A Smarter Way to Travel: Off the Grid and on Some Wheels

Travel can be expensive. Flights, hotels, transport costs, not to mention the fact that you have to cover your rent back home while you’re away, essentially paying for an empty apartment. In recent years there’s been a massive movement towards van travel (a resurgence, some might say, as it was popularized during the 60s and 70s); that is, converting a van into a mobile home and hitting the road in an endless pursuit of travel.

With rising rent costs, crowded urban areas and the opportunities to work remotely more prevalent than ever, this is an attractive option for those looking to transition from a city life to one of travel without losing some of those creature comforts. It’s an ideal way of exploring an entire continent such as North America or Europe. If you’ve ever thought about converting a van into a travel home and living on the road, then you’ll need to ensure you’ve taken a few essential steps before you set out.

A reliable sleeping space

While the space inside a van is minimal, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice when it comes to a comfortable bed. In fact, raised beds – a wooden platform with storage space beneath – is one of the most popular options that allows for a double mattress (depending on the size of your van). In terms of mattresses you’re going to need something that breathes and is temperature regulating to ensure that you don’t overheat. After all, humans generate a lot of heat, especially in confined spaces for long periods of time. It is important to have a comfortable mattress like these featured on unclutterer, because this is one of the main elements for getting a good and peaceful night’s sleep while traveling on some wheels.

A good pillow

Aside from a reliable sleeping space, it’s also a good idea to use high-quality pillows. Along with high-quality pillows, use comfortable blankets. The comfort they bring can make your travel experience more fun and meaningful. For instance, you can use Travel Neck Pillow for a relaxing sleep while traveling on some wheels. You can use this in your car or even in air travels. This pillow comes in a small size, making it also a great option for children who don’t need a full-size pillow.

A solar panel

A good solar panel setup is indispensable – it’s the lifeblood of any successful travel van. Not only will it power your lights, fan, small refrigerator (if you choose to have one) and water pump, but it will also provide an outlet for charging your phone, laptop and any other small electrical appliances you might need to keep juiced while on the road. There’s a more detailed explanation here, but the essentials boil down to an appropriately-sized solar panel (or panels) for the roof of your van, an invertor to supply 120V and a battery to retain that power for another day.

Pro tip: make sure that nothing is obstructing or casting shade on your solar panels. Unless they’re equipped with bypass diodes that allow current to “flow” around the shaded cell, there’s a chance it could completely nullify the output of the solar panel.

Adequate insulation

This is quite a contentious discussion, as everyone has their own methods for insulating. What everyone agrees on, however, is that it’s an essential step, especially if you plan on sleeping in your fan during winter. Insulate wherever possible: beneath your flooring, on the van’s sides and under the ceiling panels. The objective is to make your van as resistant to heat loss as possible, and there are various types of insulation, such as spray foam and Thinsulate, that can help you do this.

Easy-to-use tools, equipment, and utensils 

You probably have an idea on smart packing. Do away with heavy loading and packing. Instead, invest in easy-to-use things for your travels, such as foldable table and chairs. Think ‘compact,’ ‘reusable,’ and ‘rechargeable’ when planning the essential things you need to bring with you. A pocket knife, first-aid kit, solar-rechargeable batteries and gadgets, and other compact travel essentials will make your trip more convenient.  


You’ve learned the smart ways to travel on some wheels and off the grid. Ensure comfortable travel by creating a reliable sleeping space, using high-quality pillows, investing in a solar panel, and ensuring adequate insulation. Make your off the grid travel more fun and exciting as you explore the country.

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