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Camping In A Van: Top Camping Tips for Beginners

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Although the concept of van camping is not entirely new, it has become trendy again in recent years. In any RV park we go to across the country, we can see tricked-out rides with all kinds of gadgets and amenities, making the sector even far more interesting.

This is good news for Van and RV fans, but it can also make those starting out in this hobby feel overwhelmed and intimidated. But, don’t let it stress you out just yet, because we have created this guide to give you a friendly introduction to the world of van camping!

The Benefits And Challenges Of Van Camping

Before we go into the ins and outs, dos and don’ts, of van camping, why don’t we talk about what makes this hobby so interesting that some people even adopt it as a lifestyle? The number one reason for this is probably freedom and flexibility.

Van campers are people with adventurous souls. They don’t want to be in the same place year after year, seeing the same people over and over again. Not that living permanently in a house is a bad thing, it is just lacking the excitement of coming across new things every day.

You can definitely be very mobile when you are van camping, especially when your job allows you to work from anywhere. However, going down this route also comes with a consequence. Since you only have a limited space, you are required to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Yes, there are people out there who go around in a van with five-star hotel amenities, but their experience will still be nothing like living in a house or apartment. No matter how big and lavish your vehicle is, you are going to cut things down to the bare minimum.

Because you always travel, you should also be more careful. This is to make sure that you and your traveling friends are safe and secure during the trip. There are many things that can happen when you travel, so always prepare yourself the best you can.

Choosing a Van for Camping

Not every van can be used for van camping. It's true that most camper vans started out as regular vans. But there are some things that make one a good choice for visiting new places and staying a couple of nights in.

  1. Vehicle Types

Campsites and RV parks are packed with all kinds of vehicles. There's nothing wrong with picking a truck, or even a school bus, as your base. But, remember that you might need a new license. Also, it might also be harder to find a parking lot that accommodates it.

  1. Car Size

Using a standard minivan usually works if you only bring a person with you. Put some clothes and food for two days in your car's trunk, and you’ll be ready to hit the road. You will, however, need a bigger vehicle if you bring three or more people.

  1. Initial Costs

The freedom of van camping, unfortunately, comes with a cost. Even though tricking up a van is definitely more affordable than buying a house, you still need to invest some of your money to buy the vehicle. Also, you’ll need some more to make it good enough to live in.

Essential Tips for Van Camping

Are you still keen on using a van for camping? I bet you are! To make sure your first trip is easy and fun, follow these simple tips. They will help you remember it for a long time.

  1. Comfortable and Safe Sleep

Having comfortable and safe sleep is key to keeping your body at its peak condition while traveling. Thus, make sure you have a dedicated area in your camper van where you can lay your body comfortably through the night with a little bit of extra wiggle room.

  1. Ventilation

Make sure that your vehicle also has enough openings because it would be impossible for you to turn on the AC and keep the engine running all day long. It is also smart to have a secondary power source so you can use some kind of fan to enhance air circulation.

  1. Cooking, Eating,and Food Storage

While it is possible to buy all of your meals along the way, it is not the best option if you want to keep your budget low and eat the best quality food. Bring a foldable stove with you as well as a small pan. Also, install a mini-fridge to keep food items fresh.

  1. Bathroom and Hygiene

People who own a bigger vehicle usually have a small bathroom installed in it. However, if you don’t own a truck or bus, then the best option is to pick RV parks with that facility in its area. For emergencies, you can also use a portable composting toilet in your car.

  1. Portable Power, Lighting, and Electronics

It is basically impossible to go out there without a reliable power source, because, as mentioned earlier, you still need to run appliances like lights, fans, and mini fridges while you are van camping. In this case, a solar-powered generator is your best bet!

  1. Packing Light and Efficient Storage

There is a reason why people say to be able to travel far, you have to pack light. Van camping is really about minimalism. It teaches you to leave the nonessentials behind and go to places you’ve never been, so make sure you only pack just what you need to go through the day.

Other Van Camping Hacks and Tips for a Smooth Experience

Above are the most important tips you should know to start camping in your van. If you carefully follow them, your first van camping trip should be a great one! And, to make it even smoother, here are a few camping hacks you can use.

  1. How to Make the Most of Limited Space in Your Van

Unlike camping in a regular tent that requires you to put anything in your backpack, van camping allows you to add additional storage spaces in your vehicle. This implies that you can see it as your small bathroom, in which you can add vertical storage spaces.

If you have the budget, you can go to your local furniture maker and ask them to make a bespoke sleeping area and wardrobe. But, for those who prefer the budget-friendly route, installing storage nets should give you decent storage space.

  1. How to Find Places to Camp in Van

You should also think about where to park your car in advance, especially if you don’t have access to a portable power source and your vehicle doesn’t have a toilet unit. National Parks and Public Lands can be a safe option, but they don’t usually have dedicated spots for RVs.

Also Read: RV Parks Under $500 A Month In Florida

Some travelers usually go for free options for overnight parking. There is an app you can download on your phone to find places with free overnight parking near you. And, needless to say, you can always go to RV parks and campgrounds to spend a night with fellow adventurers.

Camping In A Van

Conclusion: Embracing the Van Camping Lifestyle

For someone with a free soul in them, there’s simply nothing better than waking up with a gorgeous vista right outside of your door (in this case, where you park). The guide above is for anyone who wants to try out van camping but doesn’t know where to get started. All in all, don’t worry too much about planning your first trip, and be a little more adventurous!

Also Read: Van Life 101: Ultimate Guide to Living in A Van

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