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Van Life 101: Ultimate Guide to Living in A Van

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Over the past few years, thousands of people have been drawn to living in a van on the road. Thanks to remote work, this has become possible for people working in a variety of different areas.

Living in a van can be an absolute dream, but it’s not always that way for everyone who tries it out. Life on the road is challenging, with always needing to find a place to park and confining yourself to a small living area. For many, these challenges are worth the freedom that comes from moving around and living where you want.

With the right inside tips and tricks to living in a van, you can enjoy the perks of being on the road while managing the challenges. This is the ultimate guide to living in a van.

What is Van Life? 

Van life refers to moving out of your home and taking up full residence inside of a van that’s been outfitted, or even a camper or bus. People move into vans to allow for a more mobile life, getting to drive around and explore the country while still working and making a living.

Many people move into their vans to save money on rent and stop going into the office every day. With the right van or camper, people live comfortably with most of the normal luxuries of life.

van life

Why Choose to Live in A Van? - The Pros & Cons of Van Life

From an outsider’s perspective, van life can be both tempting and off-putting. There are a lot of great advantages to moving into a van, but there are plenty of challenges that come along with it.


Freedom & flexibility

One of the biggest reasons why people move into their van is the freedom that comes along with it. When you live in a van, you get to choose where your office is each and every day. You don’t need to pull up to the same spot to work in the same cubicle. You can work from a national park one day and on a beach the next.

Spend more time in nature

Living out of your van gets you outside naturally. Instead of being trapped inside your house all day, you're living a lot of your life in nature. You can park at the trailhead of the hike you want to start the next day, rather than needing to wake up and drive all the way there.

Van life gets you quick and immediate access to the outdoors, which is important to a ton of people.

Save money

Paying rent and paying a mortgage can quickly add up over the years. When you buy a van, your monthly expenses drop drastically down. Sure, you may pay more on gas, but you won’t be paying rent on top of a car payment each and every month.

Be location independent

A home on wheels allows you to choose where you live each and every day. Without a home to tie you down, there are countless options for where to park the van, making you entirely location independent.

Meet like-minded people

The kind of person who makes the choice to live full-time in their van fits a certain type. Because of this, there’s a strong community of like-minded people that van life creates all around it.

Get away from the virtual world

With a van, you can choose to make a move towards a life that’s more simple. At night, you can go outside to enjoy the stars or read a book instead of resorting to the television once dinner is over. Van life is a great way to get away from the virtual world.

van living with solar generator


Real van life is not like it on Instagram

Social media has a knack for making things look better than they are. The truth is, van life can be difficult at times. It’s not always a beautiful beach sunset with the back of the van open, even if Instagram can make it seem that way.

Meet extreme and uncertain weather

The truth is, the weather is unpredictable. Living in a van makes you dependent on the weather because once it’s storming outside you are less mobile and stuck inside the van. Working around the weather can make life difficult when you’re stuck in a van.

Meet unknown things

On the road, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. You have car troubles and all of the unpredictability of the world around you to deal with. While it can be part of the adventure for some, the unknown can be one of the huge drawbacks for others.

Inconvenient to shower and cook

In a tight space like a van, taking care of necessities can be difficult. Many people need to shower in truck stops or gyms, while others build small shower stations outside if the weather is nice enough. A small kitchen makes it hard to move around and make anything more than a box of macaroni and cheese.

Limited space

On top of the cramped space in the kitchen, you have limited space overall. That affects how much of your stuff you can carry with you at all times and what you can do in your home. It’s hard to have guests over when you have no space for them to sit.

May have safety issues

Van life puts you out into the world where there can be certain safety issues. Depending on where you park, you are running the risk of having strangers approach you or break into the van.

Privacy concerns

With the windows in your van, it’s tough to get the same level of privacy that you can in a house. There’s simply nowhere to go and no place to get a lot of space for yourself.

How to Prepare for Van Life?

Make the decision to move into your van and hit the road? Here are the essentials for making the move and getting your new life off to a good start!

Essentials for Van Life

Van electric system

One of the most important parts of setting up your van for comfortable living is figuring out the correct electrical system. This is usually a combination of portable power stations, a solar generator, charging cables connected to the van or an external source, and some wiring throughout the build.

The Growatt VITA 550 and INFINITY 1500 are both great options for providing enough power to take care of all your needs in the van. Both portable power stations have multiple outlets to plug your entire home office into, with enough power to run tools when necessary.

With the right wiring, you can power lighting with the power stations and have a full well-lit setup inside of the van. When you combine the power station with Growatt solar panels, you have a sustainable and easy-to-use solar generator that will help you have unlimited power on the road.

Related: Pros and Cons of Using a Solar Generator in The Van Life


van life with Growatt solar generator

Van appliances

With the right electrical system, you can run things like a small fridge, an exhaust fan, or a shower and sink pump off of a water tank.

There are so many different appliances that will make life more comfortable and similar to life in a house. You don’t need to give up all of life’s luxuries if you’re equipped with appliances and the best portable power station like the VITA 550 and the INFINITY 1500.

Van kitchen essentials

Making a good kitchen in a van is important to helping you enjoy day-to-day life. Here are some of the most important essentials to get your van kitchen up and running.

  • Stove
  • Coffee maker
  • Refrigerator
  • Pot
  • Bottles
  • Plates and bowls
  • Silverware
  • Dish soap

Van bathroom essentials

A small van bathroom is a great way to make you more self-sufficient while living in your van. With the right bathroom essentials, you won’t rely on gas stations and rest stops every time you need a toilet.

  • Portable toilet
  • Paper
  • Shower
  • Dry shampoo
  • Towels
  • Wet wipes

Van bedding essentials

Just like at home, a good bed can make a massive difference in your quality of life. These days, there are plenty of comfortable mattress options that don’t take up much space and you can find something that fits you and your rig perfectly.

  • Mattress
  • Sheets
  • Pillow
  • Swivel chair
  • Curtain

Van safety essentials

When living in a van, you need to be prepared for any kind of emergency on the road. Having all of the safety essentials makes it possible to stay safe on the road so you can take care of any situation.

  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency beacon

Plans to Live in a Van

Moving into a van is rather simple, but it helps to plan the move out entirely before grabbing any van you find and deciding to live in it. The three main steps to living in a van are:

  • Plan your van life-Get a general idea of how you want to live in the van. Will you drive somewhere new every day? Set up in one general area? What work will you do?
  • Choose your van-Find the right van for your needs. Take height, space, fuel efficiency, and price into account when finding the right ride.
  • Convert your van into your home- Finally, make all the necessary installations and adjustments to make your van your own.

In Case of Accidents

Before hitting the road, always make sure you have proper insurance for everything. Since you’re living in the van, take extra precautions and spend more on insurance than you would maybe normally spend.

Both vehicle and property insurance can be a good purchase when you rely on the van for all of your belongings and as the place, you call home.


Van life is an incredible way of life that many people have taken on and found that they love. It’s also difficult and full of other challenges that are inevitable when you live that life. Deciding if it’s right for you can lead to an enjoyable lifestyle if you have everything you need to do so.

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