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Van Life Essentials: Newbie’s How-To Guide To Explore and Living Wild

van life essentials

Traveling the world in a van might seem fascinating if you’re adventurous and independent. You’ll get to see places like national parks and little-known destinations if you don’t need hotels everywhere you go. Start enjoying more freedom and exploration by embracing van life.

You’ll learn how to prep your vehicle and live the nomadic lifestyle that calls to you.

Van Life Essentials 101

van life essential guide

1. Discover Your Motivation

Consider what you want to experience from van life. Do you want to meet new people by moving often or spend more time alone with nature? Your motivation will guide your experience and which destinations you choose.

Try journaling to determine why van life is important to you during the weeks or months you spend preparing for this next chapter of your life.

2. Determine Your Preferred Locations

Someone wanting more time on the coast might visit South Beach Campground in Olympic National Park, where campsites allow vans up to 21 feet long to spend the night on coastal cliffs. Others could choose mountain getaways or rainy forests, depending on their scenic preferences and how close they want to be to cities.

Your preferred destinations will have parking locations with specific requirements, so it’s crucial to decide where you’ll go before investing in a van.

Research your destinations to determine the resources available and what kind of van life essentials you’ll need to enjoy your stay.

3. Create Your Budget

Thriving in a nomadic lifestyle might feel effortless, but you’ll need to pay an upfront investment to get your van. Think about how much money you have in savings and how much you can put away. The average liveable van costs $20,000-$40,000 before modifications begin.

Afterward, you may need to pay even more for essentials like all-terrain tires, a suspension upgrade or interior water storage.

4. Get Specific With Van Features

van life essentials

Once you’ve got a van in mind, consider what it needs to remain safe, comfortable and functional. You might need to upgrade its horsepower or opt for a vehicle with four-wheel drive if you’ll camp off-road. Other features, like a Wi-Fi router or an internal bathroom, could draw you toward specific options that cost less than adding the features yourself.

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5. Consider Your Home

Your new home will be on the road, but you’ll likely still have a living space you leave behind. Will live out of your van life essentials for most of the year or just take short trips? Many van life enthusiasts sell their homes to live full time in their vehicles. If you’re open to forming roots elsewhere, you can always purchase a new house wherever you fall in love with a community or region.

It’s also worth noting that some destinations limit how long people can park their vans. The places you might want to see could be on land that limits van stays to 14 days maximum, whereas other places might let you remain for much longer. You can try van life parking apps like AllTrails, Gaia GPS, AllStays , and The Dyrt

You’ll need to research how long you can stay at your desired destinations before determining if you should sell your home.

6. Figure Out Your Income Stream

You’ll need money to pay for food and water during your adventures, as well as gas, van maintenance and parking fees. Do you have enough savings to live off of during your trip or a retirement account to fund your adventure? If not, you should look into short-term jobs at your upcoming destinations or remote work to support your nomadic lifestyle.

7. List Your Essentials

van life essentials

Every van needs essentials before you pack extra clothing and decor. You’ll need space for a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, an external battery and cables to jump your van if your battery dies.

You’ll also need a power source for your electronics and cooking equipment. Relying on your van’s battery alone will quickly drain it. There are three types of power banks to choose from: solar-powered, hand cranks and battery-powered.

While a solar-powered generator might be a more significant upfront investment, you might prefer it after calculating the long-term cost of replacing batteries.

8. Decorate Your Van

Half the joy of traveling in a van is decorating it to match your personality. After loading your van life essentials, use the leftover room to place lights, install a mattress, add a mini fridge and hang pictures. You could even attach things to the top of your van to double your fun on the road, like a bike rack or storage unit.

Don’t forget to add stickers or magnets to your vehicle so your personality shines on the outside, too.

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9. Find Your New Communities

Traveling in a decked-out van is fun until you feel lonely. Even if you have a partner driving around with you, you should find van life communities to make friends. You may have success with online groups and local festivals where you park overnight.

You’ll learn valuable tips and form meaningful relationships that improve your life. So, keep learning from various resources from OutdoorHacker official website.

Other van life travelers could also point out places to stay or explore that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Sharing your experiences is like unearthing gems that could lead to greater treasures as you map your next destination.

10. Solve Your Pet’s Needs

If you have a pet, will it come on the road? Will it stay with someone while you’re traveling? You’ll have to consider whether your pet will feel comfortable always on the move or if it prefers a home with a daily routine.

Rehoming might be a necessary option to start your van life. It’s painful to consider, but it could be best for your furry friend. A giant pet like a Bernese mountain dog might not live comfortably in a van.

Take your time deciding what’s best for your pet. You can always take them on a short weekend trip before starting a big journey to see how they do.

Start Your Van Life Adventure

Starting the next phase of your life becomes much easier once you know what to expect. Think about where you’ll go, what sized van you’ll need and how you’ll maintain your lifestyle.

As the minor details come together, you’ll feel more confident that van life is a great fit for you.

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