Simplifying Your Routines for Van Life

After thinking about what clothing and gear you’d like to bring along with you in your van and how you’ll keep it all organized, you might be realizing it adds up to a lot, especially in such a small space. This is a great time to evaluate what you really need to be happy and to start thinking about ways you can potentially simplify your van life routine. That’s what we’ll focus on in this short lesson.

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How To Simplify Your Van Life Routine

If you’re looking forward to less distractions and more adventure time in your van, consider what you can cut out of your current routine to make time and space for something new. I’m not suggesting eliminating a routine that works for you and brings you joy, but I am suggesting eliminating unnecessary things that go along with those practices and finding ways to simplify them. 

Here are some examples….

Exercise Routines

If you have a regular exercise routine – don’t drop it. In fact, van life is an easy way to get in shape with the trails at your doorstep. But what if you enjoy using exercise equipment? Can you cut down on some of the exercise equipment you normally use so you can have a simpler routine on the road? Maybe a yoga mat, kettle ball and some resistance bands are enough to keep you on track while not taking up room in your van.


If you like to wear makeup, that’s totally fine. You don’t have to give up makeup because you’re traveling in a van, but how can you pare down to the essentials? Maybe that means one mascara, one foundation or tinted moisturizer, and one lipstick or tinted lip balm as part of your beauty routine. 


If you love to read, van life will certainly give you time to do so. But can you read on a Kindle or iPad to cut back on the space that books take? Or travel with one or two books at a time that you can trade out? Your local library may even have a Kindle e-book borrowing program that will allow you to continuously check out new books for your Kindle.


If you love to cook, you may find it difficult to decide what you need to whip up healthy meals on the road. We will cover more of this in Module 6 which is dedicated to Van Life cooking, but in the mean time, think about which kitchen appliances you really need. Can you use a personal blender instead of your big Vitamix? Can you use an Aeropress or a pour over coffee method instead of your espresso machine?

Learn how to simplify your van life routine including how to pare down to just the essentials so that life on the road stays simple and organized.

Quality Over Quantity

Quality over quantity is a helpful guideline here.

The underlying question is: what items will most efficiently accomplish the task and take up the least amount of space in your van? Whatever that task, whether beauty, exercise, work, or cooking, look at your current routine and see what material items can be reduced or removed without sacrificing a healthy practice that brings you joy. 

Learn how to simplify your van life routine including how to pare down to just the essentials so that life on the road stays simple and organized.

Those are just some quick tips to get your brain ticking about how you can minimize the stuff that goes along with your daily routines. In the next lesson, we are going to cover the belongings you are leaving behind. Should you sell everything, put it in storage, or leave your home as it is? These are big decisions, and we are going to help walk you through it all.

Resources Section

Explore more van life lessons in Module 3

What daily routines are important to you as a van lifer? Share your questions, tips, and experiences down in the comments, and make sure to sign up for course updates here.

6 comments on “Simplifying Your Routines for Van Life

  1. Hi Kristen! Thank you so much for all of your content and advice! My fiancé and I are speaking with the bank TODAY about getting a loan for a built out springer van. Hoping to turn this dream into reality! I’ll be keeping up with you through your emails 🙂

    1. How exciting! I’ll be sure to pass this on to Kristen. Thanks so much for reading and good luck with finding the perfect van 🙂 Please keep us posted!

  2. Thanks for this article – I feel that each person will have a different way to balance how to make the tradeoff of what they need vs. what they want to bring in the van. I also understand that needs and wants will change during the course of the adventure, so it’s important to revisit the ‘inventory” as these changes occur.

    I am interested in learning from adventurers what essential items can serve multiple purposes. Int he excercise example, it’s easy to visualize the bands or small weight serving multiple excercises, but a kettle bell can serve as an awning anchor. Are there more examples (better than this)? I think it comes down to what experiences are possible at what level of convenience, given what combination of things that you bring with you?

    Another example – I am carrying a road bike and mountain bike. what spare parts can I commonize between the two (chain, cassette, rear derailleur, shifter cable, disc brake pads, etc.). And can a full face downhill biking helmet double as a snowboarding helmet (POC Cortex DH). and can one camel back serve two sports (add insulating sleeve for snowboarding).

    1. Hi Cesare, you’re exactly right. It really comes down to personal preferences, what you value, and what you want to give up van space for. I don’t think I’ve come across 2 van lifers who have the exact same things in their van! I love your ideas about multi-purpose workout gear and how you manage having 2 bikes in yours. I love the flexibility of changing out gear for the seasons (ex. inflatable pack rafts for summer & skiing gear in winter) and am always paring down belongings to ensure what’s in the van actually gets used.

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