With the #VanLife movement on the rise in the US and globally over the last few years, it has only become even more popular in recent times. This is partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and as work arrangements becomes more flexible. According to a new survey, 52% of Americans were more likely to consider living full-time or part-time in RVs or campervans last year.
An increasing number of van lifers are millennials who have chosen to embrace the lifestyle and document their adventures with the hashtag #vanlife, which has over 8+ million posts on Instagram (represented by a 312% increase from 2017).
In this article, we share personal experiences and insights from van-lifers who live and breathe this now-popular lifestyle. Is it right for you though? When you read about the stories, see the pictures, and learn the tips, only then can you decide.
Be Mindful of Safety
Safety is one of the most important things to consider when setting off on the road, particularly if you’re going on your own. Putting various safety measures in place will be essential during your trip, from locking your valuables away to carrying animal repellent. Often, people will find that having a furry companion will provide additional safety. So, if you have a dog, consider traveling with them for comfort and security.
Aimee Chambers has been a frequent traveller her entire life but then decided to set off full-time, by herself, as a solo traveller. Aimee said goodbye to her friends and drove solo in her van, which she called ‘Melvin’ and she renovated into her new home. Her plan is to buy a bigger van with a high roof and get a dog to complete her ‘van life’ experience. Aimee has several safety precautions in place to ensure she feels safe on her travels.
As she explains, there are several key tips including:
I regularly check my van when on the road: tyres, oil, coolant, gauges, stop at a petrol station if it’s a remote area and I ask for help if needed.
Always park with a clear escape route.
I also have a full service before taking off on an extended trip and always take a look around the van before driving.
I keep a phone charger topped up and a map (on paper) just in case I can’t rely on my phone or there is no signal. I prefer to use paper maps so I can visualize where I’m heading and roughly how long the trip will take.
Aimee also revealed how she draws her trips on a map, so she can look back and see how far she’s traveled, which acts as a kind of compass.
Being fully equipped is something you really need to consider before setting off on the road, and everything you will need to gather before you leave. It is likely you will need to spend a great deal of your budget before you go buying your campervan accessories and equipment needed for your trip.
The basics cover everything from food, water supplies, and cooking utensils, down to privacy blinds, extra layers (such as blankets), and tools like a reliable torch.
Choose Your Travel Companion Wisely
If you are not planning to go on your own, make sure you decide who you’re going with wisely. Ask yourself, have you traveled or lived with them before?
There is no way around it – you’re going to be in a small, confined space with them, 24/7. So understanding your companion is vital to cohabitating with them.
Do they have any habits you can’t stand?
This can easily drive a wedge between your friendship and ruin your trip.
Be Sure You Can Drive Your Van
It may seem obvious, but a wider vehicle can be a lot more challenging to drive if you’re used to a standard car or truck and the last thing you want is to crash, or damage, it on your travels. Familiarise yourself with its dimensions and check ahead to make sure the roads and route can support your vehicles’ width and height. It’s critical that you travel with the correct insurance. This is something to budget for too, and this will be essential to have in place before setting off on your trip.
The article was written by Jason Sims, Marketing Executive at Just Kampers and Just Kampers Insurance. Jason is a fully-fledged VW enthusiast, with over 20 years’ experience in keeping Volkswagens old and new on the road. Currently owns a 69 Cal Look Beetle, and enjoys attending VW shows and Camping with friends and family.