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Van Life For Women: Van Life Safety, Hygiene, & Essential Tips

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“Is it possible to do van life as a women?”

That was my concern before I started this lifestyle. Before van life, I was just your average city girl. I had never slept in a vehicle (or tent) before, enjoyed hot water showers twice a day, and had grown up accustomed to all of life’s urban luxuries.

But even with my initial concerns, I was intrigued with van life.

Now, 2.5 years later, I’m still living and traveling full time in my camper van and not planning to quit anytime soon. There’s been a steep learning curve when I first started, but I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks over time that have helped me throughout my van life journey as a female.

In reality, van life for women certainly isn’t 100% pretty. Hygiene and safety issues can be more tricky than men. In this post, I will share with you van life safety, hygiene and essential tips that I’ve learned during my time on the road.

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    Travel Safety As A Woman

    Vanlife parking overnight in Nature

    1. Don’t Drive At Night

    If anything, avoid driving after dark. It’s not only for your safety but for your van as well. 

    You obviously can’t see the road clearly in the dark. You might run into sudden curves or hills, potholes or speed bumps that can cause your van serious trouble if you are not paying attention well. 

    2. Communication is the key

    One of the best parts of van life is to meet people. Be friendly with strangers, have a chat if you have a chance. Most people are genuinely kind and they are willing to help you if you are in any sort of trouble. 

    Also It is important to keep communication with your family and friend back home, so they would know your routine and whereabouts.

    3. Trust Your Instinct

    And lastly, if you feel not safe, or if you feel uncomfortable even a little bit, trust your instinct and just leave. Don’t be ashamed to run away or ask for help. 

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    Hygiene Health For Women

    How do you pee & poop in a van?
    How do you shower?
    How do you deal with your period?

    Above is the 3 questions that everyone always asks; to tell the truth I had absolutely no idea nor confidence to deal with these those issue before starting van life. After 2.5 years I’m still not sick of van life yet so I suppose I’m managing it well 🙂 

    Here are lists of what I do to manage van life higiene.

    Period In Vanlife

    In the beginning of van life, I was using disposable menstrual product but I’ve switch completely to reusable one after a year. Now I don’t spend any more money on pads and tampons, nor I don’t have to save extra space in my cabinet for stocks of menstrual products.

    I have tried multiple products and it took some time to find the right one for me, for now I ‘ve settled with Lena Menstrual Cup because the wider shape of the cup provides better suction which helps to have less leakage chance, for people who have heavier flows than average like me.

    My skin never irritates with Organic Cotton Brief Period Underwear because they are made of 100% cotton, easy to handle with quick dry.

    I normally wear the underwear without using a pad or menstrual cup on the light days. 

    I use Rael Organic Reusable Cloth Pads mainly as a backup on the heaviest night, using with Lena Menstrual Cup

    When I’m outside doing activities I use menstrual cup wearing period underwear. I own two sets of cups, so I bring one of them with me in case I have to empty the cup and replace it. 

    On the heaviest day, I try not to push myself and pay to camp where I have access to bathroom and shower whenever I want.

    Also Read: Van Life & How To Camp For Free: Tips To Sleep Without Paying A Dime

    The most important tip to feel exhausted from full time van life is to listen to your body and take a rest if you need to. You don’t have to go on a hike everyday just because you are camping. 

    Simple Shower Solution

    Solo Female Campervan - Solar Shower

    I don’t have shower setting in my van so I use the solar shower bag and shower outdoors. It can get pretty hot if you let it out in the sun all day but when I can’t get it hot enough, I boil the water in the stove and mix with cold water. 

    5 Gallon Solar Shower

    Toilet Solution

    Since I have a regular length of Ford Transit, every little inches of space is very valuable. Hence, I do not own actual toilet in a van. I simply use a pee funnel and plastic bottle in middle of the night. 

    As for No.2, I use public bathroom, cafe, or go hide in the nature with poop shovel.

    Tips For Starting Van Life As A Female

    Van Life For Women - The Best Van For Van Life

    1. Do Test Drive & Practise Parking

    The first step and most stressful thing in van life is to deal with driving and parking. It really feels different driving a huge vehicle compared to a normal tiny car. Especially parking in the street is like…a nightmare. 

    I highly suggest you go for a test run in the city, where the surroundings are more hectic which is more difficult to drive than in nature, and practise parking in the city multiple times even before you actually start van life. 

    2. Van Life For A Week Near Your House

    If you feel more or less comfortable with driving your campervan in the cities, you can do a test run for actual van life. Drive somewhere near your house and spend some time in a different type of location. 

    Good practise for van life in nature. You can open up your sliding and back door and use the camping spots for cooking and lounging. Usually they have access to hook up, water and bathroom. Usually poor or no access to wifi.

    Usually a very RV friendly free overnight parking option and you are more likely to depend on it many times as you travel. You can try to park overnight and adjust yourself to living in a van with all doors closed. Usually 24 hours open with a bathroom & Wifi available.

    It is the hardest one of all, because there are many restrictions especially in the big cities. You will have to read a parking rule sign very well. Also you have to be prepared to have no access to the bathroom.

    Tips For Women In Van Life

    Woman in Van Interior

    1. Don’t Aim For The Perfection

    I know, it’s hard not to imagine the perfect lifestyle seeing millions of stunning van life photos everyday in the social media, but there are always “behind the scenes” in these photos.

    Woman drinking beer and relaxing inside her campervan

    There are absolutely ups and downs in van life just like in a “normal lifestyle” you used to have. There are days you just don’t have a perfectly clean looking van interior. There are days that it seems like nothing is working out. They are completely normal and it’s important to give yourself a break sometimes.

    2. Take Occasional “vacation from vacations”

    You would feel van life is so worth it when you travel to one place to another place anytime, anywhere you want.

    At first I started a van life, we were so excited and we drove everyday to the place where they have the most beautiful scenery to take a gram photo, sightseeing every spot, hiking every path we saw in the parks. We tried to boondock in the national forests feeling fulfilled not spending money to sleep in those beautiful places.

    However, at some point, you will get exhausted.

    Feeling Tired In Van life

    I used to feel bad staying in one place for more than a few days. I hated the feeling of skipping the activities and not doing anything.

    After some time of doing van life,  I came to a realization that it is ok to be tired, it is ok to rest,

    “It’s ok to do nothing”

    The world is big and there are too many places to visit. It’s impossible to cover absolutely everything. 

    3. Don't Feel Ashamed to Pay to sleep

    If you feel exhausted, you don’t have to go to a “best place to visit” spot in the town. Don’t be afraid to pay a campsite and stay for a week or two. If you are tired from van life, you can even stay in the hotel or Airbnb and don’t feel ashamed about it.

    One of the important van life tips is to find your own pace and get used to living and traveling in a van little by little, so that you can keep doing van life for a long period of time.

    4. Have a Cleaning Routine

    Keeping your van interior cozy & clean is also important for long lasting van life. Cleaning in the van is actually easier than cleaning the entire house, but also it is easier to get dirty fast. 

    My solution is to give myself a 15 – 30 minutes cleaning time every morning. I open all the doors if I can to let the fresh air in, sweep the floor and wipe the counters. It is sort of my morning exercise and this way I don’t have to do the deep cleaning frequently.

    Was This Van Life Tip Helpful? We have lots of other useful articles to help you travel better in your camper van or RV. Check out our hacks & tips page to read more great van life content!

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    Final Thought: Van life for women can be difficult sometimes but certainly manageable!

    We all imagine a perfect, photogenic van lifestyle, but I know thinking about safety and hygiene issues always concerns many women.

    Actually, taking basic precaution and trusting your instinct would protect you from any harm most of the time. People are genuinely nice and kind, and there is always someone willing to help you out when you are in trouble.

    Although van life is not glamorous all the time, it is indeed a once in a lifetime experience and even after 2.5 years, I’m still madly in love with it. 

    Thank You For Reading!

    We’re Yuko and Eric! We both grew up in Asia ( Japan & Hong Kong ), we left our jobs and homes in 2018 and started traveling full time from Canada to Argentina in our self-converted camper van since end of May 2019. “Asobo” means “Let’s play” in Japanese. We named our site “Asobolife” because the life is always uncertain and we live only once so it’s important to always keep positive, playful mind and enjoy the moment you are in the present. We also want to use this website to share our road trip and van building experiences to inspire our readers. We hope you enjoy!

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