Van Life and RV Living are becoming more and more popular, we all crave the freedom. We love hearing about people journeys into this lifestyle, and we know starting out can be scary.
To help out, we thought we would compile 5 of the most commonly asked questions we get asked about traveling fulltime and vanlife.
🔸️How is it living together in a tiny space?
The positives here far outweigh the negatives for us. We have definitely adapted to being together in a small space. There have been adjustments to how we move around, the “van shuffle” often includes the dog. Cooking is a one person job. We have our family cuddles in the back on the king size bed. When we need our own space we have the rotating captain chairs at the front of the van, and Logan loves to sit up there and read. Really though, we live out of the van, not in it. So when we need space we are grateful to be parked somewhere beautiful with all the wide open spaces we could ask for.
🔸️How do you budget for life on the road?
We set a budget for ourselves before we left home. Our monthly budget of $3000 includes our van payments, insurance for the vehicle as well as our travel and health insurance, pet insurance, cell phones, groceries, gas, camping fees, and spending money. We know several people who live this lifestyle on bigger budgets, and many who are comfortably living on smaller budgets. Setting a budget is a personal choice, but we think it’s important to be realistic. We have always agreed that if we can no longer support this lifestyle then it’s time to change it.
🔸️How do you earn money?
Logan and I (Kira) both quit our “9-5” jobs before we hit the road. I was an office manager at a dental office, and Logan was a brewer at a busy craft brewpub. It was a priority for us to pay off our debts before making the leap to traveling so we did!! The first step was selling our home in October 2017, it happened very fast as the real estate market in our hometown was booming, and very overinflated.
Logan has been interested in the markets, real estate, and trading, so we decided to invest our money from the sale of our home, and manage our budget with the profits. Because we were just starting out, we started with mutual funds in RRSP and TFSA accounts, and have moved into self-directed investments. We also decided to finance our van, so that money could be invested instead of being locked up in the van. We considered finance rates carefully against the realistic rates of return we could achieve on our investments.
Since hitting the road we have also joined in affiliate marketing programs, and brand partnerships. To be clear, we don’t make this a main focus, because our goal is time freedom. Affiliate marketing and brand partnerships allow us to monetize our social media. It earns small commissions from products we use, and allows us to share those resources and brands we love with our community.
This is a very very common way for folks who work as digital nomads to earn income. It should be noted that it does take work and time. There are really no ways to earn money for doing nothing, so if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
🔸️What do you need to take with you when you hit the road?
This is tough to answer, and in all honesty, I roll my eyes when I read a lot of peoples suggestions for “things YOU need for your RV” or “Gear You Need For Van Life” . In reality, you need so much less than you think. We have never really been minimalists, so it was hard for us to downsize. We felt like we needed so much to ensure we would be comfortable…
The reality is that the more stuff you bring, the more stuff you have in your small space. We have downsized multiple times since hitting the road.
Our suggestion is use what you have, you don’t need to rush out and buy RV specific things. There are definetely things you will pick up along the way, we have some favorite van life gear we suggest too…BUT, Don’t buy something because someone told you you need it, everyones living situation is different. You will be the one to decide what you need or want to make your RV feel like home.
We know people who love to cook. Instapots, camp stoves even a Vitamix you name it. If those items serve you, then great! Consider your space, I would love a Berkey water filtration system but have nowhere practical to store it. What will you actually use? We have bought a few little gizmos that ended up being donated, we thought they would be useful, but they were not daily use items.
When it comes to appliances remember your power source…the first time we made a pot of coffee in our van with our big fancy brewer from home, we blew the circuit and everything in the van shut off….we prefer boondocking to being plugged in, so we have to consider what our battery system can handle.
The things you really need and that we recommend researching are a little less sexy… Things like insurance, updated travel documents (ie. visas, passports) cellular coverage, first aid items (don’t forget your furry travel companions), basic tools (also think of flat tires, or boosting a dead battery) these are all pretty essential.
🔸️What’s the best place we have visited?
Oh man, another tough one!! This adventure has surprised us constantly. I think unanimously we were both blown away by southern Utah, the Mighty Five parks are really something everyone should see. Pictures just don’t do it justice.
We fell in love with Palm Springs and Southern California (though the coast and Redwoods are pretty amazing) the dry heat of the desert was a welcomed treat after being in the Pacific Northwest. The boondocking in the South West is also top notch making van life easy and budget friendly.
The Northwest Territories ended up being a place we spent the second most cumulative time on our whole trip…weeks of unpaved roads, seeing towns and villages only accessible by winter roads and tiny ferries, and the truly wild and untouched land was magic. Seeing the Arctic Ocean via the new road to Tuktoyaktuk was an epic adventure.
So there wasn’t one place, there were many….and the biggest reward in this experience is finding new places to fall in love with.
If you are thinking about full timing in an RV or Van, we highly recommend it! Also a great way to dip your toes in the van life experience would be to rent and take road trip to see how it feels for you.
If you have any questions let us know! And don’t forget to check out our post on Moving Saving Apps for van life travel.
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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11 thoughts on “Van Life FAQ’s: The Most Commonly Asked Questions About Van Life & RV Life”
Thank you for sharing your amazing journey.
Happy to share 🤗🤗
Nice page. I almost pulled the trigger last year. I ordered a Zion much like yours but pulled out because I got afraid financially. I have zero debt and a nice savings account with $45000 a year of side hustle income. I have a great paying job but yearn for my passion.
All this really means is that I am impressed and envious of your decision. How to really know if I have enough……..yep, FEAR..false evidence appearing real it is said.
That’s completely understandable! We would never tell someone to just pull the trigger if they weren’t ready. But it is definetly amazing how budget friendly the lifestyle can be. Our goal is to keep growing our $$$ while we live this way…if that stops happening, we will have a change of plans.
And thank you so much for reading ✌ keep us posted when you decide to pull that trigger!
Enjoy your blog. Love the Utah pictures! The state is still on our bucket list, but we will make there one day
Yesss Utah! We waited for a pocket of nice weather. We can’t wait to go back and spend more time there! When you get there the 5 parks will not disappoint 🙂
Hi! I am in the early stages of planning my van life travels, but with two dogs I’m not sure how to keep them safe and cool inside the van while I’m hiking or visiting parks that do not allow pets. Any suggestions or recs would be appreciated. You guys are inspirational! Thanks
Soooo…there’s alot of different opinions on this. So I will share what we do, and what we know….
In the majority of all National Parks in the U.S dogs are not allowed on alot of trails (save for some that are paved, in campgrounds, and near parking lots)…California, Nevada, Utah, Texas, Arizona, Florida, from our experience were a no on many trails. Along with many state parks. Varying reasons here, but wildlife safety tends to be a big one.
So, the question then is do you leave your pups behind…we never left holly for more than 30 minutes in warmer temps, and that was with out A.C. running to keep her cool. Even with fans and shade, and some insulation, for the most part, we are basically still in a vehicle.
We tried to save site seeing for the evenings and hikes for early mornings. We could in theory leave the a.c running longer, but we have never fully trusted that the systems in our van wouldn’t fail (happens to RV’ers all the time).
There are some good options for monitoring:
SIMPLY SAFE monitoring system
A Temp Stick that monitors temps for you
Canary Cam gives you video and climate monitoring
We use Reflectix in our windows to help with heat and cold.
And Thermal light blocking curtains where we can, helps with light and temperature control
Our only thing is we really don’t rely fully on any of that…we wont ever be far from the van if we need to have anything turned on, our inverter caught fire once (thankfully we were there so it was ok, but we are aware that could happen if we weren’t).
This was a long response, I hope it helps.
You will love travelling with your pups! We love having Miss Holly with us. We adapt our plans sometimes and that’s worked out pretty well for us 🙂
I love this post! Good to know how you are making this lifestyle work for you! It’s more doable than people think!
Thanks Jenny! It has been a pretty good experience overall so far, we hope more folks try it out!