Living in a Van Full Time: Why It's the Ultimate Way to Boost Your Mental Health

two kids enjoying vanlife

Are you tired of the daily grind and looking for a change of pace? Have you ever considered living in a van full time and hiking your way to better mental health? With the rise of van life culture and the growing awareness of the mental health benefits of spending time in nature, more and more people are opting to hit the road and embrace the great outdoors.

In this blog post, we'll explore why hiking is good for your mental health, the connection between van life and hiking, and how living in a van full time can benefit your mental health. We'll also offer practical tips for those interested in pursuing van life and hiking.

Why Hiking is Good for Your Mental Health

Before we dive into van life, let's take a closer look at why hiking is such a powerful tool for improving mental health. Research from has shown that different types of envyronments can have a wide range of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, and increased creativity. Hiking in particular has been found to offer unique benefits, such as boosting endorphin levels, reducing rumination, and increasing a sense of awe and wonder.

If you're feeling stuck in a rut or struggling with mental health issues, hitting the trails may be just what the doctor ordered. Nature therapy, outdoor mindfulness, and hiking therapy are all terms used to describe the therapeutic benefits of spending time in natural settings, and there is a growing body of research to support their effectiveness.

Aspect of Van Life How it can help with Mental Health
Flexibility and Freedom Having the ability to choose your own path and go where you want, when you want can reduce stress and provide a sense of empowerment.
Connection to Nature Living in a van often means being surrounded by nature and having the ability to connect with it on a daily basis. This can promote a sense of calm and well-being.
Minimalism Living with fewer possessions and simplifying your life can reduce stress and promote a sense of clarity and focus.
Financial Freedom Van life can be a more affordable way to live, which can reduce financial stress and provide a greater sense of security.
Social Connections Living in a van can create opportunities to connect with others who share similar values and lifestyles, which can promote a sense of community and belonging.
Self-Sufficiency Learning to live off-grid and be self-sufficient can promote feelings of confidence and self-reliance.
Adventure and Exploration Van life often involves exploring new places and having new experiences, which can promote a sense of excitement and adventure.

The Connection Between Van Life and Hiking

So how does van life fit into this equation? For many van lifers, the freedom and flexibility of life on the road offers the perfect opportunity to pursue a more outdoor-focused lifestyle. With the ability to travel at your own pace, explore new trails and campsites, and soak up the natural beauty of different regions, van life and hiking go hand in hand.

Imagine waking up each morning to the sound of birds chirping and the smell of fresh mountain air. You step outside your van, stretch your legs, and set off on a hike to a nearby waterfall or vista. After a few hours of hiking, you return to your van for a healthy lunch and some downtime, perhaps reading a book or napping in a hammock. Later in the day, you might head out for another hike, or drive to a nearby town to explore the local culture and cuisine.

This kind of mobile hiking lifestyle offers endless opportunities for adventure and personal growth, all while improving your mental and physical health. Whether you're a solo traveler or exploring with a partner or family, van life and hiking can be a powerful combination for cultivating a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and joy.

How Living in a Van Full Time Can Benefit Your Mental Health

Of course, there are many other reasons why living in a van full time can be good for your mental health. For starters, van life offers a more minimalist lifestyle that can reduce stress and financial burden. With fewer possessions and expenses to worry about, you can focus on the things that truly matter, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing your passions, and connecting with nature.

Van life can also provide a sense of freedom and adventure that can be difficult to find in more conventional lifestyles. When you're living on the road, every day is a new opportunity to explore, learn, and grow. You'll meet new people, try new things, and gain a greater appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the world around you.

Tips for Living in a Van Full Time and Hiking

If you're interested in pursuing van life and hiking, here are a few practical tips to get started:

  1. Plan ahead: While spontaneity is part of the appeal of van life, it's important to have a basic plan in place to ensure you have the right gear, resources, and destinations in mind. Consider factors such as climate, terrain, and safety when planning your route.

  2. Invest in quality gear: When it comes to van life and hiking, investing in quality gear can make a big difference in your comfort and safety. Look for gear that is durable, lightweight, and designed for outdoor use.

  3. Stay connected: While part of the appeal of van life is getting off the grid, it's important to stay connected to loved ones, emergency services, and helpful resources such as weather forecasts and maps. Consider investing in a reliable mobile hotspot or satellite phone.

  4. Embrace the lifestyle: Living in a van full time and hiking requires a certain level of adaptability and flexibility. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with the lifestyle, and remember to take time for self-care and relaxation.

  5. If you're considering living in a van full time, there are some things you should keep in mind. First, choose the right van. You'll want to consider factors like size, fuel efficiency, and reliability when selecting your van. You'll also want to make sure it has the amenities you need, such as a bed, kitchen, and bathroom.

  6. Finding places to park can also be a challenge when living in a van full time. Look for places like campgrounds, rest areas, and parking lots that allow overnight parking. You can also join online communities and social media groups to connect with other van dwellers and get tips on where to park.

Benefits of Living in a Van Full Time

One of the biggest benefits of living in a van full time is the freedom it provides. You can travel wherever you want, whenever you want, without being tied down to a particular location or schedule. This can be particularly appealing to those who love to explore new places and have a sense of adventure.

Another benefit of van life is the cost savings. Living in a van full time can be significantly cheaper than traditional housing, allowing you to save money on rent or mortgage payments. You can also save money on utilities and other expenses, as long as you are willing to make some sacrifices and live a minimalist lifestyle.

Challenges of Living in a Van Full Time

While vanlife can be an incredible adventure, there are some drawbacks that you should consider before making the decision to live in a van full time. Here are some of the most common drawbacks to vanlife:

  1. Limited space: Living in a van means living in a small space, which can be challenging for some people, especially if you're used to having a lot of space.

  2. Lack of amenities: Depending on the type of van you have, you may have to live without some of the amenities you're used to having, such as a full kitchen or bathroom.

  3. Maintenance: Vans require regular maintenance, just like any other vehicle. This can be costly and time-consuming, especially if you're not familiar with mechanical work.

  4. Limited privacy: Living in a van means that you'll be in close proximity to other people in public places, such as campsites or parking lots. This can limit your privacy and make it challenging to find a quiet place to sleep.

  5. Climate control: Depending on where you're traveling, it can be challenging to regulate the temperature inside your van. This can be especially challenging in extreme temperatures.

  6. Social isolation: Living in a van can be a solitary experience, which can be difficult for some people, especially if you're used to being surrounded by friends and family.

  7. Safety and Security: Living in a van full time can also come with safety and security concerns, especially if you are traveling to unfamiliar areas.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe and secure:

  • Park in well-lit and populated areas: When looking for a place to park overnight, choose areas that are well-lit and populated. This will help deter potential burglars or other unwanted visitors.
  • Invest in a security system: Consider installing a security system in your van, such as an alarm or a camera system. This can help deter theft and give you peace of mind.
  • Connect with other van dwellers: Join online communities and social media groups to connect with other van dwellers. They can provide valuable tips and advice on safe places to park and other safety concerns.
  • Maintaining your van: Living in a van full time means your vehicle will be your home, and it is important to keep it in good condition. Here are some tips to help you maintain your van:
  • Perform regular maintenance: Just like any other vehicle, your van will need regular maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations. Make sure to keep up with these tasks to keep your van running smoothly.
  • Stay organized: Keeping your van organized can help prevent damage to your belongings and make it easier to maintain. Make sure to clean up after yourself and keep your belongings stored properly.
  • Be prepared for emergencies: Have a first aid kit and emergency supplies on hand in case of an accident or other emergency.

What does it cost to enjoy vanlife

The cost of vanlife can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of van you have, your lifestyle choices, and where you travel. Some of the expenses you may incur while living in a van full time include:

  1. Van purchase or conversion: Depending on whether you purchase a new or used van or decide to convert a van yourself, this can be a significant upfront cost.

  2. Insurance: You will need to purchase van insurance that covers your vehicle and your personal property.

  3. The ford transit is a very popular choice for vanlifers. Herre is a small list of insurance quotes taken from Smartfinancial.

    Year 20-29 yr old 30-39 yr old 40-49 yr old 50-59 yr old 60+ yr old
    2022 $203.45 / mo $306.30 / mo $203.54 / mo $179.17 / mo $160.12 / mo
    2021 $267.80 / mo $179.12 / mo $142.75 / mo $172.49 / mo $138.97 / mo
    2020 $174.68 / mo $203.44 / mo $230.85 / mo $162.18 / mo $128.82 / mo
    2019 $203.98 / mo $193.83 / mo $230.71 / mo $213.59 / mo $138.85 / mo
    2018 $230.70 / mo $191.44 / mo $160.78 / mo $147.37 / mo $141.93 / mo
    2017 $162.86 / mo $147.40 / mo $145.30 / mo $141.30 / mo $146.68 / mo
    2016 $219.10 / mo $151.25 / mo $157.40 / mo $140.35 / mo $153.00 / mo
    2015 $155.42 / mo $175.73 / mo $155.19 / mo $177.28 / mo $191.16 / mo
  4. Gas and maintenance: Traveling in a van means you'll be spending money on gas and regular maintenance to keep your vehicle in good condition.
  5. Campground fees: While there are free places to park your van, you may also need to pay for campground fees if you want access to amenities like showers and electricity.

  6. Food and supplies: Living in a van full time means you'll need to purchase and prepare your own food. You'll also need to buy supplies like water, propane, and toiletries.

  7. Entertainment: Depending on your interests, you may need to spend money on entertainment like hiking, kayaking, or other outdoor activities.

Amazing experiences while vanlifing

There are many awesome things you can experience with vanlife. Here are just a few:

  1. Freedom to explore: With a van, you have the freedom to explore wherever you want. You can go on a road trip, visit national parks, and discover hidden gems that you wouldn't be able to see if you were limited to one location.

  2. Stunning views: One of the best things about vanlife is waking up to stunning views. You can park your van in some of the most beautiful locations and wake up to the sound of the ocean or the sight of a mountain range.

  3. Connection with nature: Living in a van allows you to connect with nature on a deeper level. You can camp in remote locations, go on hikes, and experience the outdoors in a way that you wouldn't be able to in a traditional home.

  4. Minimalism: Vanlife encourages minimalism, which can be a very liberating experience. Living with less can help you focus on what's truly important in life and can help you appreciate the little things.

  5. Meeting new people: Vanlife allows you to meet new people from all walks of life. You can connect with other van dwellers and locals in the areas you visit, and you can form lifelong friendships along the way.

  6. Flexibility: With a van, you have the flexibility to change your plans at a moment's notice. If you find a place you love, you can stay longer, and if you want to move on, you can do so easily.

  7. Adventure: Vanlife is an adventure in itself. You never know what each day will bring, and the thrill of the unknown can be both exhilarating and rewarding.

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is vanlife?

A: Vanlife is a lifestyle where people live full-time or part-time in a van, typically while traveling and exploring new places.

Q: How much does it cost to start vanlife?

A: The cost to start vanlife can vary widely depending on the type of van you choose, any modifications you make to it, and your personal lifestyle. Some people can start vanlife for a few thousand dollars, while others invest tens of thousands into their vans.

Q: Do I need a special license to drive a van I will live in?

A: No, in most cases you do not need a special license to drive a van you will live in. However, if your van is over a certain weight limit or has certain features, you may need a commercial driver's license (CDL). Check your state's DMV website for specific requirements.

Q: Is it legal to live in a van full-time?

A: It depends on where you are located. Laws regarding living in a van full-time can vary by state and city, so it's important to do your research and make sure you are in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Q: How do I find places to park and sleep in my van?

A: There are a number of resources available for finding places to park and sleep in your van, including websites and apps that list free campsites, public lands, and other safe parking options. You can also ask locals for recommendations or use social media groups to connect with other vanlifers.

Q: What do vanlifers do for income?

A: Many vanlifers work remotely, running their own businesses or working for companies that allow remote work. Others pick up seasonal jobs in the places they travel or take on freelance work. Some also rely on savings or passive income streams to support their lifestyle.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges of vanlife?

A: Some of the biggest challenges of vanlife include limited space, lack of amenities, and isolation. It can also be difficult to find reliable sources of food and water while on the road.


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Living in a van full time and hiking may not be for everyone, but for those who crave adventure, freedom, and natural beauty, it can be the ultimate way to boost your mental health and well-being. By embracing the lifestyle, investing in quality gear, and staying connected to helpful resources, you can create a fulfilling and rewarding experience on the road. So why not take the leap and see where van life and hiking can take you? The possibilities are endless.

About Author:

image of Kevin Pommells

Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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