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Van Life: Everything You Need to Know About Living in a Van

It is a life-changing experience to live in a van. You won't be the same person again, no matter what.

It can be exciting but also overwhelming to start your van life journey. There are so many things to consider, such as what van you should get and where you will shower and sleep at night.

It might not be as glamorous as you think.

You might be inspired by van life's Instagram feeds or YouTube videos to live this lifestyle. However, while it might seem like the best way to travel the globe is by sharing beautiful pictures of van life on social media, the reality may not be what we see on our phones. Of course, if you do not wish to do it the hard way, you always have the option to get one of the many fully equipped for living travel trailers.

Although traveling around the world in a van is an excellent option, there are many challenges ahead.

Van life is complicated.

Where will you camp at night, and what are your plans? Which grocery store do you plan to stock up at? What is the nearest gas station if you run out of gas or water? You need to use the bathroom and shower today.

These are just some of the many daily challenges van life brings.

You might have van problems and need to solve them. You might feel a bit sloppy at the campsite or have to deal with an intruder. You might find yourself washing your underwear in the sink.

Remember that van life is not the same for everyone. Every person will embark on their own journey once they leave their driveway.

Your decisions will influence your van experience and trip. Many people who have lived in vans claim that they had the best time of all their lives. Some people, on the other hand, can't wait to return home.

It's best to start slow if you are new to van living. Start with weekend trips. You will discover what works for you and what doesn't. After a test drive, you may be able to make changes to the van.

It can be difficult to live in a van, especially if it's your first time.

Is Van Life Legal

You might wonder if it is legal to live in a van.

Although there is no law that prohibits people from sleeping in vans, it is possible to encounter problems in urban areas.

Every city has its own regulations and rules for van dwellers. Some are stricter than others. It is recommended that you try to avoid staying in the same place for more than one night.

You should note that overnight parking is not permitted in the National US Parks if you are planning to travel across the states. However, van camping is possible in National Forests and BLM Lands.

Every van life traveler that we know uses the iOverlander application to find camp spots.

This app lists all the available camp spots and is updated with prices and comments.

How to Pick the Van

Before you move into a van full-time, it is important to choose the right van.

Long-term van-lifers often end up changing to a new vehicle.

Before you decide on the van that is right for you, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Is it likely to have problems down the line?

  • Are you able to create everything you want in the space available?

  • Is it possible to stealth-park in cities, if necessary, or is it more noticeable?

  • Are you able to take it off-roading?

  • Are you able to navigate narrow streets and low-hanging wires easily?

  • Do you prefer a van with a high or low top?

It comes down to money, and low tops are generally cheaper than high-end vans.

The standard van height is perfect for most cases. It's also easier to park the van in an indoor garage, and it's less likely that you will hit anything like branches or low-hanging wires.

Plan The Build

Planning the build is just as important as choosing the right vehicle. This is especially true if you plan to live in the van for a long time.

Before you begin your campervan building, you need to ask yourself what basic necessities would make your daily life easier.

  • Do you need extra insulation when traveling to colder places?

  • Perhaps you are a fan of traveling to hot spots?

  • Do you want windows?

  • Where should the bed be placed?

  • Do you prefer a stationary or convertible bed?

  • What type of campervan cooking setup do I need?

  • Are you going to need a table to work on the road?

  • Are you a pet owner? It may be necessary to provide a space for your cat litter or dog crate.

You will need extra solar panels if you have many electronics and appliances.

Although there is a lot to consider when building a van, there are tons of resources that will help you get started. You can see our conversion guide here.

Van Life Cost

Cost is one of the main reasons why people aren't joining the van lifestyle movement.

Living in a van can be very affordable, but it can be expensive to get started.

First, you will need to purchase the van and then spend money on the conversion. You might also want to save money if you are planning to leave your job and travel full-time.

Some people just add a bed to an old van. Some people buy brand new vans and spend over 30,000 on conversions. It all depends on how comfortable you travel and your budget.

You might need extra money to cover breakdowns, maintenance, repairs, hotel costs, and possible shipping and flight expenses if you intend to live full-time in a van.

Where to Shower

Two big mysteries about van life are "Where do I shower?" and "Where do I go to the toilet?" This section will cover how you can shower outside.

It's important to maintain hygiene and cleanliness when living in a van. However, you won't have the luxury of a shower every day (unless your van has one).

A solar shower is the most popular way to shower in a van.

There are many different types of solar showers. A hanging sunroof solar shower is what is suitable for use. It hooks onto the van's roof rack.

A solar shower is as simple as filling it with water and leaving it out in the sun for 30 minutes. It will then warm up enough to allow you to take a quick refreshing shower. A solar bag can be used to quickly shower or wash your hair.

You might not be able to mount a solar shower on your van. In this case, you can purchase a water pressure shower that can be placed on the ground. The shower comes with a foot pump to keep the water moving from the ground.

You can get a privacy tent to shower and change in an area that is not open.

If you're feeling creative, you can also make your own solar shower using PVC pipe.

Or another option, for example, is to use some nearby gym for getting a shower.

How to use the Restroom

One of the most difficult things is was not having a van with a toilet. You may be afraid of public toilets, but once you move into a van, you are forced to overcome it quickly.

Let's face it, you would go to the toilet wherever you could, whether it was at coffee shops, gas stations, Walmarts, grocery stores, or in the wild. Just remember to bring your TP.

Long-term van owners who are committed will often purchase a portable toilet for their vans.

Work on the Road

Another question to be answered is, "How can you make money on your road?"

You might be looking for ways to earn extra money while on the road, or you may want to work remotely.

Both are possible, and people are doing both. However, it can be difficult to live in a van while working.

You should consider creating a workspace during the van construction.

Many people who live in vans start YouTube channels, blogs, or IG accounts to supplement their income. Although it sounds glamorous, it can take months to years to build your audience and see any positive results.

Traveling with a Partner

It can be difficult to live in a van with a couple. It's hard to find time alone when you spend so much time together. Life trips on the van can push your relationships to the limits.

It's important to make time for yourself when traveling with someone in a van.

This could include running, reading, writing, meditation, or any other activity that gives you joy and a sense of accomplishment.

Self-care is essential to maintain a healthy mindset. It is also good for your relationships.

In conclusion: Always Have a Plan B

Everything seems new and exciting when you are just starting out in van life. You don't want to think about the future.

Sometimes we call it the "Future Joel or Laura problem" when we face a situation that requires planning ahead. It is important to have a plan B in case you need it.

What length of time do you intend to travel? Are you going to return to work? Can you take a break and recharge your van? These are important considerations before you move into a van.

Many people start a van-life journey believing they will be able to do it for many years. However, they become exhausted or run out of funds after a few months. Although you don't have to plan everything, it is a good idea to have a backup plan just in case something happens.