Vanlife is the nomadic life of traveling in a van. It can be extremely gratifying for many people, but it comes with its challenges too. For example, sometimes vanlife can seem pretty overwhelming and confusing. However, if you are willing to work through them, then vanlife can become one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
Trusting your gut
We’ve all been there. You’ve seen some vanlifers and Instagrammers traveling the country in their vans and trucks for a couple of months or a year, and then you meet one. They seem to have it all figured out: the van, the lifestyle, the photography, the social media.
You ask them a few questions and then their response is that you should trust your gut. They explain something about their life but you don’t understand all of it. You’re confused, frustrated, and anxious to get started on your own journey. You try to go back to them for advice or direction, but they act like you’re bothering them.
You’ve been there, right? This v-l mistake happens all the time because so many people are thrilled to hear the word “vanlife” but then don’t really want to do the work to get there. They want to just jump into a lifestyle they see online and believe they can “do it all” without doing any research on how to actually make this a reality.
Not researching before you buy
You find a van online that’s in good condition. The price is right and it’s in a location where you’d like to live. The van is relatively new, so it’s less expensive to insure. You contact the seller and arrange a time to go see the van.
You’ve done your research, so you’ve figured out what van to buy. You’ve even seen a few other vans like the one you’re looking at, so you have an idea of what to expect. Unfortunately, when you go to see the van, it’s not the van you had in mind.
It’s not even close. The van you had in mind is a 15-foot van that’s customized to your specifications. It has everything you need, but it’s more expensive than the van you found online. The seller acts like you’re bothering them. They say they don’t have time to help you figure it all out, but you don’t know what to do.
Expecting immediate results
You’ve been learning how to live off the grid for two months. It may feel like it’s happening too quickly, but it’s really not. If you are really committed to making this a part of your life and really want to make it happen, then it will happen.
This is a common v-l mistake that happens because people don’t truly understand what they’re getting into. You can have a ton of money in the bank, but if you don’t have a lifestyle or content that people want to see, then all you’re doing is building up money in the bank. It’s not actually making you happy.
Staying in hotels too often
The internet can be your best friend or worst enemy. It can help you find your tribe and make immediate connections, but it can also make you feel isolated and alone. This can cause a lot of anxiety and stress if you let it consume you.
Living in hotels is a big way that tons of people make the mistake of not thinking things through before they start their v-l journey. It’s not that this is never a necessary part of vanlife, but it’s not the only way to do it either. If you are staying in hotels too often, you are probably not thinking things through before you do it.
This means you are probably not planning out your finances, your schedule, your meals, and your activities. You need to be thinking about these things in order to do vanlife the right way. You can’t just hop in the van and hope for the best. You have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Becoming a digital nomad too quickly
The world is in the midst of an economic change. That change is causing more and more people to become digital nomads. It’s still very rare to see this type of lifestyle, but it’s becoming more and more common.
However, getting a job as a digital nomad is not the same thing as getting a real v-l job. It’s a way to make money, not a way to support yourself. What’s the difference between the two? A digital nomad job is something you do while living in a van.
You are renting a room in a big city and working 10-20 hours a week at a company like Airbnb or Uber. On your days off, you are going out of the city and live in a van full-time. If you become a digital nomad too quickly, you risk not knowing what you’re getting into. You risk not having a real support system in place and you risk not having something you can fall back on when times get tough.
Stay grounded and don’t forget your roots
This might be the most important thing to remember before you start your v-l journey. It’s not just about the journey, it’s also about the journey back. What do you do when you run out of money? What do you do when your van breaks down on the side of the road? What do you do when you just want to take a break from it all and recharge? All of these things come up in v-l.
None of them are easy or easy to figure out on your own. You need to have a plan for each one. You need to have an emergency fund, a plan for dealing with emergencies, and a plan for dealing with breakdowns.
You also need to remember that this is not a lifestyle for everyone. This is a lifestyle for people who have a ton of passion and drive, but it does not have to be easy. It does not have to be comfortable. It does not have to be the “norm”. Be willing to do the work and be willing to sacrifice a little bit.
V-l is an amazing way to live. It can be extremely rewarding and gratifying, but it comes with its challenges too. For example, sometimes v-l can seem pretty overwhelming and confusing. However, if you are willing to work through them, then v-l can become one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
Here are the top six v-l mistakes you should avoid to have a happy and successful v-l lifestyle: Trusting your gut Not researching before you buy Expecting immediate results Staying in hotels too often Becoming a digital nomad too quickly Staying grounded and don’t forget your roots