How to Get the Most Out of Road Trips in a Van

How to Get the Most Out of Road Trips in a Van

Out of a desire to feel more adventurous while cutting vacation costs, 67% of travelers this year intend to get to their destination by way of road trips. That’s right, rather than booking bus tickets or getting on a plane, Americans are getting into their vans and hitting the road.

For many, this is the first attempt at becoming a road warrior. If you’ve never gone van camping or traveled long distances in your van, you’re going to need some useful tips.

Our goal is to make sure that you get the most out of your road trip, even if the destination is the primary goal. Why spend hours in your van trekking across the country if you won’t enjoy it?

Read on to learn how to get the most out of your next road trip in your trusty van.

Get Van Maintenance

One of the most important tips for successful van camping is to get your van checked out in advance. This includes having your van inspected for issues with the brakes, engine, and other essential undercarriage. If your van is decked out with plumbing, have that inspected, too.

If your van doesn’t get a clean bill of health and it’s too costly to fix, it’s time to head to one of these locations to invest in a new van. Nothing ruins road trips faster than breaking down halfway to your final destination.

Pack the Smart Way

When you’re going to be traveling and living in your van, you don’t want to feel like you’re packed as tight as a sardine inside of it. It’s time to get strategic about what you pack and how you store your belongings during your trip. Whenever possible, opt for fewer items (i.e. packing an e-reader instead of multiple books or one durable outer layer instead of several coats).

The goal is to cover the essentials, including food, toiletries, clothing, and entertainment, without overcrowding. You will also need to commit to keeping your van tidy, putting things away after use and discarding waste daily.

Don’t Over-Schedule

Traveling by van can give you more control over your day-to-day plans. After all, you aren’t bound by bus, plane, or train schedules and can drive and stop whenever you want. For some, it can be tempting to schedule each day of the trip down to the minute, but we urge you to build in time for the unexpected.

This wiggle room will make your trip less stressful and more rewarding. It gives you the flexibility to account for emergencies and to stay longer at destinations that really draw you in. While daily structure is important, flexibility allows you to live in the moment.

Bring Emergency Gear

Speaking of emergencies, it’s important to be prepared. Don’t expect that if you get a flat tire or need a jumpstart, you’ll be within a mile of the nearest gas station or mechanic. Sometimes, road trip emergencies happen in the middle of nowhere.

What van essentials should you pack in case of an emergency? As you may have expected, you should have at least one spare tire and jumper cables. You may also want to pack a canister of gas, flares, a few gallons of drinking water, a tire patching kit, flashlights, and a first aid kit.

Plan Your Meals

When your goal is to travel while saving money, it’s likely that your plan is to cook more than you dine out during your road trip. Van camping often offers several methods for cooking, whether that’s cooking over the campfire, using campsite grills, or cooking in your van’s kitchenette. To make the most of these van-cooked meals, you’re going to need a solid meal plan.

When it comes to cooking in your camper van, canned and dried goods are your best friends. If you want to throw fresh produce into the mix, opt for fruits and veggies that don’t require refrigeration and have a long lifespan, like bananas, apples, and potatoes. You may also want to map out grocery stores along your route where you can stop to replenish your pantry.

Map Out Overnight Destinations

Traveling by van is great because your transportation is also your overnight accommodations. That said, don’t expect to be able to pull over and sleep anywhere you want. In many places, sleeping in your van can get you into legal trouble, whether you’re on the side of a road or parked in a business’s parking lot.

The good news is that it isn’t hard to find campsites and van-friendly parking lots all over the country. The key is to make sure you have them all mapped out (along with a few alternative options to rely on in a pinch) ahead of time. It’s ideal to get to your overnight spot before sunset to scope it out and make sure that it feels safe and has the accommodations you need for a comfortable sleep.

Get More Out of Your Road Trips

Van camping is a great way to travel more while spending less. With this guide, you can make sure that all of your road trips are not only a success but a pleasure. Make sure that your van is in good condition and you have everything you need to have a safe, fun, and memorable adventure.

Looking for more ways to travel in style this year? Are you wondering what the top destination spots are for your next big vacation? Take a look at our travel section for the latest trends, tips, and locations you won’t want to miss.

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