BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Cost effective, the ability to be mobile and the freedom to travel wherever and whenever you want are the obvious perks of living in a van. However, ask anyone who actually lives in a van and as much as they will praise their lifestyle, they will also tell you that it’s not just the ultimate vacation that it looks like in photos.
Just as with any lifestyle, there are hardships that come with living out a van. Sometimes it’s hard to find a place to park, or there’s the issue of fixing a broken van part that can be quite expensive, or the lack of space can start to get irritating and even though it’s not a necessity, the lack of wifi makes it hard to be a freelancer on the road. Just as there are problems with every lifestyle, there are also solutions, and there are definitely ways to make living in a van less stressful and more enjoyable.
These are five tips that will make living in a van even better:
1. Downsize, downsize and keep downsizing
It is obvious (whether you’ve actually lived in a van or not) that there isn’t going to be an abundance of room for extra belongings. When I moved into a tiny one-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto I thought I had downsized, but living in a van is the next level. The general advice from anyone that’s actually a part of the van life is this: get rid of everything but the necessities…and then downsize even more.
Not only will getting rid of a bunch of things potentially make you some cash, but living in a van is about freedom, travelling and experiences over items, so try to start off your new journey being as much as a minimalist as you can. Having minimal items will give you more room in a small space and it will help to keep your van clean. In the long run this will make your new home more comfortable and easier to live in.
2. Keep it clean
If you’ve been on any type of road trip you probably know that things can get smelly. Sitting in a car for hours and hours can result in some body odour and the strong desire to shower. Now, imagine actually living in that vehicle. Most VW vans don’t come equipped with showers and not having the ability to shower whenever one pleases is one of the hardest lifestyle changes van-livers have to adjust to. But there are ways around this.
Some suggest getting a gym membership at any big chain gym that will pop in every city you’re travelling through, which will enable you take a shower. Lakes, rivers and oceans are always a go-to. Some public parks and swimming pools will have access to showers. And if none of these are available, a bucket of water, some soap and a sponge will always do the trick.
3. Stay connected
While having wifi isn’t a necessity, most van-livers still work and need a wifi connection to do so. There are ways around this to make it a non-issue that there isn’t any wifi in your van. Most restaurants, fast-food chains, motels and hotels have free wifi access that you can connect to in the parking lot from the comfort of your van. You can always use your phone as a hotspot, however this isn’t as popular as an option for most living in vans.
4. Get some privacy
Just because your home is in a van doesn’t mean you don’t want the same privacy you would have in a home. But obviously in this case you’re not going to build a fence around your van to keep out any peeping Toms. If you have some extra cash to invest in renovating your van you could choose to replace the old windows with a more tinted version or the more popular option is to invest in some thick curtains. Most people in the van life will tell you this tip is a necessity for both privacy concerns and for keeping the sun out.
5. Power up
Solar panels would be the best option for keeping your van eco-friendly and gathering energy to use to charge your electronics, but the cheaper and quicker version is to invest in a power inverter. Keeping your phone, camera, laptop and whatever other electronics you bring with you are a necessity for staying connected and working while on the road.