Adventures, Guides, Lifestyle, Vanlife

Top Tips for Planning a #Vanlife Adventure

I have been living the #vanlife dream since 2012 and this has involved numerous adventurous trips around Europe in ‘The Dub’, ranging from single week holidays in a fixed location to four week tours through 15 different countries.  I was in the process of sketching ideas for next year’s summer road trip when I thought I’d take time out to share some tips for planning a successful #vanlife adventure…

Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face…

Why the Mike Tyson quote?  Well, firstly, if you want to make the most of your time off then you really do need to have at least a rough idea of the route you are taking and how long you will spend in each place.  I use Google Maps for this and find it excellent for adjusting routes, choosing stops, checking journey times and looking for fun places to play in the outdoors.  But equally, you need to leave room in any plan for ‘getting punched in the face’; the thing you couldn’t plan for – that fabulous little cove you find, the parking spot by the perfect mountain lake where you’d love to stay overnight, or the road closure or mechanical problem that ruins your day.  To allow for this I always build ‘spare days’ into my plan, giving me flexibility to react to circumstances without it totally trashing the trips itinerary…

Decide what you want to do…

It may sound obvious but you need to decide what you are trying to achieve.  How do you want to spend your time?  What will a successful tour look like?  For some that might be spending the whole tour deeply exploring one country, maybe even a single area of that country such as the French Alps, but for others you might be wanting to get a flavour of a number of nations as you pass through them.  Equally, what will you do when you stop?  We tend to have a theme for a trip which defines what we are focusing on and what kit we take; for example, our Pyrenees & Provence trip was all about road biking and wild swimming, whereas the Scandi-Van Tour was entirely focused on the coast for sea kayak, swim and SUP adventures.  You may even choose to move from city to city, taking advantage of urban RV parks or simply staying in car parks that allow overnight parking.  Perhaps you want a mix of all these factors, but beware of trying to do too much – it is after all a holiday!

 …beware of trying to do too much – it is after all a holiday’…

Bring your toys…

One of the beauties of #vanlife is that you can take your toys on tour with you.  But, remember Rule #7 from my Simple Tips for #Vanlife and avoid the temptation to pack all of your toys.  The more stuff you take, the more admin you have to do to look after it and the harder it is to live around it.  Also, conflicts are created, for example, having long sea kayaks on my roof prevents me from lifting the tailgate if the bike rack is also loaded.  So this is where setting clear objectives is key and then planning the tour to achieve those objectives and taking only the kit you will need.  Is it really worth spending the whole tour worried about the security of the surf board on the roof when your plan is to explore Austria…

Driving is a necessary evil…

If you want to truly exercise the freedom of #vanlife you cannot let big drives put you off exploring.  Even if you have four weeks off, you are still not going to reach very far if you are not prepared to drive more than a couple of hours at a time.  Factoring in a few sizeable main road slogs can massively change the scope of your trip, adding extra countries to visit and making places you’ve always thought of as a flight away suddenly reachable by van.  I don’t think anybody truly enjoys long stints at the wheel, but I offer a few tips in another blog about coping with Long Van Drives

On the road...
On the road…

Research big picture, do the detail as you travel…

As much as I am encouraging you to start with a plan, I wouldn’t stress the details until you get going.  Very rarely do we book campsites in advance of a trip because this ruins some of the fun of exploring, destroys any flexibility you built into the schedule and denies you the opportunity to discreetly free camp.  You will have lots of time on the road to look into exactly what your destination has to offer, where you can stay and how to organise your adventures.  It might even be that something happens to change the plan; on our 2017 Scandi-Van Tour we were entirely focused on being near the water for sea kayaking and SUP, until Ellie injured her back and could do neither for the rest of the trip.  We were able to look at alternatives and headed inland for a while, but we had the freedom to do this only because we had nothing booked and were planning the details as we travelled…

Nice parking spot
When you are on location you can check the details…

Whatever you decide to do on your van tour I hope that you enjoy both the planning and the successful completion of your plan and have the #vanlife adventure tour of your dreams.

Live2Flow has produced a number of other blogs on #Vanlife which you may find interesting.

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