Embracing Van Life: Essential Tips for Living on the Road

Embarking on a van life adventure can be one of the most liberating experiences, offering the freedom to explore the world at your own pace while simplifying your lifestyle. However, transitioning to a life on wheels involves careful planning and adjustment. Whether you’re considering short-term travels or looking to make the van your permanent residence, here are essential tips to help you thrive in your new, compact home.

1. Choosing the Right Van for Van Life

The first step is selecting a van that fits your needs. Consider size and layout; while larger vans offer more space, they can be harder to manoeuvre, park in city centres and consume more fuel. Investing in a reliable vehicle is crucial, as breakdowns can be costly and inconvenient on the road (yes, we’ve been there!).

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2. Thoughtful Interior Design

Maximising space is essential. Design the interior layout to serve multiple purposes. For instance, our bed is raised for space below for our bikes, and our bench seats have storage underneath for the fridge and toilet, ours is the Porta Potti 365. Use vertical space by installing shelves and hooks. Opt for lightweight, compact appliances specifically designed for travel. We heave recently bought a travel kettle and induction hob with adjustable wattage settings and this made it so much easier for cooking than last time when it was with gas and camping stoves. The key is functionality and comfort, so tailor the space to your daily habits and needs.

3. Power and Utilities

Solar panels are a popular choice for sustainable power, ours are fitted flat on the roof so most people cant even spot we’re a camper. Ensure your setup meets your energy needs by calculating your daily consumption. Include a mix of USB ports and standard plugs for versatility. Also, consider installing a secondary battery to keep your appliances running without draining the vehicle’s main battery.

For water, large refillable tanks can minimize the frequency of refills. Include an easily accessible external filling point if possible. A compact, onboard water heater can provide comforts like warm showers, albeit at a higher energy cost – our van is too small for an internal shower, but we do have a solar shower that can be used outdoors in a privacy tent.

van life

4. Connectivity

Staying connected is vital, especially if you plan to work remotely. Invest in a reliable mobile hotspot. Consider a booster antenna to improve signal strength in remote areas. Check data plans and network coverage depending on your travel destinations. We recently invested in Starlink which was brilliant whilst travelling, after the initial hardware cost this is £85 per month and was well worth it to be able to work whilst on the go and always have internet, even in some very remote locations.

5. Storage Solutions

Efficient storage solutions can make a big difference. Use packing bags to reduce clothing bulk and keep them organised. Have a designated place for everything to avoid clutter and maintain order in a confined space. Outdoor gear should be easily accessible but stored securely to prevent movement while driving.

6. Kitchen and Meals

A well-equipped van kitchen can make cooking enjoyable even on the road. A small refrigerator, a stove, and basic cooking utensils are essential. Plan meals that are simple and require minimal ingredients, but that also provide nutritional value. Stock up on non-perishable items to reduce the need for frequent shopping.

7. Insurance and Security

Proper insurance is crucial. Look for policies that cover both the vehicle and its contents. Consider additional roadside assistance coverage for extra peace of mind, and make sure it covers abroad as well. For security, install strong locks, a crook lock and perhaps a security system or a dash cam. Always park in safe, well-lit areas. We installed a secure lock box, a Van Vault Mobi as well for our most valuable items, laptop and cameras for extra security.

8. Health and Hygiene

Maintaining hygiene can be challenging. Portable toilets and solar showers with privacy tent can solve basic needs, and many community centres or gyms offer shower facilities for a small fee. Park4night app can also be worth purchasing to see locations that have showers. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit and remember to adjusting your health travel insurance to cover different countries if necessary.

9. Community and Support

Engage with the van life community. Online forums and social media groups are great resources for tips and support from fellow van lifers. They can offer advice based on firsthand experience and might provide companionship along your journey. On the road you meet some lovely people or those wanting to see how you have converted your van, it is such a nice way to connect with others.

10. Adapt and Enjoy

Finally, be prepared to adapt. Living in a van means dealing with unexpected situations, from mechanical failures to finding overnight spots. Embrace these challenges as part of the adventure. The freedom to explore new landscapes, meet diverse people, and experience life at your own pace is the true essence of van life.

Remember the rule to leave the sight without a trace of your stay, and take nothing but photographs. There are many van lifers upsetting locals, leaving rubbish and toilet roll and van life and these beautiful spaces will not be maintainable if this continues.

Van life isn’t just a travel experience; it’s a lifestyle shift that emphasises minimalism, freedom, and flexibility. By preparing thoroughly and embracing the spirit of adventure, you can make your time on the road truly unforgettable. Whether it’s waking up to a seaside sunrise or enjoying the tranquillity of a secluded forest, van life offers a unique way to connect with the world around you.


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