People all over the world are realizing the benefits of living in a van. If you want to travel for a short season, or live in a van for the rest of your life, these 12 books will inspire you and help you get started.
The following list includes everything from straightforward instructional guides, to entertaining and heartfelt stories of people who traded in their 9-5 jobs for a life on the road. From school buses in the United States, to vintage vans in Europe there should be something that leaves you in awe, or makes you laugh.
One thing is for certain, these books will embolden and equip you to pursue a life of freedom.
Van Life Book #1: Van Life: Your Home on the Road by Foster Huntington
If you’re considering living in a van, Van Life: Your Home on the Road, is a good place to start. Huntington’s inspirational catalog of people’s experiences while living in vans, serves as proof that you can do it however you’d like. The book includes interviews with different people who live in vans and photos to accompany their stories.
Huntington himself lived in a van, so he understands what’s at the heart of the desire. While traveling from Baja Mexico, to California’s Redwoods in his own van, he amassed a social media following on Tumblr. Using his Tumblr account, Huntington crowdsourced the book’s collection of interviews and photos from his followers.
Whether you’re just considering living in a van for the first time, or a seasoned van-lifer in need of new inspiration and ideas, this book will do the trick.
Van Life Book #2: Off-Grid Boondock Camping: A Comprehensive Beginners Guide to Full-Time RV Living, Van Dwelling and Boondocking by Judson Crawford
If you don’t know what “Boondocking” is, you haven’t lived in a van yet. Boondocking is simply when you park your home-on-wheels somewhere for the night, but you’re not sure if you should. Staying at camp grounds is expensive and it limits your freedom.
Crawford wrote this book after living and traveling in a van for 10 years. He relays the wisdom he gained by making mistakes himself, so you don’t have to. This guide to off-grid boondocking will help you navigate all your practical concerns when parking and sleeping in a new location.
Van Life Book #3: Vintage Camper Trailers by Paul Lacitinola
As with any good trend, van life may seem like an idea that recently emerged from obscurity when it actually has deep roots. Vintage Camper Trailers gives the reader a look at a lineage of camper trailers dating back to mid-century America. Many of the space saving mechanisms and innovations for tiny living have existed for decades and you’ll find them here.
This compilation is rich in photos and stories of camper trailers that were maintained, converted, or restored by people who did it solely because they love it. It’s beneficial to glean knowledge from your elders, and vintage style can’t be beat.
Van Life Book #4: How to Live in a Van and Travel: Live Everywhere, Be Free and Have Adventures in a Campervan or Motorhome – Your Home on Wheels by Mike Hudson
As you might have guessed from the straightforward title of this book, it gets directly to the point. Mike Hudson is a simple man who made van life his reality, and then wrote about it. He actually wrote the book from inside the van itself.
This is truly a guide which will be useful to you from the time you first consider van life, to 3 years later when you’re broken down. Here you will find help choosing a van, moving into it, and staying safe while on the road. Hudson speaks openly about multiple ways to make money while traveling to financially sustain your life on the road. As an added bonus, the author’s experiences pertain to Europe; a unique perspective amongst the typically American landscape of van life.
Van Life Book #5: Vanlife Diaries: Finding Freedom on the Open Road by Kathleen Morton
Morton has collected more than 200 photos of life on wheels ranging from people and their pets to their moving homes in beautiful locations. Morton understands van life as a movement that grew as a response to the unsustainable lifestyle to which most of society ascribes. These photos and interviews are a beacon of hope from the perspective of a woman who went through real hardship to realize her dream of freedom in a van.
Morton herself lives in a 1987 Toyota van, and this compilation is sure to not only motivate you, but touch your soul.
Van Life Book #7: Campervan Poems by H.M. Roberts
This is a short book of 50 poems for happy campers. Sometimes a poem can convey precisely what you need to hear in fewer words.
If you’re living in a van or considering moving into one, reading a few poems is a quick day to remember what’s at the heart of your desire. Or, on the other hand you might just want to read something funny and lighthearted.
Campervan poems will make you laugh with poems like “Campervan”, which recognize the irony of how a cheap van can be worth everything to its owner.
Van Life Book #8: Van Life Cookbook: Resourceful recipes for life on the road: from small spaces to the great outdoors by Danny Jack and Hailee Kukura
Eating well is one of the biggest challenges you might not anticipate when living in a van. Food storage can be difficult because of space, and it seems like any home-cooked meal is always too large for a van. The recipes in Jack and Kukura’s book are specifically geared toward a two-burner stove or a campfire.
With the Van Life Cookbook you won’t have to rack your brain for ideas every time you want a van-friendly meal. The focus of these recipes is to save money, to minimize time in supermarkets and most importantly, eat healthy food while you’re on the road.
Danny Jack is a professional chef and van traveler himself, so it’s only natural that he would bring together his experience from both facets of life.
Van Life Book #9: The Camper Van Bible by Martin Dorey
Martin Dorey is an authoritative voice regarding van life. He starred in the BBC 2 TV series “One Man and his Campervan”, and still lives in a van more than a decade later. His knowledge shines through in this all-encompassing, van life manual, that covers every aspect of the lifestyle imaginable from purchasing a van, to eating and sleeping in it.
The chatty tone weaves pragmatic information and wise insight into a thorough handbook that truly could serve as your only book on van life.
Van Life Book #10: Convert Your Minivan in a Mini RV Camper by William H Myers
Maybe you don’t want to buy a large van, or maybe you already have a minivan and you’ve considered converting into a home. Is it possible to transform such a small vehicle into a living space?
Myers’ direct and practical instructions teach you how to convert a minivan into a camper van for only $200! Detailed photos, diagrams and product links chronicle the author’s personal minivan conversion to help you realize your dream of van life in an affordable way.
Myers has helped hundreds of people move into everyday vans like Toyota Siennas and Honda Odysseys.
Van Life Book #11: Van Build: A complete DIY guide to designing, converting and self-building your campervan or motorhome by Ben and Georgia Raffi
This book is extremely thorough. Ben and Georgia assume that you as the reader may be delving into van life with no experience at all.
With their help you can start with no prior experience and build your van in as little as 21 days if you’re motivated.
This DIY guide is packed with pictures taken by the authors as they built their van. Electrical, solar, plumbing, shower installation, and cabinetry are all addressed with diagrams and detailed notes as the authors walk you through each part of the process.
Employ their instructions when you’ve committed to the process and don’t want to miss a step.
Van Life Book #12: Skoolie!: How to Convert a School Bus or Van into a Tiny Home or Recreational Vehicle by Will Sutherland
If you’re looking to live in a home-on-wheels but you’re worried about sacrificing comfort or space, a decommissioned school bus is worth considering.
“Skoolie” is the affectionate name given to these gargantuan mobile homes by their community.
Like many other authors in this circle, Sutherland became dissatisfied with the American dream and decided to first build a tiny home, then a skoolie. Sutherland’s own trial and error in converting a school bus into a home paves the way so that you can avoid heartache and pain by following in his footsteps.
Sutherland argues that school buses are affordable, well maintained, and durable. It proves this point with photos showcasing step-by-step processes and cozy buses in quaint locations. Instructions about how to remove the seats, build everything inside, and even maintain the engine may convince you that a bus is big enough to house your fantasies.
The Year We Ruined Our Lives: A Family Road Trip Through Mexico and Central America by Paul Carlino and illustrated by Mila Villasana
Unlike many of the other works on van life, this isn’t an instructional guide or a DIY photo collection. This is the honest story of a family that pursued the dream of this lifestyle to its furthest degree.
Paul and Rebecca took their 9-year old son, and 12-year old daughter on a seemingly eternal road trip through Mexico and Central America in an iconic 30 year old Volkswagen Westfalia.
This is the perfect book if you have a family, but still feel the nagging urge to explore a life of ultimate freedom. Paul and Rebecca’s adventure proves that it’s possible if you’re willing, to homeschool 2 kids and feed a family of 4 through multiple countries in an antique van.