen more clearly on my blog where I break down the cost of everything I've put into it so far. It'll take some time for me to recoup my entire investment, but emotionally, moving into my van has already given me a return on my investment 10 times over. More than just a steel cage with four wheels and a bed to sleep in, my van represents something I was always searching for: freedom. I know that I can hop in the driver seat, hit the road, and find myself in a completely new place — one that I've never even fathomed visiting — after only a few hours.

Since moving full time, I've been able to explore more international destinations with zero guilt. It's no secret that traveling costs can add up over time, and it's nice not having to worry about expenses back home. Moving forward, however, I plan on prioritizing domestic exploration.

Although living in a van gives me more freedom to travel, it does come with its own challenges.

Although living in a van gives me more freedom to travel, it does come with its own challenges.

Downsizing my life from a house to a van took time and careful consideration of what I needed to keep. That's how it works when you have such little space — the bare necessities only. The process of eliminating unnecessary items was incredibly cathartic, and something I wish I had done much sooner.

The bathroom and shower situation most often deters people from the idea. Certainly van living comes with a fear of having a middle of the night emergency, and nowhere to alleviate yourself. Some vans are outfitted with self contained composting toilets — but not mine. Instead, I'm sure to have a location carefully planned out beforehand. Bathing happens less often as well. Usually I find myself paying a few extra bucks to use a shower at a gym, buying a hotel room for a night, or simply jumping in a warm body of water. All that said, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Advertisement

Leaving everything behind to move into a van has proven to be one of the most fulfilling decisions I could have made.

Leaving everything behind to move into a van has proven to be one of the most fulfilling decisions I could have made.

My life in the van is still an adolescent: I have so much more life to live and exploration to do. I don't expect everyone to understand why I did it, or to be supportive of my decision, but I do hope everyone can see how much happier I am as I continue to live out my dreams.

Dean Unglert is an American television personality and travel blogger/enthusiast. He appeared on season 13 of The Bachelorette, seasons 4 and 6 of Bachelor in Paradise, and Bachelor Winter Games. Once a startup recruiter, Dean now documents his various journeys around the world through highly curated Instagram videos, long-form IGTV content, and blog posts and hosts a podcast on iHeart Radio. When not traveling, he can be found in Venice, CA with his new dog Pappy.