Van life has not only become a modern revolution, its changing the way we live work and play.
If you’ve been asking yourself if Vanlife is for you, let’s take a look at the main challenges and benefits of living on the road from experienced van lifers.
The best part of van life
The primary benefit of living in your van is that you can massively reduce your overheads, which can enable you to re-structure your life around yourself and your passions. It means you can have freedom to work, play and explore.
finding balance & harmony
Katharina Körfgen is a passionate surfer, she spent a year in Byron Bay to perfect her surfing skills. She lives in her VW van on the beautiful beaches of Portugal, surfing and working remotely writing product reviews for Amazon. Not only does Katharina have time to live her surf passion everyday she has also created a surf magazine called Salty Souls.
Photo -featured in Nomad: Designing a Home for Escape and Adventure View here
one big adventure
Van life or any extended travel would have to be one of the most exciting experiences a person can do in their lifetime. It helps us find balance and harmony and rewards our fearless exploration with a new level of confidence and independence. But above all, it connects us with people, the earth, and ourselves.
STEP 1. TAKE A ROAD TRIP
If you haven’t already, the first thing you should do is experience van life, hire a camper van, and hit the road. It will be an epic adventure regardless of the outcome, and you’ll soon know what level of van life is for you— for me, recreational van adventures suit my life. There are no rules, its about choosing the way you live and play. Everyones idea of freedom is different.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT VAN FOR YOU
Once you’ve had a taste of van living, you’ll be able to prioritise your van needs.
Does it fit your bikes, boards, golf clubs? If you can’t live without a toilet and shower, you’ll need to look at larger vehicles that can accommodate these facilities. Is your heart is set on a classic kombi? Are you planning on a short term lifestyle or full time home?
THE MAIN CHALLENGES OF VAN LIFE
- Living Space- Your living space in a van is tiny. But your backyard is world. There are many ways to create more room. A canopy or van tent creates an undercover outdoor area for extra sleeping or entertaining. A Hammock will give you a magical reading spot. I have a popup bathroom tent for my portable toilet. I also set up rugs all around my van. It creates a much larger living footprint.
- Earning an income- There are many ways to make a living on the road. There are van nomads who write product reviews for Amazon, blog, sell e-books, online yoga classes and products. You can utilise drop shipping and affiliated marketing tools, and more.
- Where to park overnight – Finding a free place to sleep every night can be stressful. There are, however, some excellent apps that will find you the best place to sleep for free. Some of my favorite locations are places where I can camp in national forests or BLM not far from a town or city. Public land areas are plentiful and available for anyone to camp on up to 14 consecutive days. These stretches of land allow people to camp, hike, and play for free with the request that you respect the land and leave no trace.
- Showering –It depends where you are. If you stick to the coast a lot, you can swim in the sea and use beach showers. If you want a hot shower either stay at a caravan park or just pay to use their showers. If you’re in one spot for a few weeks, you can always use a gym, most are happy to give you a 7 day free membership trial.
- Toilets– Public toilets are everywhere. You’ll find them at parks, service stations, coffee shops, campgrounds have long drops, or if you’re in the middle of nowhere, use a hand shovel, don’t forget your toilet paper! There are plenty of tiny portable toilet options for your van too.
- Water supply- We take running water for granted until we’re on the road. If you travel along coastal roads in Australia, there are ample places to stop for clean water. However, if your adventure takes to more remote areas, you will have to plan your water supply stops in advance, so you don’t run out.
- Loneliness – If you’re traveling with friends, or a partner, loneliness isn’t an issue. If you’re a solo traveler, it can be a challenge even though you meet so many incredible people along the way. You can always face-time with your family, pick up the phone, and keep in contact on social media. If you become homesick, follow your heart and head home for a family visit.
- Staying comfortable – The inside temperature of your van will be at the mercy of the outside air temperature. So basically, your home on wheels will become unbearably hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. There are many ways of keeping comfortable. Having an air vent installed (which sucks out the hot air) a heater and AC is an option are many 12volt heating choices too.
- Breakdowns – Breakdowns will usually happen at the worst possible time, particularly if you have an older vehicle as I do. So you’ll need to be prepared with a contingency plan.
The benefits of van life
- Freedom from the rat race – No more 9-5 in the same 4 walls. Your work life can be one big adventure.
- (Except at the moment where we can’t go wherever we want whenever we want because we are in Covid 19 lockdown)
- Expenses -The primary benefit of living in your van is that you can massively reduce your overheads.
- Adventure – What discovery will this day bring? Where will we swim? Who will we meet?
- Moments– Life experience that will bring unforgettable memories.
- Best view in town– To wake up in the morning and look out your window to an ever changing view.
- Community – Van lifers are so damn lovely! No judgemental toss pots here, and they have so many remarkable stories.