Just another newbie:)

Hello, my name is Lindsay. I’m a 26y/o travel nurse looking to join the vanlife. I will be traveling solo (besides the company of my dog Rylee) and am hoping to get some advice on the best vans for full-time living with a pet and safety tips for female solo vanlifers. On that note, I am looking for a van that can take me all over on backroads and also has enough room to fit a snowboard, surfboard, mountain bike, road bike, and dirt bike (I know it’s a lot and may not be possible lol). So if you have some helpful tips shout out to me! It’s really nice to meet you all and I look forward to being apart of the community!

Welcome to the forum Lindsay. You might be able to fit most of that in or on a van, but wouldn’t leave much room for you to live in. You might think about a trailer to haul the two bikes and motorcycle, surfboard on top of the van or trailer. I carry a dual sport motorcycle or two bikes on a hitch rack on the back of my van on occasion, but it limits my access to the back doors. As far as safety on the road, it’s been discussed here several times - use the search feature to see what’s been said.

Greetings & Welcome!

If we’re talking bicycles, a front rack might work well, and the boards could go on the roof. For motorcycles, a trailer would probably be a wise choice.

What about Rylee? Their comfort & safety need to be taken into consideration. Climate control, both heating & cooling, and pet proof, are going to be needed.


"Old school, cheap, simple, reliable, and easily replaceable for the win!" ~ Traveler@Heart

Hello! Thank you so much for replying! I was thinking a hitch hauler for the dirt bike and maybe putting the bicycles in the “gay rage” of the van? Do you have any recommendations on types of vans? As for Miss Rylee, she is a collie mix who weighs about 45lbs. She is 11y/o and he safety and comfortability is very important to me. I was will definitely need good heating and cooling. Any suggestions on that? I am a little worried because being a nurse I do work 12 hour shifts and don’t want her to be cooped up the whole time. I thought about using my breaks at work to walk her and let her go to the bathroom but sometimes we get really busy and I don’t get breaks (especially lately). This is a big concern for me.

Oops I meant “Garage”

Hi Axel! Thanks for getting back to me. It sounds like a trailer or hitch are going to be my two most reasonable options. Because I don’t want to limit my living space too much because of Rylee and the fact that I will be living in my van full time. Thank you for giving my the resource for safety tips!


hehe “gay rage” definitely got me…

A diesel “parking heater” would probably be the most pet friendly. DIY indirect style swamp coolers which use a small radiator for the heat exchanger, have done well for me for many years, and require very little battery power.

Storing bikes in the garage will likely require a high top van. I’m not very impressed by any of the new euro style vans, so I’ll leave recomendation to others…


"Old school, cheap, simple, reliable, and easily replaceable for the win!" ~ Traveler@Heart

Thank you for your feedback! Once I decide on a van or vehicle I will look into one of those heaters and what it would take to take it with me on the road. As for vans, I’ve read some of your replies to other new vanlifers and see that you recommend older vehicles or starting off with a camper or RV. Can you elaborate on why that typically tends to be a better choice for us who are newer to the vanlife? I’m willing to consider whatever gets me on the road and is budget friendly. On that note where are some good places to look for deals on van-lifestyle vehicles?


For one, older fully depreciated vehicles hold their value, and may even appreciate in value. Then I like pre computerized rigs because there’s so much less to go wrong with them.

Motorhomes are nice, older ones can be found cheap, yet with low miles and in near new condition. Many people have only used them for a weekend or two per year since brand new. They’re move in ready, and much closer to living in a normal house than most of the DIY conversions.

In the past, I’ve bought many really nice motorhomes for under $2500. Today, prices are up, but I just got back from a quick trip to Seattle to help out a friend, and we got her a really nice 1998 20’ Class C motorhome with 15k original miles on it for $5000. Many people spend more than that for a beat up, high mileage, empty van. We had to drive over 100 miles to look at it and ultimately buy it, but not being in a larger town was part of the reason why it was so cheap. It also smelled damp & musty inside, but I couldn’t find any evidence of any leaks, and it had been parked indoors it’s whole life when not in use. 2 hours of blasting heat to dry everything out, followed by 2 hours with an ozone generator and it smelled and felt brand new again. The only other thing I could find wrong with it was the house batteries were dead, but it had $2k worth of new tires & new starting battery. Other than that, it ran and drove like brand new. We stopped at a wrecking yard and purchased two nearly new deep cycle house batteries for it for a total of $40, so for a total of $5040 she had a lovely move in ready new house to prevent her from becoming homeless.

We then proceeded to get her a $2500/mo job that included parking and full hookups, as live in security for a large construction yard. Basically call the cops if you see somebody breaking in. She had lost her waitress job due to the pandemic, and was living off savings, when her landlord/neighbor in her duplex decided he needed to move his elderly mother into her half of the duplex.

While traveling, I’ve never had a problem finding free parking, even for really big rigs… I like to start saving money with the initial purchase.


"Old school, cheap, simple, reliable, and easily replaceable for the win!" ~ Traveler@Heart

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