Meeting Other Vanlifers
Whether you explore a city with a new acquaintance for a single day or meet a friend for life, the connections you make on the road deeply enrich your van life adventures. However, forming and maintaining friendships can be tricky when you’re constantly on the move. So how can you meet other travelers and prevent loneliness when living a nomadic lifestyle?
There are plenty of ways to connect with like-minded people in your travels. From the best apps and social media groups to how to run into other van dwellers in real life, we’re sharing our advice for making connections on the road. Read on for eight tips to get started building your van life community!
Tips on meeting other vanlifers
1. FESTIVAL FRIENDSHIPS
Hands-down, one of the most fun ways to be introduced to the vibrant community of van dwellers is to attend a festival designed specifically for nomadic travelers. Van camp, take yoga classes and van maintenance workshops, eat good food, listen to live music, and, most importantly, meet fellow van lifers. Some of the most popular festivals amongst van dwellers are Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Arizona, Open Roads in Idaho, and Descend on Bend in Oregon.
Cover Photo and Above Photo: @storytelleroverland
2. LEARN AND NETWORK
Similarly, you can find some of the largest concentrations of van dwellers at expos held by different van companies. We recommend Overland Expos and Adventure Van Expos—which are held at different locations across the country—to scope out new gear, take educational classes, and of course, meet and network with other van lifers. Aside from the joy of being surrounded by van lovers for the weekend, the connections you make can translate beyond the events themselves as you plan to meet up with your new crew in other places.
3. FACEBOOK GROUPS
Facebook offers a wide selection of groups to talk to like-minded people digitally. Try searching “Van Life Groups” for a plethora of online communities with different focuses like “Solo Female VanLife,” “Van Life for Beginners,” and “Van Life Cooking,” where people can ask and answer questions, share stories, and plan to meet in person. There are also location-specific and brand-specific groups. With such a variety of online van life communities, you’ll be sure to find your people.
4. FOR THE ‘GRAM
While Instagram doesn’t have groups like Facebook, the van life community is alive and well on the app. Find other van dwellers to follow with hashtags like #vanlife, #vanlifediaries, #homeonwheels, and #homeiswhereyouparkit. If you have a van-focused Instagram account, other van lifers are more likely to find and follow you as well as be interested in meeting up. A quick DM can create a bond. Or, post about the places you plan to visit to find connections in advance. There are also IG accounts devoted to specific communities, such as Black Nomads Meet (@blacknomadsmeet).
5. THE APP THAT DOES IT ALL
In addition to helping you find campsites and other resources with user-generated reviews and helpful maps, The VanLife App differentiates itself from other campsite review services by putting an extra focus on human connection. The app boasts an extensive list of van life events and you can even host your own event. But our favorite feature of the app by far is that you can opt to make your approximate location viewable to link up with other people in the area.
6. MEETING OTHER VANLIFERS THE OLD FASHIONED WAY
Technology has made it much easier to find and talk to other van dwellers. However, you can also meet people naturally in your daily life. Campsites are a good place to find other travelers, but be advised—all campgrounds are not created equal for socializing. Many campsites attract primarily families camping in tents. While they can certainly be great people to talk to, you’ll have more luck meeting fellow van lifers on BLM and Forest Service Land (especially at campsites that have plenty of room for vans). RV resorts and KOAs with shared amenities like swimming pools, rec centers, and games can also make it easier to get a friendly conversation flowing.
7. FARMERS MARKETS
Besides stocking up on local groceries and grabbing a delicious breakfast, farmers markets are an ideal place to get a social fix. Whether chatting with vendors or fellow market patrons, you can get a feel for the local culture and ask for recommendations of non-touristy things to do in the area. If you’re able to form a strong enough connection, you can even invite them to join you in the activity. This tip isn’t strictly for meeting other van dwellers, but markets are popular for travelers passing through so you just might meet another campervan nomad.
8. EVENTFUL DAYS AHEAD
Similarly, you can explore your surroundings and meet people at local events. REI locations across the country offer events and classes which attract outdoorsy types. Or, check out Airbnb Experiences ranging from art workshops to surfing classes as a fun way to meet other people passing through. Whether fellow van dwellers or traditional vacationers, travelers can be some of the easiest individuals to socialize with because they often share an open mindset towards new experiences and people.
Remember to choose a public location to meet up with any potential new friends for a comfortable and safe social experience. Let go of any reservations and put yourself out there fully. One of the best parts of the van life movement is its strong sense of community, and you won’t forget the people you meet on your travels anytime soon.
What are some ways you meet fellow van dwellers? Did we miss anything on our list? Let us know in the comments! Then follow @myrecvan and use the #recvan and #myrecvan hashtags to join our digital community.