Preparations for Vanlife

Taking the Big step from the Norm into Vanlife can be a pretty big deal, and a lot to think about.

What should one bring? 
How much to save pre-Vanlife?
How expensive is it to live in a Van?

I’ve gathered some questions from you and I’ll do my best to answer them in this article.

Some think that moving into a Van is a pretty Big Deal, and I can understand that. But there is ways to do it that isn’t as drastic as you might think. Always start with You, and focus on what You can do to to make this change as smooth as possible – and keep an open mindset, if you’re open and willing to see possibilities and solutions instead of problems and obstacles, it will get a lot easier!

– How am I supposed to Support myself? What should I do for money?
This is a pretty important one. No matter how little you spend or care about money, we all need some money to survive and it can feel a bit daunting to quit ones regular job. I’m here to tell you, you might not even need to quit – check out this article I wrote about supporting yourself while traveling full-time. There are so many possibilities to make some kind of job work while living a nomad lifestyle.

– What about all my stuff?
Do a big good ol’ stuff cleanse. I promise you’ll feel better and after a week or two you’ll have forgotten what you even got rid of.
If you know you want to move into your van a year from now, do one clearing now, one in six months and one a month before moving into your van – You’ll probably get rid of just as many things each time because you have given yourself time to get deattached to the things in your life. Things might make you happy for a very very very short while, but THINGS DOES NOT BRING YOU TRUE HAPPINESS. It’s the experiences, the people, the accomplishments in life that brings true joy.
I know it can be difficult, and I know you want to save some things – and that’s ok. Just make sure that you really like the things you save. If you know you have/need a lot of things, make sure to plan your layout accordingly or you will not enjoy your life in your van.
I recommend you starting in time with really picking what things to save so that you have time to sell the stuff you don’t need online, on a yard sale or a flee market – that way it will be easier to get rid of the things, and you’ll earn money which you can put into your new tiny little home.

– What about my apartment/house?
Congratulations if you have a home. You have the possibility to rent out your home to cover your costs in your country, depending on the laws and rules in your country you might even be able to earn a little bit of money on it too to help you on your way.
When I bought my Van, I found a tenant to my tiny house pretty quick and moved into my moms place for a month while building my Van, that way I didn’t have any living expenses which made it easier to put more money into my Van-build.

– How do I plan my Van-build?
Think about how you’re living now, what you like & don’t like about the way you’re living your life/in your home. Think about what you really need to live and be comfortable and safe in a Van. There is not ONE correct answer, there’s as many answers to this question as there is different people in this world of ours.

Thins to take into consideration planning your Van should be; How long do you want to be able to be parked off grid? Are you going to cook everyday yourself? What do you usually cook? Is a stove enough or do you want/need an oven too?

Think about what you usually use when you’re cooking food in your regular home and if you really need all kitchen utensils or if something can be used for more than you usually use it for. If you want to know more about Cooking in a home on wheels, you can read more here.

If it is important for you to have your own toilet/shower, make sure to plan it into your build – don’t make life harder on the road than it has to be. Many people manage just fine without their own toilet/shower, but they’re often not full-timers. A good way to try out if you’d manage without your own bathroom is to not use your bathroom in your regular home before starting Vanlife, see if you could manage with public restrooms/the nature for a month before building your van.

Since it’s a very small space to keep everything you need/really want to bring, make sure to downsize and only bring the things you really love – including clothes. Only bring the clothes you really like and that are comfortable and that fits you now. A good way to downsize your wardrobe is to pick clothing that fit in two drawers and only use that for a month and see if there’s something you are missing and if there’s something you haven’t used at all.

I’m working on a Guide on How to Choose The Best Layout with another Vanlife which will hopefully be released soon, I will link it here when it’s released so keep an eye out!

In this Podcast episode I’m discussing how to Best Prepare for Vanlife with my guest Andrea (@andrearydells)

– What did you think that you would need, but you haven’t?
My brother convinced me I was going to freeze to death because I don’t have a heater in my Van, so I brought a sleeping bag for -30°C but since I’m always traveling where it’s about 15-20°C during the days and the lowest usually is about 4-8°C during night I’m doing just fine with my tea candles. I left the sleeping bag at my moms place after half a year and I have not regretted it. I also think it’s better to bring a extra duvet instead so you can use that if you’re too cold + if a friend is visiting they can have their own duvet.
I also brought heels because I’m really short and I thought I would be going to bars.. Apparently I don’t do that anymore, and if I do I use sneakers because I’ve gotten really comfy.

– How much did you save before you started & How much was your Van build?
I didn’t save for Vanlife particularly, I have just always saved money – so when I discovered Vanlife I could jump into it straight away. But I bought my Van for about 5.300€, then I should my regular car and used that money for the conversion. You can read more about the cost of my Van here.

– Is it expensive to live in a Van?
I’d say not. But it’s very individual, it depends on how you’re living.
Will you keep your current home while living in a Van? Can you rent it out so it will cover the cost?
Write down the costs you have, start with the fixed costs like; cellphone/data plan, car insurance, travel insurance. Then continue with the other costs like; gas, food, shopping. What extra costs do you have, like; Spotify, Netflix, Software and other subscriptions. Do you need/want them all?
Think about how you’re living, do you cook at home or do you go out to eat? How are you going to travel, will you travel slowly (less gas/month) or fast? There’s a lot you can do to lower your monthly costs.
And very important in my opinion; Always keep a buffert for Car Repairs! You don’t want to be stranded because your home broke down on the road somewhere (It will probably happen at some point).

– Top 10 things you Need to move into a Van?
For me it would be: Water, fridge, electricity, stove, oven, toilet, shower, bed, good storage and a problem solving mindset.
Other than that, there’s nothing I HAVE to have, but one think I like to have is a electric blanket which I just bought after arriving to a freezing cold Sweden because of Corona way too early in the year. You can read more about My Vanlife Essentials here.
With that said, I know a lot of Vanlifers who manage just fine without many of the things I just listed, but these are the things that makes ME feel comfortable and safe. You can manage just fine without some of them, especially if you’re a Weekend Warrior.

– What’s the toughest thing with the build? What would you recommend hiring someone for?
I’d say the electricity. I think it’s the most boring part about building a Van, and because of that I think it’s difficult to learn, and you really want your electricity to be done correctly so it works and is safe.

– Best tips for starting ones build?
Just start! You don’t have to have it all figured out.
Use Instagram & Youtube to see how and what others have done, start and work with a problem solving mindset and you’ll do just fine. I redid some thing 2-3 times before I thought it was good enough just because I didn’t know how to do things, and it’s still not perfect. But “perfect” was never the goal, the goal was to create a home to live and travel in – and I got there in 30 days.
Don’t be scared to ask people for help, tell people about your project and they will get excited and want to help with advice and tips!

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