After living in a van for two years on and off, I have learned a lot about life on the road and all the benefits of campervan living.
During this time, I’ve had various personal experiences. For part of the time, I lived and traveled in the campervan solo. Other times, my partner and I lived in the van with my dog.
So, not only do I have a personal perspective of what campervan life is like as an individual, I also experienced all the pros and cons of tiny living with someone else. I would also like to note that minimalist living in a campervan also benefited my dog in certain ways.
Yes, I Believe There are Real Benefits to Campervan Living
You might be asking yourself…are there really that many benefits of campervan living? In my personal experience, absolutely! It’s a budget friendly lifestyle with the freedom to travel. Yes. Absolutely, positively, there are multiple reasons for considering van life.
In this article, I’ll share with you some of my own experiences as well as the my favorite benefits of living in a van.
Benefits of Campervan Living
Flexibility and Freedom to Travel
I may be stating the obvious, but I’d like to highlight that when you live in a campervan, it’s easier to pack up and get going. The process is simple. With little planning, or no planning at all, you can hit the open road and see the world.
Campervan living offers a budget friendly lifestyle with the freedom to travel
Unlike with a bus or an RV, you won’t be weighed down by a lot of baggage, tools, or necessary equipment.
Campervan living offers flexibility and freedom. The roads open up and the routes are endless. The decision about where to go is yours to make, untethered by height or weight restrictions. The world truly is your oyster!
FREEDOMS OFFERED BY VAN LIFE ARE SPECIAL
I find the tiny living space of a van actually leads to more freedom. When you live in a van, everything you bring with you must have a very specific function. There simply isn’t enough room to bring superfluous items that may not get used.
I also feel there’s something special about traveling in a van. It feels easy. It’s more freeing than driving a big rig or weighing down the backseat with endless luggage.
Enjoy all the travels without all the baggage
Mental and Physical Well Being
Now remember as we get into this topic, the points I make here are my own opinion. When it comes to your own health and well being, please consult with your physician. What I share with you here is not medical advice. It’s an opportunity to help our readers understand potential benefits of van life – based on my own experiences.
Ok, with that disclaimer out of the way…
MAKE MENTAL PHYSICAL HEALTH A PRIORITY
One of the hardest parts of living in a house for me is that two of the most important things in my life – mental and physical health – become less of a priority. When you live in a van, you have a daily incentive to stay healthy in all areas of your life. One of the most exciting parts of your day is always right outside your door.
There’s a lot to love about van life. My favorite part of this lifestyle is the opportunity to simply open the doors to capture a beautiful sunrise. Taking a moment to breathe in the fresh air and listen to the quiet surroundings of nature.
Likewise, after working and signing off my laptop, it’s an amazing feeling to close up the van and head straight out for a hike.
Van life allows me to stay physically active and slow down enough to stop my crazy thoughts from stirring each day. It’s a huge benefit compared with how I live life in a house, where I feel more attached to creature comforts.
The Cost of Traveling
Whether you travel by air or land, getting to your destination eats up a huge portion of your travel budget. The other major expense incurred is for accommodation.
The beauty of van life is that travel becomes a natural part of your daily lifestyle. As such, separate travel expenses are essentially eliminated.
CHEAP TRAVEL OPTIONS
Nothing hurts your wallet more than having to pay for gas, hotel accommodations, food, and entertainment when you’re on an exciting getaway. Thankfully, when you’re living in a van, you can eliminate or at least mitigate a lot of high costs when traveling.
Sure, you still have to pay for gas, but if you’re living full time in your campervan, that expense is not incremental to your everyday cost of living. Said differently, you’re not incurring travel expenses on top of rent, mortgage or commuter fees.
ENJOY HOME COOKED MEALS WHILE TRAVELING
I also enjoy the fact that you bring your kitchen with you while traveling. Cooking inside or outside the van at your campsite can help you save money. Consider the cost of food for most travel itineraries that include restaurants, hotel room service, or even stocking sundries in an Airbnb rental.
Food costs for campervan living is similar to eating at home. (Makes sense, right? You are home.)
ELIMINATE ACCOMMODATION COSTS
In addition, separate accommodation costs are eliminated. If you follow the seasons, there is no need to spend money on an overnight stay at an Airbnb or hotel because you always have your comfortable tiny home with you!
In fact, there are more cost savings related to travel. A typical traveler must continue paying his monthly rent or mortgage, as well as utilities. These expenses are nonexistent when living the campervan (or RV) life. You eliminate incremental costs of maintaining a house such as utilities, landscaping, insurance, and HOA fees, among other expenses.
Get the Best Parking and Camping Spots
With a maneuverable van, you are able to explore more areas off the beaten path compared with larger motorhomes. It’s a dream to find better, smaller campsites where fewer people are around.
It’s so much fun being nimble and squeezing into tiny offshoots on forest roads. Finding a secluded area where bigger recreational vehicle cannot get through is one of my favorite parts of van living.
We often find ourselves (with three dogs now) wanting more privacy and space to stretch out.
PREMIUM PARKING SPOTS
When you travel through high-traffic areas like National Parks, it’s also much easier to find a parking spot when you’re in a van.
Living in a van allows you to easily explore more remote areas than an RV. You can pack up and depart a site quickly. And, you can explore the more remote areas of the world.
EXPLORING MORE REMOTE AREAS
I find that being able to get off the paved path and enjoy the beauty of secluded mountains and BLM campsites, is a major benefit of campervan living.
Big rigs cannot navigate these areas without a lot of careful planning and even more careful driving. Imagine pulling a 28′ travel trailer through twisty, unpaved mountain roads.
EASE OF SETTING UP AND BREAKING DOWN CAMP
It’s also easier to get up and go in a van without sacrificing all of your comfort. Just close the doors and drive to your next destination.
Campervans allow you to easily get off-grid compared to most RVs, too. You can change up your game plan if you run into bad weather or can’t quite make it to your end destination after a long day of driving. The best part of course is you can do so without worrying too much about if you’ll find a place to stay.
Compared to other recreational vehicles, newer (notice how I said newer) vans get better gas mileage than your standard RV or pull-behind setup. If you’re living in a van full-time, it’s important to understand your gasoline usage and how much it costs every month.
Your monthly gas bill will definitely be higher than the average commuter. But, here’s the beauty – you’re not driving to and from the office. You’re driving from one adventure to the next (and without the overhead costs of maintaining a house).
Positive Shifts in Personal Perspective
When you live in a van, you’re able to see all the beauty that’s out there around you. You realize you can live without all the fancy things and creature comforts you once had in a house. It also made me more grateful for all the things I have.
Making a simple cup of tea in the morning left me feeling refreshed and ready for the day. When I’m at home I often feel the rush of how the world works swirling around me.
Van life gave me one of life’s greatest gifts…the ability to slow down and remind myself of what’s important. My entire reality shifted and allowed me to live more freely without all of the junk, bills, and roots that a house brings into the picture.
Benefits of Campervan Living are What You Make of It
Some people love van life and others find it cramped and uncomfortable.
Campervan living is truly a way to test your mettle, your relationships, and your commitment to travel. For me and my personal goals, van life has endless benefits and possibilities that I still crave even after I decided to live a part time stationary life.
I will continue to maintain a part-time van life and car camping lifestyle. I guess I can’t seem to scratch that itch even after years on the road.
Van life could be the very thing you need to blossom. I hope that if you have the urge to try it out that you’ll give it a go.
It might just change your life!
Erin is rooted in South Dakota, but wanders every chance she gets to see the beauty that nature holds. From hiking to climbing, there’s not an adventure she’ll turn down.
After renovating her 1976 Airstream Argosy, Erin knows the ins and outs of living life on the road and trailer maintenance.
Whether she’s on the road with her dog and partner or at home curled up with a good book, Erin is always planning her next adventure because life is meant to be lived outdoors.