We explore the #vanlife movement

#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 a converted campervan or other mobile home. Does #vanlife have as much potential for growth in South Africa? We explore that question in this blog post.

Van Life is a nomadic, minimalistic lifestyle, living in a van, campervan, RV or other mobile home. 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.

There’s a wide variety of vehicle options, but if you opt for a combi-type of 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.

Van Life is not as popular in South Africa yet, for several reasons. Firstly, there are 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.

However, there are some brave South Africans who have explored Van Life:

  • 3 kids, 2 Dogs and 1 Old House: Back in 2018 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.
  • 4 Kids 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.
  • 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.

Search for the Van Life 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. It can be quite complicated and not always very glamorous.


  • 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 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. The hassle of dealing with mechanical issues while living #vanlife is often cited as one of the most stressful aspects of this lifestyle.

There are three key reasons to properly maintain your campervan or mobile home:

  • Good maintenance prevents breakdowns, minimising the risk of being stranded
  • Regular maintenance costs are much more affordable than repair costs
  • Extend the lifespan of your vehicle
  • 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 through MotorHappy will help with larger car care requirements, such as wear and tear part replacement and serviceable part maintenance. Click here to get a quick and easy quote for your vehicle.

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