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Overlanding in a Van: Tips for Success

Photo by Tom Bardeck via iStock

You can overland in just about any vehicle – motorcycles included! But for many folks, it doesn’t get any better than overlanding in a van.

Vans are great for overlanding because they offer ample space, yet aren’t so enormous that they’re difficult to get over tough terrain. You can get an AWD van to help you navigate less-than-ideal road conditions, and you can customize a van to include anything from a bed to a kitchenette. And in many cases, you can find a used van on the cheap that’s still in great mechanical and cosmetic condition.

So, with all these advantages of vanlife calling your name, let’s get to a few tips that will make overlanding in a van a success.

Give it a Try First

try vanlife first

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Before you dive head-first into buying a van and converting it to your overlanding rig, it’s a good idea to give the vanlife a test drive.

Whether you rent a van or borrow a friends, you need to spend some time experiencing what overlanding in a van is like before you commit to it. After all, spending all the time, money, and energy needed to get a van ready for overlanding – only to find that you hate it – would be a downer, to say the least.

By taking a van or two for a weekend test drive, you’ll learn things like what size van works best for your needs, what amenities you might want in your van, and whether or not you and your significant other can survive the trip without killing each other. This is important for anyone making the move to a van for overlanding, but it’s especially important for first-timers that are just getting into overland adventuring.

Overlanding in a Van: Keep It Clean

Overlanding in a Van Keep It Clean

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When you test drive the overlanding in a van lifestyle, you’ll quickly find that even the most organized of rigs can easily become a cluttered mess.

One of the keys to making a overlanding in a van a success is to commit yourself to keeping it as clean as possible all the time. From sweeping the floor to cleaning the dishes from breakfast to making the bed each morning, it’s little things like these that will help you keep your sanity and feel more at home for weeks on end in the van.

It’s a good idea to implement as many storage and organization solutions into your van as well. Keeping things hidden away not only keeps the cluttered feeling at bay but it will also give you more usable space to eat, lounge, work, or whatever else you need to do inside the van on your trip.

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Prepare Yourself for Good and Bad Times

prepare for good and bad times when overlanding

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Overlanding is wildly fun, but it is a lot of work, and if you’re on the road for a long time, it can be tiring as well.

When you’re overlanding in a van, space is cramped with virtually no privacy, so you might find yourself getting annoyed with your significant other or your travel partner. This is to be expected and is totally okay!

Just be prepared for some less awesome moments on your trip. Setting your expectations for having nothing but the best of times will likely result in you being disappointed at some point on your journey.

This isn’t to say you should be a Debbie Downer, but just prepare yourself to have some really wonderful moments and some that aren’t so awesome. The highs and lows of the trip are just part of the experience!

Overlanding in a Van: Give Yourself a Good Start

Overlanding in a Van Give Yourself a Good Start

Photo by DeRepente via iStock

A surefire way to make overlanding in a van a terrible experience is to buy a van that isn’t in good shape.

Sure, some people are mechanically inclined and can make the necessary repairs to an old rust bucket that will make it an awesome overlanding rig. But most of us don’t have those skills (or the money to pay someone to do it, either).

So, if you want to have a successful overlanding trip in a van, do yourself a favor and if you can’t afford a brand-new van, invest in a van that is in excellent condition. The better condition the van is in, the more money you’ll have for adding overlanding accessories that will make your trip more comfortable. An old 1976 VW Bus might look really cool, but in reality, a not-so-cool-looking 1996 Dodge Ram Van might be the far better option.

If you’re ready for the vanlife, what van will your ride be?

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