Statistics show that 76% of Americans want to travel more than they already do. The numbers also suggest that solo travel is showing a big increase in popularity with 1 in 4 people saying they plan to do a solo trip next year. With social media showing us incredible photos, articles and videos with people travelling the globe and experiencing life in a way that seemed only for the rich and famous (or slightly unhinged) before, travel is not only something people want to do, but it is now something people are willing to give up everything to do, including having a home to live in.
However, rather than live out of a backpack full time, many people are instead opting for an accessory they can move from place to place in, and live in. Yep, you’ve guessed it, a van.
Van life is absolutely massive now and #vanlife inspires many people to pack everything up and hit the road in search of adventure. Nearly 50% of van lifers actually live out of their van full time, living with minimal bills and maximum freedom.
Does that sound like the life for you?
How about this:
As you start traveling down that road of life, remember this: there are never enough comfort stops. The places you’re going are never on the map, and once you get that map out, you won’t be able to re-fold it no matter how smart you are. So forget the map, roll down the windows, and whenever you can, pull over and have a picnic. – Jim Henson
If that has left you bursting with excitement at the thought of exploring the globe on four wheels, you’ll want to take a look at these tips to help you to successfully prepare for living out of your van.
How Are You Going To Sleep?
Although living out of a van will involve lots of different things like storage, eating and personal care, one of the most important aspects of living out of your van is sleeping. You’re likely to spend a lot of time out of your van having adventures so your van will be where you replenish your energy ready for the next big day of exploration. So, how comfortable do you need to be? Some people need the space to spread eagle and need a comfortable mattress, others can make do in a narrow space. Clearly, the more comfortable you are, the more space your bed and bedding take up, so it comes down to finding balance. To prepare your van for sleeping:
- Ensure that the sleeping space is dark (do you need to add curtains?)
- Make your sleeping space quiet
- Make your sleeping space well ventilated
- Make sure the space is cool, apparently sleeping in a cold space can give you all kinds of benefits including reducing insomnia, helping your body store melatonin, decreasing your risk of metabolic illnesses and helping you sleep better in general
- Make sure you have enough space acceptable to you to sleep
- Look into what you want to sleep on, and how compact it is
It is a great idea to have a practice in your sleeping setup at a local campsite to make sure that you’ve made any adjustments before you’ve set-off and making adjustments is a lot more difficult.
What Does Van ‘Life’ Mean To You?
Living out of your van involves hygiene, eating and organisation as well as sleeping.
With storage, it is a really good idea to watch lots and lots of videos with tips on how to organise your van. There are many incredible ways to store different items to the point where you’ll see a small space can provide plenty of opportunity for storage, it is all about how you use the space. Of course, it is also important to take a minimal amount of stuff with you so that you’re not having to find too much space.
When it comes to eating and general living, it comes down to how ‘pimped up’ you want to be. On a basic level, it is a very good idea to look for diesel generators for sale so you have a small, spare generator for emergencies like when you need to charge gadgets, or when you’re in the middle of nowhere and you need power. Jumpstart leads, a van battery charger, a small camping cooker and some spare water and long-life food are also excellent basics to have. Building on a basic setup, you can, of course, add more extensive cooking gadgets, solar panels, water tanks, toilets, additional tents and more.
If you don’t know how much you’ll be using your van, take the basics when you’re still in an area you know you can buy additional kit fairly cheap. If you need anything extra you can buy it as you go, building yourself a van setup that works for you.
Security And Safety Matters
Security is an issue when you live in a van, and there are some real horror stories out there. However, there are many things you can do to minimise your likelihood of experiencing criminal activity.
The first thing is to do all you can to ensure your van looks a little like a live-in van as possible. Tinting windows, parking in the right places and avoiding decorations that distinguish your van as a camper van can all help you be more stealthy. It also helps to be mindful of crime in the areas you are travelling to and join online van communities where people will provide tips and updates on crime and avoiding it.
Master Perfect Parking
This is where your research will really come in handy as where and how you park as a van lifer depends on the country you are in, the budget you have, the amenities you want, and the specific rules of the local area. These Youtube videos are a great start for your research:
- Top 10 overnight parking spots
- Where we park our van overnight
- Where will you park?
- How to stealth park in the city
There are also many van life forums to read and speak to other people who can give you tips and tricks on parking your van overnight.
Sometimes the most scenic roads in life, are the detours you never meant to take. – Angela N Blount
If you really do feel like van life is for you, it is a really good idea to do lots and lots of research. Read the good and the bad stories so you know what to expect. Lastly, be brave and follow your heart. Fortune favours the brave, and that is certainly true when it comes to van life. There are many adventures to be had on the road, you just have to have the courage to reach out and find them.