By Hutch

In this post we look at ten unwritten rules that you should follow when living the van life. These VanLife Commandments will not just improve vanlife for you and your friends, but for everyone as a whole.

Regardless of whether you choose to rock a camper, caravan or specially built motorhome, these rules should still apply and you should keep them front of mind.

We’ve chosen these rules based on our own experiences and attitude towards living on the road. If you have something you’d like share too, please do! I’m sure we could quite easily have a hundred VanLife Commandments, but for now we’ve picked just ten.

A quick note: This post is meant as some light-hearted fun, please don’t get angry with us or claim we’ve missed something out. Though, as the old adage goes, a lot of truth is said in jest.

Got anything to add? Let us know in the comments below!

The 10 VanLife Commandments for VanLifers to Live By

1. Cleanliness Is Vanliness

You might think it’s easy or that you’re good at staying clean & organised. Well you’re right it isn’t hard. But you may find it more challenging when your home is a van.

At home, it’s easy to throw your clothes on the bed. Or leave the dishes until tomorrow. But in a van, these things can quickly spiral out of control.

Whether you’re riding solo or buddying up, cleanliness is Vanliness. Go on, repeat that.

Just because your home is on wheels, it doesn’t mean you can escape your chores. Your Camper is your Casa. Treat it with the respect it deserves. Letting your van become a dumping ground is a sure fire way to start hating on the van life.

2. Respect Local Laws

Don’t you just hate it when you hear of tourists flaunting local customs? I spent years living in northern Thailand and every week there’d be talk in local news of half-dressed tourists walking into Buddhist temples.

It’s disrespectful to locals and embarrassing for your fellow countryman.

The world is full of different customs and traditions. If you find yourself undermining these, you could also find yourself breaking the law.

When you’re travelling, you’re an ambassador for your country. Just because it’s acceptable in your lands doesn’t mean it’s acceptable over a border.

The last thing you want to do is get banged up abroad, especially when you have a lovely van to dwell in! Stay out of trouble and adhere to the rules. Whether it’s the rules of the road or the rules of the land.

3. Always Keep The Gas Bottle Secure

Depending on your geo, for a motorhome to be legally qualified as a “motorhome”, it may need to pass stringent gas safety checks.

Many of us van dwelling adventurers, though, are stealthily camped out in simple van conversions. But beware! Neglecting the importance of safely storing your cooking-gas can have serious consequences.

To keep yourself safe on the road when handling gas cylinders, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Understand exactly how to use and operate the gas cylinder you choose
  2. Ensure all your gas-connected equipment is in good condition and working properly
  3. Beware of any potential hazards, such as heaters or curtains. Vans are very confined!
  4. Exercise extreme caution when handling gas cylinders
  5. Never tamper with a gas cylinder or gas connected device
  6. If you are unsure on anything, ask your gas supplier for help

4. Use A Carbon Monoxide Detector

Dozens of van dwellers and RV hobbyists die from CO poisoning every year.

Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer. Tasteless, odourless and down right sneaky.

Don’t let its lack of presence fool you. This stuff KILLS. You wouldn’t live in a home without a fire alarm. So why would you live in a van without a carbon monoxide detector?

Staying safe on the road is at the forefront of a van lifer’s mind. You can be the safest driver in the world. You can be sensible with security. But if carbon monoxide leaks into your van, your adventures are over.

You can pick up carbon monoxide detectors online for less than 20 bucks. Please, please, please invest in one. It only needs to work once and its saved your life.

5. Do Not Litter Or Pollute

C’mon? You wanna be that guy? That guy that left his pitch a mess? That guy that dumped his waste tank at the side of the road? That guy that doesn’t care?

We hit the road is to discover the beauty of the world, so we gotta help maintain it.

A chewing gum wrapper out of the pocket here. A cigarette butt out of the window there. It seems small, but it all adds up.

With the VanLife comes responsibility. You’re part of a community who must play their part in maintaining the beauty of the world for others to enjoy too.

And seriously.. nobody wants to be that guy.

6. Shower At Any Given Chance

If you’ve got a shower in your camper you can go ahead and skip this one. The rest of us will just sit here being jealous of you.

Keeping squeaky clean whilst living in a van is not always easy.

We might not all need to feel soapy fresh all of the time. Heck! Some people even enjoy their own stink. Wherever you are on the spectrum we can all agree you need to shower when you get the chance.

You just never know when the next source of hot water is gonna come around.

That national park rest stop you passed 5 miles back may well be last for a long while. Not only is cleanliness generally hygienic, but it can also increase your happiness on the road. Especially if you’re buddying up!

Rest assured that your compadre did not sign up for overbearing wafts of B.O….

7. Travel As Light As Possible

I hate to break this to you, but the lighter you travel the more money you’ll save. A heavier van will use more fuel, and fuel ain’t cheap!

But aside from that, didn’t we choose the VanLife to escape the rat race and leave all our bullsh**t behind?

Living minimally has been lifesaving for me. It’s taken me from materialistic hoarder to minimalist traveller. I have more money, fewer things to worry about and I travel more than I ever dreamed of.

The fewer things you have to tie you down, the quicker you can pack up and go.

I frequently see pictures of pimped out vans with flip down TVs, full-on kitchens and every home comfort imaginable. I know there is a van for everyone, but for me this is against my ideal of van life.

And who needs an complex entertainment system anyway when a laptop has it all?

8. Stock Up When You Can

Just like when you had to shower at any given opportunity, you also gotta replenish your stocks whenever you can. Especially before long trips into the country.

On one journey I was unable to refill my beer supplies for 6 days. Can you imagine the struggle?!

But seriously, imagine being stuck in the back of beyond with not even a tin of beans to your name. Unless you’re Bear Grylls, you’re gonna struggle to feed yourself. And once the hunger sets in, so does the hangriness.

Whether it’s food or water, keep stocks plentiful at all times. Sometimes you may have to learn the hard way to realise how important it is.

But you wanna avoid that situation as much as possible. Prevention is always better than cure, and the prevention here is to simply keep well stocked.

9. Plan Ahead

As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. Do you know the nearest campsites? Do you know the nearest gas station? What are the local attractions? Does your destination have strict camping laws? With a rock solid plan you can maximise your time and have the best adventure possible. Of course we all love to wing-it now and again, but the more effort you put into planning the more likely you are to have a great time on the road.

There’s a bunch of useful blogs, forums and websites, many of which we link to here on VanTheory. Utilise every single one of them. After all, that’s what we’re here for.

To maximise your journey and ensure you have a killer time on the road.

10. Enjoy Every Minute

Times will get tough and certain things are going to frustrate the life out of you. But you’ve gotta remember that main reason you hit the road is to HAVE FUN.

This lifestyle puts you into one of the greatest minorities in the world. A group of people united by their love of four wheels and the open road. A collective of folk who thought “f*** it, I wanna live my life to the full!”

The nights may get cold and cash supplies may get low but keep in mind the reason you’re here. How many people back home can open the door to a mountain or beach? Not many, that’s for sure.

The van life is the good life. Nobody is saying it’s easy street but what I can assure you is that it’s the best decision you’ll ever make. Period.

So there you go: the VanTheory 10 VanLife Commandments.

We hope you enjoyed the list and that you, our fellow Vanlifers agree. If there is anything you think you want add, leave us a comment below.

Ultimately the key to being a van lifer is to have fun, enjoy your time on the road and don’t do anything that’s just not cool. If you live by these commandments, you’re gonna have an awesome time!

Makers Action Mobil describe the Global XRS 7200 as “motorhome for global cruises” and it’s easy to see why. Despite it’s intimidating appearance, it’s clearly built for living comfort.
YOU may also like


Join thousands of camper van enthusiasts who subscribe to our weekly email newsletter. It’s free!