Hi Everyone! I am currently 35 and own/operate two businesses. My wife and I have decided that we are going to live the van life with our two girls when I turn 40. With that said I am starting the process now of figuring out which vehicle will best suit our needs space/ comfort/ style etc as well as plan our basic path. We currently live in San Diego California and want to travel the entire Americas and potentially Asia and Europe as well. I plan on purchasing my van in the next 6 to 12 months and begin the conversion process soon thereafter. I am currently leaning on a 2006 Sprinter but am open to any suggestions. I will be able to continue working from the road so I will need to have an “office” be part of the build. I guess what I am looking for here is any advice on type of vehicle that will support our lifestyle and well has ideas on conversions. I have watched multiple hours of vanlife videos on YouTube and am ready to start making moves toward this goal. We plan on doing a couple of shorter (multiple week to multiple month) trips to test out our lifestyle before the big adventure at the end of 2024. Any direction or advice, books, YouTube channels to follow etc would be very greatly appreciated!
Greetings & Welcome!
First & foremost, you don’t want a van. You need an RV big enough that you can all be comfortable in. The dinette can be your office, when not being used for other things. Some RV’s have a dressing table in the rear bedroom which could also make a good office space.
You’ll want something with lots of windows and that doesn’t feel cramped inside. You want something that you can all camp out inside for days when foul weather hits, and still be comfortable.
Don’t be fooled by any of the garbage you find online, almost all of them are paid promoters whether it is obvious or not, and most of their advice is pure garbage designed solely to make themselves money.
That is an interesting perspective thank you! One of the reasons why I have been leaning toward a van instead of an RV is the clearance. Like I said we want to travel to all different parts of the globe and from what I have seen and read RVs have a hard time in certain parts of the world that don’t have wide roads like we do in the US. Any thoughts there?
Everywhere in the world I’ve been to, they have big trucks & buses everywhere, including on the goat trails.
Outside North America, you’re actually better off renting a rig, than trying to transport your own. It will be cheaper, and in many places they will have much greater ground clearance than US rigs. They also build them different, and I’ve seen really tiny rigs that were comfortable for 4-6 people. The rigs in different areas are built for those roads and those weather conditions. Some are built to ford rivers & streams because there are no bridges, some are built for goat trails, some are built to not get stuck in the mud, etc.
Renting them locally will also get you around all the import/export red tape and expenses too. Many countries only allow rigs from their own or maybe neighboring countries. Any time I’d get turned away at a border (often), I’d turn in my rental, and take a train or bus across the border, then rent another one.
Don’t forget to get an international drivers license for all drivers too. Local rigs are also much less likely to get hassled by police, or draw unwanted attention. In many many places, being a tourist makes you a target. Only staying in paid campgrounds is highly recommended by all the embassies and authorities for your own safety. The dangers are real, and only getting worse.
Even here in the USA, people on public lands are targeted. Just a couple of days ago, 3 young men were robbed and murdered while fishing in a remote location in Florida. Remote locations might be free, but they’re very unsafe, and it’s only getting worse even here in the USA. The days of carefree camping appear to be gone for good, and we need to take extra precautions to stay safe. There is safety in numbers, so that means large groups or paid campgrounds.
Sure, there will be buses and big trucks on narrow roads. When you finally meet one face to face, it will be the RV that drives backwards up or down the mountain side until wide enough spot on the road is found
Renting isn’t a bad idea at all. There will probably be some limitations, like taking rented vehicle across the border might not be possible everywhere so plan route accordingly. Besides, you can rent several types of vehicles and study their differences in action.
yea, that happened to someone There are height restricted bridges and ferry rides often charge extra for tall vehicles.
I came across this one lately, seems quite accurate.
In general boondocking is safe, here in the north biggest threat are mosquitos when camping and moose/reindeer while driving. However I did read last summer about someone being burned alive in Spain when thieves light up a mattress under his campervan, they wanted to literally smoke him out so they could enter the van and steal whatever. Unfortunately the van burned down like a bonfire, passenger inside. In general travelling is safe there too, that was an exception that was in news all over.