When it comes to living in a van long-term, even if that’s just a longer trip in a campervan rental, embracing a nomadic lifestyle is something you really have to adjust to. You wouldn’t want to run into a situation where by the time your road trip was over, you were just getting used to it. To avoid that, here are some key tips to live the vanlife like a pro, even if you’re just trying it out.
Sometimes we forget how many unnecessary things we typically accumulate and have in life, so when we think about taking our life on the road for a while, it’s easy to accidentally think we need to take more of those things with us than we really do. Vanlife is intrinsically minimalist life, and the simple logistical necessities of living in a tiny space demand that we do with less.
So, when packing, mentally consider whether you REALLY need certain items, especially those that take up space. This is especially true when it comes to clothes. The best way to minimize clothing is to take a normal amount of bottom-layer clothes (underwear, shirts, etc.) which generally take up less space anyway, but less outer-layer items (pants/shorts, jackets, etc.).
It is critically important when living vanlife to utilize organizers and containers. There’s just no room in a van to have random items rolling around, the clutter closes in on you so fast, and you won’t enjoy being in the space anymore. Everything should always be neatly tucked away any time that it’s not being used, and of course there should be a place for it to be tucked into.
Even in the case that there is plenty of storage space, such as our vans which come with closets and/or drawers, you probably still want to have containers within those built-in containers, to keep things really organized. Life is just less hectic when you can easily find things, and more pleasant without clutter, and that’s 10x more relevant in vanlife.
Bring Basic “Handy” Items
Everyone has that drawer in their house, the one with screwdrivers, duct tape, pliers, and similar items. If you’re van tripping longer term, these types of items will come in handy. Of course you could pick them up as-needed on the road, but depending on the situation, it may be inconvenient to do so.
Of course, in a rental campervan everything should be in pretty good shape and you shouldn’t have to repair the van itself, but who knows what items you may have along with you that might break? Or what might need mending at campsites with run-down facilities? In general, it’s better just to have these basic items, at least a small plastic container with the basics.
Create a Daily Routine
It may seem like you shouldn’t need to do this. “Part of the reason I want to do this is to get away from my daily routine,” you might say. Well, the point is not to maintain your normal routine, but to have some kind of routine, because without that, life tends to be chaotic on the road. At the very least, get up at a certain time, and have a morning coffee/breakfast routine.
It’s very important when traveling in a van longer term that you have what you need to feel clean in your van. Sure, you could allow yourself to slide on this, get a little greasy, and to some extent, some amount of dirtiness is inevitable, when your mobile tiny van home is basically an outdoor shelter. However, as we all know, you’ll feel better if you stave off the persistent tide of filth with proper hygiene supplies.
We recommend wet wipes, rags, organic cleaning spray, scrub brush, Dr. Bronners soap, solar shower, towels, and a clothes line to hang items up on. It’s also a good idea to keep these items in a tub, which can double as a container to hand-wash your clothes, if you expect not to always be near laundromats.
Whether you’ll have a dog on board or not, doggie bags are a great way to dispose of small detritus that might otherwise get left sitting around the van. They make it very easy to keep things like feminine products, tissues, snack wrappers, and other random small waste contained until you can toss it into a proper waste basket.