By a Full-Time Van Dweller.
Everything you need to know before you dive in head first and enter the world of vanlife, nomadic van dwelling, living on the road and all the in-betweens.
In this blog, I have shared all the tips and advice I would loved to have known before I decided to take the leap and live in our van full-time, as well as anything I have learnt along the way whilst meandering around the UK, Europe and Asia for the past 16 months, in our tiny home on wheels.
FYI, I still love it and I hope this encourages you to take the leap too!
Have a read of the below so you can enter your journey armed with all the essential knowledge needed to guide you along the way.
1. Enjoying your own company is important.
This life is labelled Nomadic for a reason, you will find yourself alone in nature with your thoughts a lot of the time, which is perfect if you are a person who loves to be alone and self-reflect. If you are a very sociable person who needs to be with your community, and being social reenergizes you, then consider how you will meet this life balance. It can be done, but it may mean staying closer to home, or finding long term travel companions you can vibe with.
If you are travelling as a couple, I think this is still an important thing to consider as you need to find time to be by yourself, and also consider how you work as a team just the two of you.
TIP: Attending summer vanlife festivals can be a great way to meet other people on the road.
2. Being in nature is WAY easier than being in cities.
We have been on the road for over a year now, we have visited a few cities, but in a van, its just not the one. It's usually expensive to park safely and you are usually holed up in a cramped carpark, meaning you are either in the van or out in the city, it's just not suitable for long periods of time in my opinion. This lifestyle really thrives amongst nature, where you can treat the outdoors as your garden and relax with your doors open and embrace the beauty of your surroundings from your tiny home on wheels.
3. Find the community and ask questions, its full of lovely, helpful people.
You aren't alone! It took me a while to figure this out, but there is a whole vanlife community out there who are ready to say Hey and give you any advice on things you aren't sure about. I found the easiest way to connect with people was via Instagram. Don't be afraid to send someone a DM, it could lead to a life long friendship! We have ended up road tripping with people we initially chatted with online and made life-long memories adventuring with them.
Also, when you are finally on the road, just go say hi if you see someone else in a van parked up. You can guarantee you will have at least two things in common, van-dwelling and travel! So far I have had ZERO negative interactions by doing this!
If you haven't already, come say Hi to us in my DM's @chloeaillud
4. Figure out if you can sustain the lifestyle long-term financially, you probably won’t want to give it up.
This one will likely require quite a bit more thought if you haven't pondered on it yet and don't already work remote. Whatever you do though, don't let this put you off diving into the lifestyle, in this day and age there are SO many ways to earn money from the road or to work seasonally.
Get in touch if you want some more recommendations on where to find information on remote working, I will be happy to point you in the right direction.
5. Don’t over plan, leave space for change along the way.
I waaaaay over planned our first 3 months on the road, trying to see EVERYthing and go EVERYwhere. Urghh, we were exhausted after! Now we tend to have a rough idea where we are going and for how long, but don't plan further than that and let the journey carry us along. We also let the weather lead us sometimes, we prefer the warmer climate so we have completely changed our route based on the sun in the past!
6. You will care a lot less about how often you shower than you think.
This one makes me laugh, I genuinely thought I would want to shower at least every other day before we moved into the van. I confess, I definitely do not shower that often. Even though we have a beautiful self-contained bathroom in our van that I wouldn't live without, we only shower about 2/3 times a week. We also shower outside if its warm enough and there are showers on the beach.
FYI - you will promptly discover that the topic of how often you shower and what toilet you have is standard intro conversation amongst Van Lifers. I am yet to meet anyone that showers more than 2/3 times a week, so you wont be alone!
If you want to read about our bathroom, click here.
7. The best times are had on the journey, try not to focus on the destination.
Did you know, that apparently the most enjoyable part of a holiday is actually just before you leave to go? It's because the anticipation is so much more exciting in your mind than the reality. So, as this is a lifestyle, you CANNOT spend your time looking forward to that end destination you are aiming to get to. It will be a disappointment. The beauty of this lifestyle really is in the journey. Focus on that rather than reaching a particular place. You may never get to that final destination, and that is completely fine!
8. It can be exhausting, don’t feel bad for getting burnt out from too much adventuring.
This links a little to the previous, slow is better. If you are constantly on some sort of sight-seeing, explorative trip, not only will you eventually feel burnt out, but you might start to struggle to recognise the extraordinary in these places or activities, which is not what you want! Take it steady and go at your own pace, and don't feel bad if you need a day tucked up in your van with Tea and a Netflix series. That's 100% normal.
9. Find what works for you, don’t worry how everyone else is doing it.
This is SO important, and if needed please ignore all my previous advice and do what works for you! Everyone will be living life on the road differently, we are all different people with unique needs, so there is not a one size fits all. It will take some time to find your rhythm, but listen to your mind and body and go with what feels good.
10. Just go for it! You never regret an adventure.
If you made it this far and excitement is running through you, your mind is racing thinking of how perfect this life could be for you and you cant wait to wake up with the sea swishing outside your door, the mountains framing the morning sun through your window, then you HAVE to go for it. Nobody ever regrets an adventure. Go for it! We cannot wait to see you on the road.
Bonus Tip for couples.
Make sure you really like each other, like REALLY. You will be living in a small space, a lot of the time just the two of you, so you have to be a team and be able to communicate openly. It's essential for this lifestyle that you are 100% comfortable being isolated together and can embrace that.
Connect with us over on Instagram for more VanLife musings and snaps of our travels. @chloeaillud