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Want To Try The Van Life? Remember These Three Tips

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A little forethought and planning makes van life so much easier. These three tips will help you find the road to vagabond bliss.

Living in a van coffee break
Coffee is on

For the last two years I have lived out of a van (when I’m not out in the field). Living this lifestyle is liberating in many respects, but dwelling full-time in a mobile unit that has no more room than a tent can be tricky.

Thankfully, I’ve worked out some simple nuances that make living the Van Life more enjoyable and sustainable.

Park Smart

One of the unwritten rules of mobile living is that you never park in the same place two nights in a row. My rule of thumb is to have three or four bombproof parking spots. I then rotate through a few of them. I keep one spot as a backup that I rarely visit, just in case I need to relocate in the night.

I’ve only been asked to relocate once, and the guy was super nice about it. Good location choice makes all the difference.

Many Walmart and Lowe’s parking lots have Wi-Fi signal and a water valve in the parking lot. Both are popular among Van Lifers for permissive overnighter policies.

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

My last point on parking is to utilize the sun as much as possible. Learn where the sun is in the sky during certain parts of the day. For example, I realized that one part of a trailhead received more sun exposure than another. I started parking there.

When I got back from a run, I could dry out my running kit and any other damp pieces of gear. This leads into my next tip…

Stay Organized And Clean


It kind of goes without saying, but when you live in a small space it only takes one minute to reenact the movie ‘Twister’ in your van.

The beauty of it all is that you can clean it up just as quickly. I recommend finding out your personal level of acceptable cleanliness and then going a bit beyond it. You’ll enjoy your living space so much more.

With regard to cleaning yourself, I found that getting a gym membership is the easiest option. Many gyms have national chains, and you can visit them in many cities. Others have single day membership options for about $15. Squeeze in workout, too.

Of course you can always do a quick sponge bath with heated water on a stove in the wilds. But when hanging out in civilization, it’s worth hunting up a shower. Other options for cheap showers are the, truck stop, commercial campground, or even community swimming pool.

Cleaning self and home aside, I highly recommend investing in an air purifier and quality leak-proof containers.

Air purifier for van

Running clothes, food, and trash combine to create a funky smell, nip it in the bud. The TEC.BEAN ionic filter keeps my entire living space sanitized and smell-free. It’s mini-USB compatible for use with an external battery pack, can run on its own batteries, and costs around $20.

Spills suck, too. Nalgene has been killing the game for a long time with its bottle options. I rebottle many things to save space and reduce the chance of spills.


At the end of the day you just have to relax. At first it can be nerve-racking living out of your vehicle because you think everyone is watching you. They are not, I promise.


Next time you are sitting in a coffee shop, look around and see how many people are watching your every move. You’ll quickly see that everyone is in their own world, focused their own agenda. This realization made Van Life so much more enjoyable.

Whether you are heading out for a short trip or being a vagabond full time, implementing these simple tips can make your Van Life easier and a lot more enjoyable.

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