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posted on June 1st, 2019

Your Van Life destination awaits

Your bags are packed, you’ve got your campervan all gassed up, you even have a 12-hour road trip playlist ready to go. The only thing left is picking a destination. But where do you go when you can technically go anywhere?

The list of possible destinations is endless. A quick scroll through social media and you’re as likely to find a photo of #vanlifers enjoying the sunrise in France as you would of Van Lifers living it up in Australia’s outback. 

With so many Van Life options to choose from, how do you decide where to go first?

Digital tools for Van Lifers

If you already have a destination in mind, great! Or if you’re still not sure where to go, that’s great too! Either way, there are tools available to help you navigate, even if it’s just pointing you to the next gas station.

With everything going digital, it’s not surprising that something as off-grid as the Van Life movement would have its own set of apps to help you find legal places to park your van, things to do, and even where to find WiFi (an important one, if you’re working remotely from the road). 

A great example of a quality Van Life app is iOverlander. From helping you find nearby restaurants and mechanics to compiling reviews on hostels and campgrounds from other Van Lifers, the app is a one-stop-shop for Van Lifers. This app has also become a way for Van Lifers to share their knowledge, tips, and tricks about living on the road. So if you’re starting to zero in on your destination or chart your route, make sure to check out the app and see how it can help. 

The best places to park your campervan

At some point, you’ll want to park to rest your weary, wanderlusting bones. Depending on your campervan, you might need to look for specific amenities like an electricity hookup or a place where you can access restrooms.

Aside from the apps, take advantage of the active online Van Life community. There are tons of Facebook groups, blog posts, and even specialized groups like the Britstops in the UK dedicated to helping others live the Van Life.

VISIT NATIONAL & STATE PARKS

National parks and state parks are probably one of the best destinations for campervans. Most have campsites located within the parks allowing campervans and RVs. Just make sure to check to see if there are any size restrictions on vehicles. 

If the Grand Canyon is on the top of your national parks bucket list, you’re in luck. There are several campsites available, some with showers, running water, and RV hookups. However, like most national parks, reservations are usually needed.

And if you’re in an adventurous mood and you want to “rough it” a bit, you may want to consider doing a bit of dispersed camping, which is “camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground.” These camping spots offer no amenities, except for the occasional fire pit. Keep in mind, however, if you book your van on Turo, you’ll need to stick to paved roads and avoid offroading to keep with the Turo terms of service. 

More free parking options

Some call it boondocking, while others refer to it as independent parking or dry camping. Whatever name you use, it’s camping for free, with limited access to amenities, similar to dispersed camping. 

Dry camping or boondocking comes with some basic etiquette to observe:

  • Leave space between you and other campers.
  • Turn off your lights so you all can enjoy the night sky.
  • Keep your noise down (you’d be amazed at how much your voice carries in an open area).
  • Clean up after your pets and yourself.
  • Leave the place just like, or better than you found it.

It’s important to remember that you’re using the land for free, so treat it as if you are a guest. 

Here are some of the FREE dry camping options available for you and your campervan:

WALMART PARKING LOTS

Walmart parking lots are popular spots for Van Lifers, especially because you’ll have access to the restrooms and you can do a little shopping while the store is open. 

However, permission to use their parking lots is at the discretion of the store manager, so be sure to check in advance. In addition to Walmart, several other stores allow RVs and campervans to park, including Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and Cracker Barrel.

Remember to call the store managers before getting settled in at any parking lot.

FOREST SERVICE LAND

National Forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offers tons of free camping options. You can find public land campgrounds that offer a range of amenities, from full RV hookup campsites to designated areas with no facilities at all. Again, remember to be mindful of offroading or gravel roads if you’re booking your van on Turo.

Most places allow you to camp for up to 14 days, but look out for signs at each location to know what the limits are in each area. And because these are wide-open spaces, take a few minutes to review BLM’s reminders about what to do if you encounter some wildlife on the road. 

PRIVATE PROPERTY (WITH PERMISSION, OF COURSE!)

Before setting out, reach out to friends and family members you want to visit along the way. Their driveway might be a good place for your campervan for a day or two, while you plan your next adventure. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can check Craigslist for people willing to let you park in their driveway — sort of like an Airbnb for your campervan.

Don’t forget some cities have ordinances restricting campervans and RV parking on the street, so check in advance!

So where do you go?

Anywhere! The best places to take your campervan are up to you!

Your adventure on the open road is limited only by a handful of parking ordinances and etiquette, so live it up! 

And if you’re looking to try the Van Life first before completely joining the movement, or you’re looking to go on a weekend camping adventure, make sure to check out one of the many #vanlife #campervan #homeiswhereyouparkit options available for you on Turo

What are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!