Healthy Habits for the Perfect Van Life Experience
Living the van life takes your life on the road. You can work and live anywhere, while exploring the country at your whim.
Life on the road, though, can initiate some bad habits. Maybe cooking is a bit more cumbersome in the van. Sleep may be more difficult with the changing scenery and noises outside the window. Getting health check-ups may fall by the wayside since you’re constantly in a transition and on the move.
Making healthy choices is important to staying healthy. Living the van life can let you embrace a bohemian freedom, but that freedom and carefree lifestyle shouldn’t cause your health or wellness to decline.
Before you head out on the road in search of wide open spaces, here are five healthy habits for the perfect van life.
1. Review your health insurance network.
Most major health insurance companies offer a participating network of providers, and, this network may include physicians, specialists and hospitals across the country.
Some insurance plans, though, may be more limited in coverage and scope. This can impact you when you decide to live the van life. Your health is important, and you need to know what doctors, hospitals and urgent care centers are in your network.
Before you head out on the road, review your insurance coverage. Understand how to find doctors in every state, and figure out who is in your network of providers. You may need to bookmark your insurance company’s network list for easy reference.
Once you arrive at a new destination, figure out which local hospitals are in network. Choosing an out-of-network provider could lead to high medical bills.
You may also wish to invest in a membership to an air ambulance company. Memberships cover the cost of any flights to hospitals. Or research which air ambulance companies are in network, and keep a list nearby.
When you’re on the road, you need to have emergency plans in place. Don’t assume a hospital will be in your network. You never know when you may need to see a doctor…or get stitched up at a local urgent care.
2. Make a grocery list.
Eating out every night is not great for your health. Fast food can be high in salt, fat and calories—depending on where you dine.
Instead, make a grocery list and plan a weekly menu. What you choose to cook depends on your resources. If your van has a stove and oven, you can cook many of your at-home favorites.
Only have a microwave? You need to plan a microwave-friendly menu. The Manual has a long list of healthy entrees that can be cooked in the microwave.
What if you don’t have access to any cooking sources? You may need to plan shelf-stable meals that can be kept in a cooler or small fridge. Think salads and sandwiches, cereals, oatmeal (just boil water), etc.
3. Get active!
Moving your body is important for your health. Obviously, you can’t (and shouldn’t) stay sitting in that van all day every day.
When you’re traveling, plan out adventures that encourage activity. Head to a local beach for a walk or a swim. Plot out any great hiking trails. Visit local parks and wildlife areas. Or take a bike ride.
No matter what you plan, be sure to research the area. If you’re hiking, take a compass and pack enough food and water. The American Hiking Society recommends taking other essentials like rain coats (or rain gear), safety/first aid tools, a knife, SPF sunscreen, water, and a backpack.
So what safety necessities should you pack? The AHS recommends a whistle, a flashlight and fire (like matches…anything to light a signal or start a campfire). You also may want to bring bug or bear repellent depending on where you plan to hike.
Make sure you understand all the rules and regulations of any park you visit—some don’t allow animals, others may have other restrictions.
And always, always inform someone of your whereabouts and plans, because you never know what can happen.
4. Don’t neglect your hygiene.
Body odor doesn’t set the greatest first impression with any new friends you may meet on your adventures. There’s a reason why deodorant is sometimes referred to as “shower in a bottle”! Many vans aren’t equipped with showers, so you will need to find nearby rest stops or campgrounds that offer shower facilities.
Don’t forget to pack your toiletries: soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. You’ll also need to provide your own towels and washcloths.
Since your van also isn’t equipped with a washer/dryer, be sure to keep a roll of quarters handy for a Laundromat. Not all towns have a local Laundromat, and you may need to hunt one down.
You’ll want to stock your van with detergent, stain remover, a laundry bag and fabric softener or dryer sheets.
5. Get a good night’s sleep.
Driving during the day means you need to be well-rested. Your van should be equipped with a comfortable and supportive mattress. 2920Sleep offers a mattress that’s compatible with most vans, and our van mattresses feature our distinctive foam and latex design.
Sleep deprivation is dangerous when you’re on the road. Invest in a good mattress that ensures that you can clock a healthy dose of sleep.
Living the van life gives you immense freedom, but that freedom can lure you into unhealthy choices—like zipping through the drive-thru daily.
Stay healthy on the road by keeping track of your network of doctors as you change states, cooking meals instead of eating out, getting enough exercise and sleep and maintaining your personal hygiene.
Yes, the van life embraces a bohemian aesthetic, but the boho freedom should never mean neglecting your health or hygiene.
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