BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Have you ever wanted to pack your life into a few bags and just hit the road? Maybe you’ve dreamed about driving state to state in America or maybe your dream is to travel through European cities or down the coast of Australia. No matter where in the world your mind takes you when you daydream, there may be one thing in common in all of these dreams: in your travels you’re travelling and living in a van.
A simple search of #vanlife on Instagram will bring up hundreds of enviable, epic photos of people all over the world who have ditched the mundane 9-5 life and have instead chosen the van life. These people chose experiences over possessions and travelling over a mortgage. Maybe this isn’t the route for you, but if you have been thinking about joining the van life or if you’ve already bought your dream van, there are some things you should consider.
These are the five things you need to know before you hit the road:
1. Have you thought about your daily necessities?
Before you leave you should consider how much your daily life will change. The routine that you’ve grown accustomed to and the luxuries that you use everyday won’t be there anymore. In theory it seems pretty simple to give these things up for a vacation. However, this isn’t a week, it’s months on end and to be able to happily live in a van, you need to think about your routine changing.
Daily showers (maybe even multiple per day), a washer and dryer always available, a dishwasher to do your dirty work for you, a gym to exercise in, endless wifi for all of your internet needs, endless cable channels and the ability to get up and walk around and stretch your legs whenever you want. Some, if not all, of these activities and items may be apart of your current routine, but this will change when you live in a van. Will it be a hard adjustment? Maybe. Will it be worth it? Definitely.
2. Are you going to map your gas & plan where to sleep?
Not everything can be planned before you go on your trip, but you should consider these two things before you leave: mapping out your gas and planning where to sleep. While your route will most likely change and you’ll stay longer than you anticipated in certain places, it’ll still be good to have an idea of what cities and towns have the cheapest gas. The cost to fill up the van will add up quickly, so download some apps that will lead you to the cheapest gas stations on your route.
Since you’re living out of a van you’ll save hundreds, if not thousands, on accommodation. You can plan out cheap RV stops or parks if you want to keep it legal, but if you’re van is low-key enough you can probably get away with a parking lot, in the middle of forests, down dirt roads and even on a beach if you’re lucky. Be smart, considerate and don’t send us the bill if you happen to get a ticket.
3. Have you thought about money?
Travelling is always going to cost you something, but usually you leave for a bit and come back to a job. It’s different with van life. Yes, you’re travelling, but you’re also living and working from your van. Before you hit the road you should think about money and what your plan is to support your new lifestyle. While it may not be a mortgage, you’ll still need a source of income (unless you’ve saved up)!
This may mean you’re freelancing, which means you’ll need to have access to wifi at some point during the week. Maybe you’re driving to new cities and stopping to work for a month or two, which means you’ll need to find a spot to keep your van semi-permanently. Whatever the case may be, make sure you figure it out beforehand. You don’t want to be stuck on the road without any money or a plan.
4. How are you going to eat well & exercise?
Eating healthy and exercising may already be apart of your daily life, but it will be a bit harder while living in a van. You should consider how you will integrate these things into your van life, as they are both equally as important to your health and happiness. One of the perks to living in a van instead of travelling and staying in hotel rooms is having your own kitchen and being able to cook whatever you want. In other words, it should be just as easy to eat healthy as it is at home.
Exercising will be a little more difficult. Depending on how often you’re changing locations, you may spend lots of time driving in the van instead of living out of the van in a certain city. If this is the case, you need to think about how you’ll integrate exercise into your schedule. You could bring bikes in the van, you could go running every morning or you could bring a yoga matt and do it daily. However you choose to exercise, make sure it becomes a daily activity.
5. Is your van safe & comfy?
Making sure your van is safe and comfortable before you immerse yourself into the van life is essential. Living in a comfortable space is just as important in a house as it is in a van. Ensure your van is properly insulated for cold nights. This could mean installing installation as well as hanging up heavy duty curtains to keep the heat from escaping through the windows.
It’s just as important to be safe as it is to be comfortable. Being safe is arguably the most important think to consider before you hit the road. Make sure you have all of a home’s safety necessities in your van. This could include a carbon monoxide detector, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit and a locked place for your valuables like cash or your passport. Staying safe and comfortable definitely need to be considered before your trip and will ensure the van life is all you imagined it would be.