Could there be anything more exciting than setting off travelling in your van? Swapping the daily commute for a life on the open road where you can do what you want, whenever you want, is a dream that more and more people are making a reality. Here are some of our tips, gleaned from experienced vanners, for making your travels go swimmingly:
You'll need to have plenty of money saved, even if you plan to earn while you're travelling, and you should save more than you think you'll need. You never know when you will need to deal with unexpected circumstances, like repairs to your van or a medical problem. Work out all the small ways you can save money, from using free wifi wherever you can to joining free walking tours to explore somewhere new.
One thing you should not skimp on, however, is travel insurance – healthcare in some countries can be eye-wateringly expensive and it’s not worth taking a risk of such magnitude. Be aware, too, that sometimes even if you have insurance, or are in a country with which the UK has a reciprocal healthcare agreement, there may be some costs to pay upfront.
When you convert your van, you need to insulate it so you're warm on winter nights – there are a variety of materials you can choose, and thermal curtains will help stop you losing heat through the windows. Work out how you're going to keep clean without a bathroom; there are showers you can buy for your van or you can use facilities at camp sites, gyms etc. You’ll also need to ensure sleeping arrangements are comfy.
You'll save a lot of money if you can cook your own meals in your van. Vegetarian food is often cheaper than meat. As you move from place to place you'll have some fantastic opportunities to buy local ingredients and try new foods, and you can find delicious, great value fresh produce at markets.
Make sure you have these things: a fire extinguisher that is the right size for your van, a carbon monoxide alarm, and a first aid kit, along with some basic first aid knowledge. Have somewhere lockable, and preferably hidden, inside your van where you can keep your valuables; it's better if you can always carry your passport with you, and indeed in some countries you're required to. It helps to have some knowledge of how your van works, and some basic tools too.
Whether you're staying on a campsite or somewhere off the beaten track, it's wise to find somewhere while it's still light, as trying to get your bearings in the dark can be disorienting and unsettling. www.hip-hikers.com recommends the Parkings and WikiCamps apps for finding places to park, some for free.
Above all: enjoy the adventure and embrace the unexpected!
At Vanwise Group, we have a huge array of second-hand vans of all shapes and sizes, makes and models, ready for you to explore. They're all thoroughly inspected by our in-house technicians and our van finance packages mean you’ll find them affordable. Have a look through our great van deals – and if you'd like a test drive, call us at our Maidstone andHarlow dealership.