The Best Ways to Travel the World in Your Own Van
Have you heard the term “van life” before? Maybe you’ve seen the hashtag #vanlife on social media, with an artsy image of a van with a beautiful background. That wouldn’t be surprising since there are over 1.2 million photos on Instagram alone with the hashtag.
The concept of van life — living out of a van instead of a house or apartment — has swept the nation recently, allowing people to travel, explore, and work remotely.
And after over a year of isolation and little to no travel for many, the escape is much needed.
Some van lifers chose this as a lifestyle due to the flexibility of their job. Many people working from home due to COVID-19 have taken the opportunity to do something they typically couldn’t do when working out of an office.
With a van, you can pretty much go anywhere and set up shop for the night, which makes it a great travel option for people who are eager to see more than a single location.
And while you’ve probably seen van lifers traveling domestically, some travelers enjoy taking van trips internationally, now that some countries are open to American visitors.
Here’s more on what van life is, why people choose to do it, and how it’s turned into a social movement.
What is Van Life?
Van life is much more complex than simply living out of a van.
This social movement challenges societal norms — traditional jobs, investing in a house, etc. In exchange, van lifers travel the country and prioritize exploration and self-discovery while living with less.
This lifestyle is attractive to people with a wide scope of values. According to The New Yorker, this includes “a life free from the tyranny of a 9 to 5 office job.”
While it may sound like travelers can create this lifestyle on a whim, it takes real planning to be able to live out of a van, both geographically and financially. And it’s not for the faint of heart.
But all that planning is worth it for those who consider themselves van lifers, and there are a lot of perks apart from freedom and adventure.
Why Is Van Life A Great Travel Option Right Now?
Although van life began long before COVID-19, there are even more benefits of van life now due to the pandemic. Van life allows you the flexibility and opportunity to see more than one location, and travel outside of the everyday tourist trap.
Van Life is Safe
Van life allows you to see amazing things while avoiding crowded planes or other transportation in order to get where you’re going.
You also have a choice where you park your van, so you can always choose places that are safe to sleep at night.
Van Life Allows You to Enjoy Nature
If you’re still hesitant to visit busy cities, van life is a great option to enjoy more peaceful nature, and there’s no better time to do it. You’ll see places out of the ordinary, many of which aren’t frequented by tourists.
You Can Travel at Your Own Pace
Without having your accommodation pre-booked, van life gives you the freedom to stay longer in an area you connect with or cut stays short in areas you don’t like. You’ll skip the stress of catching flights too because you’ll always determine where you’re going and when.
You’ll Save on Pricey Accommodations
When you stay in your van, you don’t have to worry about how much the next hotel or Airbnb will cost you — not to mention all the expenses on rent you’ll be cutting if you’re in it for the long haul.
You Can Work Remotely
Living in a van, you can choose to work out of coffee shops or co-working spaces. You can even hook up your van to portable Wi-Fi and ‘work from home’ while you travel from place to place.
Living in your car or van does require some planning in advance to make sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way, but plenty of van lifers have paved the way for this lifestyle trend.
From companies that help you build your own van to websites that help you find parking for the night, there’s plenty of help at your fingertips to make this dream come true.
The Best Ways To Van Life
Van lifers go about this way of living in different ways. You can build your own van, rent a van, or you can even drive your own car and add a rooftop tent to sleep from.
1. Build Your Own Van
There are companies specializing in the van life trend, helping you to create your dream home on wheels. You can even customize the entire van as if you were building a house.
You can add your own van features to meet your needs, and prioritize which items you want in your van, like dishwashers, microwaves, beds, and more.
2. Borrow Or Rent a Camper Van
If you’re not quite ready for a permanent life on the road, you might be interested in renting. From camper vans to trailers to RVs, the options are endless when it comes to renting.
There are various sizes for the number of people traveling, and options for every amenity you can think of — dishwashers, solar panels, bike racks, you name it!
Whether you’re looking for a simple van or a luxury motorhome, you can always find something for your short-term van life experience.
3. Add a Roof Top Tent to Your Own Car
If you don’t want to buy or rent an entirely new vehicle for your trip just yet, adding a sleeping area to the car you already own might make an excellent alternative.
This allows you to drive your own car instead of a large van, and rooftop tents are extremely easy to pop open and set up wherever you park.
Things to Keep in Mind When Doing #VanLife
Apart from your mode of transportation, there are many things you’ll need to consider before hitting the road.
There are lots of details people don’t discuss in their Instagram-worthy photos, like some of the practical aspects of living out of a van.
Where am I allowed to park a van at night, and where is it safe?
It’s much easier than it used to be to find areas where you can park your van for the night or longer. Hipcamp allows you to connect with private owners of land who offer their space up to campers.
Where can I get a shower?
This depends on how you’re traveling. You can add a shower to your custom-built van, get a pop-up shower, or check out public shower areas at campgrounds or nearby gyms.
What can I expect when living in a van?
You’ll need to be prepared for the unexpected when living out of a van or car. Blown-out tires, an empty gas tank, weather concerns, problems with Wi-Fi — are all likely to happen when you’re on the road.
Make sure to do your research before traveling and have backup plans when things don’t go as planned.
Find Your Next Adventure
It may seem scary to pack up and head out on the open road without mapping everything out in advance. But this new and fun way to travel is easier than ever before thanks to so many van lifers forging the path.
With van life becoming more popular, it’s a great time to explore new places and forms of travel. And what better way to get off the beaten path and push yourself to new limits?
At CloudBlue, we’re here to help you find your next big adventure. Whether you’re planning a family vacation or a romantic getaway for 2, we’ve got you covered.
And if you missed out on any trips in the last year, now is the moment to pick a new destination and visit somewhere you’ve never been before.
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