Van life is tough but rewarding, especially if you’re taking on the extra challenge of working while on the road. The sense of freedom is unparalleled, but it’s a pleasure not easily won. To ensure you’re able to soak up all the beauty of van life while minimizing the dramas, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Treat yourself to a real office when you need one
Though it can be fun working from your van or cute coffee shops you find along the way, it can also get frustrating. Coffee shops are noisy, even the most spacious vans are relatively cramped, and you’re often at the mercy of the weather.
Serviced offices offer an elegant solution to this problem. With no lock-in contracts, you can use them on an as-needed basis. They’re ideal for giving you a professional setting for important meetings, you’ll have reliable high-speed internet, and they generally offer other perks like cafeterias and sometimes even fitness centers and e-bikes.
2. Get insurance and roadside assistance
Wherever you happen to be in the world – whether you’re circumnavigating Australia, touring through Europe, or exploring the Americas – you need to have insurance. If you’re in your home country, vehicular insurance, health insurance, and roadside assistance are a good idea. If you’re overseas, take the time to look into the best travel insurance. If anything happens to you, your van, or your gear, you need to have peace of mind that you’re covered.
3. Use a separate power source for your electronics
When living and working from a van, you should never use your vehicle’s main battery to power your lights, electronics, and other equipment. Instead, purchase a second deep-cycle battery and have an auto-electrician wire it up so it can take charge whenever you’re driving but won’t draw from your main battery while you’re parked and using your equipment.
4. Use solar power (the smart way)
To truly master the art of providing yourself with endless power, it’s worth investing in solar panels. However, you should avoid making the rookie mistake of purchasing portable, foldable panels. Though these work well and are generally quite cheap, you can’t drive with them set up. They’re also easy to steal, meaning any time you’ve got them plugged in, you’ll basically have to stay with your van.
Instead, invest in a set of permanent panels you can affix to the top of your van. These sit flush with the roof, meaning no one will even be able to tell they’re up there. If someone did notice and wanted to steal them, they’d have to come armed with tools and a whole lot of time.
5. Plan your route and pack accordingly
While every van owner needs a first aid kit stocked with medical supplies, the precise contents of that kit, and indeed the rest of the van, will depend greatly on where you’re going. Instead of packing for all possible eventualities, it’s best to consider your destination, the climate and weather patterns, the time of year, the length of your intended trip, and other situational factors.
Though the tips above can help make your transition to van life easier, you’ll inevitably make some mistakes and experience some setbacks. The beauty of these difficult experiences is that they’ll teach you valuable lessons. This time next year, you’ll likely have gained so much wisdom from the road that you’ll be offering your own advice to new travelers.