Camping in a van is a convenient alternative to tent camping since it eliminates the need to lug around heavy equipment. The appealing simplicity of its ethos has contributed to its rising popularity.

Campers may relax and focus on their explorations and hikes without worrying about hauling their stuff. In contrast to conventional camping, people may take their time and remain still for as long as they choose.

The logic behind this is undeniable. Camper vans are more affordable and simpler to park than recreational vehicles (RVs), yet they provide similar levels of comfort. Also, unlike tent camping, you won’t have to put up and take down your sleeping area every night.

This guide will help you get started with camping in a van, whether you already own a van or are looking to buy one, whether you want to go camping on the weekends or make the transition to full-time van life.

Ideal Camper Van for Outdoor Adventures

camping in a van

For short camping in a van excursions over the weekend or even extended road journeys, just about any model of van will suffice. Almost any car, such as a Toyota Tacoma or a Subaru Outback, may serve as a makeshift campsite with a little ingenuity.

The benefits of van camping may be experienced without shelling out money for a brand-new van. The car you have now is probably sufficient for your needs.

However, certain vans are superior to others if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, particularly if you want to vandwell full-time.

Vehicles such as cargo vans are highly recommended. We prefer them because of the roominess inside, the stealthiness of their design (which makes them ideal for camping) and their dependability.

DIYers should choose a cargo van (or pay for a professional van conversion), but those who want a vehicle that’s already been outfitted for camping may look into purchasing a camper van.

Set Up Your Own Campervan

camping in a van

You may customise the inside of your van in a number of different ways.

Get everything you need for camping right out of the factory and into your campervan or class B RV. This is closest to getting a recreational vehicle. It’s the quickest and most practical choice, but it may also be the most expensive.

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Having a vehicle converted to your specifications is another possibility. You contract a business to fit up your van to your particular camping needs, and they bill you accordingly. Despite the hefty price tag, many van campers feel the extra level of customisation is well worth it.


Converting a vehicle into a camper is a popular weekend project for many people. Self-constructing a vehicle is the slowest method. But it may help you save a lot of money and have the van’s interior just the way you want it.

One great benefit of constructing anything on your own is that you may set the price.

Are you saving money by sleeping in a van? Then go for a spare, uncluttered look inside. To go camping, all you need to do is stow a mattress in the trunk among the rest of your belongings.

Get a raise and get to spend it? Then go all out on a high-end DIY camper van conversion, sparing no expense. The most desirable features for a van to have are insulation, solar panels, and a kitchenette.

How you modify your van for camping relies on your personal requirements, tastes, and financial constraints. The reason for the van’s conversion is another factor to consider. There is a huge difference between the van conversion required for full-time van-dwelling and the van conversion required for weekend vehicle camping or recreational van-dwelling.

Places to Park at Night When Camping in a Van

When camping in a van, the first step is to locate a parking area where you may park lawfully for the night. You may park overnight for free at many (but certainly not all) Walmart stores. Free overnight parking for RVs and vans is offered by several businesses including Cracker Barrels, Cabela’s, and Bass Pro Shops.

When travelling by van, it might be challenging to locate a suitable campground for the night. You may do a couple of different things when this occurs.

camping in a van

Stealth camping is another option when camping in a van. This is when you park your van overnight in a residential, commercial, or industrial location when it is technically forbidden. Keeping a low profile is crucial. Don’t bother getting there till late, and get up and out of here bright and early. Refrain from leaving your vehicle at any moment. Relax, get some shut-eye, and then go out in the morning.

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To put it another way, you don’t want anybody to find out that you’re hiding out in your van. It should look like any other junked automobile parked on the sidewalk.

Camping in a Van Meals

It all comes down to your kitchen setup when it comes to cooking in your campervan.

Small kitchens or kitchenettes, including counter space, a stove, an electric cooler, and a tiny sink, are standard in campervan conversions and do-it-yourself constructions. In a smaller setting, meal preparation is now as simple as at home.

camping in a van

Camping food is what you’ll be making if your van doesn’t have a kitchenette. A camping stove is the best option for cooking in your vehicle (or a backpacking stove). Take a cooler to ensure that perishables stay chilled during the trip.

Even if your van has a functional kitchenette, you can always rely on the campfire to prepare a meal.

How to Go to the Bathroom in Your Van

Your van’s construction or conversion will significantly impact your ability to use the restroom, just as it will on cooking.

If your van has a little bathroom and a flush toilet, or if you have a portable camping toilet, you won’t even have to stop at a gas station or rest stop to use the facilities.

Is there no onboard toilet? You can stay on a campsite that has toilets, whether flush or vault type.

Van-Based Hygiene: Taking a Shower

To take a shower is usually unnecessary during a weekend getaway. You probably won’t need to take a shower before you go home since you won’t become filthy or stinky.

In contrast, a camper van with a shower is an absolute must for anybody planning an extended trip. True, some class B RVs have showers already installed. Several van conversions have indoor or outside showers built right in, making them ideal for camping or other outdoor activities.

When camping in a van, a portable solar shower is equally as practical as a permanent fixture in a camper van. Since there isn’t much room inside, a portable solar shower is usually preferable.

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There will be plenty of areas for you to shower if you hang it from the rear of your truck or a tree limb. The one caveat is that your privacy could be compromised.

The majority of people who live in their vans full-time find that joining a gym that is open around the clock and has showers and locker rooms is the best way to keep yourself clean. You may skip the workout and go straight to the shower.

Van lifers who want to remain in one location may make use of any existing gym membership. However, a national chain is your best choice if you intend on vandwelling from place to place.

Consider a Camper Van Rental

If you are entirely new to van life, we strongly suggest that you try it out first.

Renting a campervan is an excellent method to get a feel for van camping and determine whether or not it is right for you. It’s easy to get a rental van since there are so many companies and independent sellers in the area.

Renting a camper van is not only a simple and inexpensive method to get a feel for what living in a van would be like, but it also offers the added benefits of convenience and ease. The majority of van rentals include all of the camping equipment you will need for your trip, which is good news if you are new to camping and don’t have much gear.

Renting a camper van prior to purchasing your van is beneficial for several reasons, one of which is that it enables you to choose the model of a van most suited to your needs.


Camping in a van is a great way to save money, have a fun time and even get some exercise. It’s a wonderful opportunity to escape urban life and reconnect with nature. However, figuring out the best approach might be challenging. That’s why we wrote this guide on camping in a van essentials.