Van Life Q&A

Answering Common Questions About Van Life
Gabe and Rocio Rivero lounge in the bed of their RV while they watch tv

Van life has become an increasingly popular choice for many people seeking to pursue a more minimalist and adventurous lifestyle. But for those who are new to van life or curious about what it entails, there can be a lot of questions and uncertainties. In this article, we will answer the top nine questions we get asked about van life, our specific Class B and what it’s like to travel in a camper van. We hope these answers will help anyone considering van life make a more informed decision.

Gabe and Rocio Rivero's campervan parked in front of a beautiful mountain valley

  1. Why did you choose to buy a van rather than build your own?

    There are pros and cons to both buying a pre-built van and building your own. Building your own van can be a rewarding experience, as you get to customize every aspect of the space to fit your needs and preferences. However, this can be time-consuming, expensive and require some pretty advanced DIY skills. On the other hand, buying a pre-built van can save time and money, and it may be more convenient for those who do not have the necessary skills or tools to build a van. Plus, pre-built vans often come with warranties and support from the manufacturer. And if you ever decide to sell your van, pre-built vans usually retain their value better than a custom-built van.

    Gabe and Rocio's Class B Van boondocking in Vegas Bay

  2. Why did you go with the RAM chassis?

    While other van models and chassis, such as the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter, have their own benefits, we ultimately decided to go with a RAM ProMaster for a few reasons. First, it is incredibly easy to drive and we can find maintenance shops all over the country. Secondly, it is a gas engine, which makes travel and maintenance costs more economical. Third, the RAM chassis is known for its reliability, durability and strong engine. And lastly, we fell in love with our specific Sequence 20L model and felt it was the best value for our money.

  3. Do you regret downsizing to a camper van?

    We definitely do not regret downsizing to a smaller RV. We started our long-term RV adventure in a 40-foot fifth wheel, so we understand how downsizing can be a big adjustment for anyone that is used to living in a bigger space. However, we’ve found that a van offers so much more flexibility and freedom to explore. It can also be a more affordable way of living if done at the right pace and with a proper budget in mind. Plus, having a camper van encourages a more minimalist lifestyle and may even reduce your ecological footprint.

    Gabe and Rocio Rivero's campervan parked in front of a lake with snowy mountains

  4. What tools do you always carry with you in the van?

    Having a well-stocked toolbox is essential for any van lifer, as unexpected breakdowns and repairs can happen at any time. Here are some essential tools that we always carry in our van:

  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Tire repair kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Multi-tool
  • Flashlight
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First-aid kit
  • Portable air compressor
  1. How do you handle laundry on the road?

    We try to wait until we have a full load of laundry and then look for laundromats along our driving routes. We prefer to save all of our chores for one day, so we’ll try to do laundry, refuel and get groceries at the same time. This requires a bit more planning but it helps us save time and avoids having to make multiple stops. Some van lifers use tiny, portable washing machines, which can be powered by electricity or manually operated. Others wash their clothes by hand using a basin or sink. In that case, it's important to bring a drying rack or clothesline to air dry your clothes.

    Gabe Rivero doing laundry at a laundromat

  2. How do you find places to park and sleep?

    We tend to boondock or dry camp most of the time, but sometimes we look for established campgrounds, RV parks, national forests, and state or national parks. Whether you are paying for a campsite or looking for a free spot to park for the night, there are plenty of great apps and websites to help. Campendium, iOverlander and Roadtrippers are some of our favorites. And if all else fails, you can always stay in a truck stop, Walmart or Cracker Barrel parking lot. Just remember to always research local laws and regulations regarding overnight parking so you don’t get in trouble.

  3. How do you manage waste and sewage in a van?

    Managing waste isn’t as bad as you think. While some Class B owners opt to use portable or composting toilets, we use our built-in toilet in the rear bathroom instead. Both of our black and gray tanks can hold 13 gallons, but we still make a point to empty our tanks regularly—usually at the end of every trip. Many established campgrounds and RV parks have dump stations where you can easily empty your tanks and refill your fresh water. Make sure you always dispose of any waste and sewage properly, including your gray water. And always place your trash in designated dumpsters and cans.

    Gabe and Rocio Rivero's Class B Campervan at a dump station

  4. How do you deal with extreme weather conditions?

    Traveling and camping in a camper van means being exposed to the elements, and extreme weather conditions can be dangerous and uncomfortable. We are lucky that our Thor Motor Coach Sequence comes with a generator and air conditioner for the extreme heat, and it has tank heaters and a furnace for extreme cold. We also have good insulation and ventilation systems, which allow for more controlled, comfortable temperatures inside of the van. We always keep a few extra blankets on-hand and will put up reflective covers in the windows, if needed. Whenever we take a trip, we like to reference a few different weather apps to make sure we know what we’re heading into. But sometimes weather can come on suddenly, so make sure you have a back-up plan in case you need to leave.

  5. How do you stay connected to the internet while on the road?

    For van lifers like us who work on the road, staying connected is a must. Regardless if it is for work or entertainment, we always have at least three options. First, we have three separate cell phones and each one is connected to a different major carrier. Some carriers have better coverage in certain places than others, so this helps ensure we have at least one phone with coverage. We also have a mobile hotspot and a Wi-Fi booster to help increase our coverage and strengthen our signal. Second, we recently got a Starlink satellite, which is ideal for connecting in places that have little to no service. And third, we take advantage of free Wi-Fi at campgrounds, libraries, restaurants and coffee shops when possible.

    Gabe and Rocio Rivero doing work on laptops outside of their Class B Campervan

While there are some challenges to living and traveling in a van, the benefits of flexibility and freedom make it all worthwhile. We hope that by answering these questions, we can inspire the next generation of van lifers to embark on their own adventure with confidence and excitement.

Gabe and Rocio Rivero posing for a picture in front of a snowy road

Class B Camper Vans

Class B motorhomes are small, streamlined and ready to roll. Nimble and more fuel efficient than Class C motorhomes, Class B motorhomes offer living space best suited for small groups. Most Class B motorhomes do not offer slide outs yet still offer luxurious amenities like galley kitchens, beds and restrooms.

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