As reported by the Washington Post, the RV Industry Association found that around 1 million Americans live full-time in recreational vehicles. This includes traditional RVs, campers, vans, and even converted busses. There are several reasons why so many have adopted this lifestyle: it can be more cost-effective than home ownership, it allows you to travel more, and it’s flexible around your lifestyle.
“Van life,” as this lifestyle is often called, is possible and sustainable if you are prepared. Living and working on the road can be incredibly rewarding for your mental health, as long as you set yourself up for success.
Being a nomad isn’t for everyone. There are certain health and safety risks associated with traveling frequently, as well as other potential complications and quirks. Anyone can become a nomad, but those who feel the most rewarded from this lifestyle often are:
Nomads often spend extended periods alone, away from familiar surroundings. Because of this, you may want to update your health insurance and adjust your auto insurance coverage to include any unexpected challenges, such as towing or ambulance services, so that you can get the help you need -- even if you’re on your own.
When it comes to life on the road, you have several options. Because more and more people are transitioning to full-time nomadic lifestyles, more manufacturers are making travel-friendly homes. Here are some of the most common types of portable homes:
These homes on wheels are the most common for those looking to live life on the road because they have all the basic necessities and comforts, while fitting neatly within a vehicle or trailer.
Even though van life is often more cost-effective than traditional home ownership, you’ll still have daily expenses, like food and gas, that you’ll need to earn money for. This is where getting a remote job comes in handy. Due to the rise in remote work, remote opportunities are more abundant than ever. Some of the fastest-growing remote-work employers include organizations in:
When it comes to working on the road, there are a few things you’ll need to create a productive working environment. These include:
You’ll also need to make room for job-specific tools, such as drawing tablets or work phones, and their accompanying accessories.
Life on the road doesn’t always include a traditional shower. Even if your tiny home or RV has a shower, water hookups aren’t guaranteed. This is why it’s important to adjust your hygiene routine for any situation. It’s important to keep yourself and your living space clean on the road, to prevent insect infestation and illness. Some hygiene tools you can use when a shower isn’t an option include:
If you can shower, either at a gym, truckstop, or another rest area, you will want to invest in a pair of shower shoes. These can be cheap plastic shoes that you wear in public showers, which will protect you from fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Be sure to disinfect these shoes after each use.
Furry friends can make great roadside companions. Dogs make great adventuring buddies for hikes and long walks exploring new areas, while cats are independent enough to be left alone for the day and return to. Having a pet can also alleviate some of the loneliness of your nomadic life.
Before you decide to bring a pet into your van life, you’ll need to make some preparations to ensure their safety and comfort. This can include getting them used to constantly being in a moving vehicle, as well as purchasing good pet insurance, due to the elevated risk of accident or vet inaccessibility.
There are pros and cons of having a separate, stationary house from your traveling one. For example, this house could be used as a secondary income, as you could rent it out while you’re on the road. It can also be a place for family and friends to stay in, or a place for you to use while your mobile home is getting scheduled maintenance.
However, if you keep a stationary home, you’ll still be responsible for the upkeep, including security. This can be a drain on income and free time.
If your house is going to sit empty for an extended period, then you might consider investing in comprehensive home insurance that protects against damage and break-ins. You may also consider requiring renter’s insurance from any tenants, to protect against property damage caused by them or their pets.
There are many health benefits to living a van life. For example, spending time in nature has proven benefits to mental health. Additionally, the sense of freedom and independence that comes along with van life can be another huge boon to your quality of life.
However, isolation may pose real problems, particularly if you’re traveling alone. This is why it’s so important to keep tabs on your mental health.
As telehealth has become more popular, mental healthcare providers are more accessible than ever. This means if you have internet access, you have access to a licensed mental health professional.
You can also create healthy habits that will help improve your mental health on the road, such as doing daily exercise, journaling, or joining an online forum of other nomads. These activities can help you feel engaged and supported, regardless of where you are in the world.
As van life continues to grow in popularity, you may feel the urge to trade in your house keys for car keys. This guide can help you be prepared to live your best nomadic life, on your own terms.