Living on the open road is one cultural trend taking America by storm. Some people are learning how to make a life — and a living — while traipsing around the country. Others are seasonal travelers, taking to the highways and byways for the summer.
Much like the growing interest in tiny-home living, #vanlife is just another way to downsize, unplug, go off the grid and simplify in an increasingly complicated world. Lems is in.
Vanlife represents so much about our philosophy for making shoes (and lives) that are light on the earth. It’s just another way to reduce our footprints on this big, beautiful planet.
But however you take your vanlife, there are some important items that will make living on the move a little smoother. Folks who have been testing out the van-dwelling experience for years at a time have weighed in on some of their absolute musts.
Here are 10 #vanlife items we deemed worthy of investing in before you start the engine.
If you are committing to vanlife for the long haul, start investigating all of the awesome solar setups now available for rigs. Rooftop panels are more affordable than ever and easier to install.
There are also portable options for powering everything from your mobile phone to your mini fridge, and don’t forget those surprisingly effective gravity-fed solar showers. Plus going solar wherever you can supports the earth-friendly lifestyle you’re going for anyway.
2-BURNER CAMP STOVE
Out on the road, you could be making up to three meals a day out of your van or camper. Making meals can occupy a lot of your time, so it’s critical to make breakfast, lunch and dinner effective and efficient. Look for a solid two-burner camp stove model.
There are plenty on the market. Search for one that will give you powerful control over heat levels, plus convenient, sturdy features like steel grates, a locking lid, and a carrying handle.
We mentioned food. We’re human and we need sustenance. What, when and where you will eat will dominate much of your time on the road. So something to keep perishables alive will help vanlife feel a little more like home.
Again, there are numerous options, but finding a mini refrigerator that fits somewhere in your rig will bring nothing but satisfaction. Imagine that chilled cream for your coffee; a cold beer on a hot summer day; or a fresh turkey sandwich with cool condiments of your choosing.
WIPES & WASHABLES
Without a sink always at your fingertips, finding ways to wash and stay clean will start to occupy an average vanlife day. You can remove that stressor by stocking multipurpose cleaning supplies that you can keep within an arm’s reach.
Of course, it’s important not to add more waste whenever possible, so look for biodegradable wipes and washing products. A couple perennial vanlife favorites include good old Dr. Bronner’s pure-castile soap and Good Wipes, those delightful-smelling single-use disposable cloths for the hands — and big ones for the whole body.
One of the most overlooked items in van living is, wait for it, lights! Depending on the time of year, half your day could be spent in some form of darkness. The last thing you want to be doing after an exhausting adventure is digging in the dark around for dinner.
A quick Google search will reveal a mind-boggling assortment of lighting setups for your van, from little solar lanterns for outdoor eating tables, to LED strands of all sizes for inside, to under- and over-mounted spotlights for all those essential nooks and crannies.
5 MORE VANLIFE ESSENTIALS
1. Kick-butt coffeemaker or teakettle. That’s a ritual worth taking with you.
2. Cozy sleeping supplies. Got to get that 8 hours dialed with the right pillow, padding and covers in varying warmth.
3. Weatherproof wireless speaker. Music makes every day a little brighter.
4. Water receptacles. This eating and cleaning essential deserves some special attention.
5. Hangout gear. Like low-down camp chairs and a hammock for chill time outside the van.