Just The Tips, Van life tips with Will Coleman
Hi, for those of you who don’t know my names Will Coleman and I’ve been living the van life for about 3 years now and I thought I’d share some helpful tips!
Eating on the cheap!
Shop for deals at the grocery store, you’ll want to find stuff that’s easy to cook and clean up. My van doesn’t have running water so I’m a big fan of instant oatmeal, ramen, dry goods, and I cook with lots of oil to make clean up a breeze. You can get pretty creative with recipes. If you really want to dirtbag it, you can catch leftovers in restaurants and at events. I have been scolded for eating leftovers so try and be discreet.
Brush your teeth with minimal water, at first it takes a bit to get used to but pretty soon you’ll be a master of the parking lot tooth brushing ritual! For daily showers, I tend to use wet wipes or do river showers (use bio-degradable soap and love your mother) My go to for showers is Tinder though!
I’ve met some really cool genuine people through tinder and usually, you can catch a hot meal and shower. Just be honest and let them know your intentions are only hygiene. This works well in climbing/skiing/rafting towns. Of course, there’s always the local gym or rec center!
My go to is the laundromat but when on a tight budget bucket washing and hang drying works well. I’m also a fan of using the public showers and washing a couple of outfits in there, I mean you did pay for use of facilities. I’ve also scored laundry facilities off of tinder.
Currently, I’m spending most of my nights in the national forest but sometimes that’s not possible. For city life, my van is discreet and looks like a work van. I make sure the front of the van is clean and leave a safety vest and hard hat on the dash and that usually deters anyone from thinking someone’s sleeping inside. Local gyms and supermarkets are usually safe bets as well. Keep your van clean and respectful and your odds of not being messed with are greater. If you do have the ability to sleep on BLM land please be respectful of all rules and regulations. For best results please refrain from putting “free candy” on the side of your van. It tends to cause suspicion.
Van life will make you rethink your life choices daily but also keeps you from spending money on things that aren’t necessary. Everything in my van has a purpose, adventure gear, cook stove, small cooler, books for entertainment. If I don’t use it regularly it doesn’t make the cut. In such a small living space you want it to flow well and feel open.
Probably the number one question I get about van life is electricity. Guess what? I don’t have any alternative sources I use a cheap 400w inverter to charge my backcountry radios and batteries. I wanted my van to be very discrete and I feel that solar panels give it away pretty quickly.
Let’s face it, It’s as cold as Antarctica sometimes. Currently, I’m not using any alternative heat source. I use a -20 degree sleeping bag for those cold nights but for the most part, my body has adapted to the cold really well. Some people choose to use a buddy or wave heater but if you want to be super fancy there are some really nice mini wood stoves on the market.
For me it’s sleep! A good nights sleep is what I need most when I return to the van after long type 2 fun days! (After all, living in a van is type 2 fun right?) I chose to go with a queen size bed, it affords ample storage underneath and can sleep more than one person comfortably.
Ah, the real reason you are reading this article! Hang it up if you’re committing to the lifestyle full time. Seriously though it takes a special partner to understand and appreciate the lifestyle but when you find the one they will be down to “send it” on the regular! No fear though a lot of people are intrigued by the lifestyle and will be down to try it for a weekend!
Van life isn’t for everyone! I highly recommend renting a camper van for a week and trying it out first. When I started I eased into it and only stayed in my van 3 nights a week. I slowly realized what I could live without, got rid of things and then made the full commitment. I have a full-time career and spend all my free time traveling so van life makes sense for me!
Hi, I’m Will, I’m currently living the van life in Colorado. I enjoy mountaineering, splitboarding, climbing, trail running and type 2 fun! I’m 28 years old and spend as much time outside as possible. I moved to Colorado in 2014 from Mississippi and grew up in the mid-south. I have been snowboarding since 2000 and the mountains have had my heart ever since. You can find me anywhere from riding Colorado’s high peaks to climbing desert towers, to climbing in the PNW!
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