Last Update: 11/29/2016

6 Questions to Ask when Choosing Your Van Life Rig

smashed up green and blue van next to a graffiti city wall
'Free Candy' by durdaneta (CC BY-NA 2.0)
Here're Vanholio's "6 Questions to Ask ..." about any van, car, truck, or van life rig you're considerin', posted at Gohobo.co. It all gets down to "First Principles." Check it out!

I wrote the list in trade for Simon Gooder's badass post here last Friday, "Is Van Life for You?" Read up and learn!

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

Is Van Life for You?
Considering Van Life? Take the Goddamn Plunge Already!
6 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Van Life Rig (Gohobo.co)
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Last Update: 11/25/2016

Is Van Life for You?

Hippie Ken and his live-in van, Champoeg State Park, Oregon (USA) 1973
Van life is not for everyone. Maybe you really are a prospective vandweller. If not, don't worry. I'll point you to other adventure options.

First of all, how much you are willing to sacrifice is totally up to you. It’s often dependent on the type or style of van you will be dwelling in, but the real decision is yours.

Some people live in vans because they are forced to, through their living situation, but that’s a different story altogether. Although they will have to deal with many of the same things, a choice is not one of them.


4 Biggest Hurdles to Van Life


Below, I’ve outlined four of the biggest hurdles for any vandweller. I’ve been through them myself and can speak from experience. If you can handle all four, perhaps the van life is for you. If not, you may want to consider another means of travel/adventure/accommodation.

1. Minimalism


There is a saying in the French culinary world: Mise en place. It means “everything in its place,” and I can’t think of a better expression for van life.

In my experience, it takes a certain level of organization to properly manage the van life. This can be something you learn or something that comes naturally. Either way, living in such limited quarters will absolutely require some organization if you want to live comfortably.

Embrace minimalism or stay home.

Those who live with a controlled level of materialism should have no trouble adapting to van life. Materialism can be one of the biggest hurdles when moving into a van. I know, it’s hard to get rid of your stuff. But eventually you’ll learn: that’s what it really is – stuff. In the end, this can be one of the most freeing experiences. 

If you’re having a hard time dropping your shit, go ahead and take it with you. You’ll quickly learn the value (or lack thereof) of your belongings, and you can always drop them as you move along.

2. Cleanliness


If you’re an avid camper, you probably already have a “relaxed idea of cleanliness.” It’s important to remember that you will not have a washing machine in your van, and you may have to wear your t-shirt more than one day in a row. It’s just part of the gig.

Technically, you could do laundry once a week, and if you have 7 t-shirts, 7 pairs of underwear, 7 pairs of socks, and 7 pairs of pants (or shorts of whatever), you would be already. But if you’re thinking about this, then you’re not going to be able to pass the first hurdle – minimalism.

Although you won’t necessarily have a full bathroom at your disposal when you need it, there are several solutions: gym pass, parking near a gas station, parking at Wal-Mart, etc.

3. Safety


Depending on your van life situation, you’ll either be camping rurally or stealthily. Sleeping in strange places can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

If you’re stealth-parked in the city, you’ll have to deal with the sounds of the street and all kinds of passersby. While this can be entertaining, shooing away drunken frat-boys at 2 am, after they’ve tried your doors hoping for a place to pass out, is not. Essentially you’ll have to be ready and willing to deal with uncomfortable noises and situations.

On the other hand, if you have contacts in town, you can park in driveways or backyards, with access to toilets and a yard and all that. It really can be awesome.

Camping rurally has its benefits as well, but being so far away from people and resources can be sketchy all on its own. But it can also mean an epic private camping experience under the stars, away from the noise of the city at night. It does make for a good sleep.

4. Adventure


For many people who live the van life, every day is something new, and you’ll learn to deal with what you’ve got. It didn’t take me (or my partner) long to realize we really didn’t need all that extra shit we had been afraid to get rid of. A simple life is an easy life, there’s no doubt about that.

One of the most amazing things about living like this is the flexibility. It feels so free to just hit the road whenever you want. Sick of this town? Onto the next! Found a hidden gem? Stay for the week!

Although the freedom can be great for your soul, it has its definite downside. Getting mail on the road can be a real pain in the ass. It takes a lot of planning ahead. Also, dealing with any sort of government bureaucracy can be a day-ruiner if you don’t have a fixed address.

So Is It for You?


I’ve done my best to outline the important facets when considering the van life. If you think you can deal with the four tribulations above, then I think you’re good to go.

There are both good and bad sides to everything we do. In the end, life is what you make it. If you don’t like your situation, change it. Move into that van, or pack your backpack and hit the trail, buy a plane/bus/train ticket and get the hell out if you have to. Things change and you can learn to adapt.

Do you think you can handle the life of a vandweller? If “no” is your answer, don’t despair. There are other options (see below).

Maybe It's Not for You ...


If you don't think you can deal with the tribulations of vandwelling, or if you’ve found yourself uttering “nope” at any point throughout the points above, then maybe you should look elsewhere for your adventure fix.

Are you an adventurer? Yes? Then try hitchhiking, or camping, or backpacking. Into learning about other cultures? Grab yourself an error-fare and head somewhere warm for the winter.

There are so many options for great alternative adventures these days, no matter your budget. I believe there are adventures for everyone.



Simon Gooder is an ex-vandweller, lifelong adventure traveler, and editor of GoHobo.co, an amazing source of alternative adventure resources.


Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

Jobs for Nomads – 3 Videos
5 Hard-Won Lessons of Urban Van Life
Alternative Adventure Directory (Gohobo.co)
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Last Update: 11/22/2016

5 Sweet Van Life Jobs and How to Get Them (Videos)

Can you be a van life nomad and make a living? Can you be solvent down by the river. Sure! Easy, in fact. Here's five videos how to by the great Bob Wells at CheapRVLiving.com. Be sure to subscribe to his YouTube Chanel, too!










Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

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Trim Pot Harvest to Keep Van Life Rolling
How Much Does Living in a Van Cost?
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Last Update: 11/17/2016

Can’t Sleep in the Van? Get Used to It!

Wide-eyed fellow, head on pillow, don’t feel secure enough to sleep in his van. Vanholio.com
You’ve found your stealth or boondocking spot down by the river. You’ve buttoned everything down for the night. But goddammit, you just can’t fucking go to sleep! What’s a vandweller to do?

The short answer? Get used to it! That’s the secret to van life sleeping.

What the Hell! Van Life Means No Sleep!?


No, that ain’t what I fucking said. “Get used to it” means you need to get used to each kind of new sleeping spot.

See, Vanholio’s been through this. Expect nearly everyone to take up van life has.

To get to sleep and to sleep soundly – not with one eye open all night – you gotta feel safe. You gotta feel secure. Also gotta ignore background noise. It’s hard to do all that in a new situation.

But give it time, you’ll adjust. Soon you’ll be sleeping like a drunken baby.

How Long Will It Take to Adjust?


Shit, I don’t know. Maybe a few nights.

Vanholio’s been at this a while. When he got started, he could only sleep secure in official campsites.

Since them days, I done slept in rest areas, Walmarts, shopping malls, closed campgrounds, behind abandoned buildings, beaches, and what all.

Maybe it took me 3-4 times in each type of setup before I could really relax. Not really sure. Weren’t too much.

But here’s a warning: Each kinda setup starts the clock over.

Gotta Adjust to Each New Camp Type


Then last night, I tried a different setup. Around sundown, I was driving down a smaller state road east of Laredo. Saw a small, fenced-off utility building with a driveway.

Now, Vanholio’s rig looks a bit like a work van. What the hell!, I says to myself, who’d fuck with a work van parked by a utility building? So I hid in plain sight, feeling smug as a tax dodger.

No one was around, mostly. It’s all ranch land, petroleum wells, and windmills out there. A few cars zipped by overnight, but no one stopped or said shit. No LEOs came by. It were real quiet like.

But Vanholio slept with one eye open. Bit tired today. Like I said, each new situation takes its own time. Give me a time or three to do it again, and I’ll be sleeping just fine.

Bet you hardcore urban vandweller types are laughing at Vanholio for being a panty-waist!

Like I Said, Get Used to It


So if you’re thinking about van life or new to vandwelling, just relax. Be prepared for some poor sleep with each new stealth park or boondock you try. Spread your wings, and you’ll be a well-rested veteran in no time.

And hey, you van life vets out there, got any other advice or words of wisdom for the newbies?
Read More »

Last Update: 11/12/2016

Considering Van Life? Take the Goddamn Plunge Already!

Two boys jumping off cliff in swimsuits #vanlife

Lots of good advice out there on vandwelling. Including on Vanholio.com, IMHO. But don't get hung up on the fucking details. Just do it! #vanlilfe

That's the advice of nixsee, a longtime redditor on /r/vandwelling. Can't have said it better myself! Wise words.



Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

11 Reasons Van Life Should Be in Your Future (Cloudline)
10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks (LifeHack)
How Much Does Living in a Van Cost?
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Last Update: 11/08/2016

Will Tonight's Election Results Be Good or Bad?

rainbow against dark gray storm clouds

Vanholio didn't write a Tuesday post ahead. And now, like all ya'll, he's on tenterhooks awaiting the election results. And tryin' damn hard not to get sucked down in the black tar of what ifs.

Maybe the best advice Vanholio's got for me and you is an old Chinese story I read somewhere long ago. Thanks to Ol' Google, I found it on some damn hippie website. Trust me, though, it's a goodun.

Who Knows? The Farmer's Son

One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So he left his horse loose to go the mountains and live out the rest of its life.

Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, "What a shame. Now your only horse is gone. How unfortunate you are!. You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?" The farmer replied: "Who knows? We shall see".

Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating the wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the corral.

Word got out in the village of the old farmer's good fortune and it wasn't long before people stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good luck. "How fortunate you are!" they exclaimed. You must be very happy!" Again, the farmer softly said, "Who knows? We shall see."

At daybreak on the next morning, the farmer's only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses, but the farmer's son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. One by one villagers arrived during the day to bemoan the farmer's latest misfortune. "Oh, what a tragedy! Your son won't be able to help you farm with a broken leg. You'll have to do all the work yourself, How will you survive? You must be very sad". they said. Calmly going about his usual business the farmer answered, "Who knows? We shall see"

Several days later a war broke out. The Emperor's men arrived in the village demanding that young men come with them to be conscripted into the Emperor's army. As it happened the farmer's son was deemed unfit because of his broken leg. "What very good fortune you have!!" the villagers exclaimed as their own young sons were marched away. "You must be very happy." "Who knows? We shall see!", replied the old farmer as he headed off to work his field alone.

As time went on the broken leg healed but the son was left with a slight limp. Again the neighbors came to pay their condolences. "Oh what bad luck. Too bad for you"! But the old farmer simply replied; "Who knows? We shall see."

As it turned out the other young village boys had died in the war and the old farmer and his son were the only able bodied men capable of working the village lands. The old farmer became wealthy and was very generous to the villagers. They said: "Oh how fortunate we are, you must be very happy", to which the old farmer replied, "Who knows? We shall see!"

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

The Nastiest, Strangest Presidential Elections in US History (Live Science)
Patriotism, Like Love, Is a Goddamn Mess
Save the World by Doing Less, or Nothing

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Last Update: 11/04/2016

Rubber Tramps Follow Ancient Traditions

Traditional horse-drawn gypsy trailer going down England’s A4. Vanholio.com
Every damn generation thinks it invented the cool shit. Van life ain’t no exception. Truth is that being nomad has always been part of the human adventure.

So far as we know, our earliest ancestors were hunter-gatherers, moving place to place after game and in-season plant food.

Even in the last few thousand years, “sedentism” was only one of the new options. You had your pastoralists, such as Mongols and Berbers, moving their domesticated herds to better forage. Later, you had your itinerant traders and laborers, “peripatetic nomads,” such as the Roma (Gypsies) moving from opportunity to opportunity.

And we still have all these groups today, even in the industrialized, centralized, rationalized, normalized USA and North America. Only these nomads tend to be individuals or families rather than a distinct culture: hobos, traveling salespeople, migrant farm workers, OTR truckers, travelling cowboys and sheepherders, OTR vandwellers. But there are exceptions, like the estimated 1 million Roma (Gypsies) living in the United States.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 30-40 million nomads today. But I can damn well guarantee you that’s undercounted for three reasons. First, they’re only counting traditional nomad cultures there, like your Mongols and Bedouins. Second, those folks don’t sit still to be counted. Third, Vanholio would argue that all people living a nomadic lifestyle are nomads. Me included.

Many working OTR vandwellers today are what you could call peripatetic nomads. They follow the seasons and work opportunities: north in summer to work as camp hosts, south in winter to work at an Amazon warehouse. That’s just one common example.

Mainstream US society tries to make something radical and perverse about having “no fixed address.” Bullshit! Abraham didn’t have no fixed address neither! And who did God prefer, the wandering Hebrews or those "civilized" Egyptians and Babylonians?

Rubber tramps are just a modern version of an old human lifeway. And we’re damn proud to embrace van life's freedom!
Read More »

Last Update: 11/01/2016

3 Deliveries Fucked in One Shitty Day

Woman frowns about dropped ice cream cone. More about van life down by the river at Vanholio.com
Van life ain’t roses all the time. Here’s a timeline of how three deliveries got fucked in one shitty Friday. Even though Vanholio did everything mostly right.

8:30 a.m. – Rerouting UPS Delivery


Vanholio’d ordered from Amazon.com for delivery to Silver City post office General Delivery. That was a gamble as the item was small. The post office don't normally accept UPS deliveries. But yes, it was coming UPS instead of USPS after all. Gotta hold of UPS customer service and request to pick up at the Silver City UPS Customer Center. Change approved. Good so far.

10:30 a.m. – Drive Into Silver City


Camp is about 40 minutes away. But it's a beautiful day, and everything's going my way ...

11:30 a.m. – Pickup Mail Bundle


Stop by the Silver City post office to pick up my forwarded mail bundle. It was sent by my Traveling Mailbox to General Delivery. Packet in and in my hand. Things are still going good. But not for long!

12:00 p.m. – Prescription Madness, Part 1


Doing laundry, I log onto Walmart.com to order two prescription refills, to be picked up at the Silver City Walmart. Prescription A can’t be done online because it requires a transfer. OK. Try to order Prescription B. Just as I’m clicking submit, the site changes my store to a Walmart in Texas I used recently. Fuckit.

I call the Walmart pharmacy customer service, asking, “B went to a Walmart in Texas, and A prescription is stuck a different Texas Walmart. How can I get them transferred?” Agent says, “Call both Texas Walmarts and ask them to hold the prescription. Then call the Silver City Walmart and ask them to transfer in both for refill.”

Vanholio makes his three fucking extra calls to Walmarts all over the goddamned place. Silver City assures me it’s OK, says come by in an hour to pick ‘em up. Fine.

2:00 p.m. – Mail Advice Written, Posted


Laundry done, I head to the Walmart parking lot to hang out for a bit, writing and posting “Pick Up Mail and Packages on the Road.” It tells you how things are supposed to work. Excellent advice, ‘cept it ain’t working for shit today. Can we say "irony"?

3:30 p.m. – Prescription Madness, Part 2


Head into Walmart pharmacy to pick up prescriptions. Clerk says there’s a problem, sends me to Drop Off counter. “Sir,” says Clerk 2, “Prescription A has no refills.” Vanholio says, “Yes, it does. I’ll get the bottle.”

Go out to car and bring back bottles for both prescriptions, A and B, just in case. Clerk 2 finally figures it out. Apparently, despite giving them the prescription numbers, whoever I talked to earlier tried to fill a different A prescription off a second Vanholio profile in the Walmart system. Why does Vanholio have two profiles? Why does he have two prescriptions for the same med? Fuck if anyone knows.

Clerk 2, “OK, it’s all sorted out and we have A and B in stock. Be ready in 15-20 minutes.” Good. Maybe shit is finally settled.

3:45 p.m. – In-Store Pickup Clusterfuck


Walk over to the store pickup counter. I’d ordered three items a week ago off Walmart.com for free in-store pickup. No one is at the counter. Several clerks ask me if I’ve been helped, but none of them can work the counter.

After 20 minutes of waiting and paging assistance, Trainee Manager finally shows up. "Sorry, Sir. They sent people home. Walmart!"

Only one of my three items is in. Was told earlier in the week that the other two items would be in, but they’re not. Maybe next week? No one knows.

4:10 p.m. – Prescription Madness, Part 3


Head back to the pharmacy. Prescriptions are ready, Clerk says. But at checkout, the price is way too low. What’s up? Clerk says, “Oh, Prescription B is only a four-day supply because we don’t have it all in. We’ll get you the rest by next week.” Fuck. Now I have to come back. It’s a 40 minute drive from camp. At least I’m not leaving the area for another week.

4:30 p.m. – UPS Customer Center Missing Package


Get to UPS Customer Center. Clerk Dude can’t find package anywhere. Go to van and get tracking number. He looks up on computer. “Oh, this was delivered to the post office.” Vanholio says, “What!? I got it routed here because the post office won’t accept a UPS delivery.” Clerk Dude says, “They did. Sometimes they accept our deliveries because blah, blah, blah ...”

4:40 p.m. – Post Office Can’t Find Package


Tell Post Office Clerk, “I have a package General Delivery.” She goes back. Digs around. Get’s another clerk chick to dig around. Comes back empty handed.

“It was signed for this morning. From UPS,” I say. “Oh,” she says, “Sometimes we get drop shipments from UPS. But they aren’t unpacked till the next morning.” So Vanholio’s Amazon.com package is buried in a pallette of UPS shit. “Come back tomorrow or Monday.”


Why the fuck did I even get out of bed Friday? Huh!? Stay down by the river, always. That’s Vanholio's new van life motto.

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

How Do I Find Lost Mail? (Reference.com)
Traveling Mailbox Saves Vandweller $$$$
Pick Up Mail and Packages on the Road

Read More »