On the Road...Again
#vanlife has become quite popular. An extension of the minimalist movement, van life is a culture dedicated to the restless and spontaneous individual. The individual that drops most of their shit, including the roof over their head, and moves into a van on purpose. Obviously this isn’t for everyone, but freelancers like to take risks and we’re here to support that. We already know that you can work from anywhere these days. #Vanlifers just take that to the next level. If you’re one of them, or looking to be one, there are some things you should keep in mind.
YOUR MOBILE HOME
First off, make sure that you know how to change your oil and tires. You also want to have a basic understanding of what’s underneath the hood. By not taking your van into a mechanic for every small problem, money is saved; money for making your remote home as comfortable as possible. What you want to incorporate will depend on your budget and the type of van you live in. Here are some essentials we think you’ll want to consider when building your ideal van:
A bed. But like, an actual mattress. We don’t need to tell you how important sleep is. You’re not “hitting the floor” with a mattress pad. Measure your van and determine what size mattress will fit the best. As for type, you can’t go wrong with gel-infused memory foam.
Storage. Make sure you have adequate space to store your very few belongings. You don’t have the space to be messy, so put effort into your organization. Consider investing in bins, cargo nets & back seat organizers. If you’re handy with tools, consider constructing your own storage units.
Heater and fan. Your van might come with heating and air conditioning, but that burns valuable gas. Invest in portable heaters and fans. It doesn’t matter where you travel to, you’ll no doubt be exposed to the elements. Be prepared for every type of climate.
You’re free to explore, but you still have work to do. A reliable internet connection is critical to making money and maintaining your freelance job whilst #vanlifing. Ideally, we’d recommend the casual coffee shop or public library for internet access, but, you know, COVID. Plus, what if you have a super important Zoom meeting and need a quiet space to focus? One of the easiest ways to obtain mobile internet access is through your phone. Sign up for an unlimited data plan! Various carriers have different plans for you to choose from. If doable, we recommend going with Verizon. They have the most coverage of any carrier in the U.S. and have a variety of unlimited plans to choose from. Your phone then becomes your personal hotspot to connect your computer too. Depending on the plan you choose, speeds can vary. With Verizon’s BeyondUnlimited plan, you get 15 GB of 4G LTE data speeds, and their AboveUnlimited plan gives you 20GB of 4G LTE data speeds.
Using your phone as a hotspot is great for checking emails and file sharing smaller content. However, if you’re someone who needs to accomplish more than just a few daily emails, try the Verizon Jetpack MiFi. This mobile hotspot is ideal if you’re #vanlifing with someone and both need to access the internet. You’ll be able to accomplish more sophisticated tasks faster, and you don’t need to be a Verizon customer to use it! Plus, it doesn’t wear out your phone battery. Bottom line: invest in an unlimited data plan AND a WiFi booster for #freelancevanlife.
Personal hygiene is important anywhere you go. If you live in a van, this becomes more of a challenge. For those of you with big sprinter vans, it’s not impossible to construct a built-in shower. We’re going to assume that not all of you nomads are using sprinter vans, nor are capable of completing such a task. Therefore, we have a few options for keeping yourself clean without a mobile shower:
Gym membership. If we were to take COVID out of the picture, we’d recommend signing up for a membership at one of the following: LA Fitness, 24 Hours Fitness, Anytime Fitness, or Planet Fitness. An average membership costs $30/month and you have access to any of their locations across the U.S. This will allow you to take showers and keep that bod going.
Sanitary wipes. You’re probably not going to take showers EVERY day when you live in a van. Sanitary wipes are great for a quick clean. Some wipes are just for your hands and face but Anthony Shower Sheets are made for your entire body.
Dry shampoo. Yup, this is a thing. After a day or more without showering, your hair gets oily and becomes unmanageable. Using a dry shampoo is a quick and efficient way to keep a clean scalp and have your hair looking, well, the #vanlife version of FABULOUS.
If you’re not someone who’s spontaneous and open to adventure, we don’t recommend this lifestyle. There’s a lot more to consider than what we’ve covered here. However, if this really is you, go forth! Keep in mind what we mentioned, as well as what other #vanlifers and freelancers have written about the experience. Regardless of the outcome, you’re going to have stories to tell. Good luck.