Travelling in a van has never been so popular before. When you search #VanLife, you will be overloaded with pictures of vans parked in the most picturesque locations, with the most impressive views through their backdoors and endless examples of impressive van conversions. Traveling in a van is the perfect way to explore new destinations and at the same time you have the feeling of going home after a long day of exploring. There are many reasons why people like van life and why you should consider it too. But van life also has a downside that is usually not shown much. To help you determine in all honesty whether van life is for you too, we list all the pros and cons of van life here for you.
This is probably the best and most important reason for traveling with a van.
The freedom to go wherever and whenever you want. You can combine as many destinations as you want and you’re not stuck in one place. You can adjust your itinerary to the weather forecast whenever you want.
You can drive to whatever sight you want to see instead of limiting your plans to the place where you are staying. You are totally free to go wherever you want, explore at your own pace and tick several destinations off your travel bucket list.
Did we already mention travel at your own pace? Traveling in a van also gives you freedom in time management. You are not tied to a fixed travel schedule and you can change your plans whenever you want: staying a little longer or leaving earlier. Hangry? Just stop and eat. Tired? Park and take a little nap. Coffee breaks whenever you want. And so we can go on for a while. Another advantage is that you can save some time by staying the night close to sights you want to see and visit before the crowds, it’s all about time management.
When traveling with your own van, you don’t have to pay for accommodation or restaurants every single day. You have your bed with you and cook your own meals. The only thing you have to pay for is your food in the supermarket and fuel. Unfortunately, if you do not have your own van, you must also calculate the rental costs.
Buying your own van is also not cheap of course , but you can see this as an investment as you will save a lot of money on the road.
You’ll never have to hire a vehicle or search for a taxi. You always have your own transportation. In this way you can change your plans whenever you want and combine as many destinations as you desire. Again reason number 1: Freedom.
Wherever in the world you are, you can always come back to a familiar place. You always have a place all to yourself and you always have a little piece of home with you. You can park your ‘house’ in the most beautiful locations (with respect for nature and local regulations!), wake up in the middle of nature and enjoy a different backyard everyday. Your home has its own room with a view and you can feel home anywhere in the world
Should I take this sweater or this one? Well, I take both of them… No more though choices to make everything fit into your suitcase. Your van is your suitcase. So no more endless packing and dragging suitcases from place to place. This might become a disadvantage as maybe you’ll take too much unnecessary things, but hey: Better too much than too less.
We can take a lot of personal belongings and aren’t limited in luggage. We don’t know yet whether this is really an advantage or rather a disadvantage. We might come back to that later.
When traveling in a van you should always be aware of how much water and electricity you use.
Sometimes you have no choice but to look for a place where you can charge and fill up your tanks. This can cause stress sometimes.
Finding a parking spot can be quite exhausting. Sometimes you’ve had a long day and it’s getting dark already, then it’s difficult to find a good spot to park your van.
It doesn’t always have to be a place with a beautiful view but it certainly always has to be ‘allowed’ and safe. You can start looking for a place while driving on parking apps, but you always have to check on the spot whether the place is suitable for your van.
In a van you have to live with less comfort. You don’t have a luxurious toilet and emptying it is a dirty job, although it’s your own. Chances are you will be searching for public toilets most of the time to avoid using your chemical toilet.
Depending on your van it’s also likely you don’t have a (indoor) shower. It is possible to find showers while traveling in a van but it will almost never be a luxurious shower and oftentimes you won’t be able to shower every single day.
Maneuvering around in your van can be a little bit tough sometimes. Simple tasks such as changing, cooking or doing dishes can get more challenging than ever. And because you’re living in such a small space, it can get mess really fast. There’s no option to feel lazy and leave the dishes for the next day.
Living in your van as a couple can be challenging. It is a real test for your relationship and your patience, because you’re living so close to each other 24/7. Make sure you communicate with each other and give each other some ‘space’ from time to time.
It can be really hard to control the temperature inside your van. You can install AC and/or a heater, but that can be very expensive and they consume a lot of electricity (Con 1!). There are many other tips & tricks to control the temperatures, but when the temperatures outside are a bit more extreme, it can be very hard to keep the temperatures comfortable. Especially the heat is hard to keep out.
As you can see, traveling in a van is not always easy, but everything in life has pros and cons. We believe that traveling with a van is such a unique experience and the ultimate way to explore. For us the pros far outway the cons, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same for you. If you keep all these things in mind, you can decide for yourself whether vanlife is really for you. If you are still in doubt, you can always contact us with any further questions and check our 18 vanlife hacks that make vanlife easier, to convince yourself that vanlife suits you.