Why Van Life is Perfect for the Broke Traveler

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Happy May everyone! I can’t believe that we have flown through April and we’re speeding towards summer time! We have been doing a lot of work on our van conversion lately and I’m feeling really pumped about it!

I was thinking about all of the incredible opportunities our tiny home on wheels will provide us. The excitement is really contagious, and I can’t help but share with you!


Let me start off by saying that Joey and I are not rich. I see these tiny homes selling for upwards of 20K and then campers for upwards of 70k and I’m like…. No, no honey. There is a better way!

We will have our van converted for around $5,000 and we won’t have to pay for power and water hookups when we park. This is the kind of deal I’m after, for sure. It may be a little extra work, but I’m here to tell you why van life is perfect for the broke traveler!

Why van life is perfect broke travelers

Cheap Accommodations

So, this one may be the most obvious. When you travel in a van, you literally have your own hotel room on the road with you. No more paying $50.00 a night or more to stay in someone’s basement on Airbnb.

Another upside to this is the fact that you can stay almost anywhere you want or need. Wake up to the most amazing views or sleep in the Walmart parking lot off the interstate on the way to your next destination!

I’m not telling you that every camp spot will be the most glamorous spot in the world, but there are plenty of those sprinkled in if you do your research.

A great resource for finding camping spots on your travels is iOverlander. You can download it on your phone and have a plethora of camping options at your fingertips!

There is a ton of places where you can park for free, but sometimes you might have to pay. The price will always be less than a hotel or Airbnb, and with a paid spot you’re usually at least guaranteed a view!    

Cheap Food

Okay, so I know that everyone says eating out is a big part of experiencing each destination. Well, I’m here to tell you that a broke van lifer is going to spend their hard-earned cash on adventure, not lunch.

When you’re traveling in a van, you have a ton of different cooking options. You can go all out, the way we plan to, with a stove and an oven. Or, you could pack a camping stove with almost the same results.

You will have to buy groceries, and you can go as boujee or as cheap as you want. Don’t forget about the cooler! One of those styrofoam ones from the grocery store will work, but feel free to upgrade as you see fit.

We are used to making our own meals since we eat a plant-based diet, so cooking comes naturally to us. If you like to eat out, this may be more difficult for you, but I promise that the money you save will be worth it.

Plus, think of all of those amazing home-cooked meals made in the middle of nature! You’re making memories here, people!  

Van Life broke travelers

Cheap Travel

This is the best part. This is why Van Life has become such a trend over the past few years, right? Cheap travel is at the core of our goals here at Project Vagrant, so this was definitely a big selling point.

When you travel in a van you’re not paying for airfare or trains or taxis, Uber, or Lyft. You’re paying for gas, and that’s it! If you get a decently low MPG vehicle, like a Sprinter, you are going to save money and help the environment. You wouldn’t believe how bad jet fuel emission are for our atmosphere!

The only conversion vehicle with really bad gas mileage is probably a school bus, especially if it’s a full-sized school bus. And I’m not knocking bus life. There are some really incredible bus builds out there, and you usually make up for gas mileage with space!

I won’t lie to you by saying there is no limitation to van travel. You can’t drive it across the ocean, obviously, but there are options for putting it on a ferry or shipping it! This comes with a higher price tag, but you’ll still be saving with the low cost of everything else!

Check out the pros and cons of van life here!

Van life broke travelers

Fewer Bills

This one is for my aspiring full-time van lifers or digital nomads out there! Moving into a van means fewer bills. Say goodbye to that rent payment and the electric bill! You will have to pay for water, but you certainly will not be paying the city!

You won’t have renters insurance, wifi, or cable bills hanging over you anymore! Your bills will reduce because you are reducing the things you need to live! Do you know what else that means?

You won’t need to make as much money! Cootos to you if you can keep your fulltime job while on the road. You are living the dream. Most of us are out here saving every penny and trying to figure out how to make some on the side!

Check out these passive income ideas for long term travel!

Living simply gives you space to enjoy the real things in life. You work less (in theory), you pay less, and you experience so much more!

Van Life isn’t totally free though. You still have to pay for the basics like gas, car insurance, food, and water. This shouldn’t add up to a lot if you’re being frugal when you can.

One thing that you don’t want to skimp on is travel insurance. Having travel insurance is the same concept of having home insurance but better! We use RoamRight which has some of the best coverage around. I’m talking about medical emergencies to natural disaster evacuation!

Being on the road is an awesome experience, but it’s even better when you know you’re covered! Don’t wait until it’s too late.

There are tons of ways to save money with van life. I’ve listed a few of the big ones here, but the benefits can be exponential if you go into it with a minimalistic mindset!

I never thought it would be possible to travel the world at such a young age, but Van Life is slowly but surely making that possible! I want you to understand that with a little creative thinking, you can get out there too!

Happy travels, friends!

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