What is Van Life?

Many of us have purchased a vehicle for the sole purpose of driving to work. The problem is that we can easily find ourselves trapped, driving to work to pay for the car. Luckily a small segment of the population has been testing out an alternative game plan. These are van people, and their alternative is van life. Some vans are brand new while others are complete rust buckets; it doesn't matter. Van life is simply you, your van, and everything you need, flying down the road in search of adventure. As long as there have been vans, people have lived in them... but with today's 'post everything' culture, this once underground lifestyle has been quickly thrust into the limelight.

Why are people living in Conversion Vans?

You'll find all types of people living in vans, for all types of different reasons. From honeymooners, to surf bums, to transient professionals... van life calls adventurers from all walks to life to the open road. For some people, the allure of living in a van is the ability to travel. For others it is the monthly rent payments they are able to avoid. For some people, living in a van is the best way for them to pursue a sport or hobby that they love. Though reasons for adopting van life will vary from person to person, the common motivational thread is freedom. Van lifers are free to explore, to live spontaneously, and to create a life less ordinary.

Is the Conversion Van Life for me?

Good question. Though it is easy to catch a case of #vanlife swoon while scrolling through our Instagram feed, the realities of living in a tiny house on wheels are not always romantic.

Van life experts Goal Zero serve up some good food for thought in this article 'Van Life Pros & Cons'.

For a first hand van life testimonial, check out Zach Both's insightful Vanual article 'Is It For You'. 

But in the end reading will only get you so far. Before you take the plunge, consider taking van life for a test drive by renting a conversion van from a company like Wicked Campers

How much does a Conversion Van cost?

Like all tiny living projects, the cost a full custom van conversion can range wildly. We know that this is in annoying answer, but it's actually good news. Van life is attainable, regardless of the budget you are working with. 

If you plan on outfitting a hand-me-down van with a mattress, a camp stove, and some pallet furniture, you should be able to keep costs to a minimum. For tips on renovating a conversion van on a shoestring budget, check out this great how to video created by van lifers Pompi and Hoshi.

If you have some serious cash set aside, check out Sportsmobile. These guys have been setting the standard for luxury van renovations and 4x4 conversions. Even if you're not in the market for a Sportsmobile, the features and add ons provide plenty of inspiration for the crafty do-it-yourselfer!

Isn't living in a Camper Van illegal?

Depends where you park. Urban settings for example, are often unfriendly environments for van lifers. Even in cities that don't have anti van life bylaws, you can bet on encountering some hassles. Many urban van life veterans avoid attention by designing the exterior of their van to be discreet.

If you are new to van life, you may find some helpful information in this wikiHow article 'How to Live in Your Car'.

Check out this helpful article by Fresh Off The Grid for tips on how to find free camping spots in Canada and the United States.

So... what about the toilet?

Toilets are a tricky one in vans. With such a small living space to work with, many people choose to leave toilets out of their conversion plans all together.

That being said, the RV world has designed some decent toilet options if you do decide to incorporate one into your conversion van. Compare your options by checking out these best selling RV toilets on Amazon. If you are considering a cassette toilet, our friend Janice over at ‘Your RV Lifestyle’ has put together a great article that you can check out here.

Another potential option is a composting toilet. A composting toilet is a dry toilet that uses aerobic processing to break down organic waste. Composting toilets are also a great option for environmental reasons. Waste is transformed into nutrient-rich compost that can be safely returned to the environment, or even used in agriculture. At first the composting toilet concept may seem a little strange, but the modern designs really work great. 

How can people afford van life?

Like we said earlier, van life enthusiasts come from all walks of life. Some people are making their van lifestyle work by adopting a minimalist lifestyle and scraping by on a shoestring budget. Others have put in years of work and are finally enjoying the fruits of all their labour. More and more often, van lifers have found a way to work remotely and are traveling the continent with a laptop in tow. 

But truthfully, full-time van lifers are the minority. For most people, planning to hit the road for a month or two each year is a more realistic van life goal. 

At the heart of van life culture is an appreciation for simplicity. It is impossible to put a price on the experiences that traveling provides. Build the conversion van that you can afford, plan to live within your means, and get out there and explore!

Are people actually doing this?

Absolutely! As I'm sure you are aware, the van life movement has been gaining some serious momentum all around the world over the past few years. 

Tiny Life Supply is proud to take a leadership role in the van life community through our ambassador program, the 'Tiny Life Renegades'.

Several of our Tiny Life Renegades are renovating conversion vans, buses, and RV's. Follow along with Renegades Scott Hanson and Tia Scheffer as their renovations continue. Feel free to reach out to the Renegades if you get stuck on something with your own project!

Go Power Solar Kit from Tiny Life Supply

What Systems will I need?

Choosing the perfect systems for your yurt is one of the most exciting steps! From customizing your tiny kitchen, to selecting your power and heat source, picking the perfect systems is the key to designing a yurt that works for your lifestyle. Use the links below to browse through the best appliances, gear, and supplies.

Power Options


Kitchen Appliances

Household Necessities

Once you have the main systems selected, take a look at our entire line of tiny house products for lighting options, building supplies, furniture and more.

Don't let the options overwhelm you; take the planning process one step at a time, and get a hold of us if you need any help!

Van Adventuring

Ok, I'm in; what's next?

All right, you haven't been scared off! The first step is finding the perfect van. When deciding on the perfect van, there are many factors to consider. Though mileage, mechanical condition, and off roadability are all important considerations, the most important factor is harder to define. You will know it when you find the perfect van, and it will know it when it meets you.

Once you have your van, start digging around online for inspiration. Nate from Off Grid Van has laid out very useful information on his blog 'Stealthy and Off Grid Van Conversion Guide'. One of the other best resources for DIY van lifers is Nikki, Jakob & Leika's site Sprinter Van Diaries.

Here at Tiny Life Supply we have sourced some of the best van conversion essentials on earth. Get some inspiration for your van conversion by browsing our line of essential tiny life products.

If you have any questions please drop us a line! We love meeting new conversion van enthusiasts and would love to hear from you.

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