Are you interested in traveling full time in a van instead of a RV, Skoolie or Tiny Home? I’m going to go over the different vans for full time travel to help you decide which van is the best fit for you. Learn the pros and cons of all the different vans for full time travel and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
Sprinter Van / Cargo Van for Full Time Travel
Anytime you see people living the van life it seems to be in a super luxurious sprinter van or cargo van. These slick vans are built to travel long distances and carry heavy loads. They also are basically a blank slate for building what ever floorpan or layout you want! These vans are one of the best options for someone who wants to live the van life.
With being such a perfect choice for full time travel, why would anyone travel in any other kind of van like an SUV? Well, these cargo vans are a great fit but they come with a hefty price tag, even if heavily used. Because these vehicle are usually purchased brand new as a fleet for delivery companies, they are hard to come by in pristine condition. A lot of cargo vans for sale could also have a lot of wear and tear already on their engines.
Sprinter vans are also a lot more accepted when traveling. In fact they are pretty much the only van that you could live in and not get judged by others. When you live in a sprinter van you seem like a cool “social media influencer” and less like a “bum living in a van”. Being more accepted you’ll actually have a much easier time getting into RV Campsites too if you travel in a cargo van. You can make the argument that you live in an RV a lot easier that someone living in an SUV or other van.
SUVs for Full Time Travel
For those who can’t quite afford the luxury of the printer vans, there’s always the good ol’ sports utility vehicles or SUVs! SUVs can be a bit tighter of a fit. But can work if you’re a solo traveler or have a very understanding travel partner. It’s a bit tough to move around your home on wheels when it’s in such a compact space. But there are ways to cope with the limited space available. I traveled with a partner in a small SUV for a long time. And when you get everything organized it becomes pretty easy to live and travel.
In an SUV you’ll have to make some modifications to be able to call it a home. First thing I did in my SUV is take out the back seats. That’s right, I took out the back row of seats from the bolts in the SUV’s floor.. It was a bold choice, but I knew I wouldn’t ever be putting those seats back into that vehicle. Then I actually build a wooden platform with a 1″ thick piece of plywood. And a 4″x4″ post that I cut into support legs to custom fit my SUV. Underneath that platform I would have plenty of storage space for my dry food goods. And daily used things like a toiletries bag, weekly outfits, and valuable items like my computer.
The overall cost of getting an SUV customized as a van for full time travel is not bad. Especially when compared to purchasing an RV, building a skoolie, or even a sprinter van. It’s also much easier to fly under the radar if you want to travel through cities. Whereas an RV is hard to be inconspicuous. The real key is getting a storage compartment that fit’s on a sports rack on your SUV. When my partner and I did this is was so much easier to know where everything was. We had 4 large plastic bins that had their own categories. One was for our kitchen items like a camping stove, pots and pans, and dishwashing materials. Another tub had all of our Winter clothes and another bin had all of our Summer clothes. And the last bin was for all of our camping gear.
I have lived full time in a couple of SUVs (Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe) over the years and it really isn’t a bad way to have an adventure of a lifetime! And I’m a big guy too, I’m 6’3″ and I lived in the Ford Escape with a partner. So, don’t let it stop you if you can’t afford a super nice sprinter van or skoolie. If there’s a will there’s a way, and trust me, it’s worth the experience!
Passenger / Mini Vans for Full Time Travel
Passenger and mini vans can be quite comfortable when traveling. I have traveled with several friends that have mini vans. I was pleasantly surprised with how much space they had to offer the first time I traveled in one. Especially when compared to living in a smaller SUV (like my Hyundai Santa Fe). In a mini van or passenger van you have plenty of room to remove some seats and put in a bed. And even then you have a lot of space. Maybe not a ton of space compared to a sprinter van. You still can’t walk around in a minivan. Well, I know I can’t, but I’m pretty tall.
Minivans and passenger vans are very inconspicuous and make stealth camping a lot easier. Many people see a mini van and immediately think “soccer mom”. If you like to stealth travel and travel through a lot of cities and populated areas then a mini van might be a good fit for you! Maybe stealth camping is not your thing. Maybe you have a bit more money to spend on something lie a sprinter van or even a short bus for skoolie living. Even if you’re better off than someone else it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to travel and be happy too.
Other “Vans” For Full Time Travel
There’s a variety of vans for full time travel you could choose from. And really the list goes on and on. People are very creative and learn how to build a home anywhere that can. Past your traditional vans, there are pop-top vans like in the picture above. You could also use a box truck style van like a u-hual. These are great for building out a home that you can even stand up in! Shoot, when I first started to travel I converted a Prius into a tin-can style camper. I lived in that Prius for over a year and traveled the whole West Coast of the United States in it traveling on WOOF Farms. I wrote an article about WOOFing you can check out here.
If you want to travel full time and a van is the path you’re going down, I hope you learned something from this article. Choosing the base for your traveling home is a big decision. But remember, things change. Like they did for me! In 2015 I started traveling in my Prius camper. Shortly after that, I lived in a couple of different SUVs.. I ended up buying a not-so-great vehicle and it didn’t last me long… Anyway, I actually ended up traveling in a vintage RV for a long time. And now, finally, I’ve been set on Skoolies! I currently have a short bus and large skoolie that I live in full time on my family farm in Oklahoma. No matter what vehicle I lived in the journey was amazing. I wish you luck on your adventure whatever vehicle dwelling you may choose!