Fascinated by van life, trying to learn more about it

Hey guys, my name is DJ. My ex girlfriend was in love with the idea of van life, it always fascinated me as well but I’ve struggled with how does it really work? How do you survive financially and do you work? If so what kind of work? What are common issues you run into with maintenance on your van? What are common day to day struggles? I’ve researched a lot but I feel like I’m only seeing the good parts and I’m just trying to get a better understanding of it all before just jumping into it. Thank you in advanced

It really depends whether you want to be a traveling van lifer which i think is easier since there are so many campgrounds and rest areas to sleep or if you are talking about just living in your van while staying in one city/town. Also, are you talking about a mini van or RV? In an RV there are far less cons, since an RV acts as a home as that is how it’s designed but they do have their drawbacks.

I can only tell you what cons i have experienced so far living out of my large stealth van.

Cons:
#1. Parking- You have to move around a lot to not be noticed. Unless you have a friend that will let you park your van on their property you are going to feel exhausted at times. This to me is the worst part of stealth van living. You might get the dreaded knock to move your car in parking lots by security. That happened to me and my bf the other night and it was stressful.

  1. No bathrooms! Lack of Access to a bathroom throughout the day and especially at night is one of our biggest problems. I hate going into random gas station bathrooms at night or the 24 hr gym we frequent. I’d advise anyone living out of a van, car, ect to invest in a casette toilet.

  2. Showering- unless you have a gym membership ( I go to 24 hr planet fitness) or a friend who will let you shower at their house, you will have no place to shower. I have long hair and can’t imagine not showering, i would feel so gross. With the planet fitness membership, it makes things so much easier. It’s only 10 dollars a month and its 20 for black card which is great for traveling since there is no gym restriction. Vans with showers will use alot of fresh water unless your hooked up at a campground. So that can get tiring to keep refilling. We are still not sure if we will install one or not.

  3. Not having a refrigerator- Unless you have a place to refrigerate your food, you will be eating out a lot or eating a lot of non-perishable items. It also sucks when you have left overs and you want to save it but have no refrigeration. I try to eat eveything i have. If i have left overs i wait two hours and eat the rest and sometimes I’m so full. I wish i could just refrigerate it and eat it the following day.

  4. No Windows- my van currently has no windows (we are starting from scratch on the build) i hate it. We can’t breathe well, and our van is big. 2022 Ram Promaster 3500 159 Ext. You can’t install a roof vent to draw the heat out without windows. It needs to pull oxygen from somewhere.

  5. Too many windows- can also be a problem for stealth living. We are already dreading how this will affect our stealth factor.

  6. Storage- depending on the van you have. You might be cramped. Any way to install storage helps a lot.

  7. No kitchen- for obvious reasons, no kitchen = no cooking. You could always buy a butane/propane system but then you have to worry about your van overheating and that leads into needing an AC unit or being very conscientious of the weather. You must park in shaded areas, have your windows open to keep cool. Vice versa, too cold depending on the system you use (like induction stove to cook) the lithium batteries you use can freeze/not function below 30 degrees. You have to have a good temperature regulating system depending on what your build is.

  8. You have to have a job or some purpose or goal in life. Many people who travel get online jobs and see the country for experiences. I’m trying to figure out the types of jobs myself currently. If you aren’t keeping busy with any job, or project throughout the day, you will experience loneliness. It’s already draining enough mentally to know where you’re going to park. You can’t add the feeling of hopelessness with no purpose to that. If you’re set with a plan for work, have a goal to save money, all the inconveniences get thrown out the window. Many people work a 9 to 5 job, get off work, hang out with friends until they have to sleep, then they look around for parking. It can work, you just need the mindset for it.

Many people do this lifestyle so they can save and travel, or even to possibly save for a house someday. All of this is up to you.

This is all i can think of for now. Good luck with everything!

Greetings & Welcome!

#VanLife is mostly a fantasy, fueled by the promoters on Youtube & Instagram. In reality most long term nomads are in cheap older motorhomes. Some due to a lack of finances, and some due to intelligent planning.

The intelligent crowd understands that the cheaper the buy in, the sooner the pay off. You won’t find them blowing money on things like solar panels, lifepo4 batteries, 12v compressor fridges, or any of the other things the promoters like to promote. An older, dirt cheap, move in ready factory stock RV is usually the best bang for your bucks in the USA. Many have very low miles and run perfectly. Over the years, I have purchased many for under $2500. I don’t let my ego get in the way of common sense. With a little elbow grease, most old RV’s can look new again in short order, and be worth far more than you paid for it.

Older, pre-computerized vehicles are cheaper to buy, cheaper & easier to repair, require far less maintenance, last longer, get better MPG when tuned properly, and are far more reliable. Electronics fail without warning, while mechanics will usually give you fair warning before actual failure.

Work hard, live cheap, & bank those bucks. The best time to work hard & build your financial future is while you’re young and it’s much easier. Cook your own meals to save money, and stay away from drugs, booze, & weed, since they don’t mix well with being a nomad. Save the enjoyment until you’re financially successful, and can actually afford to enjoy yourself. There’s far less enjoyment when you’re young & broke.

Any job works, living on wheels doesn’t need to include travel. Some jobs require travel, and many work from home jobs can be done while traveling. My best advice is that you spend your spare time while working full time for someone else, building your own business, online or offline, that can grow into a bigger full time income. Many nomads just work for themselves. A handyman, and many other professions are needed everywhere. Money making websites can also be very lucrative, while requiring very little actual work. My websites make more than enough for me to live the good life in any way I choose, while banking big bucks too.

Many nomads work for a season in one area, then get a job in a new area and move there. I worked as a traveling construction worker for 30 years for the same company. We would travel to areas that had been wiped out by floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes etc. to help them rebuild. I got to explore the country while working full time at a good paying job. I started with no experience, and learned as I worked. Within a couple of years, I could handle any job needed on the site. I would live in my camper on or near the site for free.

Never risk more than you can afford to lose. Life is risky, jobs are risky, housing is risky, etc. etc; but if we play our cards right, it can all work to our advantage instead of against us. I rarely pay for parking or camping. I park for free on public streets, and leave no trace when I leave.

Don’t go into debt, if you can’t pay cash, then you do without until you can. You also need an emergency fund, large enough to repair or replace everything and to live on for at least 6 months until you can get back on your feet. For me, that’s $10k, for my own personal fail safe insurance policy. Finally, never wait until you’re in trouble. If your income stops tomorrow, get a new job instantly, any job is better than no job. Income first, foremost, & always. Travel & entertainment later.

I’m in it for the money, the travels, & the adventures. I could probably live cheaper, but I really enjoy the travel & adventure, while having my own comfortable home with me at all times. Today, I can work from anywhere I have internet, without leaving the comfort of my fully self contained home on wheels. No gym memberships or public toilets for me…

Cheers!


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


1 Like
  1. Piss in empty 1 gallon water jugs, then dump it in a funnel attached to the door which runs out under the van, when its raining. Also, crap in garbage bags, then put in an airtight tupperware type container with an open box of baking soda in it, then throw it away when you get rid of trash.

  2. Cut your hair short.

  3. Get a cooler. Ya know, an igloo ice box that you can put ice in that you buy at the grocery store.

  4. Surely you have front driver and passenger windows? Install large rain guards on them rhen crack the windows, and install a vent fan on the roof.

  5. Have very dark tint installed on your windows, like 20%. And then if thats not enough, put black plastic facing out on the window, no one will be able to tell through the tint. Pandafilm/hydrofilm is good because its black on one side and white on the other.

  6. Use a propane/butane stove with a roof vent fan.

  7. Get tv with nintendo switch and solar panels and you will never be bored or lonely.