“Whenever I recall and share childhood stories from growing up in in the UK and Australia, they almost always begin with a road trip. I had to ask myself “why? why do most of my most memorable childhood stories begin with a journey, and why have I not been making these memories here in Japan?
While working in an office in Tokyo for about 10 years, I came to the realization that many Japanese are travelling and experiencing RV road trips abroad in the United States, Australia, and Europe etc. but not doing so in their own country. Japan is in my opinion one of, if not the best country for free-spirited road trip travel as the roads are safe and there are thousands of clean toilets and onsen all throughout the country. My dream with starting this company was to not only build great campervans but also help put Japan on the global map as a top road trip destination.”
Dream Drive Founder & CEO
Growing up with vanlife
Born to a world-wandering hippies, an English father and an Australian mother, Jared spent his childhood in a rural English town. His parents owned a Volkswagen camper van named Bertie and together they spent a lot time as a family travelling. At the age of sixteen, Jared moved to Australia and was surprised to find that there were many more campers on the roads then what he’d experienced in England. In Australia it was quite common for families to own campers and go on memorable road trips.
After studying and learning the basics of cabinetry and furniture making in college, Jared embarked on his first road trip with a simple modified Bertie-like camper. Over the next few years, Jared’s van life story continued, as he travelled and worked seasonally in orchards, while at the same time travelling around Australia and Queensland in various camper vans. At night Jared and his friends would sit around campfires, sing, talk, and BBQ, creating even more fond memories.
From his experiences using campervans in both Australia and the UK, Jared noticed some interesting differences in Australian and European van life. In Europe, campervans tended to be more compact to better fit narrow public road systems and cooking is often happened inside the vans, whereas in Australia, most cooking is done outside the vehicle.
Moving to Japan
Shortly after getting married Jared and his wife Gabriel planned to travel to Europe, for two years. When Japan was nominated as a transit from Australia to Europe, they decided to apply for Japanese Working Holiday Visa’s and moved to Japan for a year.
After living in Tokyo for a year, Jared and. Gabriel started to gradually realize the beauty, nature, and experiences that the Japanese countryside had to offer.
“Every time I visited beautiful campsites and hot springs I could feel the difference from season to season and experience different sides of Japan.” – Jared
The longer he lived in Japan the more possibilities of van life and inspiration Jared got to want to develop a campervan similar to the type he used in Australia. As Jared dove deeper into van life and camper vans in Japan he also began to notice the low awareness of road trip and van life as well as limited and small variation in camper van designs.
Bed kits and furniture are designed by craftsmen who and carefully build them one by one.
Wood panels ceilings and walls are a signature feature of Dream Drive camper vans
The Start of Dream Drive
A new experience created together with a reliable team
Jared’s van life experience in Australia and Europe provided a solid foundation of knowledge in imagining the camper life he wanted to offer in Japan.
In 2018, ten years after arriving in Japan, Jared dove in head first, quitting his job and converting his family car to be a campervan prototype that should be called the first Dream Drive camper. After custom-fitting the family car with wood panel interiors, utensils, mattresses and bedding, Jared tested his newly converted campervan and rented it to get valuable user feedback.
After a few months Jared’s friend and creative director teamed up with him and together started creating content mapping unique adventures and locations throughout Japan that are best accessed by car or campervan.
“I went around Japan in a van and came across a number of wonderful spots that made my dreams come true.” -Jared
In just 3 years Jared, Tyson, and the incredible Dream Drive team have come a long way since 2019 and it all started with a ridiculous dream of remodeling the family car into a little campervan. Dream Drive’s commitment to trust, quality, and a good night’s sleep continues to this day.
Dream Drive camper vans are designed and carefuly crafted by an incredible team of Japanese craftsmen. Over the past three years the Dream Drive team has developed into a group of invididuals with overseas van life experience, craftsmen, architects, and dreamers, all of whom bring incredibly unique and diverse backgrounds.
With an abundance of expertise and know-how, Dream Drive carefully builds each camper van by hand. Each campervan is carefully built with the aim to have unique character that can not be found with mass sproduced ready-made products.
Our team built over 20 different campervan prototypes before our KUMA Q and KAGO v2 models