Since we’ve experienced this lifestyle, we figured we would share some of our knowledge with our readers, so without further a due here are 6 tips for living in a campervan.
1) Don’t be picky with food, it’s not going to be gourmet
Now don’t take this first tip as us saying you’re going to be eating bland food all the whole time, you won’t. Meat and dairy however don’t keep very long in coolers (unless you buy an electric one that is, but those take up tons of precise space) so buying these two items and not using them the same day is usually pretty difficult. Non-perishable foods like canned goods (eg. soup, vegetables, fruit, so on and so forth) and pasta are great options and you can always find different ways to change them up. We found purchasing different spices and vegetables (ones that aren’t soft and will keep for three or four days) were the best way to chance those sometimes bland canned pasta sauces. We happen to love garlic, so needless to say, we don’t have to worry about vampires for a while.
2) Organization is Key
This one is sort of a two for one because if you are organized you can also ensure everything is fastened down and isn’t going to go flying around the back of your van while you drive down those windy roads (which there is a TON of in New Zealand). The more organized you are the less you have to worry about finding that one thing you need that seems to simply have grown legs and walked away. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to locate something that has a new home every single day. We found organization bins were really helpful, each one had certain items in it that never changed (eg. one had our clothes, one was for food and one for dishes). The more time you spend in the van the more you’ll figure out how best to organize it depending on its setup. It took us nearly two months to (somewhat) perfect our organization.
3) Keep things well ventilated
SCIENCE! Every breath you take (it’s okay to start singing The Police’s song here, we most certainly did) in means you have to take one out, and with that breath out comes a tiny amount of water vapour. Which inevitably will end up all over the inside of your van. Crack a wind as you sleep to help let some out so when you wake up it’s not from a droplet on the roof falling on your forehead. It also means that you will be less likely to run into a mold problem down the road.
4) Less is more
This probably is something most backpackers already know when packing their bags but living in a van is not much different. The less you have, the better. It’s a pretty small living space and might not fit that new pair of pants or shoes you’re just DYING to have. Sure you might look fabulous in those new threads but you won’t have space to do anything in your moving house. So before buying anything extra ask yourself, “Do I NEED it.” You can also think about potentially sending things home at some point if you’re going to be gone for a long time.
5) Find a good hiding space
Don’t let this one freak you out. Campervans can be targeted, after all they are moving houses with peoples personal and expensive items inside. Most travellers bring along cameras, laptops, perhaps jewelry, all things thieves are looking to steal. So find a great space to hide your valuables in. Most thieves will only break into vehicles where they can see something to steal, they won’t risk breaking in for no reward. Our passports and some jewelry were an exception though, we brought them with us everywhere, they were simply too important to even risk getting stolen.
6) Try to keep the outside, outside.
You’re thinking about living in a van, so we will be honest, no matter what you do dirt will try (and probably succeed) to get inside your living space. None the less, try your best to keep it out. Nothing is worse than going to bed and feeling those tiny little crumbs at the base of your bed on your feet that simply won’t go away. This is your living space now, you wouldn’t wear your dirty shoes inside your house would you? Like we mentioned before though dirt will probably no matter what get in (even driving down gravel roads will let in a ton of dust) so make sure you try and wash your bedding at least once a week or once every two weeks. Cleanliness is key!