Tips & Tricks: How to Live Van Life with Kids

Van life with kids family in back of camper van

Tips & Tricks: How to Live Van Life with Kids

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

23 July 2023

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How to Van Life With Kids: Tips and Gear for Family Life on the Road 🚐👨‍👩‍👧‍👦


Van life with kids can be an incredible adventure for the whole family. It offers the freedom to explore new places, create lasting memories, and strengthen family bonds. However, embarking on this journey requires careful consideration and preparation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

In this article, we will delve into the world of van life with kids, providing valuable tips, insights, and gear recommendations to make your family’s journey on the road a successful one.

Van life with kids

Table of contents 📖


  Things to Consider and Prepare for Van Life With Kids 🧐🛠️🎒

    Best Timing for Van Life + Life Changes ⏰🌟

    Build or Buy Your Van With Kids in Mind 🏗️🚐👶

  •      Buying Versus a Custom Build 💰🆚🔨
  •      Seating and Sleeping 💺😴Car Seat 🚗👶
  •      Kids’ Play Space 🧸🚂
  •      Heater 🔥❄️
  •      Got More Kids? 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👶


   Consolidate All the Stuff 📦

   Set Reasonable Expectations 🎯

  •  Biggest Pros 👍
  •    Biggest Cons 👎
  •    Plan to Go Slowly 🐢

  Plan to Spend a Lot More Time Outside 🌞🌳

  •      Start With Small Adventures 🚶‍♀️🏞️
  •      Bring a Lot of Snacks 🥪🍇
  •      Go on a Kid-Led Hike 🥾👧
  •      Seek Out Fun Places for Kids 🎢🎠
  •  Screen Time 📱📺
  •    Where to Park and Sleep 🅿️😴
  •    Create a Spot for Everything 🧺📦
  •    Plan Rest Days Into Your Schedule 📅🛌
  •    Life Happens During Van Life Too 🌟👶
  •    Going to the Bathroom 🚽🧻
  •    Bathing 🛁🧼
  •    Make Simple Meals 🍽️🍳
  •    Interacting With Other Kids 👧🤝👦
  • Rain Suit ☔👖🧥
  •    Kids’ Crocs and Rain Boots 👟🌧️
  •    Quality Clothing and Layers 👕👖🧥
  •    Biking Gear 🚲🛡️
  •    Hiking 🥾⛰️

Things to Consider and Prepare for Van Life With Kids 🧐🛠️🎒


Before hitting the road, there are several important factors to consider and prepare for to ensure a comfortable and safe van life experience with your children. Firstly, you’ll need to assess the size and layout of your van, taking into account the number of family members and their specific needs. Consider whether you should build or buy a van with kids in mind, weighing the pros and cons of a custom build versus a pre-existing purchase.

Additionally, careful attention should be given to seating arrangements, sleeping arrangements, car seat installation, creating a dedicated play space for the kids, and ensuring proper heating to keep everyone warm during colder seasons. If you have more than one child, adapting the van to accommodate their needs is essential.



Best Timing for Van Life + Life Changes ⏰🌟


Timing plays a crucial role when transitioning to van life with kids. It’s important to consider major life changes such as school transitions, job changes, or other significant events. Evaluating the impact of these changes and determining the most suitable time to embark on the van life journey will help ensure stability and minimize disruptions for your children.


Build or Buy Your Van With Kids in Mind 🏗️🚐👶


When venturing into van life with kids, you’ll need to decide whether to build a custom van or purchase a pre-converted van for van life with kids. Each option has its advantages and considerations. Building a custom van allows you to tailor the space to your family’s specific needs, ensuring that every inch is optimized for comfort and functionality.

On the other hand, buying a pre-converted van offers convenience and a quicker start to your van life adventure. Consider your budget, time constraints, and DIY skills when making this decision.


Buying Versus a Custom Build 💰🆚🔨


When weighing the pros and cons of buying a pre-converted van versus undertaking a custom build, there are several factors to consider. Buying a van may save you time and effort, as it comes ready with essential features such as beds, storage, and sometimes even a kitchenette.

However, customization options may be limited, and it may be challenging to find a van that perfectly fits your family’s needs. On the other hand, a custom build allows you to create a personalized space tailored to your family’s lifestyle. You have control over every aspect of the design, from layout and storage solutions to unique features that cater specifically to your children.


Seating and Sleeping 💺😴


Comfortable seating and sleeping arrangements are paramount for a successful van life with kids. Depending on the size of your family, you’ll need to consider the number and type of seats available in your van. Install child-friendly seats with safety features to ensure your kids are protected during travel.

When it comes to sleeping, consider the space available and choose beds or sleeping solutions that provide adequate comfort and support for everyone.


Car Seat 🚗👶


A properly installed car seat is a must-have for van life with young children. Follow the guidelines provided by car seat manufacturers and consult with professionals to ensure correct installation and positioning. Regularly check and adjust the car seat as your child grows to maintain their safety on the road.


Kids’ Play Space 🧸🚂


Creating a dedicated play space within the van is essential for keeping your little ones entertained during long drives and downtime. Consider incorporating storage solutions that can hold toys, books, and games, allowing your children to access and enjoy them easily. Utilize wall-mounted organizers or collapsible bins to maximize space while keeping things tidy and accessible.


Heater 🔥❄️


Maintaining a comfortable temperature inside the van is crucial, especially during colder seasons. Install a reliable heating system to ensure your family stays warm and cozy. Propane heaters or diesel-powered heaters are popular options for van life, but always prioritize safety and proper ventilation.


Got More Kids? 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👶


If you have multiple children, additional considerations need to be taken into account. Plan for extra sleeping arrangements, seating, and storage solutions to accommodate the needs of each child. Consider their age, preferences, and any specific requirements to ensure they feel comfortable and included throughout the van life journey.


Consolidate All the Stuff 📦


Living in a limited space requires efficient organization and consolidation of belongings. Prioritize essential items and consider multi-purpose gear to maximize functionality while minimizing clutter. Utilize storage compartments, under-bed storage, and creative solutions like hanging organizers to keep everything in its place.


Set Reasonable Expectations 🎯


Van life with kids is a unique experience that comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. It’s essential to set realistic expectations and embrace the flexibility and adaptability required for this lifestyle.

Understand that not every day will go as planned, and unexpected situations may arise. Embrace the journey with an open mind and a positive attitude, allowing room for spontaneity and the joy of shared adventures with your children.



What It’s Really Like to Van Life With a Kid 🚐👶


Van life with kids offers incredible benefits and unforgettable moments for families, but it also presents certain challenges that need to be considered. Let’s take a closer look at the biggest pros and cons of embarking on this unique journey with your little ones and why planning to go slowly is essential for a harmonious experience.


Biggest Pros 👍

One of the most significant advantages of van life with kids is the quality time spent together as a family. Living in a van creates an intimate environment where you can bond, share experiences, and grow closer.

The freedom to travel and explore new places without being tied down to a specific location is another major advantage. You have the opportunity to expose your children to diverse cultures, landscapes, and lifestyles, fostering their curiosity and broadening their perspectives from an early age.

Additionally, van life allows for a simplified lifestyle, focusing on experiences and creating memories rather than accumulating material possessions.


Biggest Cons 👎

While van life offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to acknowledge the challenges that come along with it. Limited space can be a significant adjustment for families, especially when accommodating the needs of growing children.

Privacy can also be a concern, as personal space becomes limited within the confines of a van. Moreover, maintaining a routine and ensuring access to regular educational opportunities can be more challenging on the road.

Finally, van life may require careful budgeting and financial planning, as certain expenses such as fuel, campground fees, and maintenance can add up.


Plan to Go Slowly 🐢

To make the most of your van life journey with kids, it’s crucial to embrace a slower pace. Slow travel allows for deeper immersion in the places you visit, creating meaningful connections and experiences.

 By allowing ample time to explore each destination and encouraging your children to engage with the surroundings, you can cultivate a sense of curiosity and appreciation for the world around them.


How to Work Remotely From the Road With Kids 💻🛣️


One of the major advantages of van life is the potential to work remotely while enjoying the freedom of the road. If you plan to work while van dwelling, it’s essential to establish routines, create designated workspaces, and ensure reliable internet connectivity.

Additionally, consider engaging your children in educational activities, interactive games, or creative projects while you focus on your work. Balancing work and family time is key to maintaining a harmonious van life experience.


Van Life With Kids Is a Lot of Family Time 🌳🏞️👨‍👩‍👧‍👦


One of the remarkable aspects of van life with kids is the opportunity for abundant family time. Embrace the chance to bond, share adventures, and create lasting memories together. T

o make the most of this family-focused lifestyle, plan to spend a significant amount of time outside, engage in small adventures, carry an array of snacks to keep everyone energized, embark on kid-led hikes to encourage exploration, and seek out exciting places specifically catered to children’s interests.


Plan to Spend a Lot More Time Outside 🌞🌳

When living in a van with kids, it’s beneficial to spend ample time outdoors. Nature offers a vast playground for children to discover, learn, and play. Encourage activities such as hiking, biking, picnicking, and wildlife spotting to foster a love for the outdoors and nurture your children’s sense of wonder.


Start With Small Adventures 🚶‍♀️🏞️

Embarking on small adventures is an excellent way to ease into van life with kids. Begin with short day trips or weekend getaways to nearby destinations. This allows everyone to acclimate to the van life experience and adjust to the new routines and dynamics. As your family becomes more comfortable, gradually extend your travels to longer durations and more distant locations.


Bring a Lot of Snacks 🥪🍇

Snacks are essential companions during van life with kids. Pack a variety of healthy and tasty snacks to keep everyone fueled and satisfied during long drives or while exploring new places. Opt for portable options such as fruits, granola bars, trail mix, and sandwiches that are easy to grab on the go.


Go on a Kid-Led Hike 🥾👧

Hiking is a fantastic way to engage your children with the natural world while promoting physical activity. Encourage your kids to take the lead by selecting hiking trails that cater to their abilities and interests. Allow them to set the pace, observe the surroundings, and discover the wonders of nature at their own pace.


Seek Out Fun Places for Kids 🎢🎠

Make it a point to seek out family-friendly attractions, parks, and playgrounds during your van life adventures. Research and plan visits to amusement parks, zoos, interactive museums, and other kid-centric destinations along your route. These experiences will create lasting memories for your children and provide them with valuable opportunities for social interaction.



How to Van Life and Drive Long Road Trips With Kids 🚗🛣️👨‍👩‍👧‍👦


Driving long distances with kids requires careful planning and consideration. By implementing a few strategies and tips, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable road trip experience for the entire family.


Screen Time 📱📺

Long road trips can be an excellent opportunity to entertain your children with age-appropriate movies, shows, or educational content on electronic devices. Pack a tablet or portable DVD player to keep them engaged during extended periods in the van. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance and encourage other activities to foster creativity, imagination, and family interaction.


Where to Park and Sleep 🅿️😴

Choosing suitable places to park and sleep is essential for van life with kids. Research and plan overnight stays at family-friendly campgrounds or RV parks that offer amenities such as playgrounds, swimming pools, or nature trails. Ensure that the chosen locations are safe, secure, and comply with local regulations.


Create a Spot for Everything 🧺📦

Efficient organization is key to a stress-free van life experience. Assign dedicated spots for each item, whether it’s clothes, toys, kitchenware, or toiletries. Utilize storage bins, shelves, hanging organizers, and hooks to keep everything tidy and easily accessible. Involve your children in the organization process to teach them valuable skills and foster a sense of ownership.


Plan Rest Days Into Your Schedule 📅🛌

While it’s exciting to embark on new adventures, it’s crucial to incorporate rest days into your itinerary. These days provide an opportunity to recharge, relax, and catch up on rest. Use this time to explore the surrounding area at a leisurely pace, enjoy family activities, or simply unwind and enjoy each other’s company.


Life Happens During Van Life Too 🌟👶

It’s important to remember that life doesn’t stop during van life. Unexpected situations may arise, such as illnesses, minor accidents, or emotional ups and downs. Be prepared for these moments and approach them with patience and adaptability.

Keep a well-stocked first aid kit, have important contact numbers readily available, and maintain open communication with your children to address any concerns or emotions that may arise.


Going to the Bathroom 🚽🧻

Managing bathroom needs is an essential aspect of van life with kids. While it may seem challenging at first, there are several options to consider. Public restrooms, campgrounds, and RV parks often provide suitable facilities.

Additionally, portable toilets or composting toilets can be installed in the van to provide a more convenient solution. Proper hygiene practices and teaching your children about responsible bathroom etiquette are crucial.


Bathing 🛁🧼

Maintaining cleanliness and personal hygiene is vital during van life. If you don’t have access to shower facilities every day, consider alternative bathing options. Portable showers, wet wipes, or utilizing facilities at campgrounds or recreation centers are viable solutions. Establish a routine that works for your family and emphasizes cleanliness and well-being.


Make Simple Meals 🍽️🍳

Cooking meals in a van doesn’t have to be complicated. Opt for simple, nutritious recipes that can be prepared with minimal equipment and ingredients. One-pot meals, sandwiches, salads, and wraps are excellent options that require little time and effort. Get creative and involve your children in meal preparation to make it a fun and educational experience for them.


Interacting With Other Kids 👧🤝👦

Van life offers ample opportunities for your children to meet and interact with other kids on the road. Encourage socialization by visiting family-friendly locations and campgrounds where other families gather. Participate in group activities, games, or community events to foster connections and create friendships for your children.

These interactions provide valuable social experiences and a chance for your kids to learn about different cultures and backgrounds.


Kid Gear for Van Life 🧒🛠️


When it comes to gear for van life with kids, it’s essential to prioritize functionality, durability, and adaptability. Here are some key items to consider for a smooth and comfortable experience


Rain Suit ☔👖🧥

Invest in high-quality rain suits for your children to keep them dry and protected during wet weather. Look for lightweight, breathable options that are easy to pack and provide adequate coverage.


Kids’ Crocs and Rain Boots 👟🌧️

Versatile footwear is a must-have for kids during van life. Crocs and rain boots are ideal choices as they are easy to slip on and off, provide traction, and can be worn in various weather conditions.


Quality Clothing and Layers 👕👖🧥

Pack a mix of lightweight and warm clothing suitable for different climates. Layering is key to adapt to changing temperatures. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly and consider investing in clothing with UV protection for outdoor activities.


Biking Gear 🚲🛡️

If your family enjoys biking, ensure that everyone has properly fitting helmets and suitable bikes for their age and size. Pack bike racks or consider investing in foldable bikes that can be stored inside the van when not in use.


Hiking 🥾⛰️

When embarking on hikes or nature walks, make sure your children have appropriate hiking shoes or boots. Look for durable options with good traction to keep them comfortable and safe on various terrains.



Is Van Life With Kids Worth It? 🤔🚐👨‍👩‍👧‍👦💖


The question of whether van life with kids is worth it is subjective and highly dependent on your family’s values, lifestyle, and preferences. While van life offers incredible opportunities for family bonding, adventure, and personal growth, it also requires sacrifices and adjustments.

It’s crucial to carefully evaluate your family’s needs and priorities before embarking on this journey. Consider the pros and cons, assess your ability to adapt to a nomadic lifestyle, and ensure that the well-being and happiness of your children are at the forefront of your decision-making process.

With proper planning, realistic expectations, and an open mind, van life with kids can be an enriching and rewarding experience for the entire family.


Summary 🧾


Van life with kids presents a unique opportunity for families to embark on an extraordinary adventure together. By considering important factors such as van selection, seating arrangements, play space, and timing, you can create a comfortable and enjoyable environment for your family on the road.

Embracing a slower pace, spending time outdoors, and engaging in kid-friendly activities enhances the van life experience for everyone involved. Practical tips for driving long road trips, optimizing space, and choosing suitable gear ensure a smooth journey.

Ultimately, the decision of whether van life with kids is worth it depends on your family’s preferences and priorities. With careful planning, flexibility, and a positive mindset, van life can become a transformative and cherished chapter in your family’s story.


Key Takeaways 📚


  • Consider important factors such as van selection, seating arrangements, and play space when preparing for van life with kids.
  • Embrace a slower pace, spend time outdoors, and engage in kid-friendly activities to enhance the van life experience.
  • Plan and optimize space for driving long road trips, ensuring comfort and convenience for the whole family.
  • Choose suitable gear such as rain suits, footwear, clothing layers, and biking or hiking equipment to cater to your children’s needs.
  • Evaluate whether van life with kids aligns with your family’s values, priorities, and ability to adapt to a nomadic lifestyle.


Frequently Asked Questions ❓


When preparing your van for life with kids, consider factors such as seating arrangements, sleeping arrangements, play space, and heating. Customize the van to accommodate the specific needs of your children, ensuring safety and comfort throughout the journey.

Van life with kids is a personal decision that depends on your family’s values, preferences, and adaptability. It’s important to evaluate your family’s needs, priorities, and willingness to embrace a nomadic lifestyle before embarking on this journey.

Long drives can be made enjoyable for kids by providing entertainment options such as movies, games, books, or interactive activities. Engage your children in conversation, play their favorite music, or encourage them to spot landmarks and interesting sights along the way.

Essential gear for van life with kids includes rain suits, crocs or rain boots, quality clothing layers, biking gear, hiking shoes, water bottles, and odor-proof bags. These items cater to the comfort, safety, and practical needs of your children during van life adventures.

Van life with kids offers the benefits of quality family time, the freedom to travel and explore, and a simplified lifestyle focused on experiences rather than material possessions. It exposes children to diverse cultures, landscapes, and lifestyles, fostering curiosity and broadening their perspectives.

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