Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make the Switch to Van Life


Van life has become a trending lifestyle over the past year. Many adventurers are selling their belongings and switching over to a minimalist, more natural way of life. If you have been dreaming of this lifestyle, but have no idea how to get started, you are not alone. Here is your guide on how to make the switch to van life.

1. Downsize

The first step in deciding if the lifestyle is right for you is downsizing. Making the switch from most apartments or houses to the small interior of a van can be a big challenge. You must figure out if you can downsize the necessary amount. Traveling full time in a van will leave you with little space for your belongings. You will have to decide what you need and donate the rest. A good benchmark before deciding to embark on van life is whether or not you can downsize.

2. Establish a Steady Income

Although life on the road can be relatively inexpensive, some form of income is necessary. This can be a large savings account that you can pull from, remote work and/or seasonal jobs. It is important to have a plan for income, as van life does have its necessary expenses. You will have to insure and register your van. Luckily, finding great cheap car insurance is as simple as a google search. Financial resources will play a big part in this process. There is an abundance of remote jobs in this digital age. There are also work/stay programs throughout the United States, that allow you to work and park for seasons or short durations.


3. Set a Budget

This is a very important step in any car buying process. You must know your financial abilities before making a commitment like buying a vehicle. With van life, you also need to factor the remodeling process into your budget. Luckily, during the downsizing process, you can sell some items that can contribute to your van savings. You should not move forward with planning until you have a budget in place.

4. Buy a Van

This is probably the most stressful part of prepping for van life. There are many factors to consider. Do you want a new or a used van? A high top or standard height? A professionally converted or self-converted van? These are all factors to consider when making your van purchase. Other things to consider when buying your van:

  • Do you need an all-wheel-drive van?

  • Do you want a bathroom space?

  • Do you want a car loan payment?

  • Do you need a climate control setup?

All these factors need to be addressed and compared to your budget for proper planning. You can buy a private sale used van on an online marketplace, or a new/used van from a dealership.

5. Design the Layout

After you have decided what is necessary for your van build, and you have a good idea about which van you would like to purchase, you can move onto the design stage. If you are purchasing a van with a good amount of space, then things like a bathroom setup, and/or kitchenette could be included in your layout. You must consider how much storage you will need and what activities you will want to do on the road. If you want to bring two kayaks, then you must include kayak storage in your design. Your design will also be impacted by your budget. There are budget-friendly resources for van life, as well as used supplies that can be purchased off of online marketplaces.

Traveling in a van seems like a dream, and for some it is. With the proper budget and planning, a dreamy lifestyle can be fulfilled for you too. You need to do some introspection and learn what it is that you want out of van life. A good budget will make planning for van life simple and stress-free. There is an abundance of resources and blogs that can guide you through the planning process.