#vanlife is becoming a huge trend – not only on social media but in real life too. Since COVID there has been a huge increase in the number of Europeans and Americans choosing to travel, and even live, in converted campervans or other mobile homes. Does #vanlife have as much potential for growth in South Africa?
Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options, says there are two key reasons why the uptake in #vanlife might be a little slower in South Africa. “We have obvious security concerns. Simply parking on the side of the road, called ‘wild camping’, is risky – and, in fact, illegal in South Africa. You’re not allowed to park on the side of the road here. This means you would need to book into caravan parks or campsites, or other types of establishments, all of which drive up expenses and make this type of lifestyle a little less accessible here than it is in Europe or America.”
#Vanlife is a nomadic, minimalistic lifestyle, living in a van, campervan, RV or other mobile homes. Many people are choosing this as a holiday option to explore a destination. While others are actively choosing to live in a van and adopt this on-the-road lifestyle as a more permanent living situation.
“Living on the road long-term or planning extended road trips has become a very real possibility now that many jobs are remote. All you really need is a good internet connection and a power supply – and, of course, a reliable source of income,” says Smit.
There’s a wide variety of vehicle options, but if you opt for a combi-type of a van, you will need a conversion kit, or you could do a custom build. Beware though, a custom build is not always the cheapest option, and it would only really be handy if you were skilled in DIY. Vans usually have basic facilities for cooking, washing and sleeping.
Below are some brave South Africans who are pioneering #vanlife in South Africa:
- Small Travel, Big Life: This couple packed everything they needed into a caravan and have been exploring South Africa together with their pets for the last few years.
- 4Kids and a Bus: This family of six is travelling around South Africa in a double-decker bus and home-schooling their kids along the way.
- 3 kids, 2 Dogs and 1 Old House: Back in 2018, a Capetonian couple travelled around the country with their three children. Travelling in a 1974 VW Jurgens Campervan. They are once again settled in Cape Town.
Search for the vanlife hashtag on Instagram and you’ll find almost 13 million posts. Most of these posts depict stylish and comfortable-looking vans parked next to incredible mountain views or white, sandy beaches. But many people feel that this social media content is creating an unrealistic view of what #vanlife is really like. Smit points out that it can be quite complicated and not always very glamorous.
Below are some of the pros and cons of #vanlife:
- Freedom and flexibility to travel and explore our beautiful country
- Embrace a minimalist lifestyle and learn to live without unnecessary luxuries
- Connect to nature
- Learn new things about life and yourself with new experiences all the time
- It might be challenging to find remote work that could fund your adventures
- This can be an expensive way to live, especially with the rising cost of fuel price and vehicles, and the need to park in camping sites or similar establishments
- Lack of access to ablution facilities, especially if your mobile home isn’t kitted out with showers and a toilet
- Living in a tight space can get messy
- Mechanical issues are to be expected, especially with high use
“Running into a mechanical issue is almost inevitable with constant driving and travelling many kilometres,” says Smit.“The hassle of dealing with mechanical issues while living #vanlife is often cited as one of the most stressful aspects of this lifestyle.”
Properly maintaining your campervan or mobile home while on the road makes sense. Good maintenance prevents breakdowns, minimising the risk of being stranded. Regular maintenance costs are much more affordable than repair costs, and it extends the lifespan of your vehicle. Ultimately, your van will have a higher resale value.
Spend some time learning proper on-the-go maintenance, like how to change the oil, top-up fluids, tyre care, etc. However, a maintenance plan will help you budget for and stay on top of larger car care requirements. Such as wear and tear part replacement and serviceable part maintenance.
Welcome to zero-hassle motoring. MotorHappy provides honest advice, smart rewards and the best products in the Motorverse. From buying to selling your car and everything in-between. Insure it. Maintain it. Protect it.
A proud Motus Corporation company, established in 2015, MotorHappy provides a trusted, ‘go-to’ platform that addresses the needs of motorists. Offering great advice and enabling customers to compare options and purchase and manage motoring solutions on a single online portal. This self-service online platform not only provides customers with a convenient way to manage and optimise their motoring journey but also ensures a cost-effective and user-friendly experience.