If you’re seriously considering making such a dramatic change as to start a new life in a van, you are probably doing so because you’ve heard a lot of positive things about van living from others who’ve been doing it for a long time.
And there are of course numerous positives to it. You get the opportunity to experience living in a variety of different places, it doesn’t cost anywhere near as much money as living in a home, and minimalist living just has so many advantages.
It can help to keep your mind clear and removes an awful lot of the stress involved in trying to uphold a normal hectic life in the modern world. But none of that means that van living is easy, especially not for those who are just starting out.
There are quite a few challenges that you really should prepare yourself for ahead of time if you want to effectively transition into van living. Let’s take a look at 7 big ones that you can expect:
1. Minimal space
This is something which comes with living a minimalist lifestyle and though it is unquestionably part of the appeal of van life, it can be a very difficult thing for most people to acclimate to, especially in the early stages.
There are certain essential things that you need, such as a bed or a mattress, and a place to wash and go to the bathroom, and then when you factor in necessary storage like clothes and food, you’re not left with much space.
You will have very little room for any extra stuff you might want with you for entertainment, and when you’re in the van you are pretty much just generally restricted, something you will notice especially when you have to stay in the van at night or during bad weather.
2. Break Downs
Moving from a house to a van seems on the surface like it would eliminate the need for home maintenance, and I guess it does in a lot of ways, but vehicles do break down and at some point it’s basically a guarantee that that will happen to your van.
You can make sure that you regularly get the van serviced to try and prevent it from happening, but sometimes it’s just out of your control. And the trouble is that it will usually require you to get the van towed and repaired, and when that happens you’re effectively homeless for a while.
Of course similar things can happen in a house, if there’s a fire or some other catastrophe, but in that case you’ll usually have someone nearby you can stay with. In a van, you’re on the move and you have to find somewhere to stay while it’s being repaired.
3. Finding Places to Camp
With that in mind, it can also be a big of a challenge to find places to stop and camp. Sometimes you want to stop for a matter of weeks or months and in that case you can usually plan ahead for a genuine camp site, but if you just want to stop for the night it’s a bit tougher.
You have to be careful that you don’t park on private property and you also have to make sure that you are somewhere safe. Parking on the side of a country road just doesn’t work.
Some people who live in vans don’t even opt for installing a kitchen inside the van itself, and instead just go for an outdoor stove or even just stop and use campfires whenever they can. Personally, I think that’s unsustainable.
But at the same time, you can’t exactly have a full sized kitchen. So instead, only go for the essentials. Small sink, small refrigerator and a portable oven and hob which you can just plug in.
You should do some research and discover easy recipes and meals that can last too. It’s also not entirely out of the question to use delivery services. When you’re stopped at a campsite you could get some ready-made meals delivered which will be easy to cook.
5. Keeping Clean
The likelihood is that you’re not going to have a full-sized shower installed in your van. And if you don’t, your only options really are to wash in a lake or just wet a cloth in the sink and wipe yourself down.
Neither are exactly desirable options, but if they work for you then that’s great. If you would rather have a more comfortable and effective option, then you could install a shower head into your rig which you can then stand just outside and wash with.
Doing so will require something like a van propane system installation, which will take some time but will also be good for a gas oven if you want to have one of those too.
How to deal with pests in your camper? If you are eating insects, that’s easy. If you choose to just get rid of them, take the advice on how to cope with them.
You never know what kind of weather you’re going to be hit with while living in a van. I mean, you don’t know what kind of weather you could expect if you live anywhere, but it’s much more difficult to deal with in a van.
First of all, you are stuck inside, and that’s fine at home when you’ve got a lot of space but in a van it can be very stifling. And if it’s very hot or very cold it’s much more difficult to deal with that kind of discomfort in a van.
You can try to prepare for this by making sure you have good air conditioning as well as a heater. Alternatively for when it’s cold, you could just have a lot of blankets on board which would definitely cost less.
7. Constant Movement
Much like what we mentioned earlier in regards to the minimal space, the fact that you are always on the move is a good thing for some people, but not so much for others, and it will take some time to get used to it.
It’s really hard to feel settled, and the fact that you always kind of need to be planning your next destination and organizing yourself and the can for travel is kind of a weight that will always be on your shoulders.
The more you do it, the more relaxed you will be, but it’s important to know that you can expect a lot of stress at the beginning.
All of these are issues which you can hopefully overcome and get used to the longer you spend living in the van. You have to know what you’re getting yourself into though, and make a decision on whether or not you really think it’s for you.
Van living can be an amazing experience, as long as you go into it prepared to face and ultimately overcome some of these challenges.