Traveling by van is an extraordinary adventure. More and more in vogue in recent years, “vanlife” likes to go beyond the notion of travel to define itself as a way of life. Everyone explores in their own way the joys of a nomadic life chosen but which can be summed up in one word: FREEDOM. After more than a year of living in a converted van (6 months in Australia and 6 months across Europe) and the book Drive Your Adventure, Elsa Frindik-Pierret and Bertrand Lanneau give us their practical advice to avoid mistakes of no -initiate and succeed in your road trip.
So that this van trip looks like YOU.
1. Travel by van and leave with the first comer
Oh, you look nice, how about we go on a road trip together? First of all, be aware that traveling in a van requires a certain proximity which can be complicated. In this cramped space, the bedroom is also the kitchen but also the bathroom. So, these few m² are to be shared 7 days a week and 24 hours a day with your traveling companion.
Your entire journey is defined by your mutual choices. If everyday life is all about concessions and frustrations, it will be difficult to fully enjoy the joys of life in a van. And what a pity! Together, ask yourself about your goals and expectations for this trip.
What are your desires and interests? Do you prefer outdoor activities and extreme sports? Or more beach and relaxation? Are you looking for dating and partying? Or calm and introspection? What are your habits in terms of comfort, hygiene, cooking?
If you have more in common than your differences, it seems that you have found a very good partner to travel by van!
But is this the ideal partner? You won’t really know it until you’re on the road.
Our daily advice: CO-MU-NI-QUER! In such a confined space, emotions are multiplied. We live stronger, more real, without filter. So, no “unsaid” because in 5m² they end up resurfacing. Dare to express your feelings and dramas will be avoided. It is therefore essential to find THE person to go with. Especially if it’s for a long time. It’s up to you to form this beautiful team with common values, and with whom communication is easy to support each other.
At your directories, you can start casting.
2. Neglecting your mount
How about taking a few minutes to ask yourself the right questions? The vehicle you choose will be the keystone when it comes to traveling by van, so this choice should not be overlooked.
Rent or buy? Do your calculations and tie up your budget to come out a winner. For an almost new vehicle without any fuss, rental will surely be preferred. But if you want to travel in a van, or live there, for more than 2 months you will make more money from a vehicle purchase and you will have the possibility of reselling it on your return.
The type of vehicle obviously depends on the number of passengers to be accommodated, but also on the nature of the trip you are planning, your destination and your need for comfort. Some go on a road trip in 205 and others in semi-trailers! Do you want it already fitted out? Or do it yourself? What options do you think are essential? 4 wheels driving? Automatic? What insurance?
Take the time to choose it well because it will either be your best friend or probably the burden you have to hang around.
He is an integral part of your crew and your adventure. It will house you, feed you and above all will lead you to new horizons. In addition, consider giving it a little name, it will make him happy!
In the meantime, we present you Patrick below!
3. Prepare your route around the bend
How pretty is this map that you have reflected, drawn, calculated. Quick, quick, before you spend too much time there we will stop you here before you leave for a van tour.It is true that you have to prepare a minimum and study the maps and guides of the countries you want to cross. However, to leave thinking that your path is clear is a utopia. We must not forget that the unexpected will happen.
Traveling by van is a new adventure every day. Through this type of trip or life, you will learn to live with the elements, to depend on the present moment and to let yourself be guided through encounters that sometimes lead to others.
An incredible spot that will hold you back one more night? Or a breakdown that forces you to slow down? A financial unforeseen that forces you to find short-term solutions? Local advice that becomes your way? Obviously, anything can happen. Even with a very well put together itinerary, when you travel by van, the vagaries of the road will surprise you and let yourself be surprised!
We advise you to draw the main lines, to foresee at least the number of countries or regions that you wish to cross, to anticipate the distances by limiting yourself to 300km per day, to mark your “essentials”, and to note yourself some Monthly checkpoints if that can help you stay the course.
You will not be able to do everything or see everything. Thanks to this, you will learn to release ballast. You will then slowly find your cruising speed and will be able to enjoy the beauties of life in a van.
4. Carrying too much business to travel in a van
This is the phrase we’ve all said once when it comes to packing and getting ready to travel.
The advantage of traveling in a van is that you can take a lot more than a suitcase, but that’s no reason to let go of the volume of stuff to take with you! Your living space is reduced and it should not be overcrowded. Regardless, your storage space is limited and they themselves define the stock of business you can take.
You have to make choices.
To help you we advise you to sequence your affairs.
1) According to the primary needs of traveling by van. With what I:
- wash my,
- go to the toilet,
- tidies and cleans the van.
2) Then according to your secondary needs. With what I:
- keep me busy,
- have fun.
- And yes, traveling in a van isn’t just about survival, so don’t forget the accessories you need for your well-being and your passions.
For clothing, a base of seven outfits for all seasons is sufficient. You will see that we are going to the fastest and most comfortable. The only thing to plan for in greater numbers are underwear, a good ten each in case of late laundry.
Little by little, by filling your van, you will reduce your suitcase to keep only the bare minimum. Help yourself with your traveling companion, check not to have taken too many duplicates in your respective suitcases.
You will learn to live with what is necessary and be satisfied with it. “Happy sobriety” as Mr. Pierre Rabhi says!
5. Make hygiene your number one concern
These are questions that come up often and it is legitimate because they are everyday issues. To each his own priorities!
We admit it, we didn’t take a lot of showers. But we did meet “vanlifers” who took it every day. Many solutions exist: install a shower at the back of your truck, hang a solar shower, borrow the hot showers of a campsite, a municipal swimming pool or a service station, or even use the basin / glove method.
For women’s issues and / or to go to the toilet it’s the same, you can use the toilets in public places, restaurants, bars, campsites … But when you are installed on a superb spot lost in the depths of the forest, it is is the return to the sources and to the wild pee and poo! Headlamp, small shovel and PQ roller will be your allies.
“All ass seen is not lost” it seems. Make it your motto! The first few times can be overwhelming, but when you have no choice you quickly get used to it, and you even get a taste for “pee with a view”!
Coquetry also tends to pack up with the kilometers traveled. Your priorities will certainly change. Eating, drinking and sleeping often take precedence over your dress style. Laundromats are scarce so you wear what you can, and it’s often the same. Only the weather determines the choice of clothes in the morning. Whether you are having a good time well dressed or not will not change your memories, we promise!
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