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The COVID-19 pandemic gave many adults severe cases of cabin fever and an urge to hop in their cars and hit the road. For many adventurous spirits who didn’t want to hotel hop, “van life” was the answer. However, living your nomadic narrative of camper travel out of a van or RV could be a headache for a few frustrating reasons.  

What are the cons of van life in 2023?

  • Lack of privacy
  • Security can be questionable
  • Mechanical and other issues can throw you off any travel schedule
  • Healthy eating can be tricky
A maroon Volkswagen van parks in a camper site as travel junkies enjoy van life.
Volkswagen Westfalia van | Michal Fludra, NurPhoto via Getty Images

There are many advantages of leaving a costly or frustrating home behind and hitting the road. However, looking past the romantic concept of untethered living in a converted van, there are a few obstacles that might be deal-breakers for some people. 

Is privacy an issue when living in a van?

Admittedly, your mental picture of an air-cooled Volkswagen van with a surfboard on the roof and no one else around is exciting. However, there are many instances where privacy doesn’t go hand-in-hand with van life. For example, GoVisaFree says some voluntary nomads may get unwelcome visitors or onlookers when parked. 

Moreover, “boondocking,” or parking to get rest away from hookups, could require parking in large lots or street parking in cities, where privacy is virtually impossible. 

Is it safe to sleep in a van?

While it’s safe to sleep in a van with functioning locks in many circumstances, there’s no getting around that you’re one door or window away from your surroundings. A loud, functional alarm, a GPS tracker, and parking in monitored, well-lit areas when in an urban environment are good security practices. 

A breakdown could throw you off a schedule or cost you money

Vans break down, especially old ones that you might want for the perfectly-captured social media coverage of your experiences. Gab Travelling says, “Mechanical problems can be a huge stress factor for van life.” 

A GMC used for van life is broken down next to the travel lane.
A breakdown could be costly and annoying | David S. Holloway, Getty Images

It’s a good idea to keep your travel vehicle or camper well-maintained if you want to experience van life. “Something that’s helped a lot with this is to go for regular services, about every 10,000 km (6,213 miles),” Gab Travelling said of van life in Australia. 

Healthy eating and living require extra effort in van life

With wide open spaces between destinations, limited space for fresh food, and the dynamics of working out on the go, being healthy in a van life situation can be tricky. Many van-bound wanderers will work out on the go, but they have to have a system for hygiene and laundry.  

What do you think of living out of a van to scratch your adventurous itch? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!


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