driving a van

7 Tips for Living the Van Life

As COVID-19 started rising, so did the number of people transitioning to the van life. During a time of social distancing and staying indoors, this new lifestyle has provided a safer way to travel and explore new areas without affecting communities.

If you’re considering this transition, though, you might not know where to start. If you have pets, it might feel even harder to begin. Luckily, we’re here to help.

Read on for seven of the best van tips to get started.

1. Start With a Reliable Camper

When your vehicle replaces your home, it’s important to make sure everything is safe and reliable. If something goes wrong, you’ll have to go to a local mechanic and simply hope they can have it fixed by the time you need to sleep that night.

If lesser problems occur, like needing a jump, you should at least ensure you have a backup plan (like a self-contained jump starter).

2. Get Organized

In any tiny space, small messes can create big problems. If you leave one sock on the floor, it can quickly turn into an entire pile.

That’s why being organized is so important. When you know where everything is, it can feel really good to not have to think twice about what you’re looking for. It can also make seeking out snacks late at night or your toothbrush first thing in the morning a lot easier.

3. Remember Maintenance

Before you go anywhere, it’s important to make sure you’re performing all the necessary maintenance on your van. That means checking tire pressure, oil and other fluid levels, your battery, and any seals and slide-outs you might have.

This step is crucial to take care of when you’re stopped somewhere near a mechanic. If you’re in the middle of nowhere and suddenly start having leaks happen, nobody’s going to have fun.

4. Don’t Expect Perfection

While there are a lot of fun things you can expect to get into, life in a van is not always going to be fun or easy. If you’re traveling with someone else, you’re going to have to learn how to live together harmoniously. If you’re traveling alone, you’re going to have to get used to the quiet.

It’s easy to want to seek out new adventures every day and want to capture Instagram-worthy shots all the time, but that’s simply not the reality of 24/7 van life. In fact, you might only have those adventures a few times a month, but that’s OK.

If you’re working full-time from your van and trying to plan new trips, it’s important to not push yourself too hard to make things perfect. Your trips are going to be fun, but you don’t have to open the back of your van every morning with your coffee in hand to snap a photo of the mountaintop you spent the night on.

The fact that you’re living in a van is cool enough. You don’t have to impress your Instagram feed with much more than that.

5. Expect the Unexpected

What you can expect? Some bumps in the road.

You never know when you’re going to encounter wildlife, traffic stops, or even lose your internet connection in the middle of your drive. It’s best to plan ahead and download any maps or music you’ll need for the trip. 

It’s also a great idea to stock up on supplies like:

  • Extra lighting and headlamps
  • A lighter and/or matches
  • Spare tires
  • Food, snacks, water, wine
  • A self-contained jump starter (like one with a lithium iron phosphate battery)
  • Gas

When you’re out on the road and far from civilization, it can be hard to track down cell service and food. Bringing everything you need is going to make your nights a lot easier.

6. Take Advantage of Campsites

When we say campsites, we mean paid ones. While saving money is important, taking advantage of paid campsites can make a massive difference — especially if you’re new to a major city or you’ve been on the road for a while.

Not only are you going to have an easy place to park for your stay, but you’re going to have amenities that you might not usually have access to. Whether it’s a hot shower, free water and wi-fi, or laundry facilities, you’ll be happy to have these things once you’ve arrived.

7. Try It Before You Commit

This might sound simple, but it’s important. It can be easy to commit to spending your life in a van only to find out a few months later that you don’t like it.

Moreover, you may be recommitting to life in a van, but now you’re doing it with another person. Again, this can sound easy, but it’s important to make sure you enjoy being around that person all hours of the day before it’s too late to back out of it.

Test drive the lifestyle for a weekend, then a week, then a few weeks, then a few months. Just because you’ve lived in a van before doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it with another person. Even more important, just because you live with someone in a house doesn’t mean you’ll both fair well in a van together.

Remember These Tips for Living the Van Life

Now that we’ve gone over a few of the biggest tips for living the van life, it’s time for you to get started! If you’re considering this move for yourself, these tips are sure to help. Remember, the more planning you do, the easier it’s going to be to make the transition for you and anyone else in your household.

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