No doubt about it: van life will take you to some of the most spectacular places the country has to offer. But the nomad lifestyle isn’t just about leaving the sliding door open all day long and soaking in gorgeous landscape views. There are many things to learn before you join the van life movement, like how to pick the right camper, what to pack, where to visit, how to manage finances, and what mistakes to avoid.
In this post, we’ve rounded up 9 top tips for campervan living to keep you rolling in life-hacking bliss. And if you need to get a campervan customized for your travel needs, 27North Inc. is the company with the perfect credentials. We are a seasoned campervan conversion builder providing durable, luxurious, and tailored van conversions.
1. Test Drive the Lifestyle
Before you commit to buying a van and venture into full-time nomadic living, take some time to understand the lifestyle. One of the best ways to get a good feel of van life is to rent or borrow a campervan and go on short weekend trips.
Gradually increase the time you spend on the road, and assess how well you’re adapting. Starting small will help you get a realistic picture of the pros and cons of the lifestyle and get an insider’s view of the finances required. This van life tip will also help you avoid buyer's remorse.
2. Get a Van that Meets Your Needs
Your van choice should be comfortable, homely, and capable of going where you want to adventure. So, carefully consider your needs before you go shopping. Think about the number of beds, kitchen equipment, and bathroom features you want, as well as fuel efficiency.
Interior height is also an important factor to take into account, especially for tall folks. Additionally, figure out how much gear storage and insulation you need and whether your trips will require an off-road capable rig. Will you be working in your van? Factor workspace into your calculations.
3. Make Sure the Van is in Great Shape
Van living is not as simple as buying a vintage VW on the internet and hitting the wide-open road. The vehicle you invest in should be in great mechanical shape and extremely reliable in the long run. Remember, if it breaks down, you’ll be without your home until the mechanic is able to fix it.
If you’re sold on the idea of owning a van, the most popular options for reliability are Sprinter Vans, Dodge Promasters, and Ford Transits. Whether to buy new or used will depend on your budget. And if you decide to have it customized, work with a professional campervan conversion company like 27North Inc. to guarantee the quality of the build.
4. Take Advantage of Both Free and Paid Campgrounds
One of the brilliant van life hacks is learning how to utilize free and paid campgrounds. Both play an important role in the road-tripping community. Free campsites will come in handy when you want to stay in an area without spending money on a campground or when you want to enjoy seclusion, peace, and serenity.
On the other hand, paid campgrounds are useful when you need to stock up on fresh water, dump your tanks, enjoy a long refreshing shower, and take advantage of services like laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, and pools. You’ll also need them when you want to stay close to major attractions.
5. Downsize, Pack and Organize Like a Pro
When you are residing in a tiny space, organization has to be at the top of your mind. Otherwise, the space will quickly start feeling cramped. So, how do you ensure you know where things are when you need them? Start by purging the items you don’t need to keep your mobile abode uncluttered.
Next, use vertical space such as stacked plastic drawers, hooks, hanging storage units, magnetic kitchen racks, and car back seat organizer pouches. Another of the best van life hacks to save more space is to use multipurpose items like mason jars and multi-tools, as well as stackable kitchenware.
6. Stay Up to Date with the Latest Vanlifing Technology
Utilizing technology is another camper life tip that will make your travels easier and more fulfilling. Whether you want to find routes without height, weight, or propane restrictions or discover special attractions when traveling through a particular area, there’s an app for that.
There are also platforms to help you track down affordable gas stations, local mobile mechanics, free campgrounds nearby, the closest hookups, and interesting festivals in the area. Not using your camper for some time? There are platforms that will even help you make money by allowing you to rent out your camper.
7. Take Up a New Hobby
Sure, listening to podcasts and audiobooks is a great way to pass the time when driving. But once you get to the destination, you don’t have to be confined to the van. You’ll want to get outside and explore your surroundings.
Some hobbies for van life include biking, hiking, surfing, skiing, fishing, photography, painting, whittling, making tools, and volunteering. To store your special memories, get a handwritten journal and jot down the names of places you visit, people you meet, interesting things you see, and how you feel.
8. Look for Flexible Work
Although van dwelling is an affordable way of life, it’s not without its expenses. To pay for food, gas, campgrounds, van maintenance, and attraction spots, you’ll need a source of income. This doesn’t mean going back to the daily corporate grind you’re trying to escape.
You can explore online work like a virtual assistant, freelance writing, or selling handmade crafts. Not ready to completely quit your job? You can negotiate a permanent work-from-home arrangement or switch to an interim role and work only when it’s convenient for you. If you want to work online, pick up a Wi-Fi booster to amplify weak signals.
9. Enjoy Life on the Road with These Van Living Tips
Whether you want to journey alone, with your partner, or with your family, these van life tricks and tips will help you prepare better, stretch the periods of bliss, and reduce the moments of misery on the road. Remember to also connect and consult with other seasoned van lifers and scroll through nomad forums to get more clever van life hacks.