"Van Life for Complete Beginners - The 7 Simple Fundamentals You Need to Know"
When it comes to life on the road, there really is no greater freedom. Taking your life and home with you as you explore undiscovered terrain is a unique experience. Eating your evening meal from the open doorway of your motorhome as you look out across a new view is one of the greatest gifts travel can provide. Life in a van is one of the most relaxed and welcoming forms of travel in existence. It’s also one of the most comfortable—if you have the right know-how!
Here is your guide to living your very best ‘van life’ on the open road:
- Choose the right vehicle. Every van-lifer will have differing priorities, expectations and personal needs. Therefore, you need to do enough research in order to find the right model for you. Consider what kind of van travel you would like to pursue. Are you planning on travelling solo or with company? Are you planning short trips or venturing on a long term adventure? Speak to a range of van travel experts who will be able to guide you in the right direction. Apply the same logic to any items you buy to set up your van home also.
- Declutter before you leave—twice! It’s tempting to pack everything you ‘might’ need for a fresh venture. You might be feeling afraid of being caught out without the right gadget or spare item. Tiny home living works best with the least clutter possible. You will be amazed at how little you really need. Clear out any multiples or ‘just in case’ items before repacking your van. Then, do a second sweep through to see if there is any more space you can free up.
- Download van-specific apps. There are now a range of digital downloads and smartphone applications that can entirely transform your motorhome travel experience. It may seem counterintuitive to make use of such technology when you might be hoping to disconnect from the usual rush of life. Having the right tools means you can get more out of your trip than you would otherwise. Making a few van-specific location searches for somewhere epic to park that has been recommended by a previous contributing traveller is reassuring—especially for those who are new to van life.
- Double up on water containers. Running out of water on the road is both a hassle and an inconvenience. If you have spare water stored away then you will have more parking options available to you because you won’t need to book a campsite or park near a water source to fill up so often. You will be liberated to roll as slowly as you wish along coastlines or within cityscape without the stress of worrying about how much water you have left. Many European supermarkets have safe water fill-up taps and grey water dumps. You can often also pay local campsites a few coins to use their facilities to refresh your van setup while on your travels.
- Make security a priority. Regardless of what budget size you are working with, it’s important to ensure that you allocate an appropriate portion to securing your van. You are taking valued possessions away with you that include travel documents and expensive equipment. Extra door locks, alarm systems and a metal safe that can be drilled to the floor base are all helpful deterrents. Cultivate a routine of double-checking windows and doors before you head off exploring for both safety and peace of mind in equal measure.
- Respect local parking regulations. Unfamiliarity with the local language is no excuse for ignoring designated restrictions. Use a translation app to help you speak to someone from the area that can advise the do’s and don’ts of parking up each day or night. You will avoid any potential fines while demonstrating respect for the neighbourhood culture also. You can find out more about the latest rules by searching online. Alternatively, approach another van-lifer or local to find out what they would recommend for the area. This can also be a great way to spark a conversation about the best things to do, see and eat wherever you are.
- Stay open minded. There is no set way that you ‘should’ conduct your van travels. Don’t let social media images and glossy motorhome brochures fool you into thinking there is any kind of ‘one-size fits all’ approach to take. The beauty of van travel is that you are free to make it your own. Perhaps you want to move slowly, taking in each spot fully before rolling on to the next location. Or you might have an ambitious destination checklist that you want to tackle over the course of one summer season. Whether you are a ‘basics are best’ van-lifer or a creative with a love for furnishing your tiny space, do what makes you feel truly at home.
The real magic of travelling on the road in a motorhome or van is the freedom it offers. Booking a one way flight ticket to the other side of the world can seem intimidating. Setting off on a van journey feels much more accessible and far less of a ‘big leap’. You are able to move at your own pace with your belongings safely alongside you. No need for constant accommodation searching or haggling for hotel rooms.
There are views of the ocean that can only be enjoyed from the viewpoint of a van where there are no hotels to book in that particular spot. There are unique people you will only cross paths with while van-living. You will discover abilities of independence and travel skill that you might never have known previously. As each evening comes to a close and you watch yet another sunset bathe your motorhome in warm light, you’ll wonder why you never did it sooner. Happy travels!
Written by Helen Victoria