Van Camping – 21 of The Most Popular Questions Answered

van camping

Van camping is becoming more commonplace but people still have a lot of questions.  In this post, I’ll try to answer the 21 most common van life questions that people ask.

1. Is Van Life Illegal

Living in a van, either part-time or full-time is not illegal.  This being said, there are places where you aren’t allowed to legally sleep in a van.  There are also places where you may not even be able to legally park your campervan.

Van life with kids may not always be legal either.  Depending on the van and the living conditions, child services could decide that the child’s welfare is in danger.  In this instance, van life could be illegal, at least when it comes to van life with your kids.

2. Can I sleep In My Van At A Campsite

Some campsites will be tent only and you won’t even be able to physically get your van to your campsite.  This being said, most campsites at state and national parks are accessible by vehicle and it is perfectly OK for you to sleep in your van.

Many campervan owners will rent campsites to sleep in so that they don’t have to worry about getting the dreaded “nighttime knock” on their window.  This being said, even people without campervans can sleep in their van at a campsite.  In fact, many minivan owners create minivan campers just for this purpose.

3. Is It Safe to Sleep In The Back of A Van

It is generally safe to sleep in a van, but not always.  Sleeping in a van in an accident-prone area can be dangerous.  Sleeping in a van in a bad neighborhood can be dangerous.  Falling asleep in a van with the motor running could be dangerous as well.

This being said, most people who sleep in vans do so in relative safety.  People have been sleeping in campervans for many decades now and there isn’t a lot of evidence to say that it is unsafe.

4. Is There Enough Air to Sleep In A Van

In general, vans aren’t closed up tightly enough for you to have to worry about ever running out of air while sleeping in one.  This being said, it is a good idea to provide some additional airflow when sleeping in a van.

The primary reason to ventilate a van is to control the moisture levels of the van.  A human being puts off moisture through breathing and a van that is completely closed up will become humid.  This extra humidity can lead to the formation of mold and mildew inside of your van.

5. Can You Live In A Van Full-Time

People have been living in vans full time for many decades.  Full-time van living has recently become even more popular and more and more people are moving into vans full-time with each passing year.

This being said, there are many challenges to living in a van full-time.  For starters, you’ll have to find a safe and legal place to park your campervan each night.  On top of this, you may need to get a legal address for getting mail, paying taxes, and registering your vehicle.  You may even need to find an address to use so that you can register to vote.

6. How Do Van Lifers Make Money

Many van lifers no longer have to make money.  These van lifers have already retired and they collect money passively through their investments.

Other van lifers don’t need to make any money because they’ve saved enough to live off for a while.  These people have only become temporary full-time van lifers who will go back to living and working full-time outside of their van when their money runs out.

There are also van lifers that do make a living on the road.  These people might work full-time jobs, seasonal jobs, gig jobs, or remote jobs.  The number of ways to make money these days is staggering and van lifers don’t even have to use their imagination to come up with ways to make money while living full-time in their vans.

Want to use Pinterest to help you make money while living in a van?  Check out my book on Amazon!

7. Is Campervan Insurance Expensive

Campervan insurance is less expensive than traditional auto insurance.  This is because a campervan can be insured as an RV.  RV insurance can often be 1/10th the cost of traditional auto insurance.

8. How Much Does It Cost To Live In A Van Full-Time

The cost of living in a van full-time will vary dramatically based on your lifestyle, the amount of traveling you do, and the type of van you drive.  A full-time traveler could easily spend hundreds of dollars a day while a stationary van-lifer could spend less than $25.00 a day while living in their van.

9. How Do You Get Internet In A Van

There are many different ways to get Internet while living in a van.  The easiest way is to use your cell phone’s Internet connection.  City van-lifers will have access to 4g or 5g connections at a low cost.

People traveling through or living in more remote areas may have to find other ways to get access to the Internet.  One way is to buy a range extender for their cell phone.  A range extender will help boost weak cell phone signals and will help increase data speeds.

If a range extender doesn’t work, van lifers can choose a satellite Internet provider.  This is the route that many boondockers go as this offers the best possible range.

When all else fails, van lifers can always drive to a town that has Internet access.  Coffee shops, grocery stores, and even fitness centers now offer free Internet so you’re never far away from online access.

10. Can You Live In A Van With Pets

Many van lifers travel with their pets.  Dogs are the most common pets that van lifers travel with but people also take their cats as well.  I’ve even seen van lifers living with pet birds and other exotic animals that you might not have considered living with in a van.

The key to living in a van with pets is to make sure that the pet is never left alone in your van without climate control.  Even then, you may want to be careful how long you leave them for.  This is because even shore-power can go out and leave your recently air-conditioned van without power.  This van could quickly heat up and your pet could end up suffering.

11. Can You Live In A Van With Kids

Living in a campervan with kids during a vacation or weekend getaway can be fun for the whole family.  Living in a campervan with kids full-time seems more challenging than fun to me but this doesn’t mean people aren’t doing it.

A good example of van life with kids is Marcy, Doug, and their two children who live in a Sportsmobile.  Of course, they would say that they don’t live in a Sportsmobile, they live out of a Sportsmobile.  They use their van to get them where they’re going and they use it to sleep in at night.  When they’re not sleeping, they’re exploring the areas they’re visiting or hanging out outside of the van.

12. Do Campervans Smell Bad

Campervans can pick up odors and smell bad more quickly than a traditional home can.  An unventilated campervan will hold food odors, bathroom odors, and even body odor.  Poor ventilation can even lead to mold and mildew accumulation which can also lead to bad smells.

On the other hand, most campervans have great ventilation systems.  This is especially true for the campervan owners that use two separate vent vans in their campervan.  The constant inflow of fresh air and outflow of van air keeps the van smelling better than your typical house.

In short, ventilation will determine whether or not your campervan smells good or bad.

13. How Do You Stay Warm While Van Camping

Professionally built campervans always have heaters built into them.  These campervan heaters are usually diesel heaters or propane heaters but they can sometimes be gas or electric as well.

DIY campervans can be built with heaters or without heaters.  A DIYer can add all of the same types of heaters that professional campervan makers use.  They can also use wood stoves as heaters as well.

Van lifers who decide not to put heaters in their campervans might go with electric blankets or some other form of individual heating system.  For example, backpackers will sometimes heat up a bottle of water and sleep with that inside of their sleeping bags.

14. How Do You Stay Cool While Van Camping

Most professionally built campervans will have air conditioning built into them.  This air conditioning system can run off of shore power or it can run off of a generator.

A DIY build might use a portable AC unit on wheels, a window AC unit, or even a dog house AC unit.  Recently, Zero Breeze has come out with a portable battery-powered AC unit that can be used inside or even outside of van campers.

Other DIYers and boondockers skip the AC altogether.  These van lifers park someplace cool and make use of their vent fans and windows to keep cool.  Remember, both the woods and the desert get cool at night so sleeping without air conditioning usually isn’t an issue.

15. Where Do Van Campers Go To The Bathroom

Van campers can go to the bathroom at public rest stops or at the campgrounds they’re staying in.  They can also use portable dry toilets, portable cassette toilets, or built-in wet baths.

The type of bathroom a van lifer chooses will usually depend on their lifestyle, their desired camping locations, and their particular preference.  Luckily, there are enough toilet options to suit most styles of van life.

16. How Do Van Campers Shower

People who camp in vans often look to shower outside of their van.  Some van lifers will shower at campgrounds, truck stops, or fitness centers.  Other van lifers will shower outside of their van by using an outdoor camp shower.

There are a lot of reasons for van lifers to want to shower outside of their van.  For starters, not all campervans have showers built into them.  If you don’t have a shower in your van it won’t be possible to shower in your van.

Other van lifers just choose not to use their shower.  They might do this to save on water or they might do this to cut down on the moisture levels of their van.

Of course, some van lifers do shower inside of their van.  They might use a wet bath if they have one or they might build a dedicated shower room.  In some cases, people will skip showering altogether and go with sponge baths instead.  This cuts down on moisture levels and reduces water use so it’s a good option for van lifers to use to keep clean while camping.

17. Can You Cook In A Campervan

Many campervans have exquisite kitchens built into them.  I’ve seen campervans with ovens, stoves, microwaves, toasters, and coffee makers all in one small van kitchen.  These van lifers like to cook and they’ve made creating a good kitchen inside of their van a priority.

Other van lifers spend most of their time eating out or cooking outside of their van.  One benefit to this is you have more living space inside of your van.  Another benefit is that you don’t have to worry about cooking smells or fire hazards inside of the van.

18. Can A Bear Get Into A Campervan

A bear can literally rip the door off of a campervan with one arm.  This is extremely unlikely to happen while you’re in it but it is a possibility.  For this reason, I’d suggest you follow food safety guides when camping in remote areas.  Additionally, you may want to bring bear spray with you so that you can fend off any attacks that could occur.

19. What’s The Best Van For Camping

The best van for camping will depend entirely on what the person wants to get out of their van.  People wanting to go deep into the backcountry might find the best van for camping for them is a Sportsmobile.  A person looking to stealthily camp in the city might find that the best van camper for them is a minivan camper.  Somewhere in the middle is the person who might like to do some camping in campgrounds.  This person might find that the best van for camping is a DIY Sprinter van build or a professionally made class B campervan.

20. How Much Do Campervans Cost

Professionally made campervans will range in price between $75,000 to $200,000.  These vans can also be found used for a fraction of this cost.

DIY campervans can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This will depend on the base price of the van and the number of modifications the owner decides to make to it.

21. Can You Rent Campervans

It is easy to find a campervan to rent.  Class B campervans can be found for rent on places like RV Share and minivan campers can be found for rent at specialized rental companies like Jucy.

Campervan rental prices currently range between $100 to $400.  These prices will change depending on the van, the time of year, the location, and the length of time you want to rent it for.

Additional Questions?

Do you have more questions about van camping?  If so, let me know and I’ll try to answer them here for you!

Christopher Schopf

Christopher Schopf like to write about hiking, camping, snowshoeing, kayaking, and anything else that gets him outside.

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