You’ve probably heard of the #VanLife movement. I mean, it’s pretty much impossible to go on Instagram these days without seeing a dreamy ocean view through the backdoors of cozy camper van, or a tussled-haired couple sitting on the roof watching the sunset.
Yep, van life has exploded in recent years, partially as a result of freedom-seeking millennial’s straying from convention and partially because housing prices continue to rise – but that’s a debate for another day, let’s keep this fun, shall we?
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And while van life is not without its challenges, for the most part, it really is as dreamy as those Instagram pictures make it look. Plus, it is so much more than just a bohemian lifestyle – it is the perfect way to travel, experience new cultures and see the world. Don’t believe me?
Here are just seven reasons why van life is a great way to travel.
1. You can do it on a budget
There are certain costs associated with van life (buying or hiring the van for one thing!) but if you do it right, you can travel with your van whilst sticking to a tight budget. Your home goes everywhere with you so you don’t need to pay for accommodation – although you might choose to stay on campsites – but if you’re happy to free-camp then this reduces costs drastically.
Plus, you have a kitchen with you making it easier to cook budget meals for yourselves as eating out can get pretty pricey! And finally, while driving between countries will cost you in petrol, this is generally cheaper than flying, especially if you’re taking your time in each destination.
2. It’s a great way to meet people
The van life community is usually pretty quick to come over and say hi. If you pull up in a great spot or campsite you’re almost guaranteed to meet people doing the same thing as you. And you’re not just limited to other van lifers either, travelers of all kinds tend to take an interest in what you’re doing and are happy to get talking to you about where you’ve been. Some may be backpacking, others may just be on a camping weekends, but the community as a whole, no matter how they choose to travel, are a friendly bunch and van life can be a great way to meet new people.
3. You don’t have to try and fit everything into a backpack
OK, depending on the size and design of your van you will still be limited for storage space, but even the smallest vans offer more room than a suitcase or a backpack. This means you can take a bigger choice of clothes, necessities and home comforts with you as you move.
4. You can see more of each destination
Van life isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of a luxury travel experience or ideal living situation, but there’s no denying it’s a great way to see more of every destination you visit. When you’re limited to travelling on foot, by taxi or public transport, this can only get you so far. When you’re driving your van you can explore the road less traveled and pull over wherever you want – even if it’s just to stop and take a photo!
You can also avoid the usual busy tourist traps and instead drive into the middle of nowhere to find hidden gems, undiscovered camping grounds (anything can be a camping ground when you’re in a van) and unseen treasures that you might otherwise have missed. This mobile lifestyle means you can take your time as you move through a country, exploring as much or as little as you want. Each night you can fall asleep in a new place and you’re less bound by what’s within distance of the hotel or hostel you’re staying in.
5. You get to wake up to breathtaking views
Of course, you can choose a hotel on the seafront or one that offers stunning garden views, but those with the best location often cost a bit more. And you’ll be waking up to the same view each day of your stay. When you’re sleeping in your van, there are so many beautiful beach side spots or clifftop spaces where you can spend the night and wake up to incredible views – and you can have a different one every day of the week if you choose to!
6. It’s better for the planet
You might be thinking, how is driving better for the planet?! But those living the van life can actually cut their carbon footprint in half. While there is a certain amount of driving involved, this is usually slow and over a prolonged period of time. Plus, when you consider the reduction in the amount of electricity, heat and water consumed on a daily basis, you can see just how much better van life can be for the planet. Even better if your van is equipped with solar panels to produce energy.
Not only this, but I’m sure most van lifers will agree that you significantly cut down the amount of waste you produce. You have to find creative ways to get rid of your rubbish when you don’t have a bin, plus with limited space (and most of the time no freezer to store anything in) you have to ensure you don’t waste a thing! So van lifers have become clever at finding ways to recycle or re-use things, as well as ensuring minimal food goes to waste.
7. It’s the ultimate freedom
Nothing says freedom quite like the open road stretched out ahead of you and the prospect of going off-grid for a week or two. You can drive where you want, stop where you want and sleep where you want (within reason, of course). Every day brings with it unlimited possibilities and van life encourages you to minimize your life, give up many of the unnecessary belongings we collect throughout life and just embrace adventure.
What is more freeing than that? And is there a better way to experience the world?
About the Author: Natashia is a freelance writer and digital nomad, having swapped her 9-5 for a life of travel. She and her husband are exploring the world one country at a time, in their self-built camper van, Stella. Join them on their pursuit for happiness and simplicity by following their blog here, larkinaround.co.uk.