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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Van lifers Chad Grossman and Paul Lipsky document their road adventures with Orlando, their tiny Chihuahua, on YouTube and Instagram, but you don’t have to be a full-time nomad to experience the same freeing lifestyle that exploded in popularity during an otherwise gloomy 2020. If social media envy and quarantine fatigue have you itching to hit the road, but you’re not ready to sell your “sticks-and-bricks” (that means house, for the uninitiated), dip your toes in the water by renting a Class B for a few weeks and giving it a try. Grossman and Lipsky offer their top tips and dispel a few myths for living Van Life lite, a super accessible, pared-down version of the lifestyle.

RELATED: 6 lessons I learned working remotely from every corner of the world

Choose your wheels wisely

You won’t be living in your van full time, so let go of the notion that you need everything your home has. Grossman and Lipsky have a water tank and shower onboard, along with a fast-charging lithium battery pack that lets them work and play around the clock, but you don’t need necessarily these. For showers, they suggest making use of 24-hour gyms when you can’t find a truck stop, and don’t pack a ton of dishes or utensils that need to be washed constantly (one setting per person is plenty). Think small when selecting a van to rent, especially if you want to boondock (park free overnight) in parking lots or public grounds. A Class B van is roughly the size of a sprinter, so it’s easy to handle and park, especially for beginners. A Class C is even smaller, but the boxier shape can make it harder to squeeze into some spaces. If you can’t live without a few extra feet and luxuries like running water, you can level up, but you’ll probably want to reserve parking spaces that can accommodate your size in advance. Orbitz can help with that here.

Throw out the map

Grossman and Lipsky love the freedom that comes with van life and were happy to leave hyper-planning behind when they hit the road in 2019, and they suggest you do the same. “It’s easy to over-plan, over-stress, and worry over all the little things, but don’t bring your sticks-and-bricks mentality with you,” say the duo. “Hit the road with a sense of freedom and adventure!” Have a general destination in mind and make sure you have somewhere safe and legal to park at night, but leave days open. Grossman and Lipsky say the true magic of van life happens when you stumble across adventures and experiences you couldn’t have planned for anyway.

Pack lightly

When packing, focus on solid, outdoor comforts like packable camping chairs and inflatable loungers, but never forget a flashlight or a robust first aid kit (Band-Aids and Neosporin are not enough, when heading into remote locations). And leave the wardrobe behind. For Grossman and Lipsky, this is a big laundry (water) consideration, but for the rest of us it’s mostly about space. They suggest a good pair of outdoor shoes and a pair of sandals, and are fans of re-wearing T-shirts. It’ll keep you from wasting vacay time in laundromats.

Speaking of letting go of things, Grossman and Lipsky live in a van to live out of a van, and suggest you think likewise. “Life is what happens between Instagram posts,” they say. “When you come upon some impressive scenery, don’t just reach for your camera and stylish hat; let the moment move you. That’s what you’ll carry with you. Do it for you, not for the Gram.”

Forget about elaborate meals

By now you should be catching on to the overall theme of “leave it at home.” Grossman and Lipsky suggest ignoring all the #vanlife pics of elaborate meals on the road. The cleanup isn’t worth it and you don’t want to pack an entire kitchen in a little van anyway. Instead, buy non-perishables on the road, and support local restaurants in newfound places. Sometimes a great restaurant can even be the reason for a journey (Grossman and Lispky once drove halfway across the country just to eat at veggie eatery The Chicago Diner). If you do cook, focus on single-pot dishes like stir-fries.

Keep going

If you find you love living the van life for a few weeks, keep in mind that you don’t have to go home. With the pandemic helping so many companies realize that employees can effectively work remotely, Grossman and Lipsky note that there’s never been an easier time to take your job on the road. In fact, Grossman still works as a speech-language pathologist and they both run a handful of other businesses from their van. You don’t need to be an influencer to fund a #vanlife experience, however long or short. All you need is a laptop and access to wireless hotspots (Grossman and Lipsky recommend using multiple providers to maximize coverage in any location).  “Sometimes we do lounge in bed half naked gazing over a mountain range but, more often than not, we’re living our daily lives: working, eating, and doing chores. But the pros far outweigh the cons for us, and this is a lifestyle that we simply cannot give up.”

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Brandon Schultz

Brandon Schultz

Brandon Schultz

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