Choosing to live in a van means choosing a life of adventure. Swapping the mundane routine for a life less ordinary, less static, less repetitive. No two days are ever the same when you live in a van. You wake up in a wild place, carry out your chores with new views and plan your time loosely around wherever you are and whatever you feel like doing that day. Memories of modern annoyances like deadlines, meetings and spreadsheets melt away, replaced by long lazy walks in the countryside and cosy nights snuggling up by a campfire. You realise quickly that the freedom to move around, to minimise your expenses and live at your own chosen pace is in fact, priceless.
Of course, van life comes with a completely new and different set of obstacles instead and it would be remiss not to mention them. It is not all Instagram and aspirational vistas. Sometimes finding a park up for the night might not be so easy in a crowded city. At times it may feel like whatever can go wrong IS going wrong. Think fixing a leaky roof vent at 2 am in a rainstorm or breaking down a million miles from nowhere. Or an overflowing heater warping the floorboards. For the first time in your life, access to fresh water might be limited. Could you cope with that? You might be too cold or too hot in your van or need to make adjustments to install an electrical setup. Having a plumbed in toilet or shower waiting becomes a luxury and water is rationed out by the cup. Still, van lifers go to sleep at night satisfied, sometimes cold, sometimes scruffy, sometimes exhausted but always satisfied. Facing these daily challenges means living IN life rather than living A life. Van life can reset your priorities, can help you see what is really important in life and it brings a sense of self sufficiency, as well as fine tuning your problem-solving skills!
So Why Choose Van life?
For some, the adventure is calling. If you are an outdoorsy person who enjoys being immersed in nature in every weather, van life might suit you perfectly. If you pursue an adventurous pastime like hiking, mountaineering, surfing or skiing, van life will provide you with a self-contained apartment on wheels. You can wake up at the trailhead or right at the base of that mountain, or wake up, lift your bike out of the garage and get going with minimum hassle. Building a van out to fit you AND your equipment is a gratifying experience and the options to personalise your space are endless. If you crave more time spent in the wilderness and less time on the daily grind, van life exposes you to all the elements while providing a safe, warm room parked nearby to come back to. From fishing to kite flying and birdwatching to beachcombing, a campervan can keep you closer to your hobbies and closer to nature.
Some choose the van life to save on their biggest monthly expense… rent. Rent is often too high to afford any amount of privacy and paying most of your monthly wage on housing can get discouraging. Basic utility fees are souring. Worse still, you may already be in a soul-sucking whirlwind cycle of debt. Eliminating your need to pay rent and the associated costs of house living while maintaining your privacy is by far the best part of van life. It must be noted living debt free in a van is not easy to achieve without the initial investment of the van itself, and other considerations such as insurance, yearly tests for roadworthiness, tax, license fees and of course, gas. Day to day expenses can be greatly reduced by living in a van.
Another reason to choose a van is to spend more time traveling and see new places. Owning a campervan is like having a mobile hotel room with all the high spec facilities you can take almost anywhere! Cutting out the accommodation fees means more money to visit the sights and experience the places you have longed to go. Van life becomes even more affordable when you travel slowly and thoroughly and explore in regions, not following routes. If you work online, a van can become your mobile office and you are free to travel full time like a digital nomad. Winning!
What about children? Pets? Belongings?
Belongings are easy. You can sell or donate anything useable and dispose of the rest. Downsizing your entire life into a van can be a very liberating experience and a great start to a newer, less cluttered, less weighed-down lifestyle. Carrying only what you need to live comfortably helps keep the focus on the journey and minimises distractions. You can always stash a suitcase full of trinkets in a family members attic for the future if you have trouble parting with some memories.
Many people take their pets along on campervanning trips and lots of full time vanlifers live with a variety of animals, from cats and dogs to rats and frogs, lizards, parrots and even rabbits! You know your pet better than anyone and they will decide whether they enjoy vanning as much as their human does. If you take every effort to keep them safe and comfortable, living in a van is not impossible with a pet. Take time to include in your layout adequate space, venting and airflow for your furry friend.
Children can be even more adventurous than us adults, and why not, they have little to lose! If you are considering a build out for van life with your children, remember to include them in discussions, especially on layout and sleeping spaces, so they always feel involved. Allow them to decorate their own corner of your house on wheels! Seek advice and have any questions answered by families who are already home schooling successfully on the road, there are many well-versed and knowledgeable resources available. Most children love new adventures and van life provides!
Still asking Is Van Life For me?
Follow these 4 steps to determine if van life is a distant daydream or a firm reality for you!
Find out what is stopping you. Identify the obstacles standing in your way between you and your ideal van life. Make a list of what is important to you, this might be a large accessible bathroom space or a decent sized kitchen, as well as your emotions and feelings about such an upheaval in your life. If you crave adventure but are feeling afraid or unsure where to start, make notes. What are your fears based on? Maybe you have children and worry about their schooling needs, maybe you are prone to experiencing bouts of loneliness and worry about isolation. Once you understand what is truly holding you back, it clears the way for step 2…
Do your research. We don’t mean endless scrolling through the vanlife hashtag although this is a good way to find real nomads with similar needs and in similar situations as you. Read everything you can from people who have lived the lifestyle, scan through blogs and watch instructional videos. Learn the tips, tricks and “how to-s” to empower yourself. If you have a concern about any aspect of living in a van, chances are another vanner has experienced the same and can help guide you to a solution. Fine tune your searches with more specific questions and have a wealth of information at your fingertips. Which might just lead you to step 3…
Try before you buy! Why not find out what van life is really all about by renting a rig for a few days and taking off? There is no better way to immerse yourself than to jump straight in. Renting a van will definitely reveal if van life is NOT for you. If renting is out of your budget, you might try a couple of road trips to dip your toes in the water and decide gradually if you and the lifestyle are compatible long-term. There will always be struggles associated with life in a van and the road ahead is not always paved with scenic selfies, which you will find out if you…
Connect with the community. Get in touch with others who inspire you towards this kind of nomadic lifestyle. Ask questions, interact and make some friends. Follow the hard times as well as the good to see both sides, read how others overcame their personal challenges and fears to step into the unknown and embark on their journey. The internet is awash with great resources, check out our blogs, stories from vanlifers and join in on our forum, a wonderful resource for vanlifers from all walks of life!
So, ask yourself, do you like the thought of spending more time in nature, exploring the wilderness, enjoying your hobbies AND spending less money in rent, utilities and expenses? Do you crave more freedom, more time to be creative, more adventure? Van life might be the perfect fit for you!