#vanlife Navigating the Lifestyle of a Modern-Day Nomad

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You’ve probably wondered about what this is like.  It would be hard not to.  Instagram is awash with images of young, vibrant and healthy couples living their best lives, in remote places, maintaining a nomadic existence many can only dream of.  

There are the stories of entrepreneurs, who started a business on the road and use their income to fuel a remarkable and adventurous life that seems to forever chase the sun and the spectacular.  

There’s the young freelancers who, post Covid, have embraced the new working setup to take their careers onto the road and join zoom meetings from the beach.  

Finally, there’s the stories of the recently retired.  After selling up, they are now mortgage free and living the dream of the open road, where their best Kerouac aspirations can be indulged as they drive off to enjoy the sunset years to the fullest.  

#vanlife has become a thing and it’s no longer about surviving in a rusty old Bedford with peeling paintwork. Todays #vanlifers are driving around in smart, connected and ultra-modern vehicles that have been fully equipped to enable them to stay plugged into the world even when they’re not plugged into anything at all.

Wandering with Wifi

For many, today's office desk is wherever there is a connection and a place to set up their laptop.  Van Lifers can pretty much work from anywhere without too much issue.  Increasingly, City centres are providing free wifi.  For example, park up in Gore and you can connect to the town’s free Wifi in just a few clicks.  

Outside of free data hotspots, most vans have a router on-board with a SIM from a mobile carrier.  Reception can vary by location but a little planning head is often all that’s needed to make sure there’s enough of a connection for the Zoom call.  Indeed, over the next 12 months nearly all of New Zealand should be covered with a signal, as the mobile carriers change to satellite coverage, promising almost 100% coverage.  

The signal may still be too weak in places, so most vans will have a signal booster to amplify the connection, or even a satellite communicator for use in emergency situations.  Either way, the days of travelling somewhere without a connection  are coming to an end.

Keeping Powered Up

It takes a lot of gadgetry to keep modern motorhomes 100% functional, with each gadget needing to be plugged in and powered to fully enjoy life on the open road.  It’s not always feasible to plug into an electrical source and part of the fun of life on the road is undoubtedly the ability to go where infrastructure is not. 

Electricity is not as much of a problem as it was in the past though.  Solar panels have improved dramatically in terms of output and reliability and offer an eco-friendly way to provide power to the mobile home.  Most will also have a house battery which is charged during movement.  Then there are a number of appliances which can run off LPG, including the heating, hot water and the refrigerator, reducing the electrical power burden on the motorhomes.  

Luxury That Travels With You

The fitout of modern motorhomes will vary and the general rule, as in all things, is that you get what you pay for.  That includes luxury if you want it.  The beds can be every bit as comfortable and sleep-inducing as those in homes, the bathrooms (nearly) as well-appointed, and the kitchen can have enough equipment for a delicious dinner to be cooked for occupants and any visiting guests.  

Of course, there’s also the extra touches of luxury which are the same no matter where you are.  A 500 thread count bed sheet is as comfortable in a van as it is in a mansion.  But the van has the added advantage of letting you wake up in those luxurious bed sheets to a different view every morning if you like.  

Space & Storage

There is one aspect of vanlife that can never be fully solved.  Space will be limited.  There is no garden shed to store things and no cobweb covered attic space for hoarding heirlooms.  But is this really an issue?  It can be for some.  For others, it's a chance to simplify their existence and prioritise experience over material possessions.  There is a beauty to opening the van door and taking a long walk in nature that might appeal.  On the flip side, if the rain has been continual for a prolonged period, necessitating a stay inside, it could begin to feel a little claustrophobic.

As regards storage, a good option is always to rent a storage space for anything you wish to keep, just not with you on the open road.  The space issue is no doubt something van lifers find their way around and learn to adapt to.

Keeping the Van on the Road

Maintenance for the mobile home has to be a priority.  Regular servicing and repairs cannot be ignored, especially when the risk of failed COF could keep the vehicle grounded in one place for longer than desired.  

Part of the regular maintenance schedule has to be concerned with the tyres. Not only do mobile homes tend to travel longer distances than the average car, they often encounter more varied road conditions and weather.  

Tyres with a low rolling resistance and acoustic dampening technology will help travellers move from location to location in more refined luxury.  More importantly, the tyres need to be able to handle the added weight of the vehicle and maintain traction in all conditions, on all surfaces.  This is where connected tyres can be especially beneficial.  

ContiSense uses intelligent sensors, integrated throughout electrically conductive rubber compounds, to monitor road conditions and measure tyre pressure, temperature and tread depth.  The technology even has the ability to detect a picture and alert the driver before it can become a safety issue.  

PressureProof and PressureBoost Technology maintains the optimal tyre pressure by storing excess compressed air and re-injecting it into the tyre if needed.  For van lifers who might veer a considerable distance from the nearest garage, this technology not only helps keep them safe in remote locations but also reduces the need to carry a tyre pump.

A flat tyre is an unwanted scenario for most motorists, no doubt even more so if the flat tyre is on your ‘home’.  ContiSeal is designed to reduce the impact of punctures, sealing smalle tread damage and making roadside tyre changes or towing unnecessary. 

Is #vanlife for you?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  There’s really only one way to find out.  Although it might be an idea to head away on a motorhome holiday before selling the family home.  

There is certainly something romantic about the idea of #vanlife though.  Right?

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