Looking to live a life on your own terms? We share these tips for living the van life, so you can seek a different way of living as you travel.
Why live the van life?
We are living in an extraordinary time in which we are free to throw away all the old constructs of how life is supposed to be lived. Thanks to increases in technology like the internet and renewable energy, we can unplug and live wherever we want and in any way that we want.
One way that is taking the world by storm is living the van life. Since we can work remotely these days, many people are downsizing and moving into their van, camper, or RV and living all over instead of in one place. It is similar to camping but in a much broader sense of the term.
It is a very romantic notion, but it is also very challenging. There is nothing remotely easy about ditching your old life and starting a new one on the road. Luckily, the rewards outweigh the challenges so once you are ready it can be done. In this article, we will go over the steps you need to take to transition as easy as possible to van life.
Set up a van
Before you make the transformation and hit the road, you need to figure out the van part of the equation. Take some time to think about what kind of vehicle you will be best suited for. You have options that range from a top-of-the-line RV with all the modern conveniences or going simple with a small van that has been converted into something liveable. And there are many options in between, as well.
Think about how you want to live while on the road, what your budget is and how much work you are ready and willing to do to set things up. If you are on a very tight budget then you can easily find a cheap van or even a school bus and do the conversion yourself if you are inclined to do that kind of work.
Then, think about what you need for electricity. Do a sort of device audit and determine how much energy your things like a small refrigerator, laptop, phones, and other electronics will need. You should have portable power from solar panels but need enough to produce the amount of energy you need when you aren’t able to connect to the grid.
Then you’ll need to work out how to do things like cook, wash clothes, and keep things stored. This involves a lot of planning and working out how to design the most efficient system you can within the confines of the space that you have.
Remember that it isn’t a vacation
Unless you are independently wealthy or living off of a trust fund, you are going to have to work while you are traveling. This is what draws many people to the lifestyle since it is possible to work and still stay on the road.
This all means that you do have to have enough discipline to get the work done. The idea is that living in a van is going to give you loads of freedom, but you still have to get things done at the same time. Make sure to try to stick to a schedule that does allow you to work enough to make the money that you need.
There are also going to be times when you have lots of things to do to maintain the van when you aren’t working to make money.
Think of it as the equivalent of taking the weekend to do things like mowing the lawn and fixing things around the house if you owned a home.
You’ll need to do things like make some repairs or change the oil. You may have a situation where your appliances don’t work or the heater is on the fritz. Since a van is not like a house and lots of things can go wrong, you have to put the time in to keep it running or you could get stranded.
Choosing a destination
Yes, the van life is supposed to be all about living without rules and doing what you feel at the moment. Yet, at the same time, you do need to have some things planned. One of them is to find places to stay for the night or for longer.
Have a destination in mind that is going to provide you with what you need at the time. There will be times when you have plenty of water, food, fuel, and other necessities and you can stay in a park or parking lot. You need to know where those stops will be as some areas might be dangerous or sleeping in a van may not be allowed.
At other times, you will be looking for places where you can hook up to electricity and will need to find a campground. There are plenty around where for a few dollars per night you can hook up to the electricity and water and have a place to wash your clothes, take showers and restock on everything that you need.
Know the costs of van life
For all of these things to work, you have to know how much money you are going to need to be making or have saved. Even though you will be living with a fraction of the bills that you would ordinarily have, you will still be paying for things.
Take some time to make a budget to understand exactly where your money is going. This will help you understand how much money that you need to make as well as any opportunities to save money.
If there are times when money gets tight then you may have to hunker down for a while in one spot to get some extra work done and save on things like fuel and van repairs.
Van life isn’t for everybody, but those that can adapt and are very flexible can make it a workable lifestyle. With these tips you should be able to get started living life on your own terms.
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favourite travel Insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offers year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel to, I always take these trusty hand sanitizer’s and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these, over backpack and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.