The latest luxury getaway: a van trip.

Attracted by Instagram images of a free-spirited, simpler way to travel, older consumers are turning to vans for their trips, while adding the high-end spin they can afford, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Forget the beat-up Volkswagen bus: These travelers are shelling out for custom-fitted Mercedes-Benz or Ram ProMaster vans for their life on the road.

“The thing I like so much about van life is the simplicity,” says 55-year-old John Kennedy, now on his first big road trip, to California, in his $75,000 revamped Ram ProMaster. Mr. Kennedy, owner of a window-cleaning business in Aspen, Colo., bought the van last summer and two months ago picked it up from a conversion specialist, now outfitted with a double bed, stove and custom maple cabinets. The one thing his van doesn’t have: a bathroom, which means using public facilities.

That is a small price to pay for freedom, he says. “It’s being able to go down a road, stop and pull over to sleep, and start again when you’re ready.”

The van life—or #vanlife—phenomenon began on social media several years ago with photos of twenty somethings peering out at beach and mountain vistas from vans decorated with flowing drapes and colorful quilts. The images took off on the internet and caught the attention of older consumers who not only can afford luxury setups, but are also at a point in life when they can take extended, if not permanent, time off.

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