We have put together this list of what we feel are the best and worst things about full time van life in our motorhome, as we like to be honest and show both sides of van life. Although there are so many amazing things about this style of living, there are some downsides that can take some time to get used to.
If you’re considering this style of living, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the good and the not so good!
The Best Things About Full Time Van Life
- Freedom – Having freedom was the absolute main reason for us giving up everything to take up full time travel. We had good jobs, our own side businesses and we owned a home. But none of those things matter when they don’t make you happy and you feel completely trapped.
We were willing to take a huge risk and completely change our lives in order to follow our dreams and to finally feel some freedom, and we’ve never looked back!
- Less Bills – The cost of living at the moment is higher than ever. Like most people, we were paying a mortgage and all the household bills, and at the end of the pay check it doesn’t leave much money for much else! It felt like as soon as we would get paid, our wages would be gone again on paying our bills and putting away savings.
Although this style of living obviously does have it’s own costs, they’re less than what we were paying before!
- Waking up somewhere new every day – The feeling of waking up somewhere brand new most days never gets old. Some of the views we have woken up to like views of snowy mountains, beautiful lakes and sunrise over sandy beaches remind us why we did this!
- We can take Lottie with us – One of the main reasons for us deciding to travel full time in a van was that it would mean that we could bring our dog Lottie with us. We have been wanting to do long term travel for a really long time, and for various different reasons and life getting in the way, it unfortunately didn’t happen in the past.
Then, once we got our dog Lottie, we didn’t think it would be fair to then go and leave her behind for a long time whilst we went off travelling the world! So van life gives us the best of both worlds, we get to do lots of travelling, and so does she!
- Everything we want and need is here with us – There is something really nice about knowing that you have all of your belongings in your van with you, and whatever amazing destination you travel to, all of those things are still with you!
- Experiencing new cultures – We believe that one of the greatest educations you can get in life is to travel. To learn new languages, meet new people and learn about the way they live, eat new foods and see new places, nothing comes close to this for us.
- Meeting new people – We have met some of the most lovely and friendly people on our travels, people that we never would have met if we didn’t do this! To meet new people from new places and different cultures is one of the best parts of travelling for us.
The Worst Things About Full Time Van Life
The 7 things that we don’t like so much about van life are specific to us, and if you try full time van life then these things may not bother you at all. These things are definitely not deal breakers either, just little annoyances for us!
- Small cooking space – One thing that we miss about our house is our big kitchen. Cooking in such a small space can sometimes be difficult. There is not much space to prep food, and the mess can sometimes get ridiculous!
- No bath! – I (Kirsty) was a big fan of having a nice long soak in the bath in our house, and this is something that I do miss! It doesn’t bother Ryan at all, again, a very specific one, but yet again, not the end of the world!
- No dishwasher – Now this is again a bit of a silly one, but still annoying all the same! When you are eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in your van most days, it equals a lot of washing up! Especially as we are a lot of the time unable to just let it build up, as if we need to drive somewhere, we need to make sure everything is put away before we move!
- Everything takes longer – We have found that everything takes a lot longer when living in a van. It takes longer to leave the van in the morning to go out as you have to make sure everything is sorted, put away in it’s place etc and you have to make sure all of your security is sorted when you go out such as switching security cameras on, putting steering wheel locks on etc.
Also – you may need to do things such as filling up or emptying your water or toilet, which all takes up a lot of time, more on this in the next point!
- Emptying toilet, filling up with water etc all the time – This is something that we didn’t realise we would be doing quite so much before we started van life. It sometimes feels that you can hardly go a day without having to do at least one of these things.
In the grand scheme of things, again, not really a major issue but just something to be aware of that you sometimes can be restricted to where you stay due to these things, and it sometimes can be difficult to find places to do them.
- Keeping a small space clean – When we moved out of our house and into our van we thought, great, less cleaning! We were wrong. Just because you live in a small space, it does not mean less cleaning, in fact it means the opposite.
The cleaning mounts up a lot more quickly in a small space and it’s not as easy to just leave it and close the door on it as it is in a house! You end up cleaning twice as much, especially if like us you also have a dog!
- Laundry – Something you don’t even think about when you’re in your house with a washing machine, it’s just one of those jobs that needs doing and you just get on with it, but something that takes a lot more consideration when you live in a van!
Yes you can do some handwashing, but realistically, you cannot handwash every single piece of laundry. We have to find a campsite that has laundry services, and even then it’s not guaranteed if other people at the site are using the washing machine too. And even then, we have been to campsites that only have a washing machine and no tumble dryer.
If the weather is good, you can hang your washing outside in the sunshine, but if the weather is bad, then it’s not very easy to get your washing dry. Or, you have to find a self service launderette. And it can become expensive and also it can take a bit of time to do where you’re waiting around for it to finish.
Some of the obvious things that you think would annoy you about full time van life, such as living in a small space, really haven’t bothered us at all up to this point! It was so much more easy to come up with things that we love about it than it was the things that we don’t like!
It’s important to say that the best parts of full time van life for us absolutely outweigh the worst, and we are beyond glad that we made the decision to change our lives for the better.
There is nothing worse in life than wondering, what if? We had to think long and hard about this lifestyle, and it took a lot of preparation to get to the stage of actually setting off on our journey, but it was all absolutely worth it!
We hope that you have found this post helpful if you are considering full time van life!
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You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!