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For the past few years, van life has become one of the trendiest ways for young people to explore an alternative lifestyle. Instead of paying rent and utilities every month, van lifers can take their home on the road. However, in 2020, we’re experiencing a complete shift in reality. Traveling is no longer as safe as it once was. Gyms closed, which cut off many van lifer’s access to running water. Many people were even forced to abandon their vans in foreign countries before the borders closed. For most people, the thought of attempting van life in 2020 (or even into 2021) would be far too dangerous.
After several months of adjusting to the new normal, some people have chosen to pursue van life again. However, things are not the same as it was before. Many seasoned travelers are making adjustments to be as safe as possible. Here at Inspiring Home, we understand that everyone has a different definition of “home”. If yours it in a van, here are some tips on how to do it as safely as possible.
Double-Check Parking Options
Before the pandemic, there were a lot of apps that helped you find a free place to park your van overnight. However, many of these places are now closed. Even public parks are getting strict about closing access once the sun goes down. So, instead of trusting an outdated website, make sure to call the locations where you are trying to park. This will save you time and gas money. No one wants to drive a hundred miles out of the way just to find out that their parking is closed to the public.
Use Campground Showers
Not everyone can afford to build out a custom shower in their van, so keeping clean has become one of the biggest issues during this time. Gyms are starting to re-open in some states, but they are no longer allowing patrons to shower. Your best option for a public shower is to find a campground that will give you access to their facilities. Take the typical precautions like wearing flip flops, but also be sure to give other patrons plenty of space when they’re coming in and out of the facility. If at all possible, try to get there early in the morning before anyone else has had the chance to arrive. One of the obvious drawbacks to this method is that many campgrounds are seasonal. So it’s really only an option if you’re traveling in the summertime.
Buy a Solar Shower
If the idea of showering in a public campground makes you nervous, the next best option would be to purchase a solar shower. Once you fill up the bag with water, the solar panel will help heat up the water. Of course, the only issue after that is finding a private place to shower. You don’t exactly want to be showering in the middle of a Walmart parking lot. The only drawback is that this will only be possible to use during the summertime, when it’s warm enough to get wet outdoors.
Set Up a Personal WiFi Hotspot
If you’re a digital nomad, traveling to coffee shops looking for free WiFi is part of the lifestyle. However, with these locations no longer allowing people inside for table service, you may no longer have the option to piggyback off of Starbucks internet. Going to a park where you can social distance may be a better option for van lifers. Some people have enough data on their phone to create a personal hotspot. It may also be a good option to purchase a WiFi hotspot device. These help you create a portable router no matter where you are in the world- even if you’re camping in the middle of nowhere.
Parking on a Friend’s Property or AirBnB.
One of the safest options for living out of your van is to park the vehicle on the property of someone you know. This way, you’ll have access to a bathroom, laundry, and everything you need without relying on public spaces. If you don’t have any friends who would be willing to help, or you’re going to a location where you won’t know anyone, consider renting an AirBnB.