Van Life VS. RV Life (9 Pros and Cons to Vanlife)

We’ve officially tried vanlife!  That’s right!  We rented a van.  We’re going to share a little big about renting an RV, Van Life Pros, #Vanlife Challenges, and some VanLife tips.  Enjoy!

Why we Rented an RV?

We’ve been trying to rent an RV for some time.  After owning 2 RV’s and knowing what we know now, we strongly believe in “Try before you buy.”  You see, looking back it was incredibly risky of us to sell everything and RV full time- having never RV’d before!  We wouldn’t recommend it!

If we haven’t already met: We’re John & Mercedes, the RV Odd Couple. We sold our house & most of our possessions to RV pursuing freedom, independence, and adventure because life is too short!  The following article is our personal experience.  We are not safety professionals.  There are affiliate links in this post. This means if you purchase and use our links, it will not cost you a penny more, but we will earn a small commission.

So what would we recommend?  We recommend renting an RV before jumping into full time RVing.  This offers you an opportunity to try different RV’s, floor plans, and really determine your preferences.  Yes, it can be a little pricy, but it’s a lot less than buying the wrong RV!

But we couldn’t tell you to rent an RV if we hadn’t tried it out ourselves. So if you’re going to rent an RV, make sure you choose a reputable company like RV Share to rent from!  They have tons of inventory.  You can check out their RV’s here.

Why did you choose to Rent a Van???

Originally we figured we’d rent a Class A, or Class C RV.  But after thinking about it, we decided to try something really different.  We also knew that we wanted to be nimble and travel to different beaches.

Luckily for us RV Share has a ton of of RV’s to choose from.  We were able to check out all different types of RV’s and read tons of reviews from other RV renters. It gave us a chance to really think it through and pick the right RV to rent.  You can check out RVShare here.

If we rented a long RV, we would have to make sure every place we visited had special RV Parking.  Without a tow vehicle, we would have been stuck in one location.  So we decided to get out of our comfort zone and Rent a Van with kids & a dog.  Because what could go wrong right?  🙂

Van Life
Van Life

Van-Life Cons (The downside of #Vanlife)

1. You Hear Everything with Vanlife

When we are towing our 5th wheel, we don’t hear all the clinking and clanking in the RV.  With Van Life, you hear everything.  John likes hearing everything shake, but I found it unsettling.

2. Driving Blind

It was weird to be driving and not be able to look at the rearview mirror.  Many of the windows were also covered, lessening visibility.

3. Only The Bare Necessities

If you choose vanlife, there is no room for anything you don’t use daily.  Every item on the van has to have intentionality and utility.  We thought we had downsized a lot when we moved into a 40 foot 5th wheel. But RVing in a 5th wheel allows you to bring so much more with you than living in a Van!  You can check out a tour of our 5th Wheel here.

4. Van Life & Laundromats

We have a washer/dryer 2 in one in our Sandpiper 5th wheel.  Well, there’s no room for then in a Van!  One of the big things we would have to adjust to in Van life- using a Laundromat!

5.  Drives like a Boat

We immediately noticed that driving the Van felt like driving a boat in the wind.  We were surprised because you would think a huge 5th wheel would sway more in the wind than a Van.  No, for reasons we’re not sure of, the Vans swayed more in the wind- giving us a sense of riding a boat! We think it’s due to being taller and top heavy.

6. Making the Bed in a Van

If you’ve ever tried to make a bed in an RV, you know that it’s not easy!  Well, making the bed in a Van is even harder!  And you have to keep things clean in the van to keep your bearings… So just be warned… making the bed in a van is just as tricky if not more so than making a bed in an RV.

7. Not Necessarily Cheaper

While every situation varies, we were surprised at how expensive Vanlife can be!  We assumed that the van would cost less because it’s half the size of our fifth wheel.  Well, it cost more- way more to buy a van vs. an RV.

Even through the van is half the size of our RV, it’s got just as much if not more technology.  Between the Solar, Pure 3 system, and so much more, be forewarned that Vanlife isn’t cheap life.

8. Judgement

We noticed that we weren’t treated the same way we usually are in the Van vs. the RV.  Perhaps people assume that Van Lifers are broke?  We don’t know for sure but we noticed a big difference.  Little do they know that the van costs twice as much as their big RV’s!

9. Going Bonkers

After a few days in such a small space, we definitely noticed that the tight quarters was driving us a little crazy!  We were constantly stepping over one another.  Van life with Kids and a dog, (in our opinion) is not ideal long term!

Van Life Pros (Why we fell in LOVE with Vanlife!)

1.  #Vanlife = Nimbleness

With the van we quickly realized that we can go anywhere!  No camping spot is too small.  In fact, all we need is a standard car parking spot!  Plus, it was awesome not having to worry about height restrictions like we do with the 5th wheel!

2. The Wife Can Drive the Van

Ok, not trying to sound controversial here.  But here is is, I don’t know how to tow our 5th wheel.  Ideally both John & I should know how to drive it in case anything happens to him.  But frankly it scares me.  So I haven’t driven a vehicle in over a year.

So when we rented the van, I loved being able to drive and give John a break! John was a horrible “back seat driver!”

Van Life
Van Life

3. Refreshing Simplicity

There was something so refreshing about the simplicity   Knowing where everything is and only being able to focus on 1 thing at a time was great!  It really puts things in perspective as far as needs vs. wants.  Because if you don’t use it every day, is it really necessary?

4. Groceries & Van Life

Consider what life would be like if you could go to the grocery store and put the groceries away right there in the parking lot?  What a revolutionary concept!  The ease and convenience of grocery shopping in vanlife made me so happy!

Van Life
Van Life

5. Heating & Cooling the Van

Its way easier to keep small space warm or cool.  And it’s way easier to keep a Van at a comfortable temperature than keeping a massive fifth wheel warm or cool.  The windows in the Van were great and we could literally feel the ocean breeze and hear the waves.

6. Less Stressful Driving

Compared to towing a 41 foot Forest River Sandpiper, driving a van is a walk in the park!  Hours of pulling an RV create travel fatigue.  Hours of driving a van is much like hours of driving a car!

7. Cheaper Tolls $$$

Every time we’re pulling our large RV and we drive through a toll, we brace for the bill.  We count the wheels, axels, and just know that it’s going to cost 2X to 5X as much when towing our RV.  So when we drove past tolls in our Van and we weren’t charged any extra, we felt amazing!

8. Exploring Deeper

This is our Favorite Pro of VANLIFE!  Whether you want to explore a big city or explore a remote area, Van Life is a great way to really enjoy what that location has to offer.  It allows you to stop on a dime and go to any restaurant, shop, beach, or trail.  Because the reality is that we never would have hit so many state parks in the 5th wheel

9. Easier Set Up & Tear Down

Compared to our Sandpiper RV, preparing for travel, van life is way easier to set up & tear down.  Preparing for travel day is so much work, we actually created 2 videos on our process.  One video and article is about preparing the outside of the 5th wheel for travel, and the other is all about preparing the inside of our RV for travel day.  With Vanlife, preparing for travel is a breeze!

Van Life
Van Life

Vanlife Tips

If you’re considering Van life, consider these tips!

1. Utilize The Outdoor Space

The van will get cramped.  So when the weather is nice, take advantage of the outdoor space!  This will help for those times when the weather is not pleasant!

2.  Perspective

Van life made us realize how spoiled we are living in a 5th wheel. This was a massive reality check about our needs vs. wants.  Because if you don’t use it every day, is it really necessary?

3.  Keep Clutter Down

Whether you’re going to vanlife or RV full time, clutter is a major problem.  It will impact your mood and bring about depression.  So keep the clutter down.  Besides, its’ a lot easier to keep a smaller space clean.

4. Consider Part Time

You don’t have to Van life full time.  Consider trying van life part time for shorter, but greater adventures.  You’ll be able to be more spontaneous, you can go anywhere you want, and most importantly, the discomfort isn’t permanent!

So we’re officially in the market for a Van.  A van would allow us to make our 5th wheel our primary home, and we could go on shorter but better adventures for a few days at a time.  If you have a good recommendation… let us know!

Why are we sharing about Van Life?

When we decided to take this huge leap of faith and RV full-time with our family, so many people offered us help. We’d like to pay it forward. We’ve created a download of our “Top 10 RV Must Haves.” This download has links to ease purchase. You’ll Join our “Odd Squad” and be the first to know about our new adventures, products, and RV living hacks!

Thanks for Joining our Odd Squad,

John, Mercedes, Sage & Skippy