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Without being a van lifer, we make several mistakes that could have been avoided, but sometimes we choose to ignore them which later have dire consequences with our lives. So, making mistakes as a van lifer is no exception, as no one is above mistake, but some mistakes can be avoided to ensure that the trips are memorable. There will be mistakes along the way and we just have to live and learn as we go. Some you may think are obvious and some you may have never considered, but there are a few mistakes you can avoid making while living your van life on the road.
1. Too much alone time
Most of the time, you find a solo van lifer living on the road though there are also quite several van lifers with partners. It might seem easy as you get focused on seeing the sites, and making good time on the road but it can make one to possibly forget how significant human interaction is. Being always alone which is a form of isolation can cause boredom and loneliness, especially if the area the van lifer stays is far from the human community. This occurs mostly with van lifers who are introverts.
With this, they will not have fun and some of the benefits of engaging with other van lifers will be lost. One way to redress or avoid this mistake is by making a positive effort to go out and connect with people and creating healthy and beneficial relationships. Although by always traveling in a van, the relationships can be transient, it is still okay as you could plan a hangout later in the future or probably become great social media friends.
Your location could be at the campsite or park, any which way, communicate with your neighbors, invite them to dinner or play games with them. That way, there is no way to stay alone except you need to be alone. Even while with a partner(s), you still need to get engaged with people around your vicinity. Add up other van lifers on social media platforms to join them when there’s an outing or camp party at a particular destination.
2. Ignoring the weather
One thing that can disrupt a plan is bad weather. Most times, it is when there is heavy rainfall. But being too hot or cold can be tiring and stressful for many people. Sleeping in a van is more like sleeping indoors but it doesn’t mean that you are not vulnerable to extreme and sudden changes in the weather. Ensure that you research the usual temperatures of the places you will be visiting and also where you are staying to know the right clothes to wear. It is not all about going out, staying indoor even with the weather being too hot or cold has to be taken care of.
Having to enjoy the trip or night in the van during hot weather means that an air conditioner or built-in insulation has to be installed in the van. Some van lifers feel the air conditioner of the van can sustain them during winter, but that is if the van is of a very good model. However, during winter, it is important to also have a heater in the van to warm the body from cold. You can research the best heating system for your van and insulate the van to keep it warm. And for those who cannot afford an air conditioner can opt for a strong and rechargeable mini-fan. For full-time van lifers, you are going to experience both kinds of weather, so get ready to sustain the temperature. Reflectors on windows can lower van temperatures by much as 20 degrees. For those with pets too, I need to ensure that they are also kept cool. Also, it is important to invest in the best bedding types that will suit both kinds of weather (cold and hot).
To ensure that you do not fall victim to getting into bad weather in your destination, you can read a newspaper, check your phone, and listen to the weather forecast from a news channel. For the temporary van lifers who are out on the road to have fun with friends and family, if possible, plan the van trip during the shoulder seasons, that is, spring and fall, to maximize the pleasure. However, if a bad patch of weather can’t be avoided, ensure to hit the shops and get some sturdy outdoor gear. A thick coat and some rubber boots can turn a rainy day into a fun adventure, and it’ll keep you from going stir-crazy in the camp.
3. A Lack of Planning
Some mistakes made in life happen as a result of lack of planning, inadequate planning, or even over planning. For instance, before deciding to be a van lifer, it means you are ready to give up on a lot of things. A mistake while planning might cost a lot, that is why it is pertinent to be extra meticulous while planning out any event. One beauty about van life is that there are no rules, except for the camping rules you come across where you decide to stay. But there are no rules for how to live as a van lifer. There is the freedom to do whatever one chooses to, but not anything illegal. Also important to know that planning too much can detract from the feeling of freedom on the road. Strict agendas can lead to fatigue, caused by too much time driving to keep up with your scheduled stops. You also risk missing out on the serendipitous moments, like when another van family clues you in on a secret paradise cove. Always take time to plan your next move, to avoid missing out on important events. What makes you a great planner is when you get to take advantage of unplanned adventures.
Van life newbies especially make the mistake of setting out a concrete plan of what needs to be done to enjoy van living or also plan the day. Thus, mistakes that could have been avoided by taking a few minutes to plan are made. Plan the essentials needed in the van, where to stay, the route to get there, the next week’s meals, medical needs, and the job that needs to be done amongst other things. Endeavor to pay maximum attention to decisions that can become a twist while journeying if ignored. Planning your reservation is very important, remember that there are always a huge number of campers (advisable for newbies). Know where to stay, and if it’s at a campground, understand that the grounds are packed in each region’s peak, so don’t risk setting out without a reservation. Before driving your campervan or RV anywhere, you should always check and recheck. Walk around the rig and check the lights, the outside compartment doors, and the vehicle connections. Make sure the T.V. antenna or satellite dish is in place, and all the windows and vents are closed. Inside the RV, check that all cupboards and doors are latched, also check to be sure items are properly stowed, and that the refrigerator is closed all the way. Make yourself a list and go through it one at a time before driving down the road. You can save yourself a lot of potential problems and money by thoroughly checking and rechecking every time
4. Improper Budgeting
This is somewhat similar to the previous point, which is planning. Jumping on the road with no particular budget on how to spend is a financial disaster that can render one broke. Another mistake already committed by some van lifers but can be avoided by those who haven’t or are about to. It is crucial to work out a budget for van travel. For newbies, you can easily meet up with van lifers who are already into the lifestyle for a while to know how to spend it. Eagerness to live a van life can make you over plan and spend on unnecessary items that could incur debt. Some things have to be considered well, such as getting the right van, ensuring to work on your budget, and don’t purchase something which is beyond your limit. Also, while trying to set up the van.
Although it takes some practice to know the real cost of campervan travel, it will become clear over time. However, it is also crucial to budget for inevitable adventure opportunities. Having a list of what to spend on will help you avoid unnecessary spending. For instance, having prior knowledge of where to stay and how much to keep a reservation will help you work on your budget. That is why van lifers are mostly referred to as minimalists. Suffice it to say that the more you set aside for emergencies, the more you can relax and enjoy the adventure that comes with van living. There should be a budget for food, gas, repairs, fun, and other things essential and valuable to you. In all, plan how you spend. Especially if you’ve not got a steady job as there will be some days you will have to live without working. It’s important to get a job even if it means to deliver goods to clients or probably get work online.
5. Lack of Security
One of the risks of traveling on the road is the danger that comes with it, that is why van lifers have to be extra meticulous in their dealings on the road. Thus the mistake of not being security conscious shouldn’t be made as it could have dire consequences both on lives and properties. It is pertinent to have a security essential guide with you whether you are a temporary or permanent van lifer, as long as you are mostly on the road. When you go hiking, climbing, biking, or surfing, ensure to keep your luggage from being stolen. While enjoying the fun that comes with driving on the road, endeavor to keep your safety and security in mind, and also make lots of plans for it. With adequate planning, you can enjoy it with no fear of fire outbreak or theft. Staying safe on the road is being alert and conscious of your environment.
Do not park your campervan in a strange place with little or no one around or even on a hill or isolated road. So, also is the campground safe. Not only will you spend a lot of time there, but will also have your campervan parked there for an extended period.
One of the most important safety items to include in your gear is the vehicle safe. With this, you can keep your belongings such as a passport, wallet, smartphone, or credit card. Be careful about how you handle electronic appliances in the van, a little mistake from this can have a devastating effect. Especially when you forget to disconnect the electronics. At night, as a result of the stress of the day, you could forget to pull down the curtains while sleeping off. This in-secure action can draw the attention of young thugs. There are quite many security details that should not be disregarded or forgotten such as getting a first aid kit, getting insurance for the vehicle, a vehicle GPS tracker, alarm (though many concerted vans now have alarms in them), fire extinguisher, etc. More so, avoid parking by the roadside as it is dangerous. This act makes you vulnerable to weirdo, thieves, paranoid locals, and local agencies. Be aware of your location and make sure to locate it on the map. You could inform a friend or family member to know about your location.
6. No Mechanical skills or neglecting your vehicle
Living in a van is a means to adventure, at some point in your van life adventure, something is going to go wrong. When it does, you are going to need a backup plan. Female solo van lifers mostly do not take into cognizance the importance of checking out the important mechanical parts of the van before heading out on the road. Breaking down in the middle of the road with no help can be a very scary situation. Mechanical breakdowns are most often a result of overlooked maintenance or something that should have been noticed before getting on the driveway. Ensure that the mistake of not getting emergency mechanical kits is avoided. Get the safety signals ready in your vehicle.
Often, it is the minor issues we refuse to pay attention to that leads to the major ones. It is always easier to prevent your van or RV from breaking down than to fix one that is already broken down. There are complex systems and tiny parts that will fall apart regardless of the original construction quality. For this reason, you must plan maintenance and repairs into your budget as you prepare for this lifestyle. Equip yourself with the means to get unstuck. Get items such as AAA, a car battery charger, jumper cables, and anything else your van might need in case of an emergency. You do not want to be in a situation where you have to get your van fixed and pay for hotels. That is double expenses. Endeavor to get your van checked out often, and when possible, take it to a mechanic in a city where you know someone who can give you a solid reference
While there are plenty of days when you’ll find this to be true, there are still plenty of mistakes to be made along the way to creating the perfect van life adventure. The only way to find out what works for you is to get out there and do it. In all, ensure that you do not make mistakes of the list above.