Van Life – Is it Right for You?

Trigg Skoe

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By Trigg Skoe

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Living down by the river in a van sounds pretty nice, right? Getting to wake up to the sun shine through the shades and falling asleep to the sound of the river, it can’t be better. Over the past few years, more people are taking to the road and creating tiny homes within their vans. There are many reasons for this such as cost-effective temporary living, greater ability to travel or maybe just homelessness. Whatever the reason, it is important to build a van that suits you and your lifestyle.

Before upgrading your van, you have to choose the one that provides the proper foundation for what you want to achieve. First, consider what drive you’d like – all wheel, rear wheel or front wheel – and the size. A common choice is  the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van which is all wheel drive and very spacious. This can be a great van for living out of or turning into more of a weekend warrior (if you have a daily driver on the side). Other vans commonly converted are Astro vans, Econolines and the Toyota Sienna. These vans are a cheaper option than the Sprinter but still convert well.

When thinking of building a van out it is important to do your research and know what functionality you want your van to have whether that be a house, a weekend warrior, or a transporter for gear. Many van plans are designed for multi- purpose uses as a weekend warrior with gear storage but also readily available for camping. A common plan is a raised platform with various bed sizes and storage arrangements underneath the platform. Other plans are much more complex and can incorporate solar power, water hookups with a sink, and other amenities. Be sure to know your plan, measure twice and cut once.

Remember van life isn’t always dreamy and ideal like the “Van Life Diaries” makes it out to be. It’s not always full of excitement, singing around the campfire, dancing alongside the sandy coast, or cheerfully preparing dinner with a scenic backdrop. Everyday tasks can become much more difficult with living in a van. Showers and flushing become emptying and filling containers, your garage becomes your house so get use to cuddling gear, and there’s the obvious household issues become mechanical ones. Now don’t be discouraged, but know life is still life in a van.  

Van life-goers are commonly found sleeping at the base of climbing walls, in the snowed in parking lot of trailhead, at the beach watching the sunrise or awaiting the rain in the woods, watching the rivers rage. The van life is one that is sought after by many, but achieved successfully by few. If you’re wanting to experience any of the lives offered on the road, do the research see if it is the best plan for you or if something else may suit you better. Drive safe and adventure far!