I’m a solo van lifer, so I’m used to finding ways to save money on costly items and traveling.
During a week that I spent $730, I showered at several aquatic centers and made coffee in my van.
Some of the most expensive parts of the week included getting gas and going out with friends.
As a solo traveler who’s lived in a van for a year, saving money and getting the most out of costly items is an everyday practice for me.
I share my travels on TikTok (@thealmostvanlife) and recently decided to escape Canadian winter. I’ve been spending the colder months in sunny California. I work remotely as a freelance social media manager, which I’m able to do from anywhere as long as I have cell reception.
Here’s what I spend in a week as a van lifer:
Day 1: I slept at an Airbnb owned by one of my followers, stocked up on groceries, and hit the road
I’m grateful for social media and the incredibly supportive community I’ve accumulated, as I’m often invited to stay at my followers’ vacation rentals. This time, I was able to stay over for free.
I usually travel between the coast and the desert depending on the weather, so I planned an approximately 150-mile drive from San Diego to Palm Springs for the week.
On the way, I stopped for groceries and to stretch my legs, showered at a truck stop, and found a place to park for the night.
Day 2: I slept at a Walmart parking lot, went swimming at an aquatic center, and got some work done
Aquatic center: $6
Total spent today: $6
I spent the night at a Walmart parking lot, which was free. I started my day with iced coffee that I made in my van and headed to the local aquatic center for a swim and shower.
It was too hot out to cook in the van so I made a meat and cheese plate for lunch and spent the afternoon working from my lawn chair at a local park and exploring the area.
I waited until after the sun went down to cook tacos for dinner.
Day 3: I slept at a spot from the iOverlander app and made meals with leftovers and groceries I already bought
Aquatic center: $15
Total spent today: $126
I decided to find a free spot to sleep on the iOverlander app. After making iced coffee in the van, I drove to a local park to find some shade and made brunch with the leftover taco meat from the night before.
I like to try new places, so I found another aquatic center to swim and shower. After cooling off, it was time to find a Starbucks, connect to Wi-Fi, and get some social media work done.
I stopped for gas before finding a place to park the van for the night. I saved money this day by cooking my meals using the groceries I’d already purchased.
Day 4: I slept at another Walmart parking lot and took the van in for an oil change
Oil change: $70
Aquatic center: $6
Total spent today: $84
After staying in a Walmart parking lot for free, I woke up very early and traveled up the mountain to catch a beautiful view of the sunrise.
After the oil change, I went to an aquatic center for another swim and shower. It wasn’t too hot so I went for a short hike and ended the day by working at another Starbucks and downloading new shows.
Day 5: I slept at a spot from the iOverlander app and then spent some time with friends
I needed to do some van chores, so after I made coffee and left my free spot I found on the iOverlander app, I headed to the nearest laundromats. I did three loads of laundry and was also able to fill up my drinking water.
Friends of mine were flying in from Canada, so I went to the airport to pick them up and took them to their hotel.
After finding the nearest happy hour, we went to back the hotel for a swim and went out for dinner.
Day 6: I stayed at my friends’ hotel room and got breakfast and lunch at the resort before taking off
Resort breakfast: $25
Resort lunch: $30
Total spent today: $155
I slept over in my friends’ hotel room and spent my morning and early afternoon with them at the resort. I ordered breakfast and lunch by the pool, showered, and hit the road.
I planned on traveling to the coast but the wind was very strong so I decided to pull over, watch a couple of movies, and call it an early night.
Day 7: I slept at a rest stop and drove to Newport Beach
State campground: $60
Weekly total: $102
I slept overnight at a rest stop for free before hitting the road. I started the day with a breakfast sandwich and coffee and traveled from Palm Springs to Laguna Beach, which is approximately 92 miles.
I arrived in Laguna Beach, looked around, and decided to head up the coast towards Huntington Beach.
I stopped for lunch in Newport Beach and then scored the very last campsite at a state campground.
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