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The Perks of Solo Van Travel


Have you been considering embarking on a solo van adventure? While this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, it does offer some amazing perks. Solo van lifers control their itineraries completely, build confidence and trust in themselves, and enjoy life-changing experiences and connections–just to name a few benefits. 

In this post, we’re exploring the many draws of traveling alone in a camper van. We’re also sharing words of wisdom from our interviews with solo van lifers. If you’re considering following in their footsteps, you’re in the right place. Read on for the details.

Do What You Want, When You Want

Van life in general is ideal for people who don’t like being tied down because you can decide on destinations as you go. If you fall in love with a location, stay longer. Not feeling it? Hit the road in your home on wheels to find something better. Solo van travel is even better for spontaneous wayfarers because you’ll never have to compromise on plans with a travel partner. If you get a sudden craving for Vitamin Sea, beeline to the beach. In the mood to relax? Stay put and enjoy a personal movie marathon. Not needing to settle on plans with another person further streamlines the freedom already afforded by van life.

Enjoy Your Living Space

Speaking of streamlined, you’ll have fewer possessions and more living space traveling solo than with a friend or partner. Create a calm haven to retire to after a busy day exploring, and keep it exactly how you like it. Stretch out on your queen-sized bed, do yoga in the van on rainy days, and enjoy a spacious work-from-van setup. These simple pleasures can be elusive when sharing the space with someone else. Living alone also makes it easier to keep your van interior clean and clutter-free. 

Solo Doesn’t Need to Mean Alone

One of the most intimidating factors to people considering solo travel is the prospect of loneliness. True–you will spend a good deal of time alone, and might sometimes feel lonely. However, embarking on a solo adventure doesn’t have to mean isolation from others. In fact, being alone can make you more receptive to striking up conversations with new people and forming strong connections, while couples traveling together can easily get too comfortable only socializing with each other. Pets provide the best of both worlds by keeping you company while allowing you to enjoy all of the perks on this list. Or follow in the footsteps of inspiring solo van lifer Jasmine W. who says, “I’m pretty independent, so traveling solo is not a big deal for me. I sometimes have guest co-pilots along for my adventures, which makes it more fun. I would like to get more involved with some caravan trips because I like the camaraderie.”

Find Yourself

If the siren song of the open road is calling you, it may be partly because you’re looking to find yourself. Solo travel helps you know yourself better by getting comfortable spending time alone, figuring out who you are and what you like, and building trust in your intuition by making plenty of decisions. These qualities make solo travel attractive to people in transition phases of life such as recent college graduates, empty nesters, divorcees, and retirees. Whether you fall into one of these categories or not, you can certainly benefit from the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with yourself.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Exploring new landscapes, trying out new hobbies, and meeting new people are all exercises in stretching your comfort zone. They are also regular parts of a solo van lifestyle. We couldn’t have summarized the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone better than solo van adventurer YoungWa: “what people don’t know (but quickly find out when they start van life) is that they’re much more capable, flexible, strong, and intelligent than they think they are; they stop underestimating themselves and start truly learning about themselves and what they’re capable of (alongside their limitations) in the most profound ways. All of which equates to a personal journey hand-sketched by trials and tribulations, wonderful memories, fantastic times, and friendships and connections that last a lifetime.”

Slow Down Time

Besides building confidence, having new experiences makes time seem to slow down. You may have noticed this phenomenon before when traveling, where one day feels two or even three times longer than a routine day at home. This is thanks to something called the oddball effect–essentially, our brains devote more resources to processing unfamiliar stimuli, making those new experiences feel longer. We are also typically more aware of our surroundings when alone than with someone else, contributing to a pleasant sense of being in the present moment. 

Improve Focus on Projects and Work

Have you been wanting to write a book, start a photography project, or open a small business? You can do so without distractions in your convenient office on wheels. The flexibility of van life facilitates the optimal work-life balance, whether that means sticking to a weekly schedule or adapting your workflow for different situations. You can work remotely all afternoon and then enjoy a show-stopping sunset from your campsite or explore a national park by day and work on your goals when it gets dark. The choice is yours! Solo van life’s abundance of time alone is conducive to improved focus. While it’s possible for two people to work in a van at the same time (just ask the digital nomads interviewed here), it is easier for one person to have the space to themselves.

Embrace Peaceful Solitude 

If you’re a nature lover, you probably know that special feeling of having a lovely landscape all to yourself. The German language has a word for that: waldeinsamkeit, or the sense of solitude and connection to nature one experiences when alone in the forest. Solo van life is a parade of one waldeinsamkeit-esque moment after another. Looking for more peaceful, centered experiences in 2023? This lifestyle could be for you.

The Takeaway

One of the neatest tricks of solo van life is that it works well for many types of people. Introverts enjoy the cozy time in the van focusing on their hobbies, long meditative drives, and ability to be in control of their plans. Extroverts thrive with the constant opportunities to meet new people and join spontaneous adventures along the way. The most sustainable solo vanning lifestyle finds the perfect balance between independence, solitude, and making connections. 

Ready to take the next step? Visit RecVan to browse our wide selection of new and used camper vans from the best brands in the business. Looking for more inspiration? Read our interview with Merrisa Petersen, who travels full-time with her dog and a “yes person” attitude.