Heads up: some of the links on this site are affiliate links. If you click and make a booking or purchase, I’ll make a commission (at no extra cost to you). I partner with companies I personally use and the $$ goes towards creating more awesome, free travel content.
Hitting the open road in a van to live a life of adventure and freedom sounds idyllic. But successful van life requires thoughtful preparation and practical guidance to handle the realities of life on the move. From necessary van modifications and parking tips to self-care and community, there are key factors that determine how livable and enjoyable your journey will be.
This article provides essential van life hacks to transform your travels from chaotic and stressful to restorative and liberating. Whether solo or with a partner, you’ll gain insider knowledge to customise your home on wheels, master road life, and embrace the magic and challenges of the van nomad lifestyle.
10 Van Life Travel Tips You Must Follow
Must follow these 10 tips and recommendations if you are willing to have a good van life:
1. Research Your Route and Destinations
Planning your route and points of interest along the way is an important first step for van life travel. Consider the weather, road conditions, sights, and activities at your destinations. Build in flexibility in case you find somewhere you want to stay longer.
Apps like Roadtrippers are helpful for planning. Thorough research will allow you to maximise your time on the road.
2. Modify Your Van to Suit Your Needs
One of the most pleasant things about van living is customising your mobile home. How you modify your van will depend on your priorities, from adding basic comforts to going all-out on a luxury build. Essentials include a bed platform, storage for gear, a water jug with a pump, and a camp stove or refrigerator.
You may also want solar power, humidity control, a bathroom, or 4WD. Work with experienced van builders if doing major modifications.
3. Get the Right Insurance for a Modified Van
Standard auto insurance likely won’t fully cover a van that’s been modified for travel and living. Safeguarding your investment with modified van insurance is important. Modified van insurance takes into account the unique uses and risks of a camper van.
Look for a provider experienced in covering customised vans and RVs. Make sure you have coverage for both vehicle damage and personal property inside.
Comparison of Standard and Modified Van Insurance:
4. Practice Van Life Safety
Your van’s safety should be a key consideration. Get a CO detector, a fire extinguisher, and a first-aid kit. Let others know your route and check in regularly. Keep devices charged, and consider getting a satellite communicator.
Maintain your van with routine checks and service. Drive cautiously, be alert, and don’t push yourself to exhaustion. Take your valuables with you if you exit the vehicle. Consider extra security like window covers and locks.
5. Know Where to Park Overnight
Finding a safe and legal spot to park overnight in your van can take some research. Free dispersed camping is permitted on national forest property and public properties maintained by the Bureau of Property Management. Walmart and Cracker Barrel often allow van camping in their lots.
There are also apps to locate RV parks, campsites, and free boondocking areas. When in doubt, ask permission or go for somewhere inconspicuous. Avoid parking near no camping signage.
6. Get Organised and Minimise Belongings
Making smart use of your limited space is key for van living. Decide what’s essential versus nice to have and minimise belongings. Clever organisation systems will keep things accessible but out of the way. Use plastic bins, labelled cupboards, shelves, and storage hammocks.
Multi-use items are useful, like tables that convert to bed frames. Regularly tidy up and deep clean your van to keep chaos at bay.
7. Focus on Comfort and Convenience
Don’t underestimate the importance of comforts and conveniences for enjoyable long-term van travel. You can improve your sleep by using a mattress topper and blackout curtains. Cook simple but decent meals with a dual burner propane stove, ice chest, and basic kitchen setup.
Stay clean with baby wipes, Planet Fitness membership for showers, and a collapsible sink with storage. Add a second battery and portable solar panel to run devices and lightning off-grid.
8. Take Care of Yourself on the Road
Van life offers freedom but also requires adaptability. Make self-care a priority to avoid being burned out. Maintain healthy routines as much as possible, like regular exercise, nutritious meals, and full nights of sleep. Make time for relaxing hobbies and interests. Switch up your scenery and social interactions.
Allow yourself to take a vacation from travelling sometimes. Maintaining your physical, mental, and emotional health will allow you to enjoy van life in the long run.
9. Accept the Adventure
Approaching van life with openness, gratitude, and curiosity will serve you well on the road. Instead of a strict agenda, let each day unfold naturally. Savour the simple pleasures of waking up to a sunrise, cooking breakfast outside, and stopping to wander an interesting town. Enjoy the feeling of carrying everything you need.
Let go of the tendency to plan and control. Embrace van life as an adventure and your home as a launchpad for possibility.
10. Bond with Other Travellers
One downside of van life can be loneliness. Seek out kindred spirits in the van community. Attend van meetups, follow #vanlife, and chat with others at camping spots. Share stories, recommendations, and laughs with fellow travellers.
Offer support and help to van lifers you meet. You may find travel partners interested in convoying for stretches. Maintaining human connection fuels the soul.
Van life can be an amazing and liberating way to live and travel, but it requires knowledge and preparation to do it right. If you research your route, properly outfit your van, find safe parking, stay organised, take care of yourself, and connect with other travellers, you’ll be well-equipped for an epic journey. With an open mindset and these road-tested tips, you can transform van life from challenging to rejuvenating and turn your travels into the adventure of a lifetime.