Is A Camper Van Worth It? Will I Use It?

Camper van parked with night sky

If you have watched the van life popularity rise on social media, you might be anxious to go out and start converting a van so that you can go on your own adventure.

After all, it seems like such a great lifestyle. Imagine waking up every day in a beautiful place, opening the back doors of your van to a beautiful beach or mountain scene and taking a picture of you and your significant other laying on the bed looking out.

Or maybe your dog can be laying beside you as the two of you look out as if there are no worries in the world.

Van life truly is the ultimate experience OR is it?

Is it really this great and do people really enjoy it this much?

When you watch videos or see people sharing their adventures on social media, you would think the whole experience is absolutely fantastic and there could be nothing bad about it. It just seems like one adventure after another and it seems that anyone can just quit their job, hop in a van and go have these same experiences.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like this. This is not a reality. What you have to understand is that almost all of the pictures and videos are staged and although you probably realize this, some of these bloggers and other content creators do a great job of hiding the fact that life is not always rosy in a van.

Looking out back doors of camper van

While it can be a wonderful experience, too many people have made it seem like it is always amazing. It kind of sucked me in in the beginning. After watching video after video of people living their dreams in a van, I was intrigued and wanted to do it myself.

I’m a goal-oriented person. When I see something that I would like to do, I make a plan and set a goal to go do it. I don’t wait around for permission.

After seeing videos of other people doing this, I thought this exactly what I want to do.

Amongst all the noise, there are some people out there who do share the bad parts of van life and as van life becomes more and more popular, more people will know that it isn’t always as perfect as others make it seem.

If you’ve seen people enjoying the lifestyle and you’ve looked into it yourself and are considering buying a van and making it happen, the question may come to your mind…

Is it worth it and will I actually use it?

To answer this question, you have to understand what you want out of it and what your expectations are of the whole experience. If you expect to ride around in La La Land all the time while avoiding life responsibilities, then you probably won’t use it because it’s not going to be like that and you will be disappointed.

You probably won’t like it as much as you thought you would. On the other hand, if you understand that there will be good and bad things about it, you might be able to make it work for you.

It also depends on how you are going to use your van. If you are planning on living in the van full-time, it can certainly make for a different experience than someone who is just using it as a weekend getaway vehicle, like I am.

When I started, I never intended to live in my van. I intended to build something that I could use to get away without having to worry about where I’m going to stay. My goal was to get away for the weekend or a week or two and travel with my dog to national parks or other places that I wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise.

I wanted to be able to drive and be able to stay in RV Parks or Harvest Hosts locations along the way.

Living in a van full-time never really appealed to me so when I bought my van, I understood that I was going to convert it and then use it occasionally when I wanted. Since I live in a home, I treat my van just as any I would a class B motorhome or any type of camper.

It sits in my driveway ready to go at any time and when I am ready, I can take off and go on my adventure.

Most of my journeys have been amazing. It has been everything that I expected. My expectation was to be able to get in the van, go on a trip and enjoy peace and quiet in a location and then come back home and get on with my life. That’s exactly what it’s been for me.

If you are not the adventurous type or the kind of person who doesn’t mind “roughing it,” you might have a more difficult time adjusting and getting use out of the van like this.

To help you decide whether or not you should purchase and van and whether or not you will use it, I have come up with some reasons to buy or not to buy a camper van. Keep reading to find out if a camper van is right for you.

5 Reasons To Buy A Camper Van

Couple enjoying van life

1. Fun Adventures

If you are looking for a fun adventure, a camper van is a great way to achieve it. Having a vehicle like this allows you to get out and explore places that you might not otherwise. You can use it to travel further distances and to provide yourself with a place to stay no matter where you are.

Even day trips are more fun with a camper van because it can serve a purpose. Not only can it serve as a vehicle that takes you place, but it can also serve as your basecamp no matter where you are.

I often travel with mine on day trips and it gives me a place to eat lunch and even take a nap. It also gives me a place to just sit down and relax while I enjoy whatever it is that is around me.

I often find myself in a place where it is quiet and relaxing, providing me with a restful refuge from my adventure.

2. Go more places than you could with a larger RV

If you are looking to go on adventures, you can probably go further and more easily in a camper van than you could by using other methods. Of course, you won’t have the space that you do with a larger RV but this is the advantage of a camper van.

Read about my comparison between a small Class B RV (camper van) and a Class C motorhome.

The small size allows you to travel to places and see sites that you might avoid if you were in a larger motorhome. A camper van can park nearly anywhere and maneuver itself into most any parking lot so you’ll never have to look too far when you are seeking out places to park.

Although the size of a larger RV is nice, the benefit of having a small home on wheels takes the cake in my opinion.

3. Less hassle

One of my favorite benefits of my camper van is how little of a hassle it is to get it out and use it. It sits in my driveway and is ready to go at a moment’s notice whenever I get the urge to take a trip.

There is no fussing around with large cumbersome motorhomes or hooking it up to a car to be towed. I simply get in and set my GPS to where I want to go and then I take off. The fuel mileage is excellent and I can drive it just as I do my regular passenger vehicle.

With something that is very little hassle like a camper van, you are more prone to use it than you would something that takes more work to use. If you are someone who just wants to get out and go instead of having to fool with the hassle of a cumbersome RV, a camper van will suit you well.

4. It will probably be more affordable

A camper van is likely going to be more affordable if you choose to convert your own. It might also be a more affordable option if you choose to purchase one that has been converted by another user.

To clarify, I am only referring to van conversions that you have converted yourself or another amateur has converted.

If you choose to purchase a professionally built class B motorhome (camper van), you may end up paying more. Converting a van for yourself into a camper van can be one of the most cost-effective ways to enjoy owning a motorhome that you can use for traveling or camping.

However, purchasing a professional class B camper van that has been manufactured by a licensed upfitter isn’t always a cheaper option. It’s surprising how expensive some small camper vans can sell for.

I wrote about why Class B motorhomes are so expensive. Learn more here.

5. You want to minimize your life and spend time off-grid

A camper van is a perfect way to get acquainted with a simpler way of living. With the limited space that a van provides, you don’t have an option to maintain a cluttered life while in it.

When you travel or camp in a camper van, you can take time to enjoy nature or the peace and quiet that comes from unplugging. Those who live the van life often enjoy boondocking and can be found hanging out in places that don’t offer convenient hookups to electricity or water.

If you are the type that wants to escape from our overly stimulating world, a camper van proved you with a vehicle to get away from it all.

5 Reasons NOT To Buy A Camper Van

Camper van inside dining area

1. You have a large family

Those who have large families or even more than two people will be cramped in a small camper van. Vans like this are great for single people or couples but can get pretty tight once you begin piling people inside.

Couples that have children might want to consider a larger solution than what a camper van can provide. Another concern would be that a camper van might not be equipped with more than two seats that have seatbelts.

Although there are many different floor plans and custom designs that do offer more than two seats, many custom converted vans do not have this.

My camper van only has the two front seats that have seatbelts. If someone else needed to ride in my van, they would have to do so without being able to buckle up.

I built mine to be this way but if I had small children that were traveling with me, I would have designed my van differently. The beauty of a custom van is that you can build it any way you want and put any feature that you want inside of it.

The problem that you will find with small camper vans though is that they are often set up for a single person or a couple of people max.

2. You’ve never tried camping or living in small spaces

If you are used to having a lot of space and being spoiled with modern amenities, a camper van might be a bad idea. It takes an adjustment to live or camp in such a small area. When you are talking less than 80 square feet, space can get very cramped and not allow for the normal style of living that you may be used to.

Even walking around becomes a challenge if you have more than one person in the van. Cooking can also cause a problem with your normal workflow. Living in a van requires you to shuffle and shimmy around so that you do not bump into other people or other accessories.

I spent a good amount of time bumping my head on cabinets when I first began using my custom-built van. Although this was more because of my clumsiness than the van itself, it still says something about the small area that will take some getting used to.

3. You’re super tall

Tall people may want to look elsewhere for a camping solution unless you are willing to hunker down a bit. The average height of a high roof camper van is around 6’3″. You can learn more about the average height of campers in this post that I created where I looked at examples of 17 different models on the market.

If you are over 6′ 3″, you may have an issue walking around comfortably. Class C and Class A motorhomes provide much more ceiling height than a camper van does. You will also get more headroom out of a travel trailer or fifth wheel if you are interested in going that route.

Camper vans are great for those of average height or just a bit more than average. At 5’10”, I have no issues in my van I can move around easily without the fear of bumping my head on the ceiling.

4. You’re claustrophobic

If you do not like to stay in small spaces, you may feel claustrophobic if you have to spend time in a small camper van. This is especially true if your van is not equipped with windows or is in a darker color that makes you feel more enclosed.

You often see camper vans in brighter colors and also with windows so that the area is brightened up, making it feel larger than it is. This is to help a person adjust to the small living area and be able to enjoy it as they would a larger space.

I haven’t felt claustrophobic in my van but I consider mine to be quite roomy and bright. The white walls and minimal design of my van have helped me to feel as if there is more room than there actually is.

5. You expect van life to be a free ride or even a cheap way of life

You might think that van life is a good way to hit the road and save money while you are doing it. You may have dreams of parking your van for free in locations all over the place and then coming and going as you please.

Although this can sometimes be the case, it isn’t reality the majority of the time.

Van life still requires money for you to be able to enjoy the lifestyle. You will have to pay for fuel, places to park for the night as well as auto insurance and other necessities that our society has become accustomed to.

Don’t believe the hype that you might see on the Internet that sells you on the belief that van life is a great way to save money. If you choose to live in your van full-time, it can be a way to save money over traditional housing but the costs still add up and you may be surprised in the end at how much the lifestyle actually does cost.

Don’t buy a van without first researching and creating a plan for yourself about exactly how much you will be spending each month. It’s also good to overestimate this amount as a way to prepare yourself for unexpected costs that may arise.

5 Reasons Why I Believe A Camper Van Is Worth Buying

Winding road through forest

1. You only live once

As far as we know, we only get one life to live. If there is something that you want to do in your life, you had better make it happen. You have probably heard the saying that life is not a dress rehearsal. We aren’t preparing to live, we are living now and we only get one chance to give it all that we’ve got.

A camper van is a great way for you to begin living your life to the fullest. Instead of just sitting around saying someday, you can begin a journey that you will remember for the rest of your life.

You will look back knowing that you made it happen and you did something adventurous. Traveling and seeing the world and discovering new places is something nearly all of us wish to do. Unfortunately, for many people, this remains a wish throughout their lives and they never actually get busy doing it.

You get ONE chance to enjoy all this world has to offer so why not do it right and if you are the type that wants an adventure and feels that a camper van will provide that for you, you should go for it.

2. Life is short

As I mentioned above, we only live once and during that one life that we have, the time flies by so quickly. One day you’re a kid and before you know it, life has flashed by and you’re a middle-aged adult wondering why you never did the things that you wished to do when you were younger.

Life is too short to sit around wondering how things would be or could have been. Purchasing and owning a camper van gives you the freedom to get busy with your life. You can make the hours count that you live by doing the things that you want to do instead of wishing for someday.

Someday never comes so you have to create it now if you want it. This has always been a motivator for me and is one of the main reasons I decided to purchase a van and use it to travel. I want to make memories and get out and explore what this world has to offer during the short existence that I have on this planet.

3. You can always sell it

If you purchase a camper van and then realize that it is not for you, it’s probably going to be easy for you to sell it. As long as you didn’t buy a junker or converted one and did a horrible job with it, you will likely be able to sell it without losing money and possibly even earning money.

Van life is popular and people are looking to purchase vans already converted instead of having to go through the trouble of doing it themselves.

Converting a van is not an easy task so if you have done the work, someone else will gladly take it off of your hands as long as it is done a high-quality job with it.

4. It gets you away from the boredom of a mundane life

I have spent a lot of my life sitting in front of a computer as a web developer for many years. I have worked in Internet marketing and other digital content creation jobs on the computer throughout my career so I know how mundane and boring a normal life can be during a workweek.

We get so involved in our work that we forget that there is a life beyond the 9 to 5 to be lived. Earning a paycheck is important but the day to day grind can be exhausting and we all need a way to get away from it. We need a way to escape reality and to get us into a place that can help us to recharge our batteries from time to time.

A van allows you to get away from normal life routines and opens up a new world of exciting adventures.

5. They are fun to own and use!

You need a camper van because they are fun to use!

This might be a simple reason but it goes with the other four reasons that I have listed above. It’s important to have fun in your life and having a camper van has certainly added a lot more fun to my life. I love to go and travel to new places and stay in my van.

There is something about driving your home around and then having it to eat, sleep and live in wherever you want to park it. It is a freeing experience and it is just so darn fun.

I used to sit at home and watch movies on the weekend, and now I generally travel in my camper van on the weekends and the world and the great outdoors become the movie that I am watching.

If you ask me, I would rather watch nature any day over a boring movie. I have much more fun when I am out on the road and experiencing life. Rather than watching other people experience life on TV, I am out there doing it myself and it provides me with a lot of enjoyment.

Bottom Line

A camper van is not for everyone. I have had many people tell me that they could never stay in a van that is such a small size. Most people are not used to the small space that a van provides but to me that is the benefit.

A camper van is very much worth having if you want more out of life. If you are the type that seeks new adventures and wants to enjoy living while you are on this earth, then you will probably use a camper van if you are to purchase or convert one yourself.

I mulled around over this decision for a long time and finally pulled the trigger and bought a van, then converted it. I’m so glad I did as it has given me more enjoyment out of life and allowed me to experience something beyond the ordinary.

Dan Collins

I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast. I love to travel and go to places that most people don't get a chance to go. I want to see it all and live life to the fullest while I'm alive. My camper van is helping me to do just that. I write about my experiences to help inspire others to do the same.

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