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Top 25 Sustainable Van Life Tips

39.0639° N, 108.5506° W

White van parked in the desert of southern Utah.



Exploring the world, sleeping out under the stars, and heading out on adventures to off the beaten path destinations are definitely some of the key perks of van lifing - and often some of the biggest draws of packing up your life and heading out on the open road in the first place.

But van life isn't just great for people with an adventurous spirit, usually it is a great way to live if you are someone looking to be a bit more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Below are 25 of the best sustainable van life tips and tricks that all adventure travelers can follow. This list includes everything from how to pack, what to bring with you and where to even travel to.

If you are looking for inspiration and tips on how to live a more sustainable life - especially in a van - then this sustainable van life guide is for you.





1 | Pack lightly and only bring what you need.

One of the best ways to live a more sustainable life (overall and in a van especially) is to simply cut down on what you need and focus on only bringing the basics. By getting rid of the extra "fluff", you will find your van and life overall just feels a bit lighter.

2 | Bring another form of transportation with you if possible (like bikes) or plan to walk around instead of driving.

Bikes are a great addition to your van life repertoire as they allow you to explore the area around you without the use of a car. We love finding a cool spot to park for a couple of nights and then just riding around on our bikes to get a better lay of the land. By doing this, we have been able to explore old West ghost towns, massive redwood forests, and empty coastal beaches.

If you don't have a bike or you just don't want the hassle of storing a bike in your van, then follow the same idea as above and then just head out on your own two feet instead of two wheels. While this is a bit slower and your range is a bit smaller, walking everywhere is great for exploring and exercise (and of course sustainability overall).

3 | Have a large water storage container with you while van lifing.

One of the best ways to be a more sustainable van lifer is to cut down on how much plastic you use - and one of the best ways to do that is to have a large water storage container in your van. This will not only keep you from purchasing plastic water bottles for drinking, but it will also (likely) help you conserve water overall.

We personally have a large 5 gallon water container that fits perfectly under our van bed. This amount of water is usually enough for two people to live off of for 3 days - and that includes using it for drinking, cooking, dishes and brushing our teeth. Now, if you think about it, using 5 gallons over three days for two people is pretty darn environmentally friendly.

We highly suggest investing in a good, heavy duty water jug for your own van. This one by GSI Outdoors is great in terms of capacity (20 liters or just over 5 gallons) and packability (when empty it collapses to be totally flat).

4 | If you do need to buy extra stuff while van lifing, head to a second-hand store first.

If you find yourself in need of something while out van lifing - be it a specific piece of cookware or an extra jacket - first consider heading to the local thrift store or second-hand shop to find it instead of straight to a big box store. This is not only a more sustainable way of shopping, but it is also more economical. And, for the most part, when you are out camping you aren't going to want to use super fancy things anyway (things tend to get dirty real quick when we are vanlifing at least...).

We personally have found some pretty incredible things while shopping at second-hand shops - including a green Mammut jacket in perfect condition and super warm Sorel snow boots.

5 | Always