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How this filmmaker works and lives in a renovated cargo van


Trent Arant is 28 years old and has shared his experience as a nomad.

After a split, the filmmaker left his Atlanta home to travel with Millie, his dog. They have lived in over 20 different cities, visited more than 20 states and worked as an independent contractor while driving his van.

Arant says Van Life has helped put things in perspective. “Being able to travel around the country and experience all these unique people and unique places … I’m forced to go out of my element and experience things I wouldn’t normally experience.”

According to him, the feeling of freedom when you’re on the road is both exciting and lonely.  

Arant says that living in a van isn’t as glamorous as you might think. Although it’s fun and exciting, I sometimes feel lost. “I don’t feel at home anywhere.

This is not a lifestyle that requires zero commitment and freedom. Arant pays $700 per month for the 2020 RAM ProMaster Van he has customized, and almost $10,000 to renovate it.

Trent Arant moved to a van with Millie in 2018 and have since visited over 20 U.S. cities.

Trent Arant

We’ll show you how Arant got from the truck to life on the road and what he does with his cargo van.

You can go into the wild in a van

When his relationship ended in 2018, Arant was working as a visual effects artist in Atlanta’s film industry — and living alone in a home that was previously shared. Arant was feeling restless so he began to explore life on the road, experimenting with Millie (who he saved in 2017).

Two years ago, he drove around the country in his van, which he had purchased on Craigslist for $6,000. He spent $4,000 on his van’s first renovations.

Millie and Arant pose for a picture in front his cargo van.

Trent Arant

Then, after months of “haggling with dealerships,” Arant purchased his first new vehicle – the 2020 RAM ProMaster Van – from a lot in Charlotte, North Carolina, in November 2020. Arant claims that the vehicle was larger in width and more straightforward to make than other models.

Although the original price of his van was $47,000 at first, he managed to negotiate a lower price for it to be $38,000. He borrowed $700 per month to pay off the loan. According to him, he plans on having the van paid off completely by 2026. This includes interest.

He also began a side-hustle in content creation on TikTok, YouTube and partially to document his new life.

Construction of a home along the highway

Moving from one van into the next proved more challenging than anyone might think. Arant spent five month camping in South Carolina, renovating his home and then moving in to his new van.

He says, “When I converted this van into an livable space it was necessary to build a house from scratch.” Although the shell of his house existed, I needed to insulate, add gas and electricity. Solar panels were also placed on his van roof to power all his appliances. This includes a gaming PC and a complete kitchen as well as an outdoor shower.

Arant is a freelance visual effects artist, and most of his work can be done remotely. Arant therefore works from home full time. Arant pays almost $280 per monthly for both auto insurance and Wi Fi.

Arant renovated his RAM ProMaster Van 2020 by himself. This van includes a fully-equipped bed, kitchenette, bathroom, and cold-water-shower.

Trent Arant

Arant, a keen cook, says his kitchen is crucial when building out his van. The kitchen includes a large refrigerator, three-burner stove and oven, as well as a sink that draws water from the 40-gallon tank beneath Arant’s mattress. He drains the excess water into a six gallon tank which he then dumps outside or at dump stations.

Arant stops often at public bathrooms while he uses the house-on-wheels. Planet Fitness is $20 per Month, which allows him to shower in warm water.

A cargo van is equipped with an AC unit, roof fan vents, and a diesel heater for temperature regulation. Arant states that his memory foam full-size mattress is perhaps the most important perk. He can sleep completely flat at 5’10”.

Millie (Arant’s four-legged travel companion) also has her own space. A fan and light provide her with comfort.

Wallpaper of the Great Outdoors

Arant moved in the van to have the freedom and flexibility to travel across the United States. Atlanta technically is his home but he only works in person when required. CNBC Make It spoke to him in February 2022. He lived in Asheville North Carolina.

He admits that it is sometimes difficult to find people or maintain relationships when traveling alone, but he loves solo van travels to remote places.

Arant says, “I think this spot in Nevada’s middle of desert was my favorite place.” The hot spring was mine alone, and it was in a beautiful setting surrounded by mountains. The hot spring was like a dream and was very therapeutic.

Arant enjoys the Spencer Hot Water Springs in Austin, Nevada.

Trent Arant