If you love road trips and are a fan of all that nature’s beauty has to offer, then you’re made for van life. Imagine traveling and living in a van, camping, finding new unexplored places, and working + earning too! A few years ago, this would’ve been just a dream, but after work-from-anywhere became a norm, it’s possible to convert a road trip and a vacation into a lifestyle. You can now have a van life working remotely. Let’s get you started with it!
Van Life Working Remotely: What is it?
Before we get on with what you’ll need and how you can go on with your full time van living, let’s talk about what van life actually is.
Van life is an alternative lifestyle adopted by many nomads who want to live a simple life while traveling the world with ease and freedom. You need a van that’s equipped with necessities like solar panels, a good internet connection, house batteries, a toilet and sink, storage space, etc.
Simply put, van life working remotely means living in a mobile vehicle while going about your regular life that includes remote employment/remote business.
Important points to note about van life:
- It’s not “vacation mode” but a lifestyle.
- It’s for digital nomads who don’t want to stay in one place on a permanent basis.
- It isn’t all glamorous as it looks like on social media. You’ll need to figure out where to take a bath, where to poop, and where to sleep.
- You can have a van life if you have a remote job or a remote business.
- You’ll need motivation
The most important thing to consider when starting a van life is finances. You need to earn to keep up with being on the road. Fuel, food, and other essentials need to be paid for just like you pay for your monthly bills when stationed in a permanent home. With a remote job or business, income will be the least of your concerns when it comes to van life.
And if you’re planning to start a digital nomad van life to save money, check out these ideas!
How to Work Remotely on The Road: First Steps
Finances being the priority for a smooth van life, you’ll first need to get yourself a remote job or start a remote business if you don’t already have one.
Van life working remotely has advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll have tons of things to consider too when you opt for this living. Here are all the things you need to start.
Choose a Camper Van That Suits Your Lifestyle
Depending on your lifestyle, each vehicle has its own set of benefits. Choosing a vehicle that best suits your needs, hobbies, and travel plans will make full- time van living much more convenient.
Depending on your trip, work, and lifestyle, there are many different rigs to pick from. Do you intend to travel with your family or go on a long-distance trek around the world? If you have kids, you might need the extra beds from a pop-top camper for the kids. You need to study several RVs to determine which one is the best for you.
Remember that you’ll be having a van life working remotely. This means that you’ll also need space for a workstation inside your van. So, it’s best to keep that in mind while choosing your vehicle.
Should you buy or rent a campervan for your van life?
If camping full-time is your life goal, then buying a van camper makes sense as it will be your mobile home. But if you will be van camping only once every 6-7 months then renting is perhaps the best option for you because buying one is quite an expensive affair.
How much do campervans cost? Buying vs renting
Buying: Campervans’ prices can range from as low as $10,000 to a whopping $120,000. It all depends on the size you choose, the brand, amenities (like sleeping space, kitchen space, bathroom, workspace, etc.
Renting one isn’t cheap either but the costs are usually on a per night basis but if you’re spending less time on the road, you’ll spend way lower money renting an RV than buying one.
RV Type Average Rental Cost Class A $175 to $275 per night Class B $100 to $200 per night Class C $150 to $200 per night Travel Trailer $50 to $125 per night Fifth Wheel $60 to $150 per night Pop up Camper $50 to $100 per night Toy Hauler $100 to $200 per night Camper Van $75 to $150 per night
Prices taken from thewanderingrv.com
Which is the best RV for working remotely?
Whether you rent one or buy one, you must make a choice that helps you “live and work” in the van as that’s what van life is all about. It should have the right amenities and enough space for your comfortable life.
Here are some of the options you can look at:
Additionally, are some videos from van life experts that can help you choose the right van:
Test The Van Life Before Selling Your Permanent House
It’s best to work from your van for a few weeks and even months before you figure out whether the van life is right for you. While it looks fancy on the internet, there are a lot of challenges too, like cleaning up, taking a dump, and food are always a question mark! Some people might also start missing your old life. If you sell your house, there’s a big challenge ahead of you.
Having said that, if you plan that well and don’t feel like that’s a problem after some months of staying in a van, you can give up your permanent residence and explore the next camping site! And by giving up we don’t mean selling it off is the only option. You can put it up for rent via Airbnb too. That’s a great way to earn more income while you travel the world!
Explore “Park and Sleep” Options
There are numerous possibilities for parking your van at night in North America, many of which are entirely free. However, the possibilities that appeal to you will be determined by the type of nomad you are and the facilities that you require.
Do you prefer to spend your time in a city or out in the middle of nowhere? Do you require access to a restroom? Are you looking to camp for free, or do you not mind paying a parking fee? You need a good night’s sleep to be able to work with a fresh mind the next day, so this is one of the most important things you need to figure out before you start your van life.
Once you know your requirements, you can figure out various locations to park and sleep in.
Here are some great options:
- Parking Lot Camping (truck stops, casinos, etc.)
- Stealth camping (park in a neighborhood conceal the fact that you’re sleeping in your van. Leave early in the morning before anyone notices.)
- Federal Campgrounds or RV parks. (Apps like Park Advisor and RV Parky can help)
- Private land camping (Hipcamp and Harvest Hosts)
Know Your Bathroom And Shower Options
You need to go to the bathroom every day and also need to take a shower to keep yourself clean. How’s that possible in a van life? It’s best to understand this beforehand to know if you’re comfortable with the available options.
- There’s Walmart and McDonalds if you’re comfortable with the idea of using a public bathroom on an everyday basis.
- For those who don’t like that experience, you could carry a poop shovel and travel bidet with you.
- It’s best to include a toilet in your RV if you don’t like the idea of attending to nature’s call in the midst of nature.
Here are some shower options to explore:
- Gym memberships are a great way to get a shower regularly. You could go for a membership at a gym chain which gives you access to all locations.
- Truck stops are a good option when you’re in a dire need for a shower. Not a great option for regular baths as they cost about $10 per visit.
- If you don’t like to go to public facilities, you can install a shower in your van for more privacy and comfort.
Get Van Insurance
Without a permanent residence, it can be challenging to obtain van insurance. For the most part, insurance companies insist on a permanent address for your vehicle.
While many vanlifers hide their “van libel from their insurance carriers to avoid being dropped, being honest can sometimes help you get coverage that is more suited for your lifestyle and may even cover your van belongings.
- Talk to an insurance broker to check the best options. Being honest is important.
- Look for insurance providers that specifically target vanlifers like RVer Insurance.
Download Essential Vanlifer Apps
There are some amazing apps that can help you find camping sites an other amenities near you.
For camping sites:
Other useful apps for Van lifers:
- Open Signal: get detailed cellphone coverage maps to help you camp at a site that won’t hamper your internet and work.
- Gas buddy: get best gas deals in your area.
- Windy: know all about the weather conditions in any area to make hurdle-free travel plans.
Factor Van Maintenance & Vehicle Repairs
According to expert and van professional Ryan Banks, there is a substantial difference between owning a regular car and a van-class transport as maintenance and repairs for a regular car are far easier and accessible compared to fix and repair of the larger vehicle, be it a camper, RV or a classic van. That’s why doing your homework on schematics, common problems and toolset one might need to DIY repairs, are an absolute must if you don’t want to end up stranded and with no way to move.
Maintaining Your Work-Life Balance As A Van Lifer
Managing Your Money While Working Full Time From Your Van
Yes, you will save money by living in a van, but it is not free. There are numerous ways to make money while traveling and/or living in a van.
Here are some things to do before you start a van life working remotely:
- Get yourself a high-salary remote job that allows you to work from anywhere or start a remote business.
- Have some savings already before starting your van life, as you’ll need some to settle in at first.
- Understand your monthly expenses and budget your van life accordingly. Before you start your van life, make a list of all the things you’ll regularly need
- while working in your van and how much it will cost.
Create a Schedule
It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of nature and traveling can make you feel like you’re on vacation mode. In order to not forget that this is your life now and not a vacation, it’s best to create a schedule and follow a routine.
This will help you differentiate your personal and professional life, which will help you keep your remote job and enjoy the perks of living a van life.
Staying Healthy and Happy
Most people who don’t live as a digital nomad or a van life aren’t exposed to the difficulties of constantly moving about. A happy van life consists of striking a balance between time spent inside and outside the vehicle, work and recreation, and maintaining your mind and body.
So, consider what you’ll bring from your current lifestyle and what new activities you’ll engage in to create this perfect balance. Creating a good work-life balance is key to a happy and healthy van life experience.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Vanlife
While you take care of other things, it’s good to note that working in a vanlife office isn’t a piece of cake. It’s easy to forget about the hassles of working remotely from a van. Your other concerns like where to bathe and what to cook take over, but there are certain things you need to know about working in a van office that will help you navigate your van life journey better.
Advantages of a Vanlife
There are many amazing reasons why people ditch the traditional life of being stationed in one place and embrace the van life. There’s a lot of potential personal growth and development opportunities along the way. These are the main benefits:
- Your mind is fresh because you’re probably stationed on a lakeside or in the forest. This picturesque isolation can help you focus better. It’s the excitement of the unknown that keeps you going.
- It’s a challenging life, but it aids your personal growth by helping you learn how to deal with uncomfortable situations. You might discover a lot about yourself that you didn’t know.
- You don’t have many distractions as you’re away from crowded places.
- There’s more freedom and flexibility as you’re able to live the way you want to.
- If you’ve always dreamt of visiting every national park or lakeside, this really is a dream come true. Van life is adventurous and helps you explore a lot about the outer world and the inner world too.
- You can focus a lot more on your hobbies especially if trekking, rock climbing, hiking, etc are your passion.
- You save a lot more money because all of those housing expenses are out of the way. However, it’s important to note that the money you save depends on your van lifestyle too.
- You learn simple living and appreciate the small things in life. Van life takes you away from the brick-and-mortar setting and glitz and glam of the world. You have fewer things which also means fewer things to worry about.
- You meet a lot of new people from various parts of the world if you join a digital nomad community. You can bond with like-minded people that aids your personal and professional growth.
- An alternative lifestyle like the van life helps you reject societal norms and direct your own life your way.
Disadvantages of a Vanlife
Not everything is rosy about van life and there are plenty of situations and challenges one has to deal with in their journey. Check these disadvantages to understand what you’ll face and if you can handle it,
- Van life looks fancy but is actually a lot of work. From figuring out the next place to shower to strategizing your next camping site, everything needs your constant mental energy which can get exhausting.
- You might not have a strong internet connection everywhere and this can hamper your work.
- Get ready for weather changes and extreme climatic conditions if you’re constantly moving. This could sometimes not just alter your physical health but mental health too.
- You’re on constant “hustle” mode looking for the next thing to do to make more money (if you don’t have a full time remote job or business)
- If your vehicle doesn’t have enough space, you might have trouble working in a cramped space.
- If you don’t have all the right set of tools to aid remote work in your van like the right devices, portable batteries, comfortable seating options, etc, you can quickly get frustrated which can hamper your productivity.
It’s best to weigh the pros and cons of van life before starting one. Everyone has their own unique way of dealing with situations and perceiving life’s various challenges. If you think you can handle all the disadvantages with ease or are willing to learn to make, your dream come true, then go for it!
Essential Tools For An Office in Van Setups
A Good Internet Connection And Enough Power Outlets
Having more than one internet choice would be excellent to ensure that you are able to accomplish your work on time and have a smooth video conferencing experience. Choose a data package with high-speed internet and mobile hotspot capabilities.
The base mobile broadband connection or an aftermarket one is what most campervan owners choose. Purchasing a prepaid SIM card is the most cost-effective alternative. Also, make sure you have enough power outlets to charge your laptop and phones.
A Good Workstation
Having a dedicated work space in your van is a good idea to separate your personal and professional life. Having a good workstation that fits your van and your needs can help you focus better during your working hours.
In fact, if you have the time and love to create your own, you can even go for a DIY desk that suits your needs!
If you want to get a good workstation created in your van, Outside Van is a great option for getting your van customized according to your requirements.
Power Solutions For Working in Nomad Campervans
It’s important to maintain the same level of professionalism in your remote workspace as you would in a home-based remote office.
When working from a campervan, you’ll begin to rely on a few essential tools like portable batteries, electricity options like solar panels, and RV-like electrical systems.
You’ll want to be able to charge your house batteries using as many different methods as possible if you’re a full-time traveler. To make your life on the road easier, you should have solar, alternator, and shore power. In comparison to a part-time traveler, you’ll want to know how much electricity you use each day. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of electricity options so that even if the weather goes bad and you can’t just turn around and go home, you can continue to live your mobile lifestyle comfortably.
Here are some great portable solar power generator brands to choose from:
- Goal Zero
As a digital nomad, you need a comfortable mattress to sleep in. Good quality mattresses can keep your body from feeling stiff and tired and aid a good night’s sleep so that you can wake up fresh to take on all the work for the day.
Here are some good van life mattress options to go for:
- Amazon basics gives you great affordable mattresses for just $190.
- Iyee Nature Mattresses come for just $149 and are really comfortable too.
Good Quality Headphones
If you’re working from home, a nice pair of headphones can go a long way. You’ll need them as a remote worker or remote entrepreneur to network with other professionals via audio or video conferencing.
Buy good headphones, preferably noise-canceling ones. These allow you to comfortably operate in an echoing van or a noisy outdoor environment. If you’re frequently on the phone, you might want to consider upgrading to a more professional headset.
Here are some recommended options for full time working van lifers as these not only give great audio output but are also a durable set to invest in:
Van Life Jobs For Digital Nomads
Now that you know the basics of setting up your workspace in your campervan let’s get to how you’ll find that job. If you’re working remotely, you already have nothing to worry about. If you’re not, then there are several ways to get yourself a remote job or start a remote business (you can start one under $1000!) without which you can’t really have a van life.
Here are some of the best van life jobs for you:
Remote Content Writer
You can get a well-paying full time remote job as a content writer or you can choose to pick up freelance projects via UpWork or Fiverr. Pick a niche for your writing and you will have access to a wealth of resources that will allow you to have more flexibility, travel, and adventure.
Since the pandemic, many full-time writers have gone totally remote, resulting in a considerably larger job pool. This makes it easier to work for a company that’s located miles away from you while you sit by a campfire in the lap of the mountains.
Here’s where you can find good remote writing jobs:
- Journalism Jobs
- Morning Coffee Newsletter
Average salary for a full time remote writer:
Remote Graphic Designer
Just like writing, graphic designing went largely remote too after the pandemic. Such jobs that require minimal to no physical presence are a great option for those opting for the van life. If you have a good aesthetic sense and know how to use tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, CorelDraw, etc then this remote job is perfect for you.
Also, there’s plenty of inspiration in nature for you to design some masterpieces. So, let those creative juices flow!
Here’s where you’ll find remote graphic designer jobs that you can take up from your van:
Average salary for a full time remote graphic designer:
If you have a keen eye for detail and can flawlessly clean up someone’s errors, a remote editor’s job fits your van lifestyle perfectly. Many artistic fields require an editor. If you have the expertise, then there are plenty of remote job opportunities for you. Writers, photographers, and videographers benefit from working with an editor as they need to constantly churn out perfect content, so you have plenty of options (both full time and freelance) here.
Here are some great sites if you’re looking for a job as a remote editor:
- Cactus communications
Average salary for a remote editing job:
There are about 3 websites created per second in the world which means you have enough opportunities to grab when it comes to being a full time remote developer. You can choose to go for web or app development jobs if you’re skilled and qualified in the programming field. Independent professionals and businesses are always on the lookout for developers to help them scale their business with the help of a website or an app.
Here’s a list of websites that can help you find you the perfect remote developer job that suits your van life:
Average Salary for a full time Remote developer:
Here’s the one that isn’t all that easy but can benefit you in the long term. If you’re successful with it and can multiply your revenue, you can keep upgrading your van life too. Sounds like a dream? It can come true if you choose the right industry, have the expertise and can make it work.
The best part is that most businesses are now online businesses. Whether you want to start an e-store that sells digital products or you want to start a virtual assistant agency, you have a pool of options to choose from.
Like any business, networking is key. It’s best to connect with relevant industry experts and potential clients on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to scale your remote business.
Where to find jobs you can do while living in a van?
- We Work Remotely
- Remote OK
- Working Nomads
If you’re unsure about how your van life will look like, here’s a video that will help you see a working day in the life of someone who lives a van life:
Kickstart Your Van Life Journey
Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. In the case of a van life, it’s all subjective and is based on your planning. What kind of a lifestyle do you have and can your van life support that? Did you do enough research on what it takes to maintain a good van life? It’s all about equipping yourself with more knowledge, getting a van life job to support your lifestyle and getting a firsthand experience to know if it works for you.
With all the uncertainties, it’s sometimes good to take the road less traveled.