How to live the van life dream on a budget – The Travel Hack

How to live the van life of your dreams on a budget - Travel Hacks

© Yes Capa

Raise your hand if you want to buy a campervan and live the van life of your dreams!!

Yes me too!

I traveled around Australia in a campervan for a year and had a great experience of van life. I loved the freedom, simplicity, community, and pure joy of traveling in a campervan. Traveling with minimal belongings was liberating, and traveling without a plan was so easy-going and exciting.

It was great to travel slowly, stop when you’re ready, and choose your destination based on your mood and weather. I really want to take such a trip again.

If you’re like me, you’ve followed the #VanLife hashtag on Instagram, taken pictures of your dream camper, planned where to go, and researched beautiful campgrounds. Then you start thinking about buying a campervan, but you run into a problem… campers are very expensive, especially if you buy it as a second vehicle!

I can’t afford a new camper, but I’m nervous about buying an older one because I don’t have the knowledge, finances, or patience to keep fixing it if it breaks down. I also don’t want to be left alone with 3 kids and his 1 dog if I break down in the middle of nowhere!

But a fairly new campervan is an incredibly expensive investment, especially if it’s one that’s going to sit on the drive most of the time.

There are many expenses to consider before heading out on a trip:

  • van price
  • Modified into a camper to suit your needs
  • tax
  • insurance
  • Health insurance
  • fuel
  • Van maintenance (tires, wipers, etc)
  • Savings when your van costs a lot of money
  • Campgrounds (as wild camping is illegal in most places)
  • food
  • Eating out
  • occasional activities
  • toll road
  • Wi-Fi hub (especially if you’re working on the go)
  • telephone contract
  • Entertainment subscription (because I want to use Netflix in the van!)

So how can you live the van life of your dreams without spending £40,000 on a new campervan?

Here are some ideas to help you live your dream van life on a budget, especially if you’re like me and don’t want to give up your home and all your worldly possessions!

This post was created in collaboration with Yescapa.

How to live the van life of your dreams on a budget - Travel Hacks

© Yes Capa

5 tips to live the van life dream on a budget

#1. Rent a campervan (from a site with long hire discount)

The obvious option for living the van life of your dreams without spending too much money is to rent a campervan. Check out campervan rental sites like Yescapa. Yescapa is a European motorhome sharing platform with over 10,000 vehicles in 8 countries. The nice thing about using a campervan sharing platform is that the van feels more like “vanlife” rather than a big plastic corporate campervan covered in banners with signs on it. It’s also much cheaper and often has the option of a “long-term employment discount.” This is the most cost-effective way to own a campervan for weeks or even months.

Realistically, most people will only be using their motorhome or motorhome for a few weeks during the summer, and will be driving around for the rest of the year. Therefore, you can only hire for that week. Yes, it’s a big expense, but not enough to warrant a purchase. You also don’t have to worry about spare parts or vehicle maintenance.

Travel Hack Tip: Get £40 off when you rent a campervan in October on the Yescapa site!

How to live the van life of your dreams on a budget - Travel Hacks

© Yes Capa

#2. Rent a van in the destination of your choice

My dream of vanlife is to buy a campervan, go to Portugal, and spend my summer vacation traveling around Portugal with my kids. But realistically, it makes much more sense to get a cheap flight to Portugal and rent a campervan for a few weeks during your stay.

Where’s Mollie has a great guide to driving from England to Portugal. The drive cost around £500 each way. I think it was an incredible adventure and looked great, but it’s not always the most cost-effective option. If you want to live out your vanlife dreams while saving money, it’s cheaper to fly to your destination and pick up your campervan on-site.

How to live the van life of your dreams on a budget - Travel Hacks

© Yes Capa

#3. Buy a campervan and hire it out when you’re not using it

And if you rent a camper…

If you plan to buy a campervan, you can subsidize your income and rent it out when you’re not using it. Many people finance and purchase a campervan, then rent it out for just enough to cover the financing. This income is not 100% guaranteed, so it’s best to check to see if you can pay it back even if you don’t rent!

Again, Yescapa is a great option for this. Around 500,000 people use Yescapa to rent their campervan, campervan, caravan or van, or to rent a vehicle from private individuals, so your rental gets a lot of attention!

How to live the van life of your dreams on a budget - Travel Hacks

© Yes Capa

#4. Combine van life with camping life

Okay, camping life isn’t as cool and sexy as van life, but it’s a much more economical option if you’re traveling with two or more people.

Buy or rent a small campervan with enough seating for everyone, but you’ll actually be sleeping in a tent. You’ll save a lot of money on your car, and you’ll also save a lot on fuel and van maintenance.

Buying a campervan with a pop-top roof or extra bed will cost you a few thousand dollars more, but you can buy a second-hand tent for around £50. Not only is it cheap, but it will also help you sleep better!

How to live the van life of your dreams on a budget - Travel Hacks

© Yes Capa

#5. Use your campervan as your everyday vehicle

This is something to think about when your child gets older.

If you can’t afford a camper and car, sell your car and trade it in for a smaller camper that you’ll use as your daily vehicle. I’m seeing this more and more often, and I see many parents using their “day vans” for school runs’.

The VW Transporter is a very popular option. It’s large enough to be used as a camper, but small enough to be used for everyday transportation.

How to live the van life of your dreams on a budget - Travel Hacks

© Yes Capa

#6. #CarLife?

And my final suggestion for achieving your dream vanlife on a budget is budget-friendly, although I’m sure it’s not a popular option. Have you considered the possibility of swapping your van for a car? While I was in Australia I traveled with a guy who lived in his car and he had a great setup. Large estate cars are spacious enough to sleep with the back seats folded down, and makeshift curtains provide some privacy. With some clever storage and maybe a roof box, it’s definitely doable. You can also get an awning that attaches to your car (usually the trunk) for easy shelter.

OK, it’s not a perfect solution and I personally would rather camp, but it might be an option!

read more:

Traveling around Australia in a campervan: Frequently asked questions

How to survive life in a camper

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