Van Camping for Beginners: What You Need to Know to Get in on This Trend

If the idea of sleeping in a tent doesn’t appeal to you, but traditional campers are out-of-reach financially, perhaps it’s time to try van camping.


If the idea of sleeping in a tent doesn’t appeal to you, but traditional campers are out-of-reach financially, perhaps it’s time to try van camping.

Van camping is just what it sounds like—camping in a van. While some camper vans are decked out with small kitchens, some use stripped out vans with an air mattress in the back. Some camper vans can sleep up to five people!

If this sounds like fun, here are some things you should know before you hit the road.

Here are 16 camping hacks you’ll wish you knew earlier.

1. You’ll always have somewhere to stay. From state and national parks to privately owned campgrounds, there are always spots to park for the night. Escape Campervans, a company that specializes in making camping vans and helping campers navigate this type of camping, offers tips on finding safe places to stay for free.

These 15 brilliant tips will come in handy when you’re camping.

2. It’s more secure than tent camping. Tonya Prater blogs about van camping on Travel Inspired Living. Prater writes, “I admit, there have been times when I’ve worried about our safety when tent camping. Though those moments have been few and far between, I do sleep more comfortably knowing we can lock the doors to the van and leave the wildlife pacing around the van and not the tent.”

Be safe when camping by following these 11 tips.

3. Do a little planning before you go. While van camping allows you to go with the flow, it’s a good idea to consider campsites beforehand so you have a bit of a plan and it will help eliminate some stress of knowing where you’re headed next.

4. Make sure you have the right gear. Think portable stove and cooking gear, blankets or sleeping bags, flashlights, matches and a first-aid kit. If you rent a camping van, take a careful look at what’s in the van before you hit the road. “Make sure everything you expected to be inside the van actually is. If something is missing, ask about it,” National Geographic reports. “A little preparation goes a long way here, because realizing you don’t have any towels in the middle of the woods is not how you want to start your camping trip.”

Popular Videos

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.