The #vanlife movement is trending and more people than ever are opting for the nomadic lifestyle as they convert their cargo vans into full time camper homes. There are many things that the camper lifestyle affords: you get the freedom of the open road, the mobility to explore, significant cost savings, and a great sense of community among others sharing a similar lifestyle. If you’re considering making a transition into van life, here are a few tips for having a successful experience.
Slow Your Roll
Rolling through switchbacks and past mountains and across cities is fun—and in the beginning, it can be so fun that you forget to take your time and soak in your experiences. Perhaps you’ve got a plan and schedule and want to see as many things as possible and get plenty of items off your bucket list. However, the list thing you want to do is become so involved in ticking items off the list that you forget to leave your list. Slow down, search for local experiences, and don’t always rush to the next destination.
Know Your Hacks
Van life requires you to live minimally, and because of this, you could benefit from a few hacks. Some of these hacks may seem a bit more obvious than others, and some of the seemingly obvious tips aren’t so obvious until you’ve already started van life.
For example, mosquito nets and bug repellants are a must. You’ll find that in a van, you like having your doors open to allow airflow and light through the space, and mosquitoes and other bugs find their way in easily. Some “vanlifers” have even had mouse and rodent issues in their van. Here are a few other van life hacks:
- Fairly lights help you save on electricity
- Cup hooks, pegboards, and magnets create more space for storage
- Organizer pouches for the back of your seats and back doors create additional storage
- Packing cubes keep you organized and are major space savers
- Collapsible kitchenware like coffee cups, strainers, and collapsible containers are portable and easy to fit in nooks and crannies
Overnight Park for Free
One of the best aspects of living in your van is how cost effective it can be. If you plan ahead and do your research, there are plenty of places you’d be able to park for free. For example, dispersed camping is a term used for camping on public land outside of campsites. The Bureau of Land Management is a great source for finding cost-free camping across the country.
You may not realize it, but 25% of the available land in the United States can be accessed for dispersed camping for free for up to 14 days (in most campsites). You can find BLM land on their website, and they are usually in beautiful secluded spots in national parks and forests. Head over to their website, choose the state, and choose from a variety of options.
There are also many parking lots that offer free overnight camping, like Walmart, Cracker Barrel, truck stops, and casinos. This type of free camping is called boondocking, and while it’s generally okay at major retailers, you should check their website to make sure it’s okay.
Don’t Forget Insurance
When you opt to live the vanlife lifestyle, your vehicle becomes your home. This means it’s more important than ever to ensure it’s thoroughly protected. Your insurance protects you and your property during the unfortunate event of an accident. However, according Julian Lewis Sanders, an Atlanta car accident lawyer, there may be cases where your insurance simply doesn’t cover the damage and you may need to seek legal services. This is especially true for van lifers who don’t always save the option to cover property inside the van they live in.
Some people choose to insure their campers as they would a regular vehicle. If you insure your vehicle as an RV, you can get more comprehensive coverage. What’s most important is that you’re as honest as possible when you go about getting insured. Always keep a spread of all the purchases you’ve made for your van build and maintain a strong digital record. You can use this cost breakdown to send to your insurance company for a customized quote. Chances are, they’ll ask for photos as well to send to their underwriting department for the most accurate assessment.