1. Will You Be Mobile or Stationary? Remember there are several types of Van Dwellers and RVers. Some move every 2 to 3 days, which can be costly (gas). Others move every 2 to 3 weeks, and others every month or two or every 6 months. However, a large portion of Van Dwellers and RVers are what you call stationary. Many times they are stationary due to their health, to be around family or they might have a job that doesn’t allow them to be mobile, so figure out early on what type of traveler you will be. Personally, I enjoy moving every 2 to 3 weeks. I like exploring and checking out one area at a time to see if I can come back to that area when I need to relax.
2. Have Some Type of Protection With You: It doesn’t matter what type of background you have. It is not safe to be out on the road with no protection. You might need a taser, pepper spray, bear spray, gun, pellet gun, knife, whistle, jogger’s alarm, take a self-defense course, etc. Read the article I wrote “Keep Safe When Camping.”
3. Get Regular Maintenance on Your Vehicle: You need to get regular maintenance on your vehicle especially if it is new. This might just take paying attention and keep a maintenance log. This way especially if you travel a lot, you will have your favorite places to get maintenance on your vehicle.
4. Carry Emergency Supplies With You: I believe some people just forget to carry the orange cones in case they break down on the freeway, fire extinguishers (at least 2), CO2 detectors, and plenty of batteries. Many new van dwellers and RVers end up getting on the road without these.
5. Clean Your Van Everyday: Remember living in your van is just like a house so it is important that you clean up everyday so you don’t attract flies especially in the heat. Also, try not to park by a dumpster because this is where rats hang out at – which can also get into your van.
6. Park Your Van Level: Park your van level, otherwise, you will be rolling out of your bed at night. I did not invest yet in any type of levelers for my tires. I just make sure my emergency breaks are on every night and I try to park level on a flat surface.
7. Download Weather Apps: Monitor at least 4 or 5 weather apps such as #Weather, #TheWeatherChannel, #WeatherNation, #MyRadar, #Windy, etc. You never know how the weather will change from day to day so take advantage of nice, breezy day — days where you can be comfortable especially if you only have a temporary build. At month number five (5), I made the statement that I finally feel like I am on vacation and the very next day, I literally almost blow away in my van. About 3 times I got up to go and find a building to park beside off that could block the wind off. So you have to be on your toes living in this lifestyle. You want to especially be careful on BLM.gov or National Forest land. It can be problematic if you fall asleep on this land and wake up in the rain in mud, so again, you have to pay attention. Also, one of the reasons I have not utilized it as much as I should is that I like being somewhere where I can get on the internet.
8. Birds Chirp All Night: I have been woken up all times of the night by the birds chirping. I do believe because of what has happened, we are moving back to nature and this is why you hear birds chirping at all times of the day and night.
9. Keep Changing Your Temporary Build-Out: I believe everyone who has a temporary setup will continue to make small or large changes to it. However, at this point, I don’t plan on spending any more money on my temporary setup. I did, however, go ahead and buy the portable solar panels (100 Watts) to charge up my Jackery 500 power box. That way I do not have to idle my car or drive just to charge up my box.
10. Get Referrals for Your Permanent Build-Out: If you still have a temporary build-out and you do need others to help with your build then get around others that can give you referrals. Attend events such as the yearly Van Build in November in Parker, AZ, and the yearly Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) in Quartzsite, AZ. Also, join caravans at www.Meetup.com/Caravans. The good thing about caravans and when you find your tribe. When you want to be alone, it’s easy to just get up and leave.
Many people on the road especially those that live in cars and van are viewed to be homeless. As a former veteran and a person that loves traveling and who has traveled quite extensively in the U.S., I feel quite lucky as a #VanLifer to have several residences that I can go to if I need to get off the road. First of all, my family owns over 30 acres in Georgia so I can always go back there or with other family members or friends in other areas.