Van life. You’ve heard the term, and odds are you’ve passed a van or two on the road. But it’s hard to truly appreciate everything that van life is about until you experience it for yourself.
When I first got my Sprinter van with my husband, we bought it as a completely empty shell from a friend who was using it for her flower delivery business. The upside was we got a great deal on it! The downside: it required A LOT of time and work building it out.
Some people cringe at the thought of fully building out an empty van while others would like nothing more. But I’ll save the list of pros and cons for buying built-out vs. DIY’ing your own Sprinter van (or school bus or ambulance or RV) for a separate article (please tell us in the comments if you’d like more van life-related content!).
Whether you already have a van, really really want to get one, or simply want to learn more about this trending lifestyle, read on for a few of my best tips for van lifing like a pro (from someone who’s been doing it for several years).
Follow These 3 Tips to Van Life Like a Pro:
- Budget Ahead of Time
Know what you can and want to spend each day for the entirety of your trip. Whether you’re doing a quick one week road trip or planning on an extended few months on the road, there are aspects of van life that may cost more than you’d think, so plan accordingly.
Know that while the beauty of van lifing is finding amazing places off the beaten path to park for the evening, there will also be times where you’ll need to pay to park in a campground or even splurge for a few nights in an AirBnB to take a shower and use a real toilet (when it comes to van lifing, it’s the little things!!).
You might get tired of preparing all your meals in the van, but the cost of groceries is far less than even a few meals bought from a restaurant, so be realistic about how much you’ll want to cook vs pay for takeout and budget accordingly. And just as you would for your daily driver, expect additional costs beyond gas and insurance for things like AAA or chance repairs etc.
You’d rather be pleasantly surprised with money left over than taken by surprise with an unexpected repair bill.
- Use the (Right) Apps!
As #vanlifing becomes more mainstream and popular, the apps are streaming in (cheesy pun intended). Now there are many apps out there that help you find great places to park and explore based on your location.
Just know that some apps are (way) better than others and since van life is still relatively new in the mainstream sense, a lot of these apps are still building their database (perk – you get to be a part of that!).
A few van life apps I’ve used and recommend:
- The Dyrt https://thedyrt.com/
- iOverlander http://ioverlander.com/
- Waze https://www.waze.com/
- Don’t Sacrifice Your Exercise Routine
Being on the road can certainly pose a unique challenge to your typical exercise routine, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it up! In fact, I challenge you not to. 🙂
Long hours driving can equate to low energy levels and stiff bodies, so it’s important to counterbalance that with physical movement.
Love your yoga practice? Take it outdoors, and take your favorite classes online (shameless plug – YA Classes by YogiApproved www.yogiapproved.com/classes/ is Flex-N-Fly’s favorite online yoga app!) anywhere you go.
If you’re van lifing in weather conditions that aren’t suitable for outdoor yoga-ing, have no fear! You can still practice basic poses and stretches inside the van. Yep, you heard me right! There are a variety of poses you can even do in bed, as Youmie shows you here https://youtu.be/20ahW_svFZ0 in her yoga poses for tight hips YouTube video.
Love working out with weights to keep your body strong and toned? I bring two 10-pound free weights and a resistance band (plus my Flex-N-Fly travel yoga mat https://flexnfly.com/product/blue-rise/ of course) with me any time I hit the road, and you can do a lot with these even within the confines of your van!
A Final Tip for Van Life
Release your plans. Van life is all about spontaneity and adventure, and you’ll be amazed at the hidden gems and unexpected adventures that find you when you do.
One of my favorite highlights from my last van trip was the spur-of-the-moment decision my husband and I made to follow a single dusty sign off the highway to what ended up being the most well-preserved and unbelievable ghost town either of us had ever seen (for anyone who’s interested, it’s called Bodie https://www.bodie.com/ in Northern California near the Nevada border).
Van life is an incredibly fun way to travel. It can be as challenging as it can be rewarding, and you never know what you’ll find around the next turn. Be safe – always keep an eye on your gas gauge and surroundings – have a plan but be willing to deviate from it, keep an open mind, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
Safe travels, friends!
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