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How to Plan Your Dream Vanlife Adventure

Are you ready to hit the open roads of Canada or beyond and experience the freedom of vanlife? Planning your dream vanlife adventure can be an exciting and fulfilling process. This guide will help you prepare for the journey, ensuring you have everything you need for a smooth and enjoyable trip. From choosing the right van to mapping out your route, we've got you covered.

Choosing the Right Van

The first step in planning your dream vanlife adventure is selecting the right van. This decision will impact your comfort, mobility, and overall experience on the road. Here are some key factors to consider:

Size and Layout

Think about how much space you need. If you're traveling solo or as a couple, a smaller van might be sufficient. For families or those planning longer trips, a larger van with more storage and living space may be necessary. Consider the layout as well; some vans come with pre-designed interiors, while others can be customized to fit your needs.


Your budget will play a significant role in determining the type of van you can afford. New vans with all the bells and whistles can be quite expensive, while used vans offer a more affordable option—factor in the cost of any modifications or repairs you might need to make.

Reliability and Maintenance

Choose a reliable van with a good track record for maintenance. Research different models and read reviews from fellow Canadian vanlifers to inform your choice. It's also a good idea to have a trusted mechanic inspect any used van before purchasing. This step is fundamental in ensuring that your van is ready for the diverse Canadian climates and terrains.

Customizing Your Van

Once you've selected the perfect van, the next step is to customize it to suit your needs. This process can be as simple or as complex as you like. Here are some customization tips:

Essential Features

At a minimum, your van should include a comfortable sleeping area, storage for clothes and supplies, and a basic kitchen setup. Consider adding features like a portable toilet, shower, or solar panels for added convenience and sustainability.

Comfort and Style

Make your van feel like home by adding personal touches. Comfortable bedding, curtains for privacy, and a cozy seating area can make a big difference. Think about your daily routine and customize your van to make life on the road as comfortable as possible.

Safety and Security

Ensure your van is equipped with essential safety features like fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and smoke detectors. Secure your belongings with locks and consider installing a security system for added peace of mind.

Planning Your Route

With your van ready to go, it's time to plan your Canadian route. This is where the excitement really begins as you map out your dream vanlife adventure.

Destination Goals

Consider what you hope to explore and experience during your travels. Are you drawn to the pristine beauty of national parks, the tranquility of beaches, or the richness of cultural landmarks? Compile a list of must-visit spots such as Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, the rugged coastlines of Nova Scotia, Ontario's stunning Bruce Peninsula, or the historic streets of Old Québec. Plan your route to encompass these treasures, ensuring a journey that’s as rewarding as it is memorable.

Flexible Itinerary

While it's good to have a general plan, one of the joys of vanlife is the ability to be flexible. Leave room in your schedule for spontaneous detours and extended stays in places you love.

Research and Resources

Use resources like travel blogs, vanlife communities, and apps to find the best routes and campsites. Websites like Campendium and iOverlander offer valuable information on free and paid camping spots, amenities, and user reviews.

Packing Essentials

Packing for a vanlife adventure is different from a typical vacation. You'll need to bring everything you need for daily living, plus some extras for comfort and entertainment. Here's a checklist to get you started:

  1. Daily Necessities

  • Clothing for various weather conditions

  • Toiletries and personal hygiene items

  • Non-perishable food and cooking supplies

  • Water storage and purification systems

  • Bedding and sleep accessories

  1. Tools and Equipment

  • Portable stove and kitchenware

  • Cooler or mini-fridge

  • Portable power sources (solar panels, batteries)

  • Basic tools for van maintenance and repairs

  • Outdoor gear (chairs, table, awning)

  1. Entertainment and Connectivity

  • Books, games, and hobbies

  • Electronics (laptop, camera, chargers)

  • Internet hotspot or mobile Wi-Fi

  • Maps and travel guides

Store Your Extra Items

After packing everything you need for your dream vanlife adventure, you might want to put the extra belongings away. When going on a long-term trip, it’s important to consider the logistics of moving your personal belongings into storage or arranging for someone to help with larger items you won’t be taking on the road. If you're based in Ontario, you might want to look into professional moving services to make this process easier.

For those in the Sudbury area, Harris Movers Sudbury ON, is a great solution. They are a respectable local moving company with almost 80 years of experience. They offer comprehensive moving and storage solutions and will ensure your items are safely stored or relocated, giving you peace of mind before your vanlife journey.

Staying Healthy and Safe

Life on the road comes with its own set of challenges, so it's important to prioritize your health and safety. Here are some tips to keep you well during your dream vanlife adventure:

  1. Health and Hygiene

  • Maintain a regular hygiene routine, even when facilities are limited.

  • Stay active with outdoor exercises like hiking or biking.

  • Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.

  1. Safety Tips

  • Always let someone know your travel plans and check in regularly.

  • Park in safe, well-lit areas, especially when boondocking.

  • Be aware of local wildlife and take necessary precautions.

Community and Connection

One of the best parts of vanlife is the community you'll meet along the way. Connecting with other vanlifers can provide support, inspiration, and lifelong friendships. Online forums, social media groups, and vanlife events are great places to meet like-minded travelers. Sharing experiences and tips can enhance your own adventure.


Planning your vanlife adventure takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. From choosing the right van and customizing it to planning your route and staying safe on the road, each step brings you closer to the ultimate freedom of life on the open road. Embrace the journey, be flexible, and most importantly, enjoy every moment of your dream vanlife adventure.

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