Women are turning vans into tiny homes worldwide, ready to travel to thousands of protected areas across the globe. Some choose to do this to reduce the cost of living as the van life is hugely cost-effective, while others prefer to live the dream they’ve always dreamed of. If you can’t stop thinking about all of the opportunities four wheels can offer you, then we say go for it, but if you’re still on the fence, read our seven simple tricks to help lead you in the direction that’s right for you.
1) Gym Membership
A gym membership is crucial on the road and not solely for the aspects of working out. A gym membership allows you to utilize a fully functional bathroom, socialize with locals (and other travelers), work out when the outdoors is not conducive, and have some alone time if traveling with another person or pet. When looking into a gym, you need to ensure that they have showers, a nationwide membership, and locations near where you plan to travel.
Some great gyms for van lifers are –
- Lifetime Fitness – This gym will be the most expensive out of the three at $77 per person, but it’s for a reason. Great amenities might be worth the cost with a private locker room, toiletries, and highly rated cleanliness.
- Planet Fitness – With over 2000+ gyms nationwide, you can secure a membership for under $40 and have access to any gym without paying an additional fee.
- Anytime Fitness – Another membership under $40. You have access to over 4,700 gyms worldwide and have full access to showers and receive towel service.
Depending on where you live, there might be a better option for you but figure out how much you are willing to spend and what amenities are necessary.
2) Safety Van Life
Safety is one of the main concerns from friends and family when you start living in a van, and it doesn’t come unwarranted. But don’t let these concerns overwhelm you and deter you from adventures you’ve dreamed of experiencing. Below are some safety tips we’ve found helpful and made us feel more secure when traveling in a van, especially when traveling solo.
- Share your location with someone you trust.
- Whether you’re driving from point A to point B, camping for an extended period, or just stopping to sleep for the night, it’s important to let someone have access to your location. You can do this through Find My iPhone, Google Maps, Snapchat, and a handful of off-grid communication devices and apps.
- Sleep Smart
- It’s crucial to find a safe location to sleep and safely prepare your van for the night. Keep your doors locked and invest in quality window covers that can help insulate the van and ensure total privacy.
- Develop a Communication Routine
- We understand you won’t be communicating every day, but it’s important to let someone know when you intend to reach out and at what point they should be concerned if you don’t. Develop a schedule that works best for you so someone can always keep an eye out.
- Post on social media when you’ve reached a new location
- You never know who may be following your adventures online, so allowing yourself time from one destination to the next can help keep you secure.
3) The Minimalist Wardrobe You Need
Living in a van means having a pretty minimalist closet, so versatility is a must. When traveling in a van, neutral clothing items will be your savior, and dark clothing is even more ideal for obvious reasons. Most will not have a washer in their closet, but neutral clothing allows easy matching and layering. Also, when traveling, no one will know if you wore the same black shirt in a row. A trick that helped preserve van life clothes was having designated clothing items inside the van and outside it. This separate wardrobe lets you keep outside dirt and germs from entering the van, keeping it clean for extended periods. Plan to stop at a laundromat when traveling into town to wash your clothes, even if all of them aren’t dirty.
4) Finding Time For Yourself When On The Road
It may sound strange to suggest finding time for yourself when traveling solo, but schedule time to reset and refuel your mental and emotional cup during your travels. We recommend this even more so when you’re traveling with a partner or in a group. There isn’t a lot of space in a van, so it’s essential to make time for yourself. Whether filling your cup means going out and socializing, heading to the gym, reading a book, getting your nails done, meditating, or simply taking a mid-day nap, take the time to do this often. Traveling can take a lot out of you, so you tend to overlook “you time,” but it’s important not to skip it. The small ways of feeling better about yourself are still as necessary when traveling as they would be in a stationary home.
5) Essential Items for Van Life
It would be a massive understatement if you said that a wet wipe wasn’t one of the essential items in your van. Whether it’s for cleaning a spill, sanitizing a countertop, taking off your makeup, or wiping your body, there is a wet wipe for that. There must be at least three different wipes in a female van lifer’s van: body wipe, makeup/face wipe, and cleaning wipe. Just be sure not to mix them up and find the best wipe for you and your van’s surfaces.
6) Making Your Van Feel Like Home
Moving out of your apartment or house into a small van may seem daunting, so don’t skip out on all the cozy details. From starting your build to putting together the final pieces, make it what you need it to be. You won’t have a lot of space, so bring the items most important to you, whether it’s small trinkets, tchotchkes, photos, plants, or even candles. These small details can make your once cold van feel like home in no time.
7) Try Van Life!
Choosing to live the van life isn’t for everyone, but if you want to experience then go for it, don’t hesitate one bit! Van life, especially solo van living, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it gives you the freedom to push outside your comfort zone. More likely than not, you will be able to learn something new, challenge yourself, embrace new cultures and make friends with people who share the same interests.
Be inspired and inspire women who will travel after you. If you’re looking for your list of female van lifers to be inspired by, check out our favorites below.
- Sue from @outsidesolo
- Margaux from @sowewent
- Helen from @knowmadvan
- Sydney from @divineontheroad
- Kristen from @bearfoottheory
- Kaya from @onechicktravels