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Van life: tips for roaming in style

In recent years, the concept of van life has gained tremendous popularity. With remote work becoming more widespread, more individuals seek a nomadic lifestyle filled with freedom and adventure. Van life typically refers to the act of living on the road in a converted van or in a caravan or camper – this can be for several months, or something done indefinitely. It offers a unique way to explore the world, connect with nature, and embrace a minimalist lifestyle. If you're considering embarking on your own van life journey, whether for a short time or for longer, here are some tips to help you roam in style.

Choose the right van

The foundation of a comfortable and stylish van life begins with selecting the right vehicle. This will be your home, so it's important to take the time to research and choose a van that suits your needs. Consider factors such as size, fuel efficiency, reliability, and maintenance costs. According to Thrive My Way, around 43 percent of those living the van life do so in cargo vans, while 18 percent live in passenger vans. Popular options among van lifers include the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, and Nissan NV 200. Invest in a van with enough space for your needs, as you'll be living, sleeping, and potentially also cooking in it for an extended period of time.

Create your fit-out

Transforming your van into a cosy home on wheels is an exciting part of the van life experience. Embrace your creativity and personalise the interior to reflect your style. Don't forget the importance of functionality, as you'll want to maximise the space and storage in your van. Consider installing a bed platform that can be converted into a seating area during the day, use modular furniture for flexibility, and add shelves or hooks for additional storage. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating a fit-out for your adventures.

Embrace minimalism

Living in a van requires a minimalist mindset. Afterall, you'll be living in a small space and will need to carefully consider what items are essential for your journey. Filling up your van with unnecessary items will only create clutter and make your life on the road more difficult. Prioritise essential items, and opt for versatile, compact, and durable belongings to maximise space and functionality. This approach not only makes your van more stylish but also simplifies your life on the road.

Invest in quality appliances

If you're going to be spending an extended amount of time in your van, it can be a good idea to add high-quality appliances to enhance your comfort and convenience. A compact kitchen with a stove, refrigerator, and sink can make meal preparation a breeze. For larger vans, you may also wish to incorporate a portable shower with a reliable power source (such as solar panels) to elevate your van life experience. Having some creature comforts while away from home can make the adventure that much more enjoyable.

Room for pets?

Many Aussies have a furry friend, and the thought of leaving them behind while heading out on a van life journey may seem too much. However, it's important to consider whether your pet is suited for van life. If choosing to bring your pet, research travel areas that are best-suited for them. This list from Compare the Market compiles the most pet-friendly road trips across Australia, using metrics such as the number of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and vets along the road. Before heading out, make sure your pet gets a check-up from the vet to ensure they're fit and healthy for travel.

Stay connected

While for many, the appeal of van life lies in disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, staying at least minimally connected is often essential for safety and convenience. You may like to consider equipping your van with reliable communication tools, such as a reception signal booster or satellite internet, to stay connected even in remote locations. Additionally, having a backup power source or portable charger can ensure your devices still have battery when you need them most.

Plan your routes

Flying (or vanning) by the seat of your pants can be fun for a while, but keep in mind that having a solid plan for your travels can save you time, money and stress in the long run. By planning your journey in advance, you can ensure you don't miss out on must-see spots and recommended areas. A rough itinerary can also help loved ones back at home stay in touch, and give peace of mind knowing where you'll be along the way. Plus, having a plan can make budgeting and managing expenses easier. Looking into a comprehensive policy for your van before you leave will also provide you with alternative accommodation if you (for whatever reason) need to get it repaired.

Embrace sustainable living

Another great advantage of van life is being able to connect with nature. As you roam the open road, minimise your environmental impact by adopting sustainable practices. Practice Leave No Trace principles and utilise eco-friendly products. Those that have larger vehicles or who are considering travelling for longer stints may also like to consider installing solar panels for sustainable power. Embrace the beauty of the outdoors and strive to leave your campsite better than you found it. Your van life journey can be both fulfilling and environmentally responsible.

Connect with the community

While solo travel can be empowering, connecting with others along the way can enhance your overall experience. Van life has gained popularity in recent years, and with it, a growing community of like-minded individuals has boomed. Use social media platforms or online forums to connect with other van lifers, and attend gatherings or meet-ups for stories and advice. Being on the road doesn't mean you have to be alone – embrace the opportunity to make new friends while exploring the great outdoors.

Embarking on a van life adventure is an exhilarating journey filled with freedom and self-discovery. By choosing the right van, customising it to your needs, planning your routes, and connecting with the van life community, you can roam in style and make the most of this unique lifestyle. Whether you're chasing sunsets, exploring mountain trails, or simply enjoying the open road, van life allows you to do it all in style.

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