Five questions to ask before hitting the road
The Van Life movement has taken over social media.
On Instagram alone, there are more than 5.8 million posts under the hashtag #vanlife, and it’s not surprising that the Van Life movement is picking up speed. With mid-week photos of sunrises over the Grand Canyon or starry nights out among the giant cacti of Baja California blowing up your social media feed, it’s hard not to want to jump into your own campervan, drive to your dream destination, and live your #bestlife on the road.
But Van Life isn’t just about living in your vehicle. It’s a way of thinking, encouraging and embracing living a simple, minimalist lifestyle while seeking out experiences, rather than possessions, to discover what makes you truly happy. The lifestyle has inspired people to walk away from large houses and roomy apartments, for a home on wheels that doubles as an adventure mobile.
Life on the road gives people the opportunity to see the world without the traditional ties of mortgages and rent that keep many tied down to once city, and to a home, they may see only in the evenings when they’re not working to pay for it.
Fully embracing Van Life, however, isn’t just as simple as jumping into your own tricked-out VW Microbus. It’s a big decision, with many life changes that go along with it. So if you’re considering the Van Life movement, here are a few questions to ask yourself before taking the big leap.
Can you work remotely?
There are a lot of cost savings when you’re living the Van Life. No mortgage, no rent, no homeowners association dues. It’s a lot of money saved considering the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the US is now $1,025 per month.
But you still need to make a living from the road to pay for gas, food, and other expenses in order to afford the Van Life. If you’re a bank teller or police officer, it might be a little difficult to convince your boss to let you work from the other side of the country.
Fortunately, there are tons of remote jobs out there that don’t require you to become a professional blogger or a freelance photographer. Your current employer might be open to the idea of you working remotely.
How do you feel about minimalism?
Joining the Van Life movement requires a lot of downsizing.
Whether your new home is a decked-out old school bus or a converted campervan, your storage space will be less than what you have now. You’ll have to start focusing on the essentials — a few t-shirts instead of the 25 you currently have in your closet — and start giving away or putting the majority of your belongings into storage.
Van Life is about focusing on the totally crazy, unique experiences you might get into every day, and less about the material possessions you have. One of the biggest reasons many choose to jump on the Van Life bandwagon in the first place is to stop feeling attached to their stuff.
How much “unknown” are you okay with?
For the diehard members of the Van Life movement, the unknown is part of the adventure. Not having a permanent address or not knowing whether you’ll be sleeping on the beach, with the waves crashing in the background, or on a hill overlooking a view of the city is the ultimate reward for most adventure-seekers.
But the unknown can also be scary. Joining the Van Life movement is a major life decision. It requires you to sell off or store many of your belongings, leave the comforts of home, and maybe even quit your job; resulting in a lot of uncertainty that might leave you feeling a little uneasy.
So if you need every life detail planned out, including where you’ll be sleeping or where you can get your next shower, living the Van Life may require significant adjustments. But with apps that tell you where to find WiFi to keep you connected and places where you can park, people get used to facing the daily unknown and even find it exhilarating.
Do you currently have a lease or a mortgage?
If you’ve just signed a one-year lease, driving off into the sunset might not be a good idea. Start your nomad lifestyle by first finishing out the remaining time on your lease, or finding someone to rent out your apartment or house while you’re away.
If you’re dreaming of a life of freedom from mortgages and rent, and you don’t want to spend most of your time on the road working full-time, take some time to buffer your savings (even by earning passive income by sharing your car on a car sharing platform like Turo), and get your affairs in order before taking off on your Van Life adventure.
How do your friends and family feel about it?
Many popular Van Life blogs are by couples, who share the same desire to free themselves from responsibilities to lead more fulfilling, untethered lives anywhere they please. Having a shared vision for their lives made it easier for these couples to jump into the Van Life movement together.
Choosing to live on the road is easier when you have someone to rely on when you encounter challenges, and to keep you company since you don’t get to see the same friends all the time on the road. It’s important to open the dialogue about whether the lifestyle makes sense for you and your companions before you even start planning how to sell off your stuff or ending your lease.
And if you have pets, it’s important to consider how they will adapt to a more cramped space, how you’ll manage their schedules, and how you’ll do living in close proximity together. If everyone is on the same page — pets included — it’s time to get packed up and move out!
Try out the Van Life
There’s a lot to consider if you’re thinking about joining the Van Life movement. There are tons of Van Life bloggers writing about the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the lifestyle taking you beyond the idyllic photos on Instagram to what life is really like living on the road.
Read up on the lifestyle, direct message some of popular Instagram accounts, but more importantly, try the Van Life out yourself, just for a weekend, to see if it’s for you. Book a campervan on Turo to get a taste!*
*Keep in mind if you book your campervan on Turo, you’ll need to stick to paved roads and avoid offroading to keep with the Turo terms of service.