3 Ways to Live the #VanLife Without Actually Living in a Van

After a long year of staying home and socially-distancing, the world is opening up again. It’s likely been a while since you’ve all been able to scratch that Wanderlust itch.

Maybe you’ve been dreaming of getting out of the house and off the grid for a while. And if those dreams have included getting a taste of living life on four wheels in a super cute van, we definitely don’t blame you.

#VanLife has been around for a while. The ‘60s brought a new wave of nomads and creatives who gave up their corporate lifestyles to travel the world in customizable vehicles.

These days, with remote jobs and portable Wi-Fi, you might even be able to keep that job of yours while you’re on the road living that modern nomad life.

But don’t sell off all your belongings just yet.

Living in a van full time takes quite a bit of commitment. If you’re not ready to pull a 360° on your entire life, there are plenty of ways to replicate the experience — for a fun weekend or even a few weeks.

The important thing is that you scratch that travel itch and escape the mundane for a little while. So maybe don’t sell all your stuff and jump in a van just yet.

We’ve researched the best (and most creative) alternatives to living the van life so you can dip your toes in the free-loving life on the road experience…without having to actually live in a van.

The Pros (and Cons) of Living in a Van

Sure, living the van life can look pretty dreamy. I mean just look at the glamorous photos all over Instagram!

But things aren’t always as they seem on social media.

Of course, the benefits of van life are pretty great:

  • Save money on rent, utility bills, etc.
  • Travel on your own schedule
  • Take your pets anywhere
  • The convenience of having all your outdoor gear with you at all times
  • Smaller ecological footprint than living in a house or apartment

But on the down side of #vanlife, you’ve got an equal amount of things that won’t be so great, like:

  • Limited space
  • Finding a place to shower and/or go to the bathroom
  • Storing your stuff while driving
  • Your van breaking down in the middle of nowhere
  • Unpredictable weather
  • Cost of travel van conversion and gas
  • Larger CO2 emissions into the environment

Rent a Van for a Weekend (Or a Month)

Did you know you can rent fully-equipped compact RVs and camper vans all around the world?

Outdoorsy is basically the AirBnB of vans, and we’re so here for it!

Pick a location and departure dates, and you’ll find all kinds of vans and vehicles near you, rented out by real people.

The coolest part is the wide variety of selection. From vintage wagons to custom-renovated vans, you won’t be disappointed in your options.

In addition to all the amenities that come with the cars, the best highlight is the free, 24/7 roadside assistance (just in case you hit a few hiccups on the road).

You can pick it up or have it delivered to you at your campsite. Then you’re off with your very own home on wheels. 

Live the van life in a rental and skip the expensive build >

Book a Unique Stay

Hotels are so 2019. And why would you want anything that’s not extraordinary this summer?

Replicate your dream van vacation by booking a “unique stay.” These offerings are viewable from AirBnB’s Unique Stays filter.

Choose from cottages, barns, castles, and more incredible and exotic dwellings just waiting for you to explore. That includes — you guessed it — super cute and tricked out vans.

Tiny Homes

Much like living in a van, tiny homes are all about minimalism.

You can book a weekend or a month in some amazing resorts offering you your own little cozy corner of heaven.

Newly opened River Run Resort in Granby, Colorado offers year-round vacation rental tiny homes, seasonal airstreams, and even a super cozy covered wagon for a modern twist on a blast from the past.


You can skip the DIY camper van and opt for these adorable rental yurts sprinkled throughout the world.

Yurts are portable round tents that originate from the nomads of Central Asia. Today, you see them all over Instagram with beautiful interiors and stellar accommodations.

They’re often insulated, and perfect for staying warm in the most brutal of winter weather. Don’t worry though, plenty of them have their own bathrooms and showers.

Try a Roof Top Tent

To avoid any number of typical van life problems, you can opt for a stay in a roof top tent, instead. 

Our favorite is Roofnest hard shell roof top tents, which are so easy to set up you can pretty much do it with a glass of wine in your hand.

They have tons of models of tents that attach to the top of your car, and pop open for a great view super comfy night’s sleep.

These babies are the perfect way to get the van life experience, but with more flexibility and ease. You don’t have to bring along everything you own, like you do in a van. Simply collapse the tent down (with your bedding inside), and you’re good to go.

If you’re not ready to commit to a purchase, you can also try a roof top tent out before you buy with local Colorado companies like Overland Discovery, Colorado Overlander, and TAC Rentals.

These are also great options if you don’t have your own gear. Many of these rentals include gear packages so you can skip the hassle of packing all the essentials.

It’s the best way to live like a nomad without signing your life away for an expensive van conversion, or selling all your belongings.

Ready to Hit the Road?

We know the #vanlife has tons of glamorous Instagram pics. But not everyone’s ready to say goodbye to the creature comforts of home, and that’s okay, too.

We’re just happy there are so many options out there for getting a taste of living life on four wheels this summer.

Wherever you go this summer, don’t forget to keep your stuff secure with the right bag while you wander.

Grab a bag from our anti-theft collection before you leave >

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