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How to Live in Your Van: A Survivalist's Guide

Gear + Kits
Gear + Kits
October 1, 2022
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Living in your van, once associated with hippies and '60s counterculture (think Woodstock or The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test), has had a popular resurgence in the recent years. 

Decked out Sprinter vans, early morning espresso-in-bed photo ops, and an Instagram account to document it all, of course—that's #vanlife. 

Love it or hate it, the living in a van lifestyle has its merits. Whether you do it as a quirky vacation idea, a solution for how to survive the recession, or an anti-consumerist lifestyle choice, there are ways to do it right. Hell, you can even pack your gear and call it a permanent hunting trip!

Here are a few tips on how to get started. However you decide to do it, just don’t forget to stop and smell the freedom. 

1. Make Sure She Runs

This one seems like a no-brainer, but many van-lifers underestimate the mechanical toll their new home will have to bear. Unless you live to fix blown headers and oil leaks, ensure the van you buy is in excellent shape under the hood. That VW lunchbox van may look great on Instagram, but if you can’t tell your blinker fluid from your muffler bearings then you may regret taking on a less-than-roadworthy project.

2. Plan Out the Chores

I know, nobody likes focusing on chores... But tasks like finding water fillups, bathrooms and showers, and places to dump your trash and greywater are best taken care of before they're an emergency. 

RV parks, gas stations, and public parks are usually great places to get water and find bathrooms. Campgrounds often have places to dispose of trash and greywater as well. Luckily, taking care of these necessities is pretty simple—it just requires a bit of planning. 

So charge up your phone, load your Google maps (or regular maps if you’re old school), and hit the road!

3. Invest in an Internet Connection

If you're reading this, you're probably a typical cellphone-addicted Millennial. Maybe not, but chances are you'll need to stay connected occasionally. 

Rather than waste time detouring to find Wifi hotspots, consider investing in an unlimited data plan or mobile Wifi hub. Especially if you work remotely, doing so can keep you exploring the open road rather than the nearest Starbucks. 

4. Try Before You Buy

Before committing to a life on the road, take it for a test drive first. Whether it's just renting a van and completing one of the best USA road trips, it's best not to switch to full-time van life without giving it a trial run. 

Hint: if you need some road trip inspiration for your first van life journey, check out our Grunt Style road trip video series.

5. Less Is More

Ditch the books in favor of a Kindle. Cook with fuel instead of electricity so you can shrink your electrical setup. Pack your glock instead of your rifle.

There are plenty of ways to minimize clutter in your van, and after a few weeks on the road, you'll come to value the extra space saved.

Hopefully, these tips will help you get started with living in the van. If you need some more inspiration on how to make the most of the great outdoors, check out some of our other guides to things like nature, cooking, fishing, and more.

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