15 Pros And Cons Of Traveling In A Van In 2022

Traveling in a van is one of the best ways to explore destinations such as New Zealand

Each mode of travel has its own advantages and disadvantages. Find out the pros and cons of traveling in a van before deciding if it’s the right one for you.

Mobile homes might not be the most popular way to travel coming to one’s mind. Many people, though, return from RV vacations converted in some kind of road-trip super fans. Reckon that feeling?

One could think about all the similarities between mobile homes and snails. We agree. But, largely differenced here, the car would be the one carrying all you need; not you anymore! On top of that, the speed of travel differs a lot too. Today, vans and mobile homes can experience a fair similar speed to any other vehicle.

Whenever weather forecasts announce nice and warm temperatures and not so much rain, a lot of countries see how their roads are, little by little, filled with mobile homes. Especially in these pandemic times, since this way of traveling makes social distancing easier than ever.

Pros of traveling in a van

Advantages? Surely. Otherwise, it would not be as popular!

Most countries are pretty van-friendly

Laws may vary among countries but mostly, they allow you to park your ‘home’ at a number of public and private places which makes the experience much better. Free spirits will mostly look to park their vehicle as far from civilization as possible. Nonetheless, when restrictions apply and staying anywhere overnight is impossible, private camping grounds are usually not too far away. There you can park your vehicle at an acceptable price. And, while you’re at it, empty the gray water, recharge the battery and fill the water tanks.

It gives you incredible freedom to roam

And like a car, you enjoy a kind of mobility and flexibility when choosing where next that would be very unlikely without being in charge of your own transportation. That said, it still requires planning and somewhat, a routine, to make things work.

It saves you time

Thus, mobile homes keep on increasing the list of benefits staying pretty close to where you are while on vacation; minimizing time, and maximizing the usability in terms of eating and sleeping.

It’s more cost-effective

And, last but not least, we can’t forget the clear advantage that comes to budget as sleeping and eating costs will be massively reduced compared with other kinds of travel. You have a great budgeting example on this West Portugal van trip article.

Will make you avoid having to constantly pack

Friends of road trips, you know what I’m talking about. There is nothing worse than having to unpack and pack every 24, 48, or 72 hours to keep moving forward and this method of travel ends that problem once and for all.

While enjoying the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle

With just enough food, electricity, and water to get by, a basic wardrobe, a crucial cooking setup, and essential storage for everything else; it would be safe to admit van life falls into minimalism.

The life-changing benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle are something that has already been discussed in detail around here. In any case, here it goes again: Not being a slave to material things is one of the shortcuts to happiness.

What’s more, a minimalist style is perfectly compatible with fancy and bright interior decoration. A great place to look for inspiration is the online furniture store Castlery, which has endless ideas to furnish your new tiny home.

It can be quite sustainable

Of course, unless we are talking about an electric vehicle, there will always be a carbon footprint associated with this way of traveling. In any case, today’s caravans and vans are usually quite eco-friendly when you consider other methods of transportation and accommodation. Throw in a bike or two and a bike rack to transport them and you’ll be able to explore more without any carbon footprint attached.

Here’re the main reasons why traveling in a van is more sustainable than other traveling styles:

  • Resources such as water and electricity in a van are scarce and must be used wisely
  • It is possible to avoid the unnecessary washing of sheets and towels
  • Likewise, it helps cut the excessive packaging of food and single-use plastic that surrounds the tourism industry
  • Vehicles are increasingly optimized and have systems such as solar panels to make them as sustainable as possible
  • If several people are traveling together, CO2 savings start to be significant.

Keep reading: 5 Ways to travel without flying

It allows you to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Along with being able to be as close to nature as you want at all times, with all that that entails (such as breathing fresh air and being able to exercise anywhere), traveling in a van will also allow you to prepare your own meals and healthy snacks at all times. This will help you avoid the hyper-processed food that usually populates tourist sites, often the only option available.

And keeping up with your job and hobbies on the road

As well as bringing the necessary equipment for its development. Whether they are water sports such as surfing, SUP or kayaking; Terrestrial like cycling or skating, sedentary like going through your inbox or playing some board games, or even culinary like barbecuing. Whatever it is, if you organize the space well and the caravan has enough room for it, you won’t have to do without your favorite activities while you’re traveling.

Meeting like-minded people will be easy

It is not rocket science, but the reality is that if you opt for this way of traveling, it is very likely that sooner or later you will end up meeting people with your same interests with whom you will make good friends.

It’s probably the best way to travel with pets

If you are one of those who could be seen with a digital pet portrait of your most reliable friend on your shirt – seriously guys, check how amazing the hand-drawn illustrations at vectorpets are! – it is very likely that you have already had to go through the frustration of getting a ‘no’ for an answer repeatedly when trying to go places with them.

For whatever reason, the vast majority of tourist establishments today do not allow pets and that makes owners find themselves in the dilemma of having to choose between not traveling on certain occasions or having to pay large sums of money for the care of their furry friends while traveling.

But here comes the good news, traveling in a van makes it possible for pet owners to bring them along anywhere they go. Especially if they own the vehicle. Yay, campervan travel!

AND an ideal way to travel with children

Thinking a bit further and with family travel in mind, ask yourself: Which other means of transportation allows you to have a similar comfort while traveling with kids? Pretty much, no other.

Cons of traveling in a van

Disadvantages of van travel must be taken into account too. On top of limited privacy, the occasional accident – after all, you’re on the road! – and the need to ‘schedule’ maintenance every other day, these are other cons of van travel:

It’s not suited for people who hate driving

There’s a need of enjoying driving or at least not disliking it at all since long hours will be spent on the road. 

Finding a place to park your van can be tough

Parking large vehicles might become very tricky in some city centers. Nothing that the internet and nowadays guides cannot solve with thousands of directions and references to avoid this issue.

Safety is never fully guaranteed

Unluckily, safety can get your mobile home compromised these days. A mobile home. A city. A thief! The story is not new at all. A holiday time, conceived to your relax that slowly becomes a headache to you and your family. Every day, people get more concerned about security, and all kinds of measures are improved to protect everything. 

Coming down to mobile homes, taking proper insurance to make sure your stuff is covered at all times is highly recommended as this nightmare my colleague lived in Florence several years ago recalls.

He and his wife had just arrived in town following well-known travel guide steps and they wouldn’t find any parking spots available. Suddenly, a parking lot around a park near the city center showed them two other mobile homes. They could be saved! My colleague left the car and started searching for a policeman to find out whether the spot could be used to park their van. Around half a kilometer later, an agent told him that the place was pretty insecure. He ran back to the mobile home to find out he’d just been robbed! A glass window was broken and the van was left barely with the only furniture that could not be easily removed and taken away; equipment and clothes included.

Next thing he remembers? He was filing a complaint in the police office with his insurance card in hand (not lost because he was taking his wallet with him), searching for a glass repair and they could only continue traveling after a while. An unforgettable and scary travel story? Tell him about it!

Up next: A month well spent traveling Northern Spain on our motorhome