Going on a camping trip can be an incredible experience if you do things right.
One of the best ways to ramp up your camping trip experience is by going on a van road trip. Van camping allows you to camp and travel at the same time. This gives you a vacation that features adventure, relaxation, and everything in between.
Interested in trying out van life for a future camping trip? Keep reading below to learn more about van camping life and how you can prepare for van camping trips.
Selecting the Right Van
When selecting the right van for van camping life, the most important aspects to take into account are size, comfort, and budget. Bigger vans tend to provide more space and storage for camping gear such as sleeping bags, a portable stove, and other items. At the same time, consider the layout of the van to make sure there is enough room for everyone to sleep comfortably.
It is also important to pay attention to the features of the van, such as the distance between the seats and the front dashboard, and any extra storage areas. Furthermore, research on the average cost of vans and look for models that suit your budget. Finally, read reviews and visit various shops to get the best deal, and go for a test drive to ensure that the van meets your needs and expectations.
Planning for a Van Conversion
Start by researching your van of choice, as well as the costs associated with purchasing, outfitting, and maintaining it. Pay extra attention to important details such as storage, insulation, and ventilation.
When budgeting for your custom van conversion, be sure to account for tools, supplies, and materials. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the laws and regulations concerning van camping in your area.
Getting Essential Gears and Supplies
For those looking to explore the great outdoors and embark on a life of van camping, it is essential to prepare with the right gear and supplies. Here are some of the essential items for your trip:
Sleep and Comfort
Portable mattresses are a great investment for campers, as they provide comfort and can be easily deflated and packed away. It is also beneficial to invest in a good quality sleeping bag to ensure that you are kept warm during the colder months.
Camping pillows are also a great addition as not only are they comfortable, but they also do not take up much room. Additionally, bring along an air mattress or a rolling mattress for extra comfort. Lastly, make sure to bring blankets or extra layers for cold nights.
Cooking and Kitchen Supplies
In order to prepare for van camping life, it is important to learn how to cook and have the right kitchen supplies. Pack a camping stove, as this will be your main cooking tool. Make sure to bring enough fuel for the duration of the trip.
Also, pack essential utensils like knives, cutting boards, and a few pots and pans. Have plenty of plastic containers to store leftovers and organize the different ingredients.
Bring a selection of herbs and spices to make cooking more enjoyable. Don’t forget basic condiments like ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Lastly, make sure to bring enough food for the entire trip, and foldable chairs and tables if you want to enjoy a meal outside.
Water and Hygiene
Access to fresh running water is important, so bring large containers to capture and store enough clean water for drinking, cooking, and occasional showering or bathing. Hygiene-related items such as biodegradable soap, toilet paper, wipes, and even a portable shower or sink for larger vans should be included in the camping supplies for those extended trips.
Always bring enough clean water for several days of camping, as well as items such as trash bags, and antiseptic wipes for cleaning and personal hygiene. Finally, plan out how and where to dispose of trash and wastewater to minimize pollution or contamination of any water sources.
Safety and Emergency
Ensure you have first aid equipment such as bandages, dressings, painkillers, a thermometer, a sling, and a splint. Also, bring necessary materials such as rope, a flashlight, multi-tool, matches, a blanket, fire- starters, and a whistle in case you need to signal for help.
Additionally, you’ll need to be aware of local laws, stay informed on weather forecasts and bring appropriate clothing for the season and area. It is important to bring a cell phone, two-way radio, or a GPS device to stay connected.
Moreover, it is important to keep extra food and water in a secure location in case of an emergency. Finally, make sure that you have detailed maps of the country and that you inform others of your plans.
Clothing and Personal Items
In regards to clothing and personal items, it’s important to pack lightweight and versatile pieces. A few key items include a raincoat, packable down jacket, wool or fleece base layers, breathable and water-resistant shoes, and hats or beanies.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring extra underwear, socks, and long underwear for cold nights. You should also pack a thermal sleeping bag, a headlamp, sunscreen, sunglasses, and insect repellent.
Technology and Communication
Make sure you have a reliable charging system for your device and a power source to keep them charged. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are core pieces of technology allowing you to keep in touch with friends and family, map out journey routes, film memories, and access the internet.
Investing in a pair of walkie-talkies can help if you want to stay in contact when off the grid. A smartphone with a local SIM card can also allow you to stay connected, as well as track the location of your van.
A good quality, waterproof camera or camcorder will also ensure you capture media to remember your journey. Before setting off, make sure you know where you are going and have had a dry run to ensure tech is ready for van camping life.
Entertainment and Relaxation
Books, magazines, and newspapers can make for an enjoyable pastime when you’re “off the grid”, so load up on your favorites before you go. Create a music playlist with all your favorite tunes plus some new favorites you’d like to get acquainted with. Playing cards and board games can provide hours of fun and games provide a great way to pass the time.
Lastly, pack a hammock, yoga mat, or something similar to help you practice mindfulness and relax in nature. Snuggle up in a sleeping bag and a cozy blanket with a cup of hot tea to enjoy the fresh air and incredible views the great outdoors has to offer.
Planning Your Routes
Before setting out, it’s wise to research the areas you intend to pass through. Check for specific travel restrictions, and familiarize yourself with the terrain, road conditions, and road signs. Use navigation apps to pinpoint attractions, campgrounds, and towns along your route and to investigate alternative routes if needed.
Be sure to have a good grasp of the location of the nearest gas stations, grocery stores, and banks for when you need to resupply. Take along a set of backup maps or a GPS system to reference if you find yourself without cell service. Planning your routes ahead of time will ensure that you’re always aware of the safest, most efficient routes each day.
Maintaining Your Van
Preparing for the van camping life requires you to properly maintain your van. To start, it is important to check all fluids such as coolant, brake and power steering fluid, and transmission fluid, and top them off as needed.
As you drive more, keep track of how many miles you put on your van and make sure to keep up with regularly scheduled maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotations, and belt replacements. Additionally, you should make sure that you have all of the necessary tools and spare parts to make basic repairs to your van efficiently and safely.
Make sure you have jacks, jumper cables, and a lug wrench in the event of a roadside emergency. It is also important to make sure all of the interior components such as the lights and air conditioning are functioning properly.
Finally, keep the exterior of your van looking new by regularly washing it and waxing it. Taking care of your van when you are van camping will ensure that your ride is always reliable and safe.
Before you venture out on a van camping trip, it’s essential to make sure you’re prepared for any and all kinds of weather. Always check the current weather forecasts for the area you plan to visit and be prepared for occasional fluctuations in temperature.
Make sure to bring tarps and plastic in order to protect your van from rainwater. Since your van will primarily be exposed to the elements, adding tinting to the windows is a great way to reduce the interior temperature of the van.
Cooking and Meal Planning
Cooking and meal planning is an important part of van camping life. Begin by assessing what food items you currently have and create a list of additional items needed. Be sure to buy items that will last during your camping trip, such as canned and dried goods, and freeze-dried meals.
Once the ingredients have been purchased, plan your meals accordingly. For example, when planning a meal for your camping trip, think of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks that you can create with the supplies that you have.
When possible, prepare meals at home beforehand such as making chili and soup. That way, you just need to reheat the food onsite during your trip. Proper planning will save time and energy and will ensure that you have all of the right ingredients for a tasty and nutritious meal.
Finding Work on the Road
Preparing for van camping or a nomad lifestyle in relation to finding work on the road can be incredibly rewarding. The first step is to network, both online and in person. Reach out to people you know living and working on the road and ask them about their experiences.
Additionally, find local and national work-on-the-road groups. Join these groups and ask questions. Ask how to find work, where to find campsites or even advice on how to handle various issues.
Once your network is established, compile a list of employers that hire travelers. Be sure to apply for positions online and in person. Finally, research the area you’ll be visiting. Learn the local culture and bring the necessary tools to continue to work while on the road.
When packing for a van camping trip, be mindful of the places you may visit and the cultures you may encounter. Consider taking a small gift to offer as a gesture of respect. Research the places and cultures of your destinations before arriving, and consult with locals about customs and accepted behaviors.
Don’t forget to be aware of your own cultural privilege. Be mindful of any cultural or language barriers that may create misunderstanding and strive to be inclusive. Respect that you may be visiting a place where people have lived for generations and do not linger for too long.
Respect for different cultures includes a willingness to learn about their customs and be aware of the sensitivities, both local and regional. This type of preparation is essential for a respectful and enjoyable journey.
This can be done by being mindful of the items you are bringing, and focusing on single-use and recyclable items. Bring a bag to collect reusable plastic items and a trash bin for disposable waste.
When disposing of your trash, focus on recycling and composting items that can be used again to reduce your waste. If there are no recycling or composting facilities in the area, make sure to take your waste with you and dispose of it properly. Lastly, make sure to always bring garbage bags to store your waste until you are able to dispose of it properly.
Enjoy Van Camping by Being Prepared
Overall, van camping is a great way to experience nature on a budget. With a carefully researched itinerary and a van packed with the essentials, you can take on the adventure of a lifetime. So gather your friends, pick your destination, and get ready to hit the open road!
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