Last Update: 12/29/2017

Should You Start a Van Life YouTube, Instagram or Blog?

woman looking at laptop screen with crazy look in her eyes
The short answer is "no." Actually, "Hell no!" But that's only if your main goal is makin' money. Like rock'n'roll or pro sports, few van life bloggers ever get the cabbage.

If you must do a van life blog, vlog, whatever, do it mainly for fun. Cause that's mostly all you'll likely get outta it.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Takes Skill, Time, and Sizzle to Make Van Life Blog Money

Those who do make cabbage usually have skills: photography, video editing, writing, etc. They usually also have something extra attractive about them, e.g. charm or a tight, delicious ass.

Oh, and they've also worked damn hard over a long time. There ain't no instant success on YouTube, Instagram, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media. That includes writin' and sellin' books.

And if you mainly want attention and praise, that's scarce too. People got lotsa shit to look at online, and they don't give a crap about you. You ain't that special. Bein' ignored will become a way of life.

Here's the Hard Facts

Vanholio! Is Typical Van Life Blog Case

I been doin' this blog a year and a half now. That's about 140 posts and thousands a hours work. That includes time on social media, webmasterin', readin', writin' guest blogs, throwin' together a little book, jackin' around with advertising and affiliate programs, and all kindsa other backend shit.

After all that, is Vanholio ridin' rich'n pretty? Hell no! I make maybe $20-30 a month off this blog! Woulda been smarter to work a minimum wage job.

Oh, and did I mention that Vanholio's got years experience as a pro marketing writer? (Wouldn't know it with some a the shit I post …)

But that's OK. I gots my priorities in order:
  1. Have fun writin' 
  2. Help and entertain readers
  3. Make money

Course, writin' 'bout the UNSEXY parts a van life with sarcasm and a Texas drawl really really narrows my readership. Probably do better money-wise reviewin' smartphones or some shit. But that'd be boring as fuck.

Only Start a Van Life Blog for Love

So do your van life YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, blog, whatever if you MUST! Do it if it's comin' from your heart.

But if you're just lookin' for an easy way to make scratch, don't fuckin' bother. Unless you got skills, patience, and are ready to put in serious sweat.

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Last Update: 12/22/2017

3 Ways to Survive a Vanlife Christmas

VW campervan covered in christmas lights
Well, what the fuck makes Christmas and all those other end-of-year holidays so goddamn merry anyway? Sometimes they ain’t. I know, I been there. For anyone, holidays can be stressful. If you live alone in a van down by the river? Can be that much worse.

But here’s Vanholio’s constructive ideas to get your head outta your ass. Try happy out. You’ll like it!

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

1. Do Something Fun by Yourself, for Yourself

No point sitting around like the Grinch, stewin’ in your own juices. Make merry on your lonesome.

Some years back, Vanholio got divorced. It was rough. Naturally.

First Father’s Day alone, away from the kids, the blackness was overtakin’ me. The swamp looked deep and cool, easy to just sink on into.

So I got off my ass and went for a loooong hike up a mountain ridge. Natural beauty, tons of exercise, the knowledge that I was a free man in nature. Did me good. Picked me right the hell up. Got me through the day. I even had some fun.

What would you like to do? Something you don’t normally get to. Go to a favorite place? Stay in a fancy hotel? Play a shit ton of video games? Give yourself that special present.

2. Elbow Your Way to the Table

Now, Vanholio’s normally a bit shy. He don’t just make friends everywhere. That’s by choice

But couple Thanksgivings ago, he was in Florida. I’ve got some friends in Florida, but they already had plans to be guests elsewhere.

It was forward of me, but I asked my friends if they could wangle an invitation to Thanksgiving where they was going. They agreed. They got it. I went.

Turns out the hostess had been a career Army nurse and totally got the need to find “family” wherever you can on the road. Never felt more welcome. Lovely people. One of my best Thanksgivings ever.

If you’re not near people to ask, go near people. Stay at an RV park. Bet most of them got something going on. Hell, I bet Slab City’s got a heck of a party planned!

3. Gather Your Own Posse

Don’t you think other vandwellers might be in the same spot? That they don’t got people nearby (or at all)?

Start a gathering! Don’t need anything fancy. A location and a potluck will do. Cheap RV Living folks are gatherin' early in and around Quartzite, AZ for the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. Get into the Cheap RV Living Forum to see what's up. If you can’t hook up with them, do what they’re doing where you are! Ain’t hard.

Talk to folks on the other forums, too: /r/vandwellers, Squat the Planet, and Vandog Traveller. Plenty of van folk in the same position you are.

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Last Update: 12/19/2017

'Eat Algae Nonfood' They Said. And I Did!

heart shaped remnant of black-green nonbar by
Check this shit out! The prototype non/food nonbar is our science fiction future today! It's compressed, flavored algae. Yes, algae! Damn good, too! But what does it taste like...?

Well, I can't rightly say! It's kinda like when you try a new tropical fruit. I mean, what the fuck does guava taste like? It don't taste like nothin' but guava.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Flavor meister Sean Raspet intentionally made it taste one of a kind. Here's how it's described on the non/food website,

Starts out leafy and green. A clean floral and honey middle with hints of citrus and vanilla. Savory base with nutty and roasted nuances.

There ya go! Can't say it much better than that. But a friend sampled mine and compared it to eatin' raw cocoa, the kind that's an unsweetened paste. Which ain't nothin' like Hershey's.

If Vanholio's got one complaint, it's the texture. Too smooth. It kinda paints to your teeth. I'd like it more chewy or crunchy or somethin'.

BTW, had no digestive complaints from eatin' my nonbar. Was kinda worried 'bout that after Soylent dropped algae oil as an ingredient when some folks got the runs. But nope, did my body good.

Don't know if the nonbar'll catch on, but I kinda hope it does. It's perfect for vandwellers, backpackers, travelers, or anyone who wants a super-nutritious, high-protein food that packs small and light.

Cool, too, to see a product introducin' algae as food. 'Cause that's the future.

As Earth cooks and population rises, algae is gonna be on the menu. Along with a bunch a other new foods. Check out this video below on 10 foods we'll probably be eatin' in the future.

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Last Update: 12/15/2017

5 Primo Tips for Being a ‘Stand Out’ Camper

You didn’t invest buku bucks in a rebuilt vanagon and artisanal kombucha jar to blend in. Oh, no, no, no! You’re out to be noticed in that van a yours. So *be* noticed. Be the most talked about camper in the campground. Follow Vanholio’s 5 Primo Tips to stick out like a sore, festering thumb.

That's how I started out my guest post at To soak in the rest of my snark, you're gonna have to go read it there.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

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Last Update: 12/12/2017

Reflectix Insulation in Vans Done Right

Holy shit, I’m dense. But so are a lot of other vandwellers. Too many of us use Reflectix wrong. I did. Big waste of time and money. Know why?

No Air Gap = No Good

What Vanholio did was put closed foam insulation against the metal wall, Reflectix against that, and then plywood paneling against the Reflectix. All touching. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

At least my Reflectix is tape-sealed to the wall. It’s an expensive vapor barrier now. I coulda used cheaper foil or plastic, though.

(Well, supposedly the bubble wrap part has an R-value of 1.1. But I’m skeptical.)

And no, pressing your Reflectix up against fluffy, "airy" fiberglass batting like this guy did doesn’t count. It needs to be air, plain old air. If that foil touches *anything*, it stops being a reflector/non-emitter and becomes a conductor. The heat energy will just pass on through to whatever it’s touching. (See the video at bottom.)

OK, you can read about “The Physics of Foil” if you want to get your egghead on. Bottom line though: No Air Gap = No Good. The Reflectix company themselves says that on their website.

Furring strips put gap between foil and roof

3 Build Strategies Work

1. Side - Reflectix - Furring - Paneling

So how do you correctly use Reflectix in your van for living down by the river? Like they do on roofs and walls! Put furring strips (thin slats of wood, about an inch thick) over the Reflectix, then tack your paneling atop the furring strips. This’ll leave a little air gap between the paneling and the Reflectix.

2. Side - Furring - Reflectix - Paneling

You could also do it the other way round: put the furring strips on the metal, and the Reflectix over that, then paneling. So long as you get your air gap, you're in fuckin' business.

3. Side - Reflectix - NOTHING

Another option: Dispense with the furring strips and leave the Reflectix exposed. The van interior becomes the air gap then.

But maybe it’s not even worth it then. Especially if you’re tight on space. You might be better off using straight foam insulation (or wool, or fiberglass batting, or cellulose, or etc.).

Or if you live in a hot, sunny place and just want to reflect solar radiation, cheaper foil insulation would be just as good. Hell, you could glue up Reynold’s Wrap! Just leave it exposed to your interior. Might be ugly, but it'll work!

But Use Reflectix on Windows

The one place Reflectix rocks is windows. Yes, you could use plain old foil, like every trashy house and trailer in America. But the bubble wrap interior gives Reflectix some structure to bear taking up and down. I assume you don’t want foil in your windows all the goddamned time!

Still don’t get why Reflectix in your van walls *must* have an air gap? Don’t believe all those van conversions you saw online are wrong? Watch this video below. You’ll wish you coulda had a fuckin' V-8!

Cover of "All the Whores I Knowed Before" a book by Vanholio! For sale on Click through.

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Last Update: 12/10/2017

Louisiana Pigs Shake Me Down

Sign reads "The Butt Hut Bar-b-que" and has a pig seen from butt.
Goddammit! As a suspicious character with some kinda brain, Vanholio's No. 1 goal is to NOT look suspicious. But my best plans failed in Pollock, Louisiana. Got questioned by three LEOs for about 30 minutes!

This was as last Thursday. I was lookin' for a legal dispersed campsite in Kisatchie National Forest, near Stuart Lake. And I was drivin' legally down a legal road, mindin' my own legal goddamn business!

(BTW, that big photo is the sign for The Butt Hut in Vidalia, Louisiana. Had to stop! Decent pulled pork. Outstandin' coleslaw.)

The road was FSR 123. Not far in, I come to this puddle in the photo and wisely stopped. You know, instead of stuckin' myself. Took a photo as proof a my newfound wisdom.

puddle in middle of dirt road
Puddle where it all began!
Comin' down the other way was a game warden. He stopped and asked me a lotta questions about whether I had guns, where I was goin', etc. Then the fucker wanted to see my driver's license!

Now, when a LEO *asks* to see your license, that's a fuzzy area. You don't *have* to show your license as the LEO don't have probable cause, such as a traffic stop. If he did, he'd *demand* to see it. But then again, if you say no, it raises suspicions and may lead to trouble if the LEO is an asshole.

So I showed the game warden my license, but let him know this was goin' too far, IMHO. We parted.

A bit later, I took Ms. Barkley for a walk by the lake. When I come back to the van, who was standin' outside it but a local police officer and the game warden! (Cop No. 3 showed up a bit later.)

The dance began. Many questions were asked. Some were answered, some were not. Vanholio did his best to stand for his rights without invitin' an ass kickin'. Kinda like pettin' restrained but suspicious guard dogs.

Turns out Vanholio stepped his foot in it. FSR 123 drives straight to the back a the Pollock Federal Correctional Complex. Also turns out that dumbasses been drivin' back there to smuggled drugs into the prison.

So when Vanholio was sniffin' around there and nearby backroads in a white, unmarked van with outta state plates ... Well, locals saw the van and called me in. And you know what them and the LEOs was thinkin'.

Matters got cleared up. Didn't get the glove. But it was not a fun day ... USA, LLC

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Last Update: 12/08/2017

Van Life Travel Safety 101

funny illustration with van surrounded in chains, police tape, with a mounted video camera and a mean guard dog

“Ain’t many guys travel around together,” he mused. “I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” – John Steinbeck, Of Mice And Men

I assume that if you’re reading this article, you’re not a big scary MMA fighter driving a military fort on wheels with an arsenal under your bed. Then again, even if you meet that description, you might find a valuable point or two for van life here (and at my blog,

First and foremost, I want you to know this is not a fear-mongering article. The official van life travel plan is to enjoy your journey, be social, meet cool people and have adventures.

You never want to let fear rule your life. However, I am a firm believer in the Vietnam war era slogan, “stay alert, stay alive.” I have learned that an ounce of prevention is worth…possibly my life.

7 Tips for Van Life Travel Safety – for Women and Men

#1 – On the Road

Of course crime can happen anywhere, but some locations are worse than others.

For example, I’ve seen some sketchy things at rest stops, and this prompted me to execute a Google search, something like “Rest stop crime, US”.  The results left me a bit stunned. So many crimes, so much violence.

The same goes for convenience stores, which turn out to be among the most likely places to get shot, robbed or mugged in the US.

Of course, stopping for gas, groceries, bathroom breaks, and sleep are realities of van life. However, there are some general rules to follow when it comes to executing these activities safely.

Instead of stopping last minute, plan ahead. Do some research and find the best places to rest, sleep and shop.

Here are some of the safer options:

  • Along main streets
  • Grocery stores
  • Libraries
  • Hospitals
  • Municipal lots and buildings
  • Restaurants

I know what you’re thinking: “Nearly every gas station is also a convenience store”. True that, but it doesn’t mean you have to go in. Plan to use your card at the pump (vs walking in with a handful of cash), and remember to “Stay alert...”. Also, grocery store gas stations tend to be safer options.

#2 – At the Campsite

This is one place I have run into trouble more than a couple of times.

It’s important to be aware of your neighbors. Sometimes they’re just annoying. However, there are times when you’ll find yourself next to a neighbor who’s sketchy, lewd, intoxicated...

Know where your campground ranger or host is located and consider camping near them if you’re alone. Also, pay attention to their behavior. Not everyone in a uniform is safe and sane.

Most people I have encountered at campgrounds are harmless, but it pays to be conscious of your neighbors and take action early if you see something that looks off.

In fact, if your gut is telling you to move to a new site, or leave all together, listen!

#3 - Stealth Camping

Not every neighborhood allows van camping. In fact, some places such as Flagstaff, Arizona actually have laws against it. While I don’t recommend it as a nightly habit, it can be useful to learn to stealth camp.

Avoid remote areas with no people. It’s tempting to find a warehouse district or wooded area on the edge of town, but guess who else hides out there (I’ll let your imagination run with that one)? A nice clean housing area with a few cars parked on the streets is a better bet.

If you’ll be doing any stealth camping, keep the van clean inside and out and keep your behavior low key. No loud music, kill the lights for an early bedtime and get up early to move on.

Finally, never stay twice in the same location. That’s called overstaying your welcome, not stealth camping.

I’ve heard it said by some veteran vanners that no matter how stealthy you are, the cops always know when you’re sleeping in your van. Most of them don’t care as long as you’re clean and respectful.

All this relates to safety because homeowners can get testy when a garbage scow rolls up spewing death metal and dumping bottles of urine. I’ve heard more than one story of 3 am pounding on the side of the van, not by cops, but local permanent residents.

Don’t be that vanner. The best way to be treated with respect and decency is to be the first to offer it.

Tip #4 – Weapons

If you choose to arm yourself, please keep the following in mind: Every weapon requires some level of training and practice. No matter how simple or powerful, there will be a learning curve and a physical element. Take some time to learn how to not shoot (stab, spray, bludgeon, poison, electrocute, inflame…) yourself or your loved ones.

The most minimal and potentially valuable weapon is your own body. If you’re able bodied and want to feel a higher level of safety at all times, take some self-defense classes or at least read up on the subject. A good self defense instructor will have tips and tricks for staying safe that most people never think of.

I carry a personal pepper spray in my bag. It goes with me on walks to the bathroom at the campground, and pretty much everywhere else. I keep wasp or bear spray inside the van because they are both more powerful than regular pepper spray and travel further.

A fellow van traveler, and our gracious host for this article, Vanholio, won’t even keep a gun in his van. I tend to agree with pretty much every point he makes in that article.

If you feel the same way but want a bit more protection, you can carry a pellet gun for a last resort situation.

Tip #5 – Alarms

The cheapest alarm is a whistle. You can carry this on your keychain at all times. Additionally, you should arm your vehicle with a car alarm and make sure it’s set while you sleep. Any breach of your home will be met with a loud awakening! Get a lock fob with a panic button.

Tip #6 – Locks

Before you go to bed, check and double check the locks. You should also try to sleep with the windows mostly closed. If you have a roof fan, go ahead and close the windows. This also applies if you are rolling through a sketchy area. But again with the ounce of prevention; plan to avoid sketchy areas altogether.

Keep your valuables locked up in your van, cartop carrier, bike rack… I look at it like this: Valuable objects represent money to people in need. So by not flaunting my cool bike, camping gear or other valuables, I won’t have to defend it against someone with less to lose than I.

Tip #7 – Cell Service

Make sure you have enough service to make 911 calls. Although most cell phones will dial out in an emergency, it is another ounce of prevention.

Again, preparation is king: In planning ahead for where you want to sleep, look for areas with good cell coverage.

Of course you can go much deeper than these tips for safety and security. For example, I’m designing a small, fireproof safe to be installed in my van for storing cameras, laptop, passport… More on this topic coming soon at ‘How to leave your van unattended without worry’.

Enjoy your journey. Take the fork in the road that leads to possible adventure. Relax and breathe easy and take in the sights. Just don’t be naive. Do it with at least a modicum of preparation for the worst.

When she's not writing guest posts about van life, Veronica Cavanaugh is camping, backpacking, or planning her next outdoor adventure. She also enjoys watching old movies and writing poetry. See more of her work and a whole world of valuable van travel goodness at

Cover of "All the Whores I Knowed Before" a book by Vanholio! For sale on Click through.

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Last Update: 12/05/2017

Dispersed Camping Shut Down in Hunting Season

Squirrel hunters shoot guns up into trees
Vanholio's made a discovery this last fall months. In some – not all – national forests, the U.S. Forest Service don't allow dispersed camping durin' general hunting season. You must use a campground or hunt camp.

Sames true of some state forests and wildlife management areas (WMA).

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

What Kinda Campin' Is Allowed, What Ain't?

Now, campin' as a whole ain't cut off. Them forests as cut dispersed campin' keep open campgrounds. And most have designated "hunt camps," which range from seasonal campgrounds with all the amenities to small areas of cleared brush.

By "general hunting season," I mean any a them times hunters is out for big game with guns. Different states call it different things. But I ain't had the kibosh put on my dispersed campin' during bow and blackpowder seasons.

Which National Forests Restrict Dispersed Camping?

Don't know yet which all U.S. National Forests, but there's a few I can speak to from my recent travels in the South along US-84 (little 84, not the interstate).

  • Texas
    • Sam Houston National Forest – approved campsites only
    • Davy Crockett National Forest – approved campsites only
    • Angelina National Forest – approved campsites only
    • Sabine National Forest – approved campsites only
  • Louisiana
    • Kisatchie National Forest – no restrictions
  • Mississippi
    • Homochitto National Forest – no restrictions
    • Desoto National Forest – no restrictions, except state WMAs use approved campsites only
  • Alabama
    • Conecuh National Forest – approved campsites only
  • Florida
    • Apalachicola National Forest – approved campsites only

Call any forest ya wanna know more about on dispersed campin' limitations. Don't rely on their Forest Service websites. These ain't kept up good.

If ya know more, let me know in the comments. Think I'll try to put together a bigass post with a master list for future.

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Last Update: 11/29/2017

Wear Your Blaze Orange Safety Vest – Hunter's Aprowlin'!

deer on small boat wearing a blaze orange hunter safety vest
In lots a the country, it's deer and elk season, among others. That means hunters in the national forests and BLM land where vandwellers boondock. Wear blaze orange when you walk around. That's Vanholio's advice.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Construction worker in orange safety vest with reflective stripesSee, most hunters is smart'n skilled. They don't hunt near the roads and marked trails where they ain't supposed ta. And they'll make sure you're game and not some van life camper before shootin'.

But it ain't the good or average hunters ya gotta worry about. It's the drunk dumbasses. Wearing a blaze orange safety vest or whatever helps. Plus stickin' to marked roads and trails. But ain't no guarantees. But ya don't wanna be one of them victims we hear about every year.

Boston Terrier Construction in orange safety vest with reflective stripesHunters usually gotta wear 400 square inches or more of orange by regulation, is my understandin'. So that means plenty. An orange hat or ascot ain't gonna cut it. Go big or go home!

Vanholio just bought hisself a mesh orange safety vest with reflective stripes. Hunters don't get the kind with the reflection for obvious reasons. But I figure it'll double for walkin' roads in dark.

Thinkin' about gettin' a little dog orange safety vest with reflector stripes for Ms. Barkley, too. Sometimes I let her run off the leash. This'll protect her a bit from cars and hunters, plus make it easier to see her if she don't come when called.

If van life takes ya to the woods and fields, think about gettin' an orange blaze safety vest for yourself, your people, and your dogs.

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Last Update: 11/24/2017

Where to Get Free Water for Van Life

peeing statue of man in prague
Ya gotta fuel your piss pump, Boys and Girls. But where to fill your jugs with free water? When you're living in a van down by the river? Vanholio tells you how.

Now, this don't really apply to you fancy pants RV folks with your exclusive fuckin' Club Med RV parks and dump stations. You’re covered. This is for the rest of us living on the cheap and under the radar – van life

Ol' Vanholio don’t have a holdin' tank. He just has some plastic jugs, about 12 gallons worth all told. That’s enough for a week or two, dependin'. Maybe you’re the same?

Here’s some places Vanholio’s been lucky findin' water while driving all over the goddamn country.

Friends, Family, Work

Fillin' up your jugs when visiting friends or family, or at work, is the obvious option. Don’t leave their homes without water! Ever!

Campgrounds and RV Parks

Obviously, if you’re stayin' at a campground or RV park that has water, fill ‘er up. But just today, I noticed a city RV park in passing. I drove in, parked in a spot, filled up my jugs from the hookups, and left. Yes, courtesy would be to ask first, but I’d rather apologize later. And fuck payin'!

Public Parks

I’ve found water taps in city, county, state, and national parks. Don’t just limit yourself to faucets provided for drinkin', though. Three weeks ago, I parked by a city ball field to read a map. Lookin' around, I noticed that the bathrooms by the ball field had a regular, outside tap, probably there for a garden hose. Got a week's worth of water in 3 minutes!

Rest Stops

In some states, public rest stops have drinking water taps for fillin' jugs. Wyoming is really good about this.

Commercial Buildings

sillcock key
Some gas stations, grocery stores, and other businesses have water via regular outside taps. Take some on the sly or ask, as you see fit. Now, you'd think commercial buildings have taps outside, just like a house, but you'd be wrong. Most have special taps outside to prevent lowlifes like you and me from gettin' it. Even when you ask a clerk for permission, they don't even know how to work the tap. But Vanholio has the solution, thanks to super redditor Drummygummy: You just need a faucet / sillcock key (see photo at right). Now, Vanholio hasn't used one personally (yet), but the tech looks promising. All the preppers rave about them! (See the how-to video at bottom.)

Grocery Stores / Water Vending Machines

Supermarkets, dollar stores, and convenience stores in many parts of the USA have filtered-water vending machines that let you fill your own jugs for about $0.30 a gallon. If you can't get free, that's a better option than bottled water. In some parts a the country, filtered water vending machines are free-standing on corner lots.

Rest Rooms

Almost anywhere, including all the places above, you can walk into a public or store restroom with your jug and fill it up at the bathroom sink if they don't have a drinking water tap. How? Bring a cup or a funnel with hose to get the water from the faucet into the jug. Or do this #vanlife hack with a bottle!

Private Homes

I'd be careful about getting shot, 'specially in redneck country. But Vanholio has gone up to folk's houses and asked to fill up at the garden hose. Most folks oblige. You can offer to pay, but they won't usually let you.

Streams, Rivers, Lakes, Ponds

If you'll be camping literally down by the river, or by a creek or lake, why not filter your own water? Then you don't have to go huntin' for it. A decent water filter is a good investment if you're in wet place. Desert-dwellers need not apply.

Potable water is available free for van life all throughout the great ol' USA. Just get out of the consumer mentality and look around, dammit. Bottled water ain't any healthier than public water (except in Flint), and buying it sucks your wallet dry.

Gettin' mail on the road? Traveling Mailbox! (review)

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Last Update: 11/17/2017

Map of Walmarts Where Camping Is Allowed or NOT Allowed

screenshot of Dallas area map showing walmarts in green and red, which allow or don't allow camping, respectively.

If you're doin' #vanlife or crossin' cross country, you need this USA nationwide map of Walmarts. It shows which let you park overnight, and which don't.

This ain't Vanholio's map, and he makes no assurances of it's accuracy. It's made and maintained by Walmart Locator – and they do a damn good job, in my experience! (And they sell a print copy, too.)

Vanholio's found the Walmart Locator's site van life lifesaver a number of times, includin' when passin' through Dallas last week.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

Cover of Walmart Locator print book directory
Print copy!
Now, in general, Walmart has a corporate policy lettin' travelers in vans and RVs – even cars – camp in their parking lots a night or two. But individual stores make exceptions based on local ordinance or area problems. So it's good to check ahead with the map.

It's also a good idea to call the store or visit Customer Service when ya get there, to be sure and as a courtesy.

And for God's sake, People, don't make an ass a yourselves! Don't make a mess. Don't set out your barbecue pit and foldin' chairs in the parkin' lot. Don't shit in the grass. Don't overstay yer welcome. DON'T MESS IT UP FOR THE REST OF US!!!

Also, if you got new intel on a particular store, let the Walmart Locator know, so they can spread the word to all the vanlifers, vandwellers, RVers, and the rest.

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Last Update: 11/14/2017

Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the Van

idiot girl is looking right down the barrel of a pistol!
Top question I get is: "Do you carry a gun?" Why!? Ya think van life is like livin' in Somalia or some shit? No, it ain't. And no, I don't. Here's 3 reasons why ...

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

3 Reasons I Don't Have a Gun for Van Life Self-Defense

1. Most Likely to Shoot Myself

Lookin' at the stats, my chances of dyin' by gunshot suicide are way, way higher than gettin' murdered by a stranger at my van. How much? More than 4500 times more likely!!!

Vanholio has a history of depression. Serious, lifelong depression. As a male, that ups his odds a blowin' his brains out to 1 in 14 (7%).

Flip side, murder by a stranger ain't as common as ya think. Chance of gettin' murdered is 1 in 18,989 (0.53%). But most a the time folks is killed by friends and family. Less than 30% a them murders is by strangers in pursuit of a crime. Reduces my odds a gettin' snuffed ta 1 in 63, 297 (0.16%).

Sure, I recognize that the numbers might boil down differently in my particular case in a particular situation. But 1 to 4500 that I'll blow my own brains out vs. otherwise gettin' murdered is a big, BIG fuckin' margin!!!

2. Probably Can't Shoot a Man Anyways

I seriously doubt my ability to use a gun effectively and wisely under combat stress. In other words, I'll probably either freeze up or miss.

Did you know that most folks can't shoot another human bein'? It ain't that easy. It goes against our nature.

Years a battlefield statistics back this up. It takes training to overcome our innate resistance to killin' and to be good with that gun in a fight.

Now, there's a tiny percent a folks that can kill without blinkin', no trainin' needed. But as Vanholio can't watch a man get kicked in the balls without flinchin', he probably ain't one a them.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman covers a lot a the facts behind this in his now-classic book, "On Killing." Lindy Beige hits the highlights in the video at bottom.

Vanholio don't have that training to shoot good and shoot to kill. And as he don't like the loudness a guns, nor the expense, that ain't gonna change anytime soon.

3. Prefer Prevention Over Confrontation

Look, whether you carry a gun or not, surely you don't want trouble. You know the old sayin', "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Vanholio does a lot to avoid trouble in the first place. When alone, I park the van in somewhat hidden locations, if I can. I got a loud little dog with sharp ears. I avoid any peoples and situations that gets my hackles up. I take other measures, too.

The point is: Gun or no gun, in vanlife there's a lot you can do to avoid ever gettin' to that dangerous, final confrontation. The best way to win a gunfight is never to have a gunfight.
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Last Update: 11/10/2017

#Vanlife Hack – Filling Water Jugs at Bathroom Faucet

Holy shit, I just run into this hack by accident!  It solves a problem plaguing Vanholio! since he went OTR van life – how to fill tall jugs in a bathroom.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

See, my water jugs are kinda tall. Too tall for fillin' in a bathroom faucet. Sometimes though, a bathroom faucet is the only free water around.

Don't come up too often, but when it does, I've thought of gettin' a funnel with tube to carry around. But that's money and takes up valuable storage room, which I ain't got much of.

What's in that photo is way smarter for van life. Using a plastic water bottle as a faucet extender. Used plastic bottles is almost always around.

Someone else is doin' it with a plastic Coke bottle in the video below. ... Designed by geniuses for idiots, goddammit!

Also See ...

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Last Update: 11/07/2017

Mix Peanut Butter in Your Ramen – No Seriously!

block of dry ramen dipped in peanut butter

Think chocolate and peanut butter are the fuckin' bomb? Then you’ll L-O-V-E hot ramen noodles mixed with PB. It’s cheap, fillin', nutritious, and delicious!

Instant ramen and peanut butter are the perfect combination for the vandweller, or any broke-ass, lazy motherfucker. Sound weird? If you’ve ever had Thai food, you’ll know that peanut butter in a savory dish is fuckin' awesome. Even better spicy!

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

How to Make Peanut Butter Ramen

  1. Boil water. Vanholio uses two 12 volt water boilers.
  2. Put  in your huge bowl or Big Bubba insulated mug:
    1. 2 ramen noodle blocks, broken into pieces to fit
    2. 1 ramen noodle seasoning packet (2 if you like it salty)
    3. Big glob (~3 T) of peanut butter
    4. Optional: add meat, dried veggies, boiled egg, or spices.
  3. Carefully pour in hot water.
  4. Cover with cap and gently shake to mix ingredients.
  5. Wait 3-5 minutes.
  6. Dig in!
This makes a hearty, 1100+ calorie meal that sticks to your ribs and warms your toes. And the cost of the noodles and peanut butter is only about $0.75!

Fuck 'Unhealthy'!

Now, some asshole out there is gonna to tell me that instant ramen ain’t good for you. There’s some pseudoscience bullshit making the rounds about how it don’t break down in your gut like fresh ramen, etc., etc. That’s a bunch of conspiracy crap. Of course it don't! The instant kinds are fried! Fat takes longer to digest.

Cover of book, Prison Ramen
Americans are just paranoid about food, food companies, and The Man. Sometimes that paranoia is misplaced, and this is one a them times.

True, instant ramen is white, enriched flour lightly fried in saturated plant fat (usually palm oil). Too much of that ain't as good for you as, say brown rice or kale (yuck!). Whole foods is always healthier. Duh!

But you can’t tell me that most restaurant or packaged foods – at 10X the price! – are any better than Vanholio’s magic recipe. This combo is a good balance of protein, carbs, and a mainly plant fats. By using one broth packet instead of two, the salt won’t pickle you. Add some veggies to round it out, or drink a V8. Then eat a goddamn apple for dessert. And stop worryin' so fuckin' much.

Instant ramen noodles and peanut butter is Vanholio’s go-to meal – easy to make, easy to clean up, filling, nutritious, tasty, and completely satisfying. Try it. Fall in love again.

Here's a hot chick cooking a fancier version of ramen and peanut butter with soy sauce and Sriracha hot sauce.

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Last Update: 11/03/2017

Vanholio FAILS Big Texan 72 oz Steak Challenge

Big Texan steak challenge t-shirt
Where's the beef? At the Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas. That 72 oz (2 kg) FREE steak challenge been callin' since I were a tot. Read on ta see how far I got ...

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

How the Big Texan Steak Challenge Works

They been runnin' this thing since the 60s. If you eat the 72 oz steak in an hour – plus roll, salad, shrimp, and baked potato! – the meal is free. Fail, and you pay $72.

But they's more rules: You can't leave the table, can't stand up, can't puke, no one can help you cut your food, you gotta sit at the challenge table, and more. Plus, you gotta sign death and publicity release forms before ya begin. THIS SHIT AIN'T NO JOKE!

In 50 years, thousands has won – but many thousands more has failed …

Why the Fuck Do Somethin' This STUPID?

Big Texan 72 oz steak with sides on table
Before ...
YOLO, Dude. Heard about this challenge since I were a tiny Vanholio. Always thought it was dumb. But it always called me, too, like a Siren song.

Then this last summer, I made a decision to live as if I were dying on Jan. 1, 2018. Wrote a post about it. Added some things to the list there, most a them more reasonable. But the Big Texan steak challenge made the cut. Fuck it!!!

How Far Did Vanholio Get in the Big Texan Challenge?

Big Texan steak dinner ... what was left
After ...
Vanholio sat there at that table for near 40 minutes. The crowd was cheerin' and takin' photos. Folks offered their blessins. Vanholio chewed and chewed and chewed …

Did ya know that 72 oz is a lot a fuckin' steak!? Goddammit, it weren't fun chewin' all that. The taste went away. The joy went away. I were sweatin'. I were stressin'. In the end, I came close to chuckin' it all up right there …

In the end, Vanholio ate 54.5 oz (1.5 kg) a steak and ALL the sides. Leavin' 17.5 oz (0.5 kg) a steak on the plate. So close, so close … :-(

Loser Consolation Prizes Awarded

But hey, I tried. Plus got that T-shirt at top and that pink boot cup in the photos! ... PLUS I got to puke my guts out about an hour later, so that was nice … YOLO!!!

Also See ...

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Last Update: 10/27/2017

The Art of (Doing) Nothing

Hazda hunter lying on a towel, taking a nap
Somewhere long ago, our formerly hunter-gatherer ancestors got off track and fucked us up. They got busy and built "civilization," which shackles us today.

Stuff. It's all about the fuckin' stuff. We got the stuff, maintain the stuff, want the stuff, build the stuff, and hanker after the stuff – especially other people's stuff. It's a lotta fuckin' work, Man!

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

But them that stayed hunter gatherers … they did a lotta nothin'. Sat on their asses most a the day, just talkin and fuckin'. The were the original affluent society. Sounds like Vanholio's kinda paradise!

I wanna get back some a that. That's why I vandwell. It's my dream to be lazy and contribute as much nothin' to this Earth-killin', human-crushin' society as I can.

Read this essay, "The Art of Nothing," by primitive skills teacher Thomas J. Elpel. He's addressin' primitive skills preppers, but there's a line a thought we can learn from.

Do' nothin' to save your money, save your life, and save your soul.
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Last Update: 10/24/2017

Finding FREE Public Lands for Boondocking

screen shot of us public lands map

One third of U.S. land is public land — BLM, US Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and the rest. You can vanlife camp on most a it any time for FREE (exceptin' National Parks). But public lands don't always come with signs showin' where it's at. Hell, most of it ain't even on Google Maps! Here's three ways to find them sweet spots.

?? #Vanlife question? Contact Vanholio! direct !!

1. Gazetteers

In Vanholio's experience, gazetteers, a type of printed atlas map, are the best tool for van life. First off, they don't require internet, which can be short back in the boonies. Plus, they're well researched and drill down to small scale. I've used the Delorme gazetteers, but there's others out there.

2. Public Lands Interpretive Association Website

If I ain't got a gazetteer yet where I'm goin', backup is, the website of the Public Lands Interpretive Association. Pretty good digital maps, but they only cover the Western states. And they're slow to load.

3. "US Public Lands" App

The app is available on Android and iTunes. Looks like it maps all the public lands. Ain't never used it, though, so Vanholio can't speak to it's quality. Look at the reviews. If you used it before in your van life, comment below.

Also See ...

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Last Update: 10/20/2017

Eatin' Roadkill Rabbit – Yum, Yum!

roadkill rabbit in the road, right on top of the white stripe
You'll be eating plenty of roadkill rabbit when you’re living in a van down by the river. Vanholio knows: I am, I do.

OK, I’m a fuckin' liar. I’m actually camped by a small lake. And I just ate roadkill rabbit for the first time last night.* Better'n pussy! Tasted like turkey!

Here’s the thing: Vanholio needs to save dinero on dinners. And he wants to help out the earth. You know, that whole Global Warming thing. Foraging kills two birds with one stone.

Now, another vandweller might start by pussyfootin' around. Say, start by pickin' wild berries. But Vanholio always dives in dick first!

I been seeing lots of roadkill in Colorado this last week. So I looked up some basics on how to eat roadkill. There’s some laws to know about roadkill cuisine, too.

What I cook with these days
Then yesterday morning, picked up my first roadkill rabbit. He was barely stiff, a bit warm, had clear eyes and fleas, and looked to have been killed by a head injury. He weren’t pulped neither.

After butchering, I spiced and wrapped him in foil with potato and onion pieces. Then I baked him about three hours in my RoadPro Stove.** Perfection!

Las Chihuahuas – Ms. Barkley and The Gimp*** – loved that baked rabbit, too! Yum, yum, yum!

Oh, yeah. While the rabbit was cookin', I called the local Colorado game warden. Turns out I shoulda called him first to inspect the rabbit and issue me a tag. But the warden didn’t hassle me, decided I was working in good faith. Next time I’ll do it right.

I’m hoping to find a damn deer or elk soon. Then I’ll be making enough jerky to last months!

Eaten Roadkill Since That First Rabbit?

Nope. I tried once with a porcupine, but ruined the meat in the butcherin' process.

Turns out it's actually hard to find good roadkill. If the weather's gettin' warm, ya gotta find it early in the mornin'. And it's gotta be killt right, without the guts explodin'. And ya gotta be in the position to make use pretty damn quick.

I swear on a stack a Bibles, I run inta three good deer. But they was always at a time I couldn't pick 'em up for one reason or other.

I've concluded that with roadkill, like anythin' else, TANSTAAFL applies. For regular supply, ya gotta work a mornin' route, payin' especially close attention to where the game tends to cross. As a van life nomad who goes all over all the time, that ain't easy. Maybe work better if I settle in an area for a bit.

* Actually, this Road Tale is from March 2016. Except that bottom section under the subhead.
** These days I'm usin' a Max Burton Digital Stove to Go.
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