My wife and I have been saving up for a couple years now, and are getting to a point to where we can start looking at vans, and take a leap into living full time on the road for at least a year (hopefully longer with remote work). Any tips on getting started?
Hi @alex27 The hard part about Vanlife - or any radical lifestyle change - is deciding two things. 1) That you are going to do it. Once you decide Yes, I am going to do this, there are few obstacles that can really stop you. It is easy to fall into the trap I call the "I don't have's..." I don't have the Time, money, skills... All of those things can be worked around. The hard part is saying, Yes, I'm going to do this. 2) You can't listen to people saying you can't do this. If you and your wife want to spend a year on the road, don't let someone tell you no. They are answering for their own reasons. Have a great adventure, and come back and tell us all about it!
@alex27 You two are about to have SO much fun!
Even if you're used to having quite a bit more space at home, living in a van is not as crazy or difficult as it may seem. The challenges (yes, there will be some) will quickly be outshined by opportunities you'll find to discover and explore amazing places and meet great people.
The best advice I can give is find some way to start with a trial run. Take a couple of weeks before you leave your traditional housing and practice what it will be like to live with your adventure partner in a confined space. The biggest adjustment is finding and getting in a routine of living in a small space together. Some tasks and chores will work better to team up on, some things are easier if one person just stays out of the way. Getting a feel for this before you take the plunge will make the first few weeks on the road a lot less daunting and frustrating, leaving you free to focus on your adventure.
A trial run will also help identify what you need and don't need in your new four-wheeled home. Regardless of what kind of van you buy or build, there will be some amenities and parts of the layout that need adjustment once you start the day to day activities of living from a van. Spending a few nights or more will make these apparent in a way that a test drive or walk-through tour just can't do. Having a home base where you can unpack to make the adjustments will be far less stressful than having to try and find a place do do some carpentry or electrical work on the road with a van full of gear.
Get educated on the living systems that will be in your van. Will it have wiring for lights and outlets fed by a solar charging system? Learn enough about 12v marine electrical systems so that you can safely troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Will it have a sink and potable/grey water system? Learn enough about plumbing that you can troubleshoot, repair and replace components. An afternoon trip to the hardware store to replace an electrical fuse or sink fitting is a fun and challenging part of the adventure; having to unpack your things into a hotel for a few days so that a mechanic/plumber/electrician can diagnose and repair your components is an expense of time and money that you could be using to get a whole bunch more miles down the road.
I Hope this is helpful! Congrats on your decision to live home-free!