5 Tips for Starting Your Van Life Journey

February 24, 2021

Stephanie Malone

We are often asked about what tips we have for living in a van, or things we have discovered along our own travels that could be useful to others. So we have put together a quick and simple list that will get you started on your journey, or will at least give you some food for thought if you’re considering an extended holiday or making the switch to van life. If there is anything we didn’t cover here that you would like to know more about, drop a comment below!

You don’t really miss those extra pairs of shoes or a TV when you are being fully immersed in your surroundings

  1. Fill and organize your van with intention

Before heading out in your van, start your packing with just the absolute necessities. Then move on to things that are most important to you but not necessary to live everyday life and go from there! This is a simple way to organise your priorities as most people will not fit every single possession into the space a van has to offer. We may have had to give up some of our belongings (some temporarily, others permanently), but in packing our van we focused on what we really love and value which means having all of the climbing and hiking gear we could want. You don’t really miss those extra pairs of shoes or a TV when you are being fully immersed your surroundings.

Stealthing with respect

Stephanie driving the Trakka in regional Victoria

Overinvest in solar

  1. Over-invest in solar

When it comes to solar, it is better to have extra capacity than to be desperate for power. When considering the kind of consumption you will have, think about what appliances you need and what they will run on (water heater, fridge, stove and so on). This varies from van to van and may be something you have complete control over, or something you have no control over if you are purchasing a vehicle that it already fitted out.

Once you have considered the appliances and features of the van, have a think about how you yourself will be using power. As we work from our van, we need to be sure that even with our fridge running on solar there needs to be more than enough power left over for charging laptops and running our modem router.

  1. Learn how to find and take care of free camps

So far in Australia we haven’t been anywhere that doesn’t have some form of free camping option available, and there are generally a few ways that you can find these “free camps”. Our favourite apps to use are WikiCamps and CMCA Connect - having more than one way to find camps is important as they don’t all list every possible option.

As for taking care of free camps, we would recommend reading and following the Leave no Trace guidelines. This is a non-nonsense 7 step guide to being the best possible camper and outdoors person you can be! Another resource for ethical outdoors practices is We Are Explorers, who have great articles such as 10 Tips To Tread Softly in Our Wild Places.

  1. Avoid planning every day of your travels

While this may not work for everyone, we have found that having some flexibility in our plans is beneficial. When living on the road full-time its great to have the ability to fall in love with a location and decide to spend an extra week there (or to find that you dislike an area and want to move on as soon as possible!). This is also a great tip if you like to make friends on your travels as it can give you the freedom to say yes to that last-minute climbing trip or to dinner at their local hangout.

  1. Stealth with respect

A pretty common practice in for vans is to occasionally stay in non-designated camping areas (often referred to as “stealth camping”, or “stealthing”). This is generally not going to be an issue provided you follow some simple etiquette and behave as inconspicuously as possible.

This ultimately means abiding by “Leave No Trace” rules (being sure to take all rubbish/waste with you and not damaging anything), being quiet and respectful of the surroundings, and as the name suggests, being stealthy.

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