How to Travel in a Van

For years, many bold and adventurous spirits have used a van as their means to explore this country for very little money.  And, it is true that a properly converted and outfitted van make for a comfy home on wheels.  However, before embarking on the overland voyage of a lifetime, there are some key points to consider in both design and planning:

Bathing / Elimination

The easiest way to solve the problem of bathing while traveling around in your van is to use the shower facilities at a campground or truck stop every couple of days.  Yes, it will cost you a little bit in terms of money, from time to time, but it’s still way cheaper than having to stay at a motel or hotel.  In between showers, you can simply wash off with warm water and a washcloth in the privacy of your van.  Now, using the bathroom while you are on the road is another matter that can be solved in a very simple way or handled with more finesse by providing your own facilities.  The simplest solution is to make sure you park every night next to a place that is open 24 hours a day and has a public restroom.  When the urge strikes, you simply get up and go inside and use the facilities.  The more complex solution is to have a urinal or small chemical toilet available for your use inside your van.  The choice is yours and both options have their benefits, however personal preference will be the ultimate deciding factor in which bathroom option you will choose.

Cooking / Eating

Your options for cooking and eating on the road will be varied and range from simple to complicated.  Simple would be an ice chest or cooler and a supply of simple foods like sandwiches, cold cereal, fruit and snacks.  More complicated options would include a stove or slow cooker that would let you make simple one pot meals as you travel around.  A portable grill could also let you cook outside when the weather is nice and when you are staying at a park or campground.


Where you will sleep is a question that often comes up very early in the discussion phase of van travel.  However, it’s really not that difficult of a problem to solve and the solutions can vary from the simple to the complex.  Depending on how much you will be sleeping in your van, you may want to opt for a foam mattress and sleeping platform.  This option will provide the most comfort and will be most similar to the traditional bed that you are used to at home.  However, the added expense and labor involved in creating this type of sleeping accommodation may make it out of reach for some van travelers.  Another option for sleeping in your van is to simply employ an inflatable air bed or mattress that you can inflate at night using 12 volt or battery power and then deflate in the morning and store away when not in use.  This  option is popular due to its lower cost and  the fact that it’s doesn’t require you to take up a bunch of space in your van all the time, like you would with a built in foam mattress setup.


This is perhaps the easiest of all the points to handle.  A cell phone goes a long way in keeping you in touch with friends and family when you are out on the road.  And keeping a laptop computer around let’s you take advantage of free wifi at coffee shops and cafes as you travel around.  Another option is to sign up for a mobile wireless internet access account; however this will increase your monthly expenses in the long run.

If you cover these four main areas of concern in your planning and design, then your van travel experience should be both rewarding and enjoyable and something that you will love to share with others.

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