Want to try vanlife but not ready to take the leap? Use these 5 tips to get vanlife ready right now!
1. Get Your Finances in Order
A lot of people tell us that vanlife is out of reach financially. Let’s change that right now!
A valuable first step to becoming vanlife ready is to reduce monthly spending & increase monthly saving.
Grab a piece of paper and make three columns labeled ‘Expenses‘ ‘Current‘ and ‘Van Living‘. In the ‘Expenses‘ column make an exhaustive list of all your current expenses. In the ‘Current‘ column fill in actual costs. In the ‘Van Living‘ column fill in anticipated values for the same expenses (and add additional expenses if you anticipate any). Get a total for each column. Consider the difference. Will van-living save you money?
Now grab a highlighter. Highlight items in the ‘Current’ expenses column that are $0 in your ‘Van Living’ column THAT YOU CAN GO WITHOUT RIGHT NOW. Be very honest with yourself.
Now it’s time to start saving money. Cut these noted expenses now and start putting that money into a savings account!
2. Start Down-Sizing Now
Fitting your life into a vehicle is a challenge. Start down-sizing now.
Begin now because this step takes considerable time (unless you rent a storage unit, which, if you’re considering, re-visit tip #1…).
Getting rid of excess stuff will move you closer to vanlife in multiple ways. It will help you figure out what you need vs. want in your new home and give you extra money for your savings account. Double win. Here are some ideas:
- Ebay – Your best bet for easily selling stuff you no longer need.
- Craigslist – Better than Ebay because you don’t pay seller fees but sometimes more challenging as there are scammers and weirdos out there, be careful.
- Yard Sale – A bit more work and you never know how much you’ll sell but at least customers come to you. Make sure to advertise it wherever you can (Craigslist, newspaper, etc.).
- Clothing re-sale websites – Sell your gently-used clothes online. >>Babble<< lists a few of the top websites.
- Local Consignment Stores – Sell your stuff locally (usually these stores take a high % of your earnings).
- Salvation Army / Goodwill / Local Church – When all else fails drop your unwanted stuff off at a donation center. It’s quick and painless.
- Check out minimalist blogs – There’s lots of great advice for downsizing on minimalist blogs. A quick search for “minimalism downsizing” or similar will yield tons of gems for ways to emotionally disconnect from your trinkets, and boxes of previously-used but now long-forgotten stuff. Try this article from LifeHacker to start.
3. Reduce Your Footprint
Preparing to live in a van (or RV or bus or car…) means downsizing more than personal belongings and monthly expenses. Living your vanlife dreams requires downsizing the physical space that you occupy too.
It took me two months to stop hitting my head on things once I moved into our RV. No matter how quickly you adapt to new places, living in a vehicle will take some getting used to. Here are some ideas to prepare yourself:
- If you live in a home or apartment with more than one bedroom, move your belongings into a single room! Make your bedroom triple as your office, living room (and kitchen?!?). It will be a real test of your ability to comfortably occupy a smaller space.
- If you only have a single bedroom to work with, mark out the dimensions of your anticipated vanlife vehicle on the floor. Continue as mentioned above by moving all of your belongings into this space and occupying it.
4. Spend More Time Outside!
If you’re working towards Van or RV life, you probably love spending time outside! Don’t wait until you’re living the vanlife to enjoy this perk.
One of the best parts of van-living is that you’re likely to start looking at public places (parks, libraries, forests, etc.) as extensions of your personal space. It’s one of the ways Amanda & I have adapted to living in a smaller space.
Here are some ideas to get you outside a bit more:
- Join a co-working group (work along side others in places like coffee shops & parks – it can up your productivity and you’ll have people to bounce ideas off of).
- Take your daily exercise outdoors. Run on a trail instead of a treadmill, swim in the ocean or a lake instead of a pool, stretch or do your daily yoga practice outside.
- Try other outdoor activities – see how many things that you currently do indoors could work outdoors, too.
5. Make Vanlife Friends
You don’t need to live in or own a van to get involved in the vanlife community. Social media makes connecting online extremely easy. Send private messages or comment on posts. Lots of vanlifers post about their travels & destinations. Reach out.
Go to #vanlife or tiny home meet-ups. Get involved in this community of fun loving, social people, you’ll also be exposed to the full spectrum of vans, rvs, and other vehicles people are living in. Use this opportunity to see living spaces and ask what works and what people would have done differently. Think of it as deep research.
The insights you’ll gain from people actually living vanlife will help prepare you for success in your own experience.