• Living in a Van Full Time: How to Travel the World in a Van

Living in a Van Full Time: How to Travel the World in a Van

Ever heard of “van life” or seen those wanderlust-worthy photos of couples traveling around in an old-school VW van looking like the most free-spirited people ever? Living in a van full time is what Nadia and David do, so I asked them to take a minute to tell you guys what van life is and how you could even start living this lifestyle and even make money doing it. 

Living in a Van Full Time

Hey, nice to meet you! We’re Nadia and David, a couple of jolly Brits who have been traveling the world full-time for five years, and currently, we’re doing so aboard our 1969 VW Adventurewagen named Red.

Our lifestyle is unique in that we live and travel full-time in our VW while only working three days per week – yep, that’s right – we have a four day weekend every week!

But before you start cussing us out for having such a chilled out lifestyle, allow me to break it down and show you how you too could be living this lifestyle, and truly living life – not just surviving it.

What is Vanlife?

The word vanlife is the way that many people describe individuals that live out of their vehicles, for some people this is financially motivated, and for others – like us, they’re just on the search for the next great adventure.

Vanlifers come from all walks of life, and can be the proud owners of vans, buses, campers, RV’s and even Airstreams!

Our Bus

Red, our VW is not only our dream home – but, in our opinion; the best gosh darned bus in the whole wide world!

Inside of our bus, you might be surprised to find out that we have a fully functioning, albeit rather tiny home!

Our kitchen consists of a refrigerator, freezer, sink, gas burner, and water pump – the only thing that differs from a conventional home’s kitchen, is the lack of an oven.

Our living area consists of a massive amount of storage, a couch that folds out into a full size — memory foam — bed, and a click in dining table large enough to seat four in a pinch.

We don’t have a bathroom in our bus, but in almost every town we stay, we’ll find the local gym and sign up so we can combine working out and getting showers. And of course, we work from coffee shops three days per week, and they always have, well, facilities!

Why Do We Live a Vanlife?

As with any lifestyle, it means something different to each person that is living it. For us – we live the vanlife because it gives us the freedom of the open road while always having our home with us.

For others, choosing to live in a vehicle can be a great way to have a home-base that they can take on the road for weekend trips.

And again, for others, it could be a way to get around having to get planning permission for living on a piece of land!

The majority of our vanlife friends choose this lifestyle for the adventure it offers, and contrary to what you may think – it doesn’t limit us to one continent thanks to the option of shipping our bus anywhere in the world!

Who Is This Lifestyle For?

I have to be completely honest and say that this lifestyle isn’t for everybody, there are cons to every lifestyle, and the same is true when it comes to living the vanlife.

When you’re living in a vehicle, it can be noisy, people often want to take pictures of your cute little home, and by golly when it’s hot outside – it can be like an oven in the bus.

But, if you’re an adventurous soul who wants to take the scenic route through life, and you’re comfortable in tiny spaces – then this could also be the key to freedom that you’ve always been looking for!

Vanlife is super affordable, it pushes you to step outside of your comfort zone, and it’s such a conversation starter. Even though for four years, we traveled the world full-time more traditionally, in the one year that we’ve lived full-time vanlife, we’ve met ten times the number of locals, made firm friends, and even attended close-knit family dinners!

How Do We Afford It?

This is the part that you’re actually interested in, I know! So, how on earth do we afford to travel the world full-time when we’re both only working three days per week?!

Easy. Our monthly outgoings for both of us is around $2000 (£1500) per month, some months it’s more if we’re splurging – but it’s truly flipping affordable.

We have friends that are far more careful with their budgeting and cook at home every day; they live full-time out of their van for only $1150 (£850) per month.

I know what’s happening right now, you’re calculating it in your head aren’t you?! Trying to figure out how the heck you can get out of your apartment lease, sell the car, and buy a camper!

Well, my advice is to try it out first, for at least a month if you can, some people have jumped in at the deep end and regretted it. It’s not for everyone.

What Do You Do? And How Can I Do It Too?

David is a UX Designer and works with US-based companies on SaaS products, whereas my job is far more fun – I’m a writer specializing in writing about horses and dogs, boom – dream job alert!

A lot of people say to us “Oh, you’re so lucky that your jobs fit with your lifestyle” but it’s not luck at all – it’s hard work and planning that has made it possible for us to have jobs that work on the road.

Absolutely anyone can find and keep a remote job; you just have to put yourself out there, work flipping hard, be organized, and always – no matter what, meet your deadlines.

I recently wrote up a blog post on Remote Work for Vanlifers with a bunch of resources that are a great place to start looking for your new remote job. Not to brag or anything, but David and I have already helped two of our friends get their digital nomad careers started! 

How Does Your Relationship Survive Vanlife?

Easy, David is the most chilled out human of all time, so that’s a big part of it!

We had already been traveling together for four years before getting our bus, so we were used to being around one another almost 24/7.

Being in such a tiny space does mean you don’t have another room to go into if you start getting on each other’s nerves, but that’s only an issue almost precisely once per month – then David throws chocolate at me and runs away!!!

Final Thoughts

I’ve led a quirky life, growing up showing horses, working in the fashion industry, and traveling the world full-time to name only a few tidbits (from the Chronicles of me, Nadia!).

But no other lifestyle has fit me so perfectly as vanlife has, I now feel at home everywhere that we go, we’re always finding adventures, and I’m now really seeing the world – not just the tourist spots, but the backroads and hidden gems!

Now get out there and say yes to life & pin this for later:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nadia is a professional writer hailing from England, and the most avid vanlifer! She explores the world full-time together with her boyfriend, David, while living aboard their 1969 VW Adventurewagen named Red! When not writing, you’ll likely find Nadia in the great outdoors, riding her bike – Junebug, horseback riding, or most likely… trying to convince David that they should adopt every animal that they come across! To read more about Nadia and David’s vanlife adventures around the world, head over to their blog at sayingyes.is or check out their Instagram @Sayingyesis.

2018-05-31T18:31:55+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.

5 Comments

  1. Tracy June 2, 2018 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Such a cool idea, and something that can be done in a LOT of amazing places in the world. Stay mobile, baby! Haha… Love the post – nice work :)

  2. Todra Payne June 3, 2018 at 8:10 am - Reply

    I am currently traveling the world as a house sitter. I don’t think I’d like van life because I like to sprawl out and have luxury accomodations; and many people I talk to say they wouldn’t like living in other people’s homes, even though we are in luxury homes most of the time (3,000 – 7,000 SF). I say that to say you’re completely right when you say every lifestyle has it’s pros and cons; and that not everyone could do van life. Not everyone could be nomadic house sitters, either. But for those of us who these lifestyles fit, it’s so wonderful. Happy travels to you and your love!

  3. vinay June 5, 2018 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    I Like your picture and your idea living in van. Really this is amazing idea. Thank you for sharing with us your experience.

  4. thebritishberliner June 7, 2018 at 9:39 am - Reply

    ‘Love what you’re doing and your gorgeous red van!

    It’s a great lifestyle I’m sure but as in camping, I’m alright for a few days, then I need my own living space that doesn’t include mud, sand and scorpions (don’t ask!), with a really lovely bathroom at the end of it all!

  5. Kimberly June 14, 2018 at 6:40 am - Reply

    An excellent article that glamorizes living in a van and travelling around. However, there are more issues, or cons, that need to be understood before someone haphazardly ditches their house or apartment to live on the road. If you are a city-dweller, all is fairly good with staying digitally connected. But, there is still going to be the cost for it. Unless you are ‘stealth’ camping (staying in places that are free but actually not quite legal, aka staying over night in a parking lot), there can be a daily expense of parking your vehicle. Having gym memberships are all great when you can visit that franchise where ever you go. But, what if you are in a town that doesn’t have that gym or, any gym at all? And, let’s not forget something very important…where do you pee in the middle of the night????

    If you earn your living as a freelancer, you know that there are fluxes of income. If you love your collection of books, you’ll have to consider using a Kindle. Can you be OK with 8 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shoes, 7 pairs of socks, a hat, a coat, enough underwear to last til next laundromat day? With a teeny, tiny kitchen, you’ll have to grocery shop probably 4 times a week. If you get sick, will you be OK with riding it out in the vehicle? And, with another person right there all the time?

    Yes, you do have to be an adventurous soul to do this. It’s a totally different way of living. Like the writer points out, try it for a week or two before you give your notice to your landlord. Too many full-time vagabonds glamorize their life but, it’s not an easy one at all. Do your research and test the waters before you dive head on in.

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