#Vanlife is more than just a weekend getaway and more than your regular vacation. It is an alternative lifestyle, a way of life where you embrace freedom and become one with nature. It definitely offers you an adventurous routine. Yet, it also comes with the price of giving up comfort and welcoming uncertainty.
Are you ready to place all your belongings in a van and call it your permanent home? Are you prepared to say goodbye to your house and leave your 9 to 5 behind to join a #vanlife nomad community? This is not an easy decision to make. It requires both acquiring thorough information and getting a first-hand taste of the #vanlife experience. In this post, I will guide you through some useful ways to test living the #vanlife, so you can make this decision easier.
Questions to ask yourself
Before taking any action, I suggest you ask yourself some relevant questions to have a general idea if you are fit for the #vanlife:
- Are you a fan of big spaces?
- Would you rather stay indoors during the day?
- Are you a pet lover?
- Do you like to keep everything in order?
- Do you plan your week?
- Shopping frequently?
- Do you embrace comfort and avoid dusty places?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, then you can already foresee that living in a van would most likely be very difficult for you. Remember that a van is a single room, which is not so spacious. It means that you will need to give up the traditional home idea of having separate rooms.
Moreover, you will be spending most of your time outdoors. You may even need to think about how to weather your winters. Embracing #vanlife means enjoying nature and meeting new people. The adventure and spontaneity are part of it. It is challenging to plan your weeks or months, since often you may not even know where you will park the van to spend the night.
If you are used to buying all the new clothes, then, unfortunately, you may not be likely to continue this habit. As I mentioned before, the van space is limited, and you may have to keep just a little amount of clothes or other possessions. Ironically, keeping this small space clean all the time is almost impossible, as dust will always come in. What about showers? Sometimes, you will not be able to take them every day.
Separating the hype from the reality of #vanlife beforehand is very important if you want to test yourself for this alternative lifestyle. So I recommend spending some time trying to imagine your life with all these limitations.
Joining the circle of vanlifers
Do you remember when you learned how to ride a bike? At first, you were trying with the additional wheels, and only after gaining confidence, you could bike without them. Learning how to live the #vanlife follows a similar path.
Following the questionnaire, the next step is to test it gradually. First, you can rent a van for the weekend, with shower opportunities, Wifi, and park in locations nearby the city. In this way, if you feel uncomfortable, you can always opt-out.
Fortunately, this is a common practice, and several companies offer “furnished” vans for rent. For example, you can try to rent at Mercedes Sprinter Campervan Rentals, Outdoorsy, Vintage Surfari Wagons, or Pacific Overlander. The last option can also guide you through different travel itineraries and parking suggestions near mountainous areas.
You can rent for longer than a weekend if you have the budget. Keep in mind that the rental prices can go from $100 up to $500 per night, depending on the van type and the services included. If you like the experience, these companies can also teach you how to build and prepare your van. Wouldn’t it be cool to build your own house and take it with you wherever you go?
Get insights from the #vanlife community
Regardless of how flexible and open you are to change, the first months of the #vanlife will not be easy. You will need to learn several tricks to succeed. Who better to teach them than those who have been doing it for a while: the nomad community?
Getting in touch with them and learning about their experience will not only be beneficial at the beginning of your #vanlife but also at the testing stage.
Well, now you may wonder how to get in touch with the fellow nomads since they are always on the move?
Different Instagram pages, blogs, forums such as Love Your Camper, or Project VanLife, Facebook groups, or Pinterest are good starting points. They also publish real nomad stories, tips, and live social gatherings, which you can join. For example, a great idea would be to rent a van for the days coinciding with one of these gatherings and join it.
You may have heard the general stereotypes that the #vanlife is solitary. I believe that, after getting in touch with the nomad community, these stereotypes will be proven wrong because, without cooperation with others, this lifestyle would be almost impossible.
Make it work financially
Living the #vanlife is financially more difficult than people think. I would even say that it is more challenging to earn your income while being a nomad, rather than being employed in a stable 9 am-5 pm shift job. So what should you do, especially in this testing phase? How can you know if you will be able to sustain this new lifestyle financially?
You have several options. The most helpful one is to offer online freelance services such as writing, teaching, or completing finance projects. Think about your strengths (for example, blogging, storytelling, teaching, analytical skills, programming) and then start testing them. Create a profile on Fiverr or Upwork, two of the largest freelance online platforms, explore the rates, and try to get a few projects.
If this does not work, then other options include creating your own online business, which can be a blog or online store. In the case these online solutions also do not work, then you can always try seasonal jobs, which will get you some income to cover the rest of the year.
Whichever options you choose, my advice is to test as much of it as possible and to have some initial capital as a buffer. How to obtain that? Organizing a yard sale or renting out your house are good starting points.
Weigh the benefits against the costs
You can indefinitely rent vans for the weekends, but unless you put all of the above components into perspective, you will never know if you are ready for the #vanlife.
Writing down the costs and the benefits of your potential new lifestyle can help. For example, you can analyze your experimental van rental experience. What did you like the most/the least? Is there a way to improve the things you did not like?
Then, add your results from the questionnaire, the insights from the nomad community, and the financial feasibility aspect. Do they lead in the same direction?
If they all signal to take the challenge and begin the #vanlife, then congratulations! You have high chances of successfully experiencing it, and, hopefully, I have been able to provide you with some sources and tips. Let us know how it all worked out. I would love to hear about your #vanlife adventures.