As being minimalism is such a trend, van life became more popular day by day, especially after the pandemic forced people to stay and work more at home. However, the lifestyle of living in a van requires you to be outside of comfort zone and it may be not for everyone.
In this post, we share the tips, things to consider to help you to prepare for starting van life.
Set A goal or purpose
What is van life to you? What is the advantage and purpose for doing van life?
Do you need a camper van to enjoy weekends trip? Are you planning to travel internationally with your camper van? Or simply you want to live in a van in the city to save money?
Van Life Pros & Cons
Is van life worth it?
This is one of the biggest questions being asked on internet from people who are thinking of starting van life. The answer can be both YES and NO depends on your lifestyle, budget, and purpose for starting for van life.
Here is a list to help you to decide whether van life may work for you or not.
Pros of Van Life
You are literary taking your entire home and belongings everywhere you wish to go, you can have the feeling of total freedom. Sipping coffee on the bed in the morning with beautiful nature on the back is indeed the best moment in van life.
In van life, you can enjoy the nature in slower, and more tranquil ways. You may go for short walk to the hill to catch sunset or sunrise, or you can gaze the shooting stars in middle of the night in front of fire. All those things are so easy if you have your tiny home on your side, never having to worried about driving back home late.
Meeting people on the road is such a memorable experience. Often time they are unique and eccentric, it is fun to hear their stories. Also, some people are experienced over landers that they have lot of knowledge that you can learn from, and most people are usually willing to help you if you are in trouble.
One of the biggest advantages of van life is no more paying expensive city apartment rent! The expense you spend in van life varies depends on amount of driving and your lifestyle, and you have unavoidable expense; like vehicle insurance or gas, but van life it is considerably easy to control your budget and find ways to save more money by camping for free and eating out less.
Overlanding is also becoming more popular that you can travel international with your vehicle much easier than the past with help from plenty of online resources. iOverlander covers from entire North from South America, with all the information you need.
Van life is all about relearning your life and detoxing your belongings. You will realize that you can live comfortably with how little you own, and you will be more careful and selective about what you purchase. You can understand more important thing in your life.
Cons Of Van Life
Obviously, most of camper van offers much less limited spaces than the regular home. You need to be creative about storage and layout planning.
This is another big downside of living and traveling in a van. You will more likely less access to unlimited hot water (unless you have hot water heater with large enough electrical capacities), which means you will be more likely to shower less. For women, It might be challenging to deal with menstruation with limited access to shower and proper toilet.
When traveling and living in a van, every day is different experience. You wake up in different location and you will have different activities in each place. Sometimes you are on the time crunch because you have a long driving to do in a day. In van life It is more challenging to keep the routine schedule than living in a house.
In the cities you might get more stressed out because of limited parking space for bigger vehicle. Also, as popularity of van life is growing, restriction for parking overnight is becoming stricter.
Even though remote work is more acceptable in many companies, working daily for 8 hours is tough while traveling in a van, and it requires experience and trust from clients to let you work in irregular hours or days. Earning income from YouTube, social media or blog takes long time, and you will have to beat out many competitors.
“Is van life cheaper?” that is another question asked on internet. Answer might vary depends on what your lifestyle, but you certainly need a big buck to start van life for purchasing a vehicle and converting it into a camper van.
Starting Van life – Things To Prepare
1. Select a right vehicle for your needs
Depends on your purpose of van life, your choice of the vehicle may vary. If you want to go off road in the desert often, you might want to choose more powerful vehicle like a pickup truck. If you want to put more priority on comfortable living, you might want to have a long cargo van that easy to add features like toilet and shower. Choosing a vehicle is the first important stage of van life preparation.
2. Find a way to make money on the road before You Start
Many people tend to start look for income solution after they start van life. Having stable income on the road is much harder than you think. Sure, there are so many platforms to look for online jobs like Upwork, but the reality is that it is very competitive, and the pay is unbelievably low if you are just starting out.
Working remotely requires not only skills but experience and work extra hard to gain trusts from the clients. Therefore, often time it is too late to start looking for online jobs after you start van life, where you are constantly on the move, and you have unstable access to internet.
It is best to find an income source while you still have your full-time job, work with low payment at least 6 months to gain experience and trust. You can also negotiate with your current job for you to work remotely, which nowadays is very common and less corporate are hesitant for people to work at home after pandemic.
3. Do a test run
It is undeniably exciting to finally start van life. But pause for second to leave your home for good and jump into go on the long journey. It is always good idea to do a test run first, like day to few days trip close to your house will help you making a list of things to improve or purchase for your van while you still have the shipping address and driveway to do some improvement your van.
4. Tips to moving into a van
One of the biggest downsides of van life is to have limited storage space. Inevitably you must be selective about what you are bringing into a van.
In general, you are more likely to do laundry much less in van life, which means you end up wearing some clothes more often. The best combination is one set of comfortable / sleeping clothes, few sets of nature activity clothes, and one set of city causal clothes would be enough.
As a basic, one flying pan, small & big pot would make most of cooking possible. Depends on your cooking preferences you can add more tools and appliance depending on the space capacity.
Not only for space efficiency but it is the best opportunity to reduce plastic use. Try using something reusable or soap bars as much as possible if you can help it.
There is shampoo in soap bar style, and out bath conditioner is very useful when you have limited water use. Solar shower is great for those who don’t have shower room setting in a van.
Mensural cup saves you a monthly spending for pads / tampon and produce less waste. If you have no toilet in a van, a pee funnel works great without having to step outside to go to the bathroom in midnight.
Dehydration of skin is very common when you are in the dry climate, keep stock of Carmex, and hand / body cream regularly.
5. Tips To Downsize Your Belonging
Due to limited space and storage, it is impossible to move into camper van with everything you own in your house.
The easiest and effective way to organize your stuff is to create KEEP, GO and UNSURE box and start separating. From KEEP box, you can separate again to KEEP & GO until you reduced enough to fit everything into your van.
Tips to succeed full time van life
Learn to be ok to travel slow
It is common that you want to see thing as much as possible and not wanting to wasting time. It is just a habit it is hard to stop if you worked in office full time with little vacation days. People have same tendency to the same when they are starting van life, and eventually get exhausted for doing too much in a short amount of time.
Remember that van life is your full-time lifestyle, no longer you have to count how many vacation days you have left until going back to the office.
When you arrive at new campsite, just take a breath, pause, and enjoy the surrounding for the moment. If you like the place, try stay another day. This is the true beauty of van life; since you carry your tiny home everywhere, you can enjoy the nature in much slower pace, with different perspective.
Patient is the key
There are times that unexpected thing can happen on the road. It could be an accident, mechanical or electrical problem, or water leaking in a van. If you are frustrated something broke down in your van after few days of starting van life, it is not failure at all. Accidents and problems can happen anytime, so do not discourage by them and just take it as another learning process, and you know how to handle it better from next time.
How to Van life with your partner
Living in the small space with another human being can be stressful sometimes. With much less privacy, you and your partner have to open up pretty much EVERYTHING. Keeping good communication is the most important key and enjoy doing whatever make both of you happy. You will have to learn to be ok to have separate activity occasionally to give each other space and refresh your mind.
Van life with pets
Traveling in a camper van is the best way to travel with your furry friend. For your pet’s safety it is important to maintain the good temperature in a van with good insulation and air circulation. Since your pet will spend more time outside, giving proper vaccination and flea medication is very important for your pet and others as well.
Final Thoughts About Van Life - Living Your Life On The Road
Everyone has different lifestyle and there is no definition of what is right or wrong how to do van life. The most important thing is to understand yourself and implement what is works for you the best and learn and improve as you go. There are countless reasons why we recommend anyone to experience living and traveling in a camper van, but it is indeed a life changing experience and most memorable time of our lives.