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How to Live Your Best Van Life: Interviews With Two Experts by

1st Jun 2018

 How to Live Your Best Van Life: Interviews With Two Experts

There you are sitting in your rented apartment or house. It’s nice. It’s comfortable and cozy. And it’s mighty expensive. That monthly payment we call rent is like a sucker punch to your checking account. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of dollars are gone in an instant to someone who claims to be a lord. But some people have figured out a way to, shall we say, grease the system and it’s simple: ditch the four walls for four wheels.

Here at CarRentals, we want to help you go nomad, so we partnered with two well-established van-lifers. They let us pick their brains for every last piece of information as it relates to taking mom’s minivan and transforming it into your new home. Neither looks to be settling down roots anywhere anytime soon, so follow along. Maybe you’ll be inspired to throw in the towel on your traditional abode and hit the road.


Sarah is a traveling occupational therapist and has been living out of her converted camper van, named Vanny DeVito, for the last year-and-a-half. Her blog is titled Tiny Van Big Living.

CarRentals: Why did you decide to convert your vehicle into your home?

Sarah: As a traveling healthcare professional, I typically work contracts at healthcare facilities for 13 weeks at a time. The decision to downsize was initially derived from my inherent laziness. You see, I love traveling but loathe moving. The thought of having to do less work each time I moved was highly motivating.

CR: How did you convert your van?

S: Since Vanny is a smaller van, I had to get really creative with the conversion. I used a combination of professional conversion and DIY project.

CR: What are the essentials for living in your van?

S: Here is my current list of van life essentials:

  • Fan
  • Curtains
  • Roof vent
  • Light
  • Electric blanket
  • Off-grid power
  • DVDs and books

Woman standing in front of camping van parked in the woods

Image via

CR: Do the seasons affect how you live? Do you have a heater or air conditioner?

S: Yes, I try to live in mild weather places but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. An electric blanket helps with cold nights and the roof vent helps with the warm ones!

CR: What do you use for power in the van? Do you use solar power?

S: Yes, I do have solar power and I would highly recommend it. I have a 100W solar panel on the roof, an auxiliary battery, and an inverter to plug items into.

Woman walking towards van in front of mountain range

Image via

CR: What is the annual cost of living in a van?

S: My average “rent,” including campgrounds and private land, ranges from $200-$400 a month.

CR: Have you saved money since living in your van?

S: Yes! Paying off student loan debt is one of the main reasons I started this journey. In 2017, I have paid off just under $30,000 in debt and counting.

CR: What’s it like traveling and living in a van?

S: Traveling in a van, I think, is the BEST way to travel. I can just look at a map and go on an adventure wherever I would like!

CR: What are the best tips you have?

S: To live in a van like mine, you would have to be very okay with having minimal convenience. As mentioned before, you would need to decide what conveniences are necessary for you and which you could live without and that is my best advice for van life.

CR: What’s it like living in a van and working?

S: It really has not been too difficult living in a van and working. Working a typical “9-5” job helps break up the day. Working in hospitals and other buildings allows me access to public restrooms, staff kitchens, and other amenities that I can’t get in my van.

Van parked in front of the northern lights

Image via

CR: What is the craziest adventure you’ve had in your converted home?

S: Last summer, my boyfriend and I spent a three-week adventure driving from Alaska to Colorado! It was an adventure of a lifetime and having the van made the trip so much more cost effective.

CR: What is the best part of van life? Worst part?

S: The best part is the constant adventure and freedom; the worst part is sleeping in the cold!

CR: Coolest road you’ve ever seen/been on?

S: This would have to be the Sea-to-Sky Highway in British Columbia!

CR: What’s your next adventure?

S: We are currently trying to plan another big road trip on the West Coast sometime soon, work schedule permitting. I am thinking either a trip to Baja or the PCH!


Kathleen is the founder of Tiny House, Tiny Footprint and maintains the blog Vanlife Diaries. In October 2017, she finished converting her 1987 Toyota van into the dreamiest of mobile homes. We got a hold of her for a quick discussion about her van life experiences.

Woman sitting in a purple folding chair in front of two camping vans

Image via Tiny House Tiny Footprint

CarRentals: You’ve lived out of three different vehicles. Why did you decide to convert your vehicles into your home?

Kathleen: I’ve actually lived out of four different tiny homes. I wanted to find a way to live more affordably, spend more time outside, and reduce my environmental footprint.

CR: What would you tell someone considering converting their vehicle into their home?

K: Start with the basics: perhaps a bed and a refrigeration system. And then work your way through what you think would be necessary to fuel the adventures you want to take.

CR: What do you use for power in the van? Do you use solar power?

K: I have two 100-watt solar panels on the roof and they power my lights and fridge.

View of a mountain range out the back of a camping van

Image via

CR: What’s it like living in a van and working?

K: My office has some of the most scenic views. On a warm day, it’s nice to leave the door open and work inside, or I sometimes sit on the grass outside. I am able to use a hotspot on my phone when I don’t have a Wi-Fi connection. I also often go to coffee shops and public libraries. Friends’ houses are also great for being comfortable and having a steady connection.

CR: What’s it like living in a van with a dog?

K: Living with Peaches has been an incredible experience. She encourages me to get outside and we look out for one another. We spend the majority of our time outside the van and I’m not sure she knows how good she has it