5 Things to Know Before Doing Van Life

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Living on the road isn’t for everyone, but there are so many people who want to do it and just feel intimidated on where to start! You might be thinking about van life or just looking at it on social media as something to do “some day”. There are definitely a few things to know before jumping into it, but I hope the incite I give here will make you feel more prepared to actually hit the road. We all start somewhere, but I do wish someone would’ve told me these things so I would’ve felt more capable and sane during the process. Here are the top 5 things you should know before van life!

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LEARN TO BE FLEXIBLE

When I started van life, I was fresh out of a job where planning every last detail was crucial. So naturally, I planned every park I wanted to visit and my exact route to each one. I wrote an itinerary for weeks in advance. I’m telling you now… Don’t bother doing this for two major reasons. First of all, it’s a waste of time. Nothing will go exactly as planned when you live on the road. You’ll love some places more than you expect and want to stay longer. Other parks won’t blow your mind like you’d hoped (*cough* Joshua Tree *cough*) and you’ll want to move along sooner than planned. Second of all, this kind of goes against why most of us are traveling in the first place! It can be hard to completely relax and allow yourself to be flexible. So get into the spirit of going with the flow and take every day as it comes. Always know that things may not go as planned and that is okay.

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Random Example: Getting to this slot canyon was supposed to take 20 minutes, but it took about 2.5 hours because the road was so bad!

CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Going along with flexibility, adjust your expectations of what it will actually be like inside the van. I love being in my van and it really does feel like home. But it will never be as glamorous as it looks online. You will likely go days without showering at times, pee in a toilet that’s essentially sitting in your kitchen, and have countless things fall apart or need repairing on any given day. No matter how “luxury” you make your van, you have to be low maintenance to make it work long term. Social media makes everything look perfect but it is much more real than a simple photo can share.

NO VAN IS PERFECT

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My first van was a Sprinter…
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And then I realized I’m not a big fan and got a Transit!

No matter how much you plan out your first van, it won’t be perfect. Even if you have the best builders in the world, there will be things you just don’t love. We all go through this which is why you see so many people selling their vans and building out another. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the build, but maybe you just don’t like the fixed bed setup and want to try the bed/table set up. Maybe you want to try the kitchen in the back instead of upfront. You learn a lot during your first build and even more once you live in the van for a period of time. But just go into it knowing that you probably won’t love everything and that’s totally fine! 

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A SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING

The main thing to keep in mind going into van life is that there is a solution to everything. If something breaks, it can be fixed. If you have a question, there is an answer. If you don’t know anyone, reach out to me and other people already doing it! We can help you and provide answers for what you need. This is a strong community and you shouldn’t feel alone. But my main point here is that nothing should scare you away from living on the road if that’s what you really want. Every question you have.. has an answer. Don’t panic in times of confusion; just think it through and come up with the best solution you can.

NEVER A PERFECT TIME

So many people wait for a perfect time or “someday” to come when they can finally hit the road. Obviously, you do need some kind of savings or financial plan to be able to afford living. But other than that, there will never be a perfect time or a magical day where things are completely aligned for you to finally set sail. When you see other people doing it, none of them had that day. Nobody experienced a perfect time to leave and did everything right. We make the leap, figure things out as they come, and make mistakes that we learn from as we go. The first step to starting van life is just starting. Looking up actual vans and coming with a game plan that you actually follow through on! Think of it more as several small steps getting you to the end instead of thinking about it as one major project. 

CONVERSION BOOKS TO HELP WITH YOUR BUILD

I hope this helps you prepare for life on the road if you’re still debating it or questioning if it’s for you! You’ll never know if you don’t try and I really recommend taking a leap. If you don’t think it’s for you, that’s totally okay! Find something that you’re passionate about and run with it. Life is too short to keep waiting on everything around you to fall in to place. If you ever need to reach out to someone and talk things through, I am here and will always help with whatever you need.

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