Ready to embark on your van life adventure, but unsure about where to go and how to find the best campsites? Planning your route and selecting campsites are crucial aspects of the van life experience. Here’s a comprehensive guide to making the journey as smooth as the open road.
1. Define Your Travel Goals
Before you even glance at a map, define your travel goals. What do you want to see and experience on your trip? Are you interested in visiting national parks, exploring quaint small towns, chasing the best surf spots, or perhaps a bit of everything? By clearly outlining your desires, you can create a route that ticks all your boxes.
2. Choose Your Route Wisely
When planning your route, consider both your start and end points and the time you have available. Do you prefer the scenic route or the quickest route? Apps like Roadtrippers and Furkot can help you plan your journey, allowing you to add points of interest, calculate travel times, and even estimate fuel costs.
3. Research, Research, Research!
Research is key to finding the best campsites. Websites like Campendium and apps like iOverlander provide user reviews of campsites, including details about facilities, pricing, and accessibility. These platforms can be invaluable for discovering beautiful, lesser-known sites and for knowing what to expect when you arrive.
4. Use National and State Park Campgrounds
National and state park campgrounds can be fantastic options for camping. They often offer beautiful settings, basic facilities, and are relatively inexpensive. Plus, by staying in these campgrounds, you’re contributing to the maintenance and preservation of these natural wonders. Be sure to reserve your spot in advance, especially during peak seasons.
5. Try Boondocking for a True Wilderness Experience
Boondocking, or free camping in undesignated areas, is a popular choice among many van lifers. It offers an opportunity to enjoy remote, peaceful locations away from crowded campgrounds. Always check local regulations to ensure you’re allowed to camp in these areas, and follow ‘leave no trace’ principles to respect and preserve these natural spaces.
6. Stay Flexible
When you’re on the road, things don’t always go according to plan. That’s part of the adventure! It’s important to remain flexible and have backup options in case a campsite is full or a road is closed.
7. Don’t Forget About Safety
Remember to always prioritize safety. Check weather conditions, avoid risky roads, and always let someone know where you’re planning to camp. Stay mindful of local wildlife and store food and waste properly to avoid attracting animals.
8. Respect the Rules
Finally, respect all rules and regulations. If signs say no overnight parking or camping, respect these limitations. Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it and be a good neighbor to fellow campers.
With these tips, you’ll be able to create a route that suits your travel desires and find campsites that offer you comfort, safety, and a touch of adventure. Remember, van life is not just about the destination, it’s about the journey. Plan well, but leave room for spontaneity and unexpected detours. They often lead to the best stories and the most unforgettable experiences. Happy travels!