Living in a Van

Thinking of living in a van? If so, explore beyond those fabulous photos of happy campers smiling from the back of their vans. They don’t show the entire story.

Some sides of camping life can be ugly. Fortunately, we’ve outlined a few of those issues below for newcomers like you. When you’re ready to discover some of the more challenging sides of van camping, so you can see the full picture, read on.

Where Should I Park Overnight?

Van campers tend to struggle most with finding bathrooms and places to park for the night. Unfortunately, laws differ from city to city. So, during your next road trip, you’ll need to check in with the local government to ask for specifics.

If you love the idea of camping in rural areas, the Bureau of Land Management is a great resource. They can give you the latest information on overnight parking, trail conditions for hiking, and even the location of freshwater sources.

If you plan to visit national forests, the National Parks Service website is another great source of information for campsite availability. Be forewarned, you’ll typically need to reserve a spot in advance. Plan on making yours at least a few months in advance if you want to guarantee your security.

Daily Chores

When you do your research on how to live in a van, you’ll come across cute pictures of happy travelers smiling from the back of their vans. Those folks zip from coast to coast, country to country, on the seemingly perfect holiday. Unfortunately, those pictures only show part a small part of the reality of van camping.

First, consider Covid-19. Though you might spend most of your time by yourself or your travel companions, you’ll also need to spend time around other folks. And that may be more time than you realize.

That means more exposure and more time wearing masks. Consider your daily chores alone. You’ll need to find a restroom, shower, laundromat, food, and water.

Those are daily chores that you’ll need to keep up with regardless of your exhaustion, hunger, or emotional state. And don’t forget about van maintenance. When your van breaks down, you lose your transportation and your sleeping quarters.

Van Setup

So, should you buy a van, rent a van, or build your own? If you’re serious about your cross-country trip, you’ll need to consider a few important details.

  • How many people?
  • How long is your trip?
  • Urban or rural?

Then, you’ll need to see what’s available on the market. Choose a site like Visit or a similar site to see the differences between weekender vans and apocalypse-survival wagons. The rule of thumb is that the longer you’re away from civilization, the more stuff you’ll need in your van.

So, if you’re a weekender, you might just want a place to sleep. If you’re a die-hard camping guru, you’ll want a shower, fridge, entertainment, food stores, etc.

Other Things to Consider When Living in a Van?

So, are you going to be living in a van next summer? If you’re still on the fence, read blogs from van campers. Focus on the bloggers who detail their entire experience, both the struggles and triumphs.

If you’d like to learn more, pop over and browse our enormous digital library full of articles on all things automotive.