Just How Lonely Is Van Life? The Truth Revealed

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For some, the thought of living the van life is appealing. However, for others, it seems like a lonely life filled with solitude. Van life can be lonely even if you have traveling companions, but it doesn’t always have to be.

Van life can be very lonely if you’re traveling alone. Before deciding on this life, you need to be sure you’re able to adapt to various challenges, such as loneliness. While van life can be lonely, it’s essential to remember that you sleep in your van but don’t have to spend all your time there.

It’s easy to commit to living the van life without thinking about the possible difficulties you might face. Read on to learn more about this life, how to combat loneliness, and how to live out of a van while still having all the best experiences it can offer.

Is Van Life Lonely?

Van life is freeing, exciting, but also lonely. How lonely you become depends on you as a person and how well you adapt to different, or sometimes uncomfortable, situations. While some people might crave the solitude of van life, others can’t deal with it.

Van life is lonely for those living and traveling alone. However, how lonely you become depends on your lifestyle and overall temperament. Finding companions, participating in activities, finding new hobbies, and taking some time to work can all help with the loneliness of van life.

The best way to ensure you don’t get too lonely while living in a van is to have a plan when it comes to everything, including living, storage, cooking, and various places to go.

I recommend checking out the book The Vanlife Companion, which you can find on Amazon.com. This book is very resourceful in giving tips on surviving on the road and making the van life so much easier.

Below, I’ll go over different ways to ensure your van life adventure isn’t too lonely. 

How To Combat Loneliness While Living the Van Life

For some, the loneliness that comes with van life can be crippling. While extroverted individuals might be affected more than introverts, everyone needs to have someone to talk to or connect with. However, living a van life can make it challenging to find those connections with others.

Despite this, there are multiple steps you can take to ensure your van life isn’t so lonely.

Have a Van Life Companion

Whether you decide to travel and live the van life with your significant other, a friend, a family member, or even your dog, having some type of companion around will help ease the loneliness you may feel.

However, you want to make sure you can comfortably live with this person or animal in your van. Depending on the size of your van or how much room you all need to live comfortably will determine whether you can live with another person.

There are various van sizes to choose from. According to the Vanlife Adventure blog, there are five different types of vans: micro, small, medium, large, and box-van, with box-van being the largest.

The more people or animals you have traveling with you, the bigger your van should be. Therefore, you’ll be able to have a companion and still live comfortably in a van.

More info: 6 Best Dogs Breeds for Van Life

Don’t Stay in Your Van 24/7

Just because you’re living out of your van doesn’t mean you always have to be in your van. One of the best things about van life is the freedom to travel and see the world. However, some people get caught up in their everyday life and forget to enjoy these things.

Planning out and participating in various activities to enjoy the natural scenery and even meeting others living the same lifestyle is a great way to get more involved in the community and stave off boredom.

These activities can include hiking, swimming, surfing, skiing, or other outdoorsy activities. Getting out and meeting van life communities will not only help with the loneliness of van life, but you’ll also be able to learn more about living the van life from others.

Pick Up Some New Hobbies

Having hobbies or other things to keep you busy can help with loneliness. While technically you’ll still be alone, putting your mind to other activities can help. Van life gives you ample opportunities to pick up on new hobbies or learn new skills, such as playing an instrument, cooking, or even botany. 

Lifehack offers many various hobbies that are interesting, as well as some different ways to get into each hobby. Some of the hobbies listed include photography, cycling, knitting, and learning a new language. While living on the road, there are even many opportunities to take classes in the hobbies that you choose.

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Find a Remote Job, Seasonal Job, or Freelance Work

Saving up money before participating in van life is an excellent idea and definitely recommended. However, having something to do to make extra money isn’t a bad idea. Not only will this keep your mind off the loneliness (at least somewhat), but it’ll allow you to have some type of contact with others, depending on the kind of work.

You can use any hobbies or skills you currently have to make money on freelance websites. You can check out websites such as Fiverr or Upwork to get started building your portfolio and applying for jobs.

More info:
Van life how to make money on the road - 40+ ideas

If freelance work isn’t for you, you can find many remote jobs to fit your personal needs. As long as you have solid access to wifi while living the van life and a working computer, remote jobs are a great option.

Seasonal jobs are another way to help with loneliness. Working at various national parks, for example, is an excellent way to meet new people while enjoying your time living the van life. You can check out different seasonal jobs at national parks across the United States here.

More info: Best Seasonal Jobs for Van Lifers

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Is Van Life for Me?

When questioning the loneliness of van life, it’s natural to wonder if living this way is something you could do. Some people believe the van life is for them, or they’re just looking for an adventure without realizing the downsides.

Van life isn’t for everyone. To know if van life is for you, you need to figure out if you’re capable of living alone. People who live the van life have to be flexible, innovative, and adaptive. Without these qualities, van lifers may become lonely and depressed while living on the road.

Whether or not van life is for you ultimately depends on the type of person you are. If you know that you enjoy time alone, adventure, and you don’t have to rely on others too much, van life is worth giving a try.

However, if being alone for too long causes too much distress, maybe reconsider.

More info: How to Live on the Road for a Year: The Ultimate Guide; 

How Do I Practice for Van Life?

If you want to try van life just to see if you can, there are many ways to prepare or practice to determine just how long you’d be able to stand living on your own on the road. 

To practice for van life, consider taking short trips alone in your van. Shorter trips will give you more of an idea of how living in a van works, the amount of time you’ll be spending alone, and what to pack (and not pack). 

Practice will be different for everyone. Whether that means having a destination in mind that’s further away or trying out the van life just a few miles from your home, living out of a van is no easy feat. So, being prepared is the most crucial aspect of living on the road.

Why Is Living in a Van Bad?

With van life, there are some downsides. While some of these may be bad for some and a mild inconvenience for others, it’s good to know what exactly you’ll be getting into when participating in van life.

Living in a van can be bad for many reasons. Without the proper preparation and plan, there are many obstacles you can run into that can cause discomfort. For example, hygiene, harsh weather, the sleep situation, and the lack of safety can make living the van life bad.

Along with the loneliness that comes with living a solo van life, there are many other problems van lifers can run into. Below, I’ll go over the difficulties many van lifers face and how to help alleviate these difficulties as best as possible.


Hygiene is one of the most challenging aspects of living the van life. While you can convert your van into a nice living space to eat and sleep in, installing a bathroom isn’t something people usually do or even have room for.

Therefore, having pit stop areas where you can take a shower is an excellent idea. There are public showers all over the United States, some of which are free. You can find a public shower directory here to see where the public showers are across the states.

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Another option for hygiene is to have a portable shower, such as the Advanced Elements – Summer Solar Shower from Amazon.com. This is excellent for van lifers because it’s portable, and you don’t need any electricity to use it, just the sun. While this isn’t the most ideal for hygiene, it can help in-between times when you can’t get to a public shower

Therefore, the bad aspect of hygiene when it comes to van life can become a little less bad.

More info:
Showering on the road - full guide
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Harsh weather (depending on where you’re traveling) can really hinder your van life experience if you’re not adequately prepared. If you’re in a cold area with only blankets to keep you warm, the experience in the van can quickly turn uncomfortable and overall bad.

I recommend buying supplies to keep in your van that’ll help stave off extremely cold or hot weather. Some of these may include insulation for windows, portable heaters or fans, and even the proper clothing for various temperatures. 

Being prepared beforehand can make this “bad” aspect of van life a little more bearable.


After a while of living in a van full time, the sleeping situation will begin to become more comfortable. However, the first few weeks (or even months) can be a little uncomfortable, especially if you’re used to sleeping in a big cozy bed. 

The sleep situation can be considered a bad aspect of van life for people who travel with others.

While you’ll be less lonely traveling with companions, the space others take up in a van can make sleeping more difficult than usual. The cramped van is difficult, but staying in different surroundings will often take some getting used to.


While the safety aspect of living in a van isn’t the most concerning or “bad” part of van life for many, it’s still cause for concern for many people. As you’re not living in a traditional home with a security system, living in a van can feel a little less safe.

However, there are many ways to ensure your van is adequately protected while living on the road. One of these protections is knowing where to park. While it isn’t illegal to live out of a van, there are places that you aren’t supposed to park.

The best way to know whether you can park in a particular area is to look for free overnight parking. Looking for rest areas is the best way to go. However, businesses that are open 24/7, hotels or motels, or even national parks or forests are usually available for parking.

Final Thoughts

While van life can be lonely for many people, there are numerous ways to combat this loneliness and make the most out of van life. Choosing to travel with a companion, participating in activities, finding new hobbies, or picking up jobs are all ways to help with solitude.

Knowing who you are and whether you can live alone comfortably in a van is essential. Therefore, understanding all the “bad” aspects of van life, such as lack of hygiene, lousy weather, cramped sleep, and less safety, should all be considered.

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