It was estimated that over 3 million people in the United States were living the van life in 2022, and there’s no reason to believe that number won’t continue to rise. These VanLifers understand the benefits and freedom that can come from living a life on the road. But, what many people love about van life is the community itself. Obviously, 3 million people isn’t a small gathering. While VanLifers are constantly on the move across the country, technology has made it easier than ever for digital nomads to stay connected.
That’s important for a variety of reasons. If you’re living the van life on your own, it can get lonely very quickly. Isolation can be damaging to your mental health. So, being able to feel like you’re part of a community and forming connections with like-minded people can make a big difference in your well-being.
Whether you’re considering van life or you’ve been at it for a while, it’s essential to know how to thrive in the community as soon as possible.
Van life has plenty of benefits, but it’s not perfect and it’s not for everyone. Before you set out on your next adventure — whether it’s a long road trip or you want to live a nomadic lifestyle — recognizing some of the potential drawbacks will help to better prepare you for anything the road might throw your way.
With that in mind, some of the cons of living in a van include:
- Limited privacy;
- Negative stigma;
- Sometimes hard to maintain good hygiene;
- Little space;
- Vehicle maintenance;
- Limited job opportunities.
Don’t let the cons scare you from living out this dream if it’s what you really want. Remote work has become more common and popular than ever. You only need a few things to have a successful work setup in your van, including reliable Wi-Fi, the right electronic equipment, and a dedicated workspace.
Additionally, don’t discount the rewards that come from van life. You can be your own boss, travel wherever you want, experience new things, and you’re not tied down to a mortgage or rental agreement.
Once you decide whether van life is for you, you need to find ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of the digital nomad lifestyle, and staying connected to your loved ones and other digital nomads.
When it comes to staying in touch with family and friends, technology wins again. It’s worthwhile to adopt a phone plan with unlimited data so you can not only work from the road, but connect with people without having to worry about extra charges. Phone calls, texts, and video chats make it easy to check in with the people you care about no matter where you are.
As far as meeting new people – especially other VanLifers, try things like adult learning classes, joining an amateur sports team, or visiting public events. You never know who you’ll run into and how making a new friend could change your life.
Because van life has become so popular, you can also use the Internet as a resource to find a digital community of people you could eventually meet in person. Check out social media groups and digital forums to find other VanLifers. You can quickly form connections based on shared interests or locations. You might even be able to meet up with some of the people you connect with, fostering an even stronger community.
If you’ve decided to become a full-time VanLifer, the best thing you can do is to prioritize the preparation and maintenance of your vehicle. The last thing you want is to get stranded somewhere in the middle of winter with no support system in sight.
Start with something simple, like investing in winter tires. Seeing the country in the winter can be beautiful, but driving on wet, icy roads is dangerous. Winter tires have better grip and will help to keep you on the road when things get iced over.
It’s also important to make sure you have the right gear with you on the road, especially when the weather turns, including:
- A first-aid kit;
- Road flares;
- Bottled water;
- Extra blankets;
- A battery-powered phone charger.
There’s no denying that, just like every other way of living, there are big benefits to van life, but there are also some potential drawbacks. What you don’t need to worry about, however, is a lack of community. You can easily stay connected to people back home while exploring and investing in new relationships all across the country.
Keep these ideas in mind whether you’re already a VanLifer or you’ve had the idea for a while. Prioritize your mental and physical well-being and choose to put yourself out there on the road, rather than isolating yourself.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.