Tips & Tricks of Van Life

When doing a search for VanLife on google or seeing those super cool vans on Instagram just keep in mind that Van Life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be or as pretty as they are pictured on Instagram, Van Life is taking it one day at a time, one place at a time and soaking it all in.

Here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way that we hope you find useful in your Van Life Journey.

#1 – Choose the Van for YOU!

There are times when you aren’t sure where you’ll park, go to the bathroom, take a shower or even how to “not” be noticed. Our first tip would be to do your research. What do we mean by that? That’s easy, research the type of van that fits your lifestyle, where you want to go, what you want to see and what makes you happy. We personally have a regular Ford E-150 Econoline with no high top and that works for us, we can be stealthy without the cops being called on us, but hey we also use many apps like Boondocking and AllStays to find places that allow us to park. Our Van is perfect for us and we have all that we need inside to live comfortably and be happy and heck we get to travel the world, meet new people and BE HAPPY!

#2 – How will you power the goodies inside?

There’s many way you can go about doing this, #1 choice is solar, there are many different kits available these day with different wattages of power but before picking out a system to quick, think about what you want to power with the solar: stove (induction cooktop), electric heater, cell phone charging, LED lighting and so on. #2 Choice is plugging in to electrical source whether that mean a friends house or at a pay camp site. We choose option #1 and it works just fine for us. 330 watts of power 🙂

#3 – How will you sustain the Van Life?

Do you have a nice cushion of savings? Do you plan to do side jobs, work camping jobs, dog grooming, uber or ??? How will you be able to feed yourself and your van? Things to think about before heading out on the road.

#4 – How will you shower or keep clean?

Have you thought about the possibility of showering outdoors with sometimes not so warm water? What about the idea of NOT showering everyday and having to shower at the local gym or even truck stop? If you are the type of person who needs to shower everyday, this might not be the ideal life for you.

#5 – Where will I go to the bathroom?

Yes, there is portable potties that you can put inside your van but what about if you don’t have one or the room? Are you willing to pee in a bottle or poop in a bucket lined with bags in YOUR VAN? Walmarts are open 24 hours and that’s a plus you can stop in anytime to use the restroom and purchase some necessities but there might not be a Walmart in the middle of no where.

#6 -Where will I park to rest for the night?

There are many places you can park overnight but you have to be stealthy. What that means is if your parking on the street in a residential neighborhood, don’t make it obvious you’re sleeping in your van and there’s a rule “In late, out early”. Before choosing to sleep at businesses ask them if you can get some rest in their parking lot. If you see a “No overnight parking” sign, move on, not worth the knock on the door from the police. If you are ok so far with #’s 1-5 and you need a place to park, check out the apps I mentioned above that you can download to your phone to find free and sometimes cheap places to stay the night.

#7 – How will I fit all my stuff in a Van?

This is something most struggle with, where will they put all their stuff? The answer is pretty simple DOWNSIZE, do you really need that 55′ flat screen tv or that dresser full of clothes? (probably most haven’t even been worn). It’s time to have a yard sale, donate to charity (donations can be written off on your taxes, so get a receipt) or even give things away to friends and family or local shelters. Living the Van Life means only taking what you need with you and possibly having friends or family members hold on to stuff that just can never be replaced.

#8 – What will I need to take with me?

This is a question with varied answers, if you surf most likely you’ll find a beach on your travels so take your surfboard or if you’re a hiker, take your hiking gear, but we’ve also made a post about Van Life Necessities, go ahead take a look.

#9 – How will I cook?

Well this is another question that has varied answers because it depends on your setup inside you van (or outside). We personally have a portable 1 burner butane stove but we also have an electric induction cooktop and instapot we use as well. We have a decent solar setup that can power the things we need when we need them and allow us to cook inside the van on those rainy or cold days. If you have a solar setup you can also get a small dometic fridge/freezer and that means possibly having a bowl of cereal for breakfast or anytime of the day you need a quick bit to eat without having to cook. We personally have a dorm size fridge in our van, hold what we need and is energy efficient too!

#10 – What about clean clothes?

Having clean clothes, haha that’s a good one, just kidding. We sometimes wear the same clothes 2-3x before we setup shop at the laundry mat. So if you’re the type that has to wear clean clothes every single day, I’m thinking this Van Life wouldn’t work for you. You travel, go on adventures, have tons of fun, you’re bound to get super dirty but aren’t you going on another adventure tomorrow? Brush off those dirty clothes and get em’ dirty again, lol. Just make sure to freshen up your “parts” (baby wipes are magical) and you’re good to go! Changing your undies and socks are optional.

Living the Van Life, means being free. Free to stay in one place for a while or travel everyday, the choice is yours. Enjoy the Van Life!

So there you have it, some tips of living the Van Life. Is there something you do that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below.

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Post Author: Tracy Mejias

Van Life Duo who enjoy going on adventures, meeting new people, traveling & living self sufficiently in our made over 2000 Ford E150 Van into our home on wheels and traveling around the US with our Pup Jojo. Here is our story and some tips we've learned during our travels.

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