Please prepare yourself for quite the beefy blog post. Today we’re talking all about van life and I’ll be giving you my top tips to succeed at life in your new tiny home. First things first: It’s not for the faint hearted. It’s hard work, it takes a certain kind of person to be able to live in the van and if you’re one for your luxuries, then maybe avoid life in a van.
However if you’re well up for it and are looking for a place to start, then carry on reading. I’ve put together the blog post of all blog posts on everything Van Life. From the van itself, to the conversion and everything in-between. Today, we’re covering it all.
// The Van Itself \\
Good Condition – It goes without saying, the condition of the van is super important. It will tell you a lot about the van, how the previous owner has treated the van and how reliable it’s going to be on your trip. Look under the bonnet at the condition of the engine, look out for any dullness in the paint work as this usually indicates it’s been resprayed, which in turn means it’s probably been in a crash. Check the tyres, the upholstery… don’t be shy to give the van a real good looking over before you buy it.
Low Mileage – You’re going to stack up the miles whilst you’re on the road. On my trip I’ve just done, we covered nearly 8000kms. So purchasing a van that already has high milages isn’t going to be a sensible purchase. The lower the mileage, the better. Things are going to be a little less worn, will be more reliable during the trip and will last a lot longer. In New Zealand and Australia, anything under 100,000kms is perfect.
History Of The Vehicle – DO. YOUR. RESEARCH. Before buying your new home and jumping straight into van life, do your research on the van. For a small fee you can pay for a government check on the vehicle to see if there is any debt still on the car, if it’s been in any collisions or even the service history on the car. Check what work it’s had done and what advisories it has for the next service. If you can, i’d always be looking for a van that has a full service history!
Spacious – And then of course, you need plenty of room. Be sensible about what you buy. Make sure there is going to be enough room for you, your friends, your stuff and everything else you might need. Have a vision of how you want to convert the van & have that in mind when you’re shopping. Plenty of space is key to having an enjoyable time in your new tiny home.
// The Conversion \\
Get Help – Don’t try to attempt it on your own (if you’ve never done it before). Get help. There is always someone around willing to give you a hand. Whether that’s with removing seats, kitting out the inside or even just recommending a good garage. Having other people’s help is vital in a successful van build and also in keeping the costs & time down.
Know What You Want – Go into your van build with a plan. Know exactly what you want and how you want it to look. This way you know where to start and what to be looking for. If you start the build with no direction, It’ll take you a hell of a lot longer, a lot more money will be spent and you’ll end up with a design you never intended. Plan the build, do your research & then get started.
Use All The Space – Make sure everything has a place. Use all the space you have and get creative with the storage. Under bed storage is the most popular kind of storage for any van build so make sure you build that out wisely, using all available space. Be smart with the cabinets and draws. Also, use what compartments are already in the van. Everything must have a purpose.
Keep It Lightweight – This goes for both the conversion and when you’re kitting it all out. Keep everything very light. Use light materials, don’t overpack the car with your stuff and only take what you need. The heavier the car, the more fuel you’re going to use and the longer it’s going to take you to get around.
// On The Road \\
Where To Stay – The point of van life is not only a great adventure, but also to keep the costs down. So when you’re on the road, if you can, just look for free places you can park for the night. This works out really well for keeping to your budget but also avoids wasting money on unnecessary campsites. Check out this blog post >> HERE << all about freedom camping. It includes a great app called THL which helped me massively on my trip around Australia.
Keep Things Tidy – More often than not it’s going to be tight in the van. Organisation is key. Make sure you put everything back in the right place as soon as you’ve used it. Tidy van, tidy mind. There were a few occasions where we just left everything on top of the bed because we couldn’t be bothered to put it away and let me tell you, when it’s pissing down with rain or is boiling hot, the last thing you’re going to want to do after a long drive, is clean up the van. As soon as you’ve used it, put it away. Keep it tidy and clean as you go!
Van Maintenance – You’re going to be putting your van through a lot so it’s important to keep it maintained throughout your journey. Keep an eye on the tyres, both the tread and the pressure. Check the oil & water levels and make sure you have spare oil to fill up. Washer fluid and radiator fluid. All these little things that you neglect to think about are really going to avoid disaster. It takes 5 minutes before hitting the road again but could potentially save you hours of labour & a serious dent in your wallet.
Security – Not to put a dampener on things but it happens. Some people are absolute dicks and think it’s okay to take what’s not theirs. So protect yourself, keep everything hidden. Make sure the van is constantly locked, your valuables are either on your person or hidden away and if you’re leaving the van at night, leave it parked in a well lit spot. Avoid unwanted visitors and protect your belongings… after all, this is your home.
Like I said, it was going to be a beefy old blog post. But I hope it’s helped you for when it’s time to head out on your trip. There is a lot to consider before you live life on the road but believe me, it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. The pride in buying a van, converting it and then adventuring in it, really is incredible.
| By Harrison |