What is it about small spaces and traveling that makes people want to lock themselves in them for weeks on end? It’s an odd phenomenon that seems peculiar to a generation, but one that has become more and more popular over the past decade.
Living in a van and traveling the world – or even just across the country – is something most people would love to do. But how can you make the process as simple, safe, and comfortable as possible? If you’re planning on living and traveling in a van soon, read on for some useful advice from those who have been there before you.
Research the place you’ll be staying at before you go
One thing people don’t think about when they’re planning a trip in a van is where they’re going to stay. You might be tempted to just jump in your van and drive until you find somewhere that catches your eye, but that’s a foolhardy move for any seasoned traveler. You can’t just park wherever you want, and you’ll probably be kicked out of most Walmarts after a few days.
Who knows what kind of neighborhood you’ll end up in? You’ll almost certainly be camping at some point, but you don’t want to do that in an unsafe area. There are lots of online resources you can use to find suitable places to stay.
Find a site that lists national parks, monuments, and other natural landmarks. Once you’ve found a few interesting places, you can look up nearby towns and cities to find nearby hotels and other places to stay.
Always bring a knife with you when traveling in a van
If you plan on cooking in your van or even just cutting up fresh produce, you’re going to need a knife. But knives aren’t allowed on airplanes, even in your checked luggage, so what do you do? You could just not bring one, but that’s a really risky move.
First off, you might encounter someone in the wild who wants to rob you, and having no way to defend yourself could get you seriously hurt. Even if you don’t encounter people who want to rob you, you could end up in a place where no one has any knives, or they’re too expensive for you to buy.
Get unlimited storage for your phone before leaving
You’re going to take a lot of pictures, listen to music, and maybe even make some videos while living in your van. If you’re like most people, all of that will eat up your data. If you don’t have unlimited data, you’re going to have to limit what you do online or pay a ton of extra money on your phone bill.
If you have an international data plan, you could eat through all your data in a few days. You can avoid all of these problems by purchasing an international SIM card. They’re cheap, easy to install, and will give you unlimited data to do whatever you want online.
Don’t rely on your GPS alone
GPS trackers are the size of a matchbox and plug into your cigarette lighter. They tell you where you are, how fast you’re going, where your nearest gas station is, and other important navigation information. They’re a crucial part of living and traveling in a van. But if you rely on it too much, you could make some really dangerous mistakes. Don’t just follow it blindly.
Always be keeping an eye out for clues that you’ve made a wrong turn, like unusual landmarks and signs that aren’t on your GPS. Always have a paper map nearby in case the GPS fails completely. Having a backup option could mean the difference between arriving at your destination safely and getting lost in the middle of nowhere.
Don’t forget the basics, like a toothbrush and deodorant
You may have already heard that you need special gear to live in a van. But the truth is, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to be comfortable. When you’re out on the road, you’re going to want a toothbrush.
Just make sure it’s one you can throw away after each use, so you don’t end up with a gross toothbrush that you want to throw away, too. You also want to make sure you’ve got deodorant. Fresh armpits are key to making friends and finding places to stay.
Get a locking crate for all your valuables, including food
If you travel in a van, you’re going to want a crate for your most valuable items. You’re not just protecting your valuables like your laptop and camera, you’re also protecting your food. When you’re living in a van, you’ll want to bring a lot of food with you, but you don’t want to attract rodents and other pests.
Lock your food away in a crate, and you’ll be able to keep rodents far away from your food. You should store your crate someplace high and out of the way, like on top of the van. This will keep it out of sight and reach of prying hands.
Bring an extension cord and battery pack
When you’re living in a van, you don’t have a lot of room for things like a hair dryer or a curling iron. But you don’t have to give up your beloved beauty tools. You can use a hair dryer, curling iron, and whatever else you need to use just by plugging them into a battery pack.
You can also use the pack to charge your phone, laptop, or other devices. If you plug the battery pack into an extension cord, you can use it to plug in all kinds of things without taking up a lot of space. You can also use the extension cord to plug in the battery pack in different locations.
Check to see if any repairs are needed before going on a long trip
You don’t want to get halfway through a long road trip, only to be pulled over for a flat tire. You can avoid this by regularly inspecting your tires for damage, and looking for signs of leaks. If you see damage or leaks, you should get them fixed as soon as possible, especially if it’s a slow leak.
A slow leak is often the sign of a bigger problem, like a puncture in your tire. If you can’t get the repairs done before your trip, don’t just ignore the problem. Driving with a damaged tire is incredibly dangerous, and could lead to a fatal accident. You’re more than welcome to live in a van, but be sure to make it as comfortable as possible with these 11 useful tips.