Except for occasional naps at the side of the road, I had zero previous experience living in a vehicle. So I read, researched and prepared. Here I am, eight years later, living happily and comfortably in my standard size cargo van—with less stuff than when I started. Some items I thought were essential turned out not to be. For me. As they say, your mileage may vary.


Everyone on the CRVL forums said we needed lots of water. So I bought two big Aqua-Tainers. By the time I finished building out the van and loading all my other essentials, there wasn’t room for two containers, so I left one behind. Then, after a few months on the road, I realized 58 pounds of water was too awkward to deal with. So I left the remaining Aqua-Tainer on the RTR free pile. I’ve used ordinary gallon jugs ever since.


I had removed the passenger seat (which I knew from the beginning I wouldn’t need) and mounted a chest in its place. Then I spent about a year rigging ways to keep the drawers closed when making right turns. I decided I could redistribute the contents of the chest to other spots in the van, and that I would prefer to locate the fridge in its place. I donated the chest to an animal shelter thrift store.


The heater spent nine months a year just taking up space. The other three months I’d use it a few minutes in the morning and in the evening. Then it began to resist lighting, even with the filter on the hose, even after replacing parts. So I tossed it in a dumpster and just used my one-burner stove for heat instead.


Gotta have plenty of propane for the heater and stove, right? Not so much in my case. I never used more than one tank a year. Meanwhile, it was another thing taking up space, and there was the hose to wrestle with. The 1-pound green bottles cost more per gallon than bulk, but with the small quantity I use it’s no big deal. And I could stash them in small spaces scattered around the van. I gave the tank to another vandweller.


I started vandwelling with the iPhone I already had. It was with AT&T and cell service was spotty in the areas of the West where I spent most of my time. When the contract expired I switched to Verizon and got the latest iPhone, because that’s what we’re supposed to do as good consumers, right? I also got a hot spot because I use a lot of data. The monthly bill hurt a little, so when the iPhone was paid off I dropped it from my contract and replaced it with a $45 on-special LG phone and a pre-paid SmartTalk plan. It suits my needs just fine. I sold the iPhone on eBay.

These are just the major things. There have been dozens of small items I learned I didn’t need. Getting rid of them makes me feel good. I like to travel light. And with more room.

Do you have 5 Things about the nomadic life you want to share? Experiences? Wisdom? Tips? Stupid jokes? And do you want to make a couple of bucks? Write it up, include any relevant pictures, and email it to editor.crvl@gmail.com