While the idea of living and traveling the country in a van can sound adventurous and exciting, it is certainly not for everyone. Check yourself before you regret yourself.
Different experiences for different people
The variety of people you’ll find living and traveling in a van is wide and all-encompassing. You’ll find climbers and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy spending as much time as possible out in nature. Former desk jockeys now doing freelance work in an ever-changing environment. Penny pinching young professionals avoiding exorbitant rent prices in the city. Newlyweds starting the new chapter of their lives together with a grand adventure.
Whatever your reason, your experience of living a mobile lifestyle will differ from anyone elses. Your budget, your van, your preferences, your plan—all of these aspects will give you a bias towards what you like and dislike about the vanlife. Consequently, the “tips and tricks” I’ve learned over the past year is advice built on my personal opinion. Some of it will prove useful. Some of it might not apply. However, all of it is just a glimpse at what can only be fully learned through experience.
You learn many things very quickly when living a van. Like don’t take selfies while driving.
The negatives of vanlife
As many upsides as there are to living in a van, there are just as many downsides. It’s important to be honest and frank about these as they could be a deal breaker for those considering the vanlife:
- Inconvenience. The simplest things you probably take for granted while living in a stationary home can take two, three, four times as long while living in a van. Almost everything requires a bit of planning and preparation. This includes using wifi, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, doing laundry, cooking and finding a place to sleep. These are the realities of the vanlife that you’ll face every single day.
- Loneliness. Even if you regard yourself as a bit of a lone wolf (as I do), the constant solitude can eventually generate feelings of loneliness. If left untreated this can easily slip into depression. The cure to this is simple: honest human connection. This could be simple small talk with the people you come in contact with during daily life or it could entail connecting with old friends and family.
- Legal grey area. In many places around the US it’s frowned upon by local law enforcement to live in your vehicle. In a few cities it’s even downright illegal. However, if you follow local parking laws and are discreet, no one will know or care (more on that later).
A certain level of skepticism and caution is required when living in a van.
The positives of vanlife
There are many extraordinary benefits to living in a van. If there weren’t, this site wouldn’t exist! The few I’ve listed below is just the tip of the iceberg:
- Freedom. The ability to go where you want when you want for as long as you want can’t be underestimated. It’s something very few of us ever get to experience during our lifetimes.
- Cost-effective. After the initial conversion costs, living in a van can be quite inexpensive if you are smart about budgeting. You can live in and travel to the most beautiful places in the world for a small fraction of what others pay. The villa looking out over ocean cliffs or a beautiful snowcapped mountain? You can wake up to that same beautiful view… for free.
- Simplicity. Such a small living space will force you to cut out the extraneous and superfluous out of your life. This will prove stressful at first, but you’ll soon find it to be easier and almost therapeutic as time goes on. Once you remove these nonessential items, you are left with only the things you value the most. A level of simplicity that discards distractions and encourages significance and meaning.
One of the many amazing views you can wake up to that wouldn’t be possible in a normal apartment.
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