One of the coolest, most popular, and creative lifestyles around is Van Life. The concept is simple: a person decides to stop paying their mortgage, leaves their job, and lives in a van! Nowadays, this lifestyle isn’t just for hippies; it’s simply an ingenious way to save thousands of dollars on rent, as well as on fuel and other necessities.
This article is meant to provide you with some ideas about how you can live in your van without it feeling like a cramped college dorm room.
Van Life: Why is it appealing?
Many people still prefer the idea of living in a van. There are several reasons why van life is appealing to some people. Some of the main reasons include:
Privacy is an important thing to consider when living in a campervan. The van offers a reasonable degree of privacy, so you won’t feel exposed while living out your life on the road.
Living in a van means that you get to live out your life in an efficient manner. You will have all of the space you need to be comfortable with while also taking advantage of every bit of available space.
You can move as frequently as you want. You will never be at a loss for where to go next or how to get there. Since you won’t have a fixed location, you’ll always be able to adapt to the situation and move in whatever way makes sense for you at that time.
Living in a van means that you get to live out your life at a low cost. You won’t have to charge your van in exchange for living in it. Utilize the space you have while saving money at the same time.
When you live in a van, you won’t have to worry about basic things like water and electricity. These things do not require your attention if you live in your van. That means that you will never need to worry about cutting off utilities while still being able to live comfortably inside your van.
If you like traveling and taking advantage of the situation wherever you go, then van life is a good option for you. Your movement won’t be restricted. You will be able to go where you want without feeling leashed down by any one place.
If you find these reasons appealing, it’s worth considering living in your van as an option for your lifestyle.
How to Live in Your Van
As you’d expect, the first step to living in your van is deciding it’s something you want to do. And if it’s a lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of, maybe you should get started planning today. The key is knowing what kind of van you want before buying one.
You can choose from dozens of van types, but many of them are too expensive for your lifestyle. In case you’re short on money and space, don’t get a large luxury model. Instead, get something that’s affordable, comfortable, and practical. Conversion vans, for example, make great choices. They have the room and comfort you’re looking for, but they also come at a price that’s lower than what you’d pay for a regular van of the same size.
As for your van’s interior layout, think about your lifestyle as a whole and what’s fun to do. Then choose a design that fits your needs as well as possible without running out of space on long road trips.
Van Life Ideas #1: Make privacy a priority
Living in your van will mean you’ll need a place where you can go to relax and get away from the world. Make your van’s interior as private as possible.
Get privacy curtains or shades for windows, shelving for storing books and DVDs, and a bed that can be moved into a closet when not in use. By blocking out the outside world, you’ll be able to concentrate on things within.
Van Life Ideas #2: Get the right bedding
Yes, you can indeed sleep in a campervan on the seats. However, sleeping there is uncomfortable and not ideal for long-term use.
Buy a mattress and box spring or foam mattress, such as those used in RVs. If you have enough space in your van already, add a closet where you can store your bed when not using it. You’ll also need bedding to go with the mattress.
Van Life Ideas #3: Add storage options
A big part of van life is travel. You’ll want to carry with you everything you need – and not have to go back for anything. So, your van should have some storage space.
Get a small fridge and electric kettle that you can run off a 12-volt outlet. If you’re going to be camping in your van, this will come in handy for keeping food fresh. If not, it’s still good to keep drinks cold and drinks hot.
You can also get a small drawer to store essential items, such as photography equipment, laptop, smartphone, maps, and clothing. If you have space in your van, you can get a laundry hamper for dirty clothes instead of packing them in plastic bags or boxes.
Van Life Ideas #4: Add some seating
If living in your van means you’ll be spending a lot of time indoors, you’ll need somewhere to sit down. You can either get a foldout couch, like the ones used for camping or RV use, that will take up a small part of your space. Or you can get chairs and stools.
If you’re not comfortable getting new furniture for the van, make sure to pick up some new curtains and shades, as well as curtains for the windows. These can be used to give privacy to your space while still letting in some light.
Van Life Ideas #5: Opt for an under-bed storage system
A bed is only necessary if you’re going to sleep on the seats. Otherwise, live out of the van without one. However, if you do want a bed, make sure to get something that will fit under the bench seat, or else you’ll have two empty seats.
One of the best campervan bed systems is called Slumberjack. It weighs only 15 pounds and is very easy to install. You’ll need to have space for an under-bed storage system, but it’s worth it. The bed will fold up and out of the way when not in use, so you can still use the bench seats for seating or storage space.
Van Life Ideas #6: Make use of every piece of furniture
After you’ve got everything in your campervan, there may be space left over. However, you can still make use of that space.
Get some storage cubes to fill empty parts of the van. These will be perfect for storing snacks and other items. If you get a small fridge, a few large storage cubes will help store your food and drinks in. You can also store any bedding in the cubes when not using it.
Van Life Ideas #7: Get new curtains and shades
Even if you’re leaving your windows uncovered, it’s a good idea to get some curtains for privacy. You can either get a full-length blackout curtain or get thick curtains to block out light. Either way, you’ll be able to sleep without being bothered by sunlight or street lights at night. Even if it’s the only way you can sleep at night, it’s worth it.
Just make sure to get curtains that are rated to be blackout quality. You don’t want people from the outside looking in or coming inside while you’re driving. Also, make sure to get longer curtains to cover all of your windows and your door windows if possible. That will give you privacy and keep the inside of your campervan dark as well.
Van Life Ideas #8: Get some storage compartments for your clothes
If a dresser doesn’t fit in your van, you’re out of luck if you need to store your clothes. However, this is where storage cubes come in handy. Getting a few of these will help you store most of your clothes and keep them organized. Just be sure to label the cubes, so you know which items go in which cubes. That will make it easier to find things when you need them.
Van Life Ideas #9: Get a good vacuum for your van
If you’re going to live in your campervan for an extended period, its inside will get dirty. You might be cooking a lot or washing clothes, so the inside of your van can get dirty quickly. Therefore, it’s wise to have a good vacuum on hand. To help keep things clean, this is one item you should purchase as soon as possible and keep at all times while living in your van.
Van Life Ideas #10: Use a small portable heater to be more comfortable inside your van
While everything you do will seem more positive after camping, some things are unavoidable. That includes being cold and living in a small space. If you want to be cold, try living inside your van all the time in winter. You can, however, make your experience more vivacious and comfortable. One way to do this is with a small portable heater. That might not be easy as you have to concentrate the heat on specific areas of space. An excellent example of such a device is a remote propane heater.
Portable propane heaters are convenient and cost-effective when looking for portable heating solutions. That’s because they are lightweight and can be easily moved from place to place. On top of this, they also serve as great portable space heaters while camping, which makes them versatile.
To use a propane heater, prepare the unit by priming it with a small amount of water filled in the tank. Then connect to an outdoor 110-volt power source and turn it on. That’s it; your heater is ready to use. To switch between different heat settings, rotate the power switch.
That’s all you need for heating your van with a propane heater, but there are some other uses for these units as well. You can use them in your campervan to warm it up in cold weather. Or, if you need to heat something, lock the propane tank back on and start a small fire.
Van Life Ideas #11: Install a small stove
Purchasing an electric stove for your van is more manageable than installing a full-size stove. You will mainly use these stoves for small things, such as heating food, so they aren’t that practical.
Most of the portable stoves on the market are electric stoves and use DC power. These units are compact, lightweight, and easy to install. You can use them to heat meals or warm up the outdoors on a cold day. In addition, they are cheaper and easier to install than propane or regular stoves, so they are popular among people living in the van.
To install an electric stove, first find a flat surface to place the stove. Then stick the stove’s suction cups on the mounting plate and turn it towards the wall. It will ensure that the unit is secured and won’t move around when you use it. Now you can have a hot meal at your favorite campsite or a warm coffee on a cold day.
Van Life Ideas #12: Get the proper lighting
Make sure you’re not stranded in the dark when you’re camping inside your van. You need to have enough light to ensure that nothing ends up being dangerous for you and your campervan. Thus, it’s vital to have the appropriate lighting for your van.
If you’re going to camp in your van, it’s best to go with a crank-powered solar lantern. That will charge during the daytime and provide light at night. If you’re planning on staying in one spot for a while, this type of lantern is excellent.
However, if you’re moving every couple of days, opt for LED lights instead. They use less energy and will last much longer than solar equivalents. Either way, you should invest in some lights you can mount somewhere inside your van; otherwise, you may experience a power failure or the lights flickering while in motion.
Van Life Ideas #13: Get a camping tent with a built-in bedding
If you’re going to camp inside your van or spend all of your nights in it, then you must have a camping tent. Get something lightweight and easy to set up. It’s not fun trying to set up a big tent inside a small van. That’s why you need something suitable for camping in a limited space.
One of the best camping tents is the Coleman Sundome Tent. It weighs 11 pounds so that it won’t take much space in your van. It also comes with a removable floor tray that you can use for hygiene purposes or provide extra storage space. The tent also has an easy-to-setup design that takes only 10 minutes to set up on average.
Van Life Ideas #14: Getting the right locks
There is no way to predict the feelings that you may have while living in your van. That’s why it’s essential to get a lock that fits the occasion. A lock is vital for many reasons.
- Firstly, getting your van locked up will keep unwanted people away while also keeping your privacy safe and secure. In addition, it will prevent burglaries from happening in your van as well as the items inside of it.
- Secondly, some locks are better than others when it comes to convenience. Make sure to get locks that will be convenient for you, as well as your host.
- Thirdly, there’s always the option of getting a keyless lock. These locks can be opened or closed from afar with a wireless device such as your smartphone or fob. It makes going into and exiting your van much easier and more convenient in most cases.
To summarize, you need to choose a lock that suits your needs. You can choose from many different types of locks, depending on your situation.
Van Life Ideas #15: Add a swing
If you’re looking for some outdoor fun and entertainment while camping, then a swing is the best way to go. You can use it outdoors, and it will have you swinging away for hours without getting bored. The setup is also a lot simpler than it looks, yet it’s still a fun way to get outside your van.
The main reason why this is such a fun choice is that it doesn’t need to be too complicated at all. You can easily set it up high on a tree branch, or you can hang it from the ceiling of your van. The point is that you’ll have fun doing it as long as you find a way to get outdoors and be active for a while.
Van Life Ideas #16: Hanging stuff on walls
There’s never enough room inside of vehicles when living in them. That’s why getting some wall racks to put things on is crucial for staying organized and keeping your space looking tidy. However, there are different ways to do this.
If you want to go the practical route, get a pegboard and a selection of hooks. Please put all of your stuff on it once it’s hung. That will keep your van tidy and organized. This way, you can quickly retrieve your belongings when needed.
Other than that, you can also get some shelves that are specifically made for vehicles, such as ROLA Mesh Wire Shelves or portable compartments like the Salsa Boxes.
These are just a few creative ways that van life enthusiasts maximize every bit of space in their vans.