Are you interested in joining the van life community? Connecting with like-minded individuals who share your passion for living on the road can be a great way to learn new tips and tricks, find support, and make lifelong friends.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the van life lifestyle is the strong community that emerges among van life people from various locations, backgrounds, and lifestyles.
At Explore VanX, we know how intimidating it can be to find community on the open roads. So we’ve compiled all of our best tips together so that you can learn from our years of experience as van lifers and help you start living your best van life possible!
Table of Contents
Understanding the Van Life Community
The van life community is built on a foundation of freedom, adventure, and connection with both nature and other people. It is a supportive network of individuals who have chosen to live in converted vans or other types of recreational vehicles (RVs) as their primary dwelling.
There’s no right or wrong way to live van life. You’ll find some people travel in large caravans together, some prefer to be solo most of the time, and others like a combination of both with lots of solitude in between socializing during van life gatherings. You’ll meet people who like stealth camping in cities and those who go as far into the backcountry as possible.
While each person’s van life journey is unique, shared values and common experiences bond this community together.
Tips for Finding Your Van Life Community
One of the most prominent questions asked of van lifers is, “Don’t you get lonely?” When considering this alternative lifestyle, traveling alone in a camper van can seem overwhelming, secluded, scary, and lonely.
You’ll learn quickly that van life is only as lonely as you make it – there are many ways to meet up with other like-minded people! Here are some tried-and-true ways to help you find your van life community.
One of the easiest ways to connect with the van life community is by joining online communities dedicated to this lifestyle. There are various forums, Facebook groups, and online platforms where van lifers gather to share their experiences, ask questions, and offer support.
These communities are a treasure trove of information and a great place to connect with like-minded individuals. Simply search for “van life communities” or “van life forums” online, and you’ll find plenty of options. Joining these communities will not only help you find valuable resources but also allow you to connect with fellow van lifers from all around the world.
Use Social Media and Apps
Social media platforms are a great tool for connecting with the van life community. When posting on social media, you can use hashtags related to van life to increase your visibility and attract other van lifers to your profile. Use these same hashtags when searching for people yourself.
Engaging with other van life accounts by liking, commenting, and sharing their content can also help you build connections within the community. Don’t underestimate the power of social media in finding and connecting with like-minded individuals in the van life community.
Attend a Van Life Gathering
Organized in various locations worldwide, van life gatherings are a great way to meet other vanlife community members. These events offer a chance to connect face-to-face with fellow van dwellers, share stories, and forge friendships.
A van life festival is a fantastic opportunity to meet people who share your passion for van life and to learn from their experiences.
Whether you prefer a small van gathering or large festivals and expos, you can connect with like-minded individuals, discover new destinations, learn about van life hacks, and even make lifelong friends.
Van life events offer presentations, discussion panels, various outdoor activities, live music, and interesting people to spend time with. Some individuals even host events on private property or public lands for fun.
Engage in Local Activities
While living the van life, immersing yourself in local communities can provide a deeper understanding of the places you visit and create opportunities for meaningful connections. You’ll discover that there will be other travelers partaking in the same activities, so you’ll have the opportunity to not only make local connections but may find a new travel buddy along the way!
Here are some ways to engage with local communities and make the most of your experiences:
- Explore Farmers Markets: Farmers markets are vibrant hubs of local culture and a great way to connect with the community. Supporting local businesses helps the local economy and fosters connections with the people who call the area home.
- Support Local Businesses: Local coffee shops, breweries, wineries, diners, and art studios often serve as gathering places for locals, and they offer a cozy atmosphere to relax, socialize, and savor local flavors and sometimes even enjoy live music. By supporting these businesses, you get to taste the local specialties and contribute to the community’s livelihood.
- Seek Out Shared Workspaces: If you need a break from the confines of your van and crave a productive workspace, shared workspaces are an excellent option. Many cities and towns have co-working spaces to rent a desk for a day or longer. You will have access to facilities like fast WiFi, comfortable workstations, and the opportunity to network and meet other remote workers, digital nomads, and local professionals.
- Volunteer in the Community: Giving back to the communities you visit is a rewarding way to connect with locals and make a positive impact. Look for volunteer opportunities at community centers, conservation projects, animal shelters, or local events. Volunteering allows you to contribute your skills and time and opens doors to meaningful interactions with local residents.
- Attend Cultural Events and Festivals: Each place has unique cultural traditions and celebrations. Watch for local events, festivals, or concerts happening during your stay. Participate in cultural activities, taste local cuisine, and experience traditional performances. These events often unite the community, and you’ll have a chance to engage with locals and learn about their heritage.
- Connect with Outdoor Recreation Groups: If you have specific outdoor hobbies or interests, seek out local groups that share your passion. Whether it’s mountain biking, birdwatching, paddleboarding, or stargazing, local clubs or associations are often dedicated to these activities. Joining these groups provides opportunities to meet locals who share your interests and explore the region together.
- Take on a Seasonal Job: Seasonal work can be an excellent way to sustain your journey while immersing yourself in new environments. Engaging in seasonal jobs provides financial stability and opportunities to form friendships with coworkers and locals. Examples of seasonal jobs are working in an RV park or private campgrounds, harvest or farm work, outdoor education, event staffing, and seasonal winter jobs.
- Stop in at the Visitor Center: This is a no-brainer, but we often forget about the local visitor centers. They can be a great resource for a van lifer passing through town. Visitor centers will have all the information you need about the area, including recommendations on activities, restaurants, and attractions.
Caravanning, or traveling with a group of van dwellers, can be an enriching experience. It’s not uncommon to meet new people and then decide to travel together for some time.
If you’ve never traveled in a van life caravan, here are some tips to make the most of your caravanning adventures:
- Plan Together: Coordinate with fellow van dwellers on the route, destinations, and activities. Discuss everyone’s preferences and agree on an open plan for flexibility and spontaneity.
- Communication is Key: Establish clear channels of communication among the group. This could be a group chat, a designated radio frequency, or walkie-talkies. Regularly update each other on location changes, road conditions, and any safety concerns.
- Share Responsibilities: Divide responsibilities among the group members to ensure a smooth journey. This could include navigation, meal planning, and organizing campsite setups.
- Respect Personal Space: While caravanning fosters a sense of togetherness, respecting each other’s personal space is also essential. Allow alone time and privacy when needed, understanding that everyone has different needs and preferences.
Where Will You Find Your Van Life Community?
The van life community offers a profound sense of belonging, connection, and adventure. Whether you’re seeking companionship, shared experiences, or simply a support system, the van life community is there to embrace you.
Always show kindness, respect, and gratitude towards the people you encounter. Offer assistance, share travel tips, and maintain a positive attitude. These qualities make it easier to connect, and stay connected, with others and build lasting friendships.
You can forge lasting connections on your journey by engaging with fellow van dwellers, participating in local activities, and being open to new friendships. Embrace the freedom of the road, and let the van life community become integral to your nomadic lifestyle.