Did you ever dream of becoming a van dweller in the future? Or are you ready to start your journey as one? If so, this is the guide for you.

As interesting as van life sounds, it can be challenging if you need help handling it. The key is understanding the basics and the best ways to spend your days in a van.

So, here’s your ultimate guide to becoming a full-time van dweller. Let’s get started!

How Does Van Life Work?

From the get-go, you might already know that van life means using a van or a vehicle as a tiny mobile home. Most people describe it as a simple but adventurous way to live.

While some van dwellers portray it as a carefree lifestyle, the reality can be less glamorous than it seems. Those who participate in van life tend to focus on minimalism and harmony with themselves and their surroundings.

But generally, it’s about spending your life moving around, quite literally, in a van. In a way, it gives you the flexibility and range that living in a typical home doesn’t offer. So, you have more control over how you live.

Reasons To Live in a Van

Some people recommend van dwelling if you want to feel freer with how you spend your time each day. Besides this, there are a few more reasons you might find it interesting.

Here are some of the perks you can get when you live the van life:

Travel Flexibility

One of the leading reasons people begin van life and stick with it is because they become more flexible to travel. While it doesn’t mean you can go anywhere, you have fewer constraints holding you down when you do go somewhere.

After all, this lifestyle means you live and travel in a van. So, you get to decide where to go, when, and whether you want to stay or move to the next city.

Lower Living Costs

Your total cost of living lowers a lot when you switch to van life since you don’t have to worry about mortgage and other housing expenses. And so, you can save up more or put more money towards retirement, debt, and hobbies.

Note that it doesn’t mean you earn more. The amount you save still varies on the amount you make each month, but you do pay less to live in the van.

Appreciating Simplicity

Van dwelling means you work with limited space for activities in your mobile home. As a result, you learn to live simpler and appreciate where you are as it is. In most cases, you might have fewer urges to spend impulsively.

Embracing the Outdoors

As a van dweller, you spend most of your time outdoors. Along the way, you learn to embrace it and the feeling of uncertainty ahead. With this, you get more time to self-reflect and work on personal growth.

Meeting New People

Living in a van means you travel more often than you intend to. So, you meet lots of new people and communities during your journey. It’s a great way to experience community with either people who are just like you or the opposite.

Focus on Hobbies

Without most forms of entertainment, you have more time to focus on your hobbies when you live in a van. It also makes it easier to participate in them, especially when the hobby requires you to move often.

If you don’t have one yet, consider several outdoor hobbies or stick to unique indoor activities that you can improve by being outside.

Common Van Life Challenges

Being a van dweller has its pros, but it also comes with a few challenges that affect your quality of living. So, you want to be sure you prepare for them to avoid finding yourself in a pinch.

The typical challenges you might come across include the following:

Safety Risks

Van dwelling means living outside, quite literally. So, you must deal with everything it offers, from temperature changes to bugs and other wild animals.

You may find some of the situations you encounter unfamiliar or uncomfortable. In this case, keep an open mind and stay flexible to ensure you’re still on the right track.

Requires a Backup Plan

It’s simple, but it requires a lot of work. You should always have a proper strategy to ensure you get the most from your resources. Otherwise, have a backup plan, whether for a job or to gather more van living essentials.

Limited Space

You must remember you have limited space to work living in a van. So, you want to prioritize keeping only van essential items. You will likely have to clean up the van to ensure health and prevent running out of room due to clutter.

Unreliable Cell Service

You can expect the cell service in some locations to be weaker than if you stayed in the city. As much as possible, you want to avoid relying on cell service and Wi-Fi to entertain yourself in the van.

You’re already outdoors, so you might as well put the time and effort into an outdoor sport or hobby!

How to Prepare for Van Life

Preparing for van life doesn’t take long since you should reduce your belongings to start. Moreover, it doesn’t take too long to set up van gear, meaning you might take longer to decide what to do with what you have.

Note that you might find yourself making big decisions. So, it’s best to be sure about switching to van life before doing it.

You can refer to the following to begin your preparations:

Pack the Essentials

First, you want to pack all van essential items, from portable appliances to convenient or daily stuff. While you do this, remember you’re working with limited space, so it’s good to have a list of priorities and things to bring.

Organize Your Belongings

Once you sort out the vital items, you can organize the rest of your belongings. Here, you usually decide what personal things you can take, store somewhere else, or sell off.

If you own lots of valuable items, like collections and whatnot, don’t hesitate to take your time to figure out how you want to deal with them.

Deal With Your Assets

You should do the same with your assets, like the property and cars, if any. It affects your net worth, so carefully consider how you want to deal with them.

Note that you don’t have to eliminate them from your possession to become a van dweller. If you own a property, you can keep it and rent it out. This way, you can go back if you change your mind while maintaining a consistent cash flow.

Types of Vans to Live In

Next to preparing what to bring in the van, you want to complete the vision by getting an actual van. The type you get varies on your needs and preference, so here are the options you can consider:

Full-Sized Vans

A full-sized van usually offers the most space due to its size. The common variant appears boxy, has a short hood, and features high cargo and passenger-hauling capacity.

Small Cargo Vans

Consider a small cargo van a micro version of typical full-sized ones. You could run out of space quicker in these vehicles, but it’s more affordable to live in them.

If you live alone, it could be enough space to operate without feeling too much clutter around you.


Minivans are a popular alternative to expensive van options. They are more conspicuous and cost cheaper than most larger vans.

One of the primary downsides is that it provides minimal insulation, so you might have to spend more on van gear and essentials than the actual vehicle.

Other Vehicle Options

There are no restraints when it comes to choosing a vehicle to use for van dwelling. You can look up “van conversion near me” to convert your current ride to a convenient mobile home.

A few things you want to remember when you choose a different vehicle for van life are as follows:

  • Interior space
  • Gas mileage
  • Facilities or installation convenience
  • Stealth and parking
  • Required maintenance and repair costs
  • Handling capacity
  • Vehicle reliability

Van Upgrades to Consider

If you prefer to use your existing vehicle to become a van dweller, you can also consider making upgrades to ensure it’s fit for the lifestyle.

You can note the following van or vehicle improvements and additions for better a experience:

Improved Suspension

Living your life in a mobile home could mean you find a good place to park and spend your time there. But unlike having an actual property, you move around more often than you think.

There’s no predicting what you could encounter on the road, especially when you move to unfamiliar places. So, you want to be sure your vehicle can handle any condition with proper suspension.

With better car suspension, you can enjoy smooth and comfortable rides no matter how far you travel. Moreover, it keeps you safe on the road and provides your vehicle with enough support.

Onboard Air Compressor

You can encounter a broad range of troubles on the road, but one of the situations you want to avoid is having an issue with your tires. You can quickly air down your vehicle’s tires with an onboard air compressor. This way, you get more off-road traction and better ride quality.

Many van dwellers and vehicle owners suggest not to limp your way to the closest working air station. Unless you know you’re nearby, you want to handle it yourself before it gets more complicated to be on the road.

Insulated Windows

Not all vehicles will have adequate built-in insulation to keep you comfortable across seasons. So, you want to consider adding insulated window covers yourself.

It’s a good temporary solution that allows you to enjoy the heat and warmth of sunlight and maintain interior temperature during the winter or summer. Additionally, these are easy to install and buy in stores.

Comfortable Seats

Some might think they don’t have to change much about the vehicle to make it suitable for van dwellings. While most upgrades include improvement alone, you should still make replacements when necessary.

For example, if your seats aren’t comfy enough to work as a bed, switch them out for comfy ones. It also affects the value of your van and the quality of living. So, be sure you have seats that make you feel like you’re in a home rather than a makeshift vehicle.

Sliding Door

Another change many van dwellers suggest is switching out your door to a sliding one if it isn’t already. It gives you a seamless living space since it eliminates the obstruction of an open door.

Although it’s a hassle to deal with critters from the outside coming into the vehicle, it saves you from months to years of frustration living in separate spaces.

Awning Installation

Sometimes, an afternoon outside is enough to make you realize the value of having shade while outdoors. You could get it from trees if you park in a forest, but what happens when you’re not? The key is to install an awning.

With this, you can also make room to do other activities outside, like cooking or working on your hobbies. It protects you from weather conditions and makes you feel safer despite being out in the open.

Learn All About the Key To Enjoying the Van Dweller Life Here

You should consider many factors before committing to becoming a full-time van dweller. It requires you to make big decisions about what you own and how you spend your life to ensure you stay comfortable.

While van life conversion seems easy, it’s all about having the drive and motivation to stick with van life. It means accepting the lifestyle from top to bottom, regardless of the challenges ahead.

Check out the rest of our blog to learn more!