Are you thinking about just selling everything, packing up, and moving into a camper van full-time? Whether you’re looking to hit the road full-time in a self-built van (like we did!) or just want to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of vanlife on the weekends, there are a few important things we think you should know before you get started. We’ve put together 5 things we think are important to be aware of before jumping into the Vanlife lifestyle.
1. Be prepared for challenges and inconveniences. Vanlife is not always easy, and you will encounter a multitude of unexpected obstacles and difficulties along the way. This is not to deter you, as it is all a part of the process. It’s important to be flexible and adaptable and to be prepared for anything that comes your way. If you have followed us for any length of time you’ve probably seen a bit of the ups and downs as we like to keep it real, showing you the good along with the messy moments. When you travel full-time in a vehicle that is also your full-time home things are bound to occasionally break and go wrong but you just have to go with the flow and do your best to enjoy the ride.
2. Plan ahead and research your options. Before you make the decision to move into a van, it’s important to carefully plan and research your options. This can include researching different van models and conversion layouts, electrical and water systems, as well as finding out about laws and regulations regarding van-dwelling in your area/ along your travel route. We found YouTube and other blogs to be fabulous resources to see how others have built their vans but also how they spend their day-to-day time in their vans. It can also be nice to look up areas you intend to visit to see what other Vanlifers have said about the recent conditions. If you can rent a built-out campervan for a couple of days to test out if you enjoy the lifestyle or try car camping which also has a similar vibe.
3. Be conscious of your impact on the environment and local communities. Vanlife can be a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way of living, but it’s important to be mindful of your impact on the environment and local communities. This can include practicing Leave No Trace principles, respecting local laws and customs, and avoiding overstaying in one place. The general practice is to always strive to leave an area better than you found it! We like to try to pick up a bag of trash/litter everywhere we camp for free as a little thank you to the area! (We have an article coming out with some of our tips on how to be a more environmentally conscious/sustainable vanlifer – keep an eye out for it!)
4. Embrace simplicity and minimalism in your life. Camper vanlife can be a great opportunity to simplify and declutter your life and to focus on what really matters. It’s important to be intentional about what you bring along with you into your tiny home on wheels and to let go of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose or bring you joy. Especially with clothes, there isn’t much of a closet in any tiny home so if you don’t love it and wear it often it might be time to part ways! This applies even if you are not getting rid of everything and have a storage unit or place where you can keep things while you are out on the road adventuring.
5. Stay open-minded and adventurous (Have Fun!) Living out of a campervan is all about exploration and adventure, and it’s important to stay open-minded and to be willing to try new things, even if you’re afraid “do them afraid!” This can include visiting new places, meeting new people, and trying new activities and hobbies along the way. Don’t be afraid to take risks and step outside your comfort zone, those are truly the days and moments you end up remembering the most!