The Van Life Test: Assessing Your Compatibility with the Lifestyle

Female climbing into red van ready to take the van life test

The Van Life Test: Assessing Your Compatibility with the Lifestyle

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

18 July 2023

We’re putting pedal to the metal on a one-way mission to ignite wanderlust and connect you with your ultimate roving home. Subscribe to get a weekly dose of vanlife inspo and expert hacks straight to your inbox.

Van life has become a popular trend in recent years, attracting adventurous souls seeking freedom and a simpler way of living. But before embarking on this nomadic journey, it’s important to assess whether van life is the right fit for you. This is where the van life test comes into play, helping you evaluate your compatibility with this unique lifestyle.


What is Van Life?

Van life refers to the lifestyle of living and traveling in a converted van. It involves embracing a minimalist approach to living, where the van serves as both a means of transportation and a cozy home on wheels. Van lifers often seek the freedom to explore, disconnect from the fast-paced world, and immerse themselves in nature.


Is Van Life Right for You?

While van life may seem enticing, it’s crucial to determine if it aligns with your preferences, needs, and goals. The van life test allows you to evaluate various aspects of this lifestyle, helping you make an informed decision. It considers factors such as your personality, comfort preferences, financial situation, and desired level of mobility.



📖 Table of Contents

  • Understanding the allure of van life
  • Benefits of living in a van
  • Challenges of van life
  • Assessing your financial situation
  • Calculating your budget for van life
  • Managing expenses on the road
  • Types of vans for van life
  • Factors to consider when selecting a van
  • Evaluating your vehicle options
  • Researching van-friendly destinations
  • Mapping out your travel itinerary
  • Setting up electrical systems in your van
  • Managing water and waste
  • Insulating your van for different climates
  • Cooling and heating options
  • Designing a functional kitchenette
  • Essential cooking equipment for van life
  • Basic maintenance tasks for van owners
  • Troubleshooting common vehicle issues

🌍 Exploring the Van Life Lifestyle

Understanding the Allure of Van Life

Van life allows you to break free from the constraints of conventional living. It offers the freedom to roam, explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Living in a van means waking up to breathtaking landscapes, experiencing stunning sunsets, and embracing a simpler, more intentional way of life.

Benefits of Living in a Van

Living in a van brings numerous advantages. Firstly, it offers a significant cost-saving opportunity, as you eliminate the need for rent or mortgage payments. Van life also encourages minimalism, forcing you to declutter and prioritize experiences over material possessions. Additionally, it allows you to cultivate a deeper connection with the natural world and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Challenges of Van Life

While van life has its allure, it also presents unique challenges. Limited living space can be a significant adjustment for some, requiring careful organization and efficient use of every square inch. Privacy can also be a concern, especially in crowded campgrounds or urban areas. Furthermore, adapting to the constant change and unpredictability of life on the road can be emotionally and mentally challenging.

💰 Financial Considerations

Assessing Your Financial Situation

Take a comprehensive look at your financial standing before diving into van life. Consider your income, savings, and expenses. Assess whether you have sufficient funds to cover the initial costs of acquiring a van and converting it into a livable space. Evaluate your ongoing financial stability and whether you have the means to sustain your lifestyle on the road.

Calculating Your Budget for Van Life

Creating a realistic budget is an essential step in the van life test. Consider all potential expenses, including vehicle purchase or rental, van conversion costs, insurance, fuel, maintenance, camping fees, groceries, and other daily necessities. Factor in unexpected expenses and allow room for emergencies. Ensure that your projected budget aligns with your income and financial goals.

Managing Expenses on the Road

Van life offers opportunities for both cost-saving and additional expenses. While you can save on rent and utilities, other costs may arise. Plan your route strategically, considering fuel costs and camping fees in different areas. Look for free camping options or consider joining van life communities that offer shared resources. Learn to manage your expenses wisely, opting for experiences over material possessions.


🚙 Choosing the Right Vehicle

Types of Vans for Van Life

There is a wide range of vans suitable for van life, each with its own set of advantages and limitations. Popular choices include camper vans, conversion vans, and cargo vans that can be transformed into cozy living spaces.

Camper vans often come equipped with built-in amenities like kitchenettes, sleeping areas, and storage compartments.

Conversion vans offer more flexibility as they can be customized to fit your specific needs.

Cargo vans provide a blank canvas for conversion projects and offer ample space for personalization.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Van

Several factors should influence your decision when selecting a van for van life.

Consider your lifestyle, budget, and desired level of comfort. Assess the van’s size, interior layout, and storage capacity to ensure it meets your needs. Fuel efficiency and mechanical reliability are essential for long-term travel.

Additionally, evaluate the van’s maneuverability and parking feasibility, especially if you plan to explore urban areas or navigate narrow roads.

Evaluating Your Vehicle Options

To determine the best van for your van life adventure, take the time to thoroughly research and test drive various models. Explore online resources, van life communities, and forums to gather insights from experienced van dwellers.

Visit dealerships or private sellers to inspect the vans in person and assess their condition. Consider consulting with van conversion specialists who can offer guidance based on your specific requirements. By carefully evaluating your vehicle options, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.


🏞️ Planning Your Routes and Destinations

Researching Van-Friendly Destinations

Before hitting the road, research van-friendly destinations that cater to the needs of van dwellers. Look for places with abundant nature, scenic beauty, and ample parking options.

National parks, state parks, and designated camping areas often provide suitable accommodations for van life. Online travel resources, van life blogs, and social media communities can be valuable sources of information for discovering hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path locations.

Mapping Out Your Travel Itinerary

Create a flexible travel itinerary that outlines the places you want to visit and the routes you’ll take. Consider your personal interests, such as hiking, surfing, or photography, and incorporate destinations that align with your passions.

Strike a balance between popular attractions and lesser-known spots to experience a diverse range of experiences. Be open to spontaneous detours and unexpected discoveries along the way, as they often lead to unforgettable memories.


⚡️ Power and Utilities

Setting up electrical systems in your van 

When living the van life, setting up efficient power and utilities systems ensures a comfortable and self-sustaining lifestyle.

Start by installing electrical systems in your van, including a deep-cycle battery, power inverter, and fuse panel. These components allow you to charge devices, power lights, and run appliances while on the road.

Managing water and waste

Managing water and waste is another crucial aspect of van life. Consider installing a freshwater tank with a hand pump or electric pump for easy access to clean water.

To handle waste disposal, explore portable toilet options like composting toilets or cassette toilets. Research local regulations and facilities for properly emptying waste tanks when necessary.

By setting up reliable power and utilities systems, you’ll have the freedom to roam off the beaten path while still enjoying the comforts of electricity and essential amenities.

🌡️ Climate Control and Comfort

Insulating your van for different climates

Living in a van exposes you to various climates, making climate control and comfort paramount. Insulating your van helps regulate temperature and minimizes heat transfer.

Use insulation panels, reflective window coverings, and weather stripping to keep the interior cool during hot summers and warm during chilly winters.

Cooling and heating options

Consider cooling and heating options that suit your needs and power capabilities. Portable fans and vent fans are efficient choices for circulating air and reducing humidity. For colder climates, invest in a propane or diesel heater to keep you cozy at night.

Alternatively, electric blankets or hot water bottles can provide extra warmth without relying on additional power sources.

🍽️ Cooking and Meal Preparation

Designing a functional kitchenette

One of the joys of van life is the freedom to prepare your meals on the go. Designing a functional kitchenette maximizes your culinary capabilities while living on the road.

Start by optimizing counter space with foldable or removable work surfaces. Install a compact stove or cook top with multiple burners, and consider a portable grill for outdoor cooking.

Essential cooking equipment for van life

Equipping your kitchenette with essential cooking equipment is key. Invest in lightweight and durable cookware, such as stainless steel or non-stick pots and pans. A set of versatile utensils, including a chef’s knife, cutting board, and cooking utensils, allows you to prepare a wide range of meals.

Don’t forget about food storage solutions like a cooler or compact refrigerator to keep perishables fresh.

🛠️ Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs

Basic Maintenance Tasks for Van Owners 

Regular maintenance tasks can prevent potential issues and ensure your van stays in good condition. This includes regular oil changes, checking and topping up fluids, inspecting tires, and performing routine inspections of your van’s systems.

Troubleshooting Common Vehicle Issues

Despite regular maintenance, you may encounter common vehicle issues on the road.

Familiarize yourself with troubleshooting techniques for common problems such as battery issues, electrical malfunctions, or engine troubles. Carry basic tools and equipment for minor repairs.

📚Key Takeaways

  • Stay connected on the road by exploring internet and communication options, finding Wi-Fi hotspots, and actively maintaining connections with friends and family.
  • Take care of your van by performing regular maintenance tasks, troubleshooting common issues, and establishing a network of reliable mechanics.
  • Embrace a minimalist lifestyle by letting go of unnecessary possessions, reaping the benefits of simplicity, and practicing mindfulness in your daily life.
  • Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being by addressing feelings of isolation and loneliness, coping with challenges, and incorporating self-care practices.
  • Overall, the van life test involves considering multiple factors to ensure a fulfilling and compatible journey.

🗨️FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Living expenses in a van can vary depending on your lifestyle choices and location. While some van lifers are able to keep their costs minimal, others may opt for more luxurious setups.

On average, van life expenses can range from $1,000 to $3,000 per month, including fuel, insurance, maintenance, camping fees, and groceries. However, it’s essential to create a budget that suits your specific needs and financial situation.

The best vans for van life depends on your individual preferences and requirements. Popular choices include converted cargo vans like the Mercedes Sprinter camper, Ford Transit camper, or Ram Promaster camper.

These vans offer ample space for customization and are known for their reliability. However, smaller options like the Volkswagen Transporter or Nissan NV200 may be suitable for those seeking a compact and more fuel-efficient alternative.

Finding van-friendly campsites is crucial for a comfortable van life experience. There are several resources available to locate suitable campgrounds and RV parks. Websites and apps like Campendium, Hipcamp, and AllStays provide comprehensive databases of campgrounds with user reviews and essential information. Additionally, joining online van life communities and forums allows you to connect with fellow van dwellers who can recommend hidden gems and off-grid camping spots.

Yes, many van lifers are able to work remotely while enjoying the freedom of the open road. With the availability of mobile internet options like cellular data plans, Wi-Fi hotspots, and satellite internet, staying connected is easier than ever.

Remote work opportunities such as freelance writing, web design, or online consulting can provide a steady income while allowing you to embrace the van life lifestyle.

Van life can be a rewarding experience for families with children, but it requires careful consideration and planning.

Factors such as the size of your van, educational arrangements, and the need for additional storage and amenities must be taken into account. Many families have successfully incorporated van life into their lives, providing their children with unique educational experiences and quality family time on the road.

Read this next


Register to receive our newsletter, bringing you exclusive offers and the latest news.

Sell your Van in 7 days

Built by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts, Buy or Sell Campers is the ultimate place to browse hundreds of camper vans for sale nationwide. Drill down into van-specific features that make all the difference in finding your perfect camper van. 

Selling your camper van? We can help with that too. Instantly gain exposure to thousands of van buyers across the Country!

Why Buy or Sell Campers?

With over 200k followers, tapping into our social media guarantees mass exposure for your rig.