9 Great Things About Travelling in a Campervan vs Backpacking

written by Sabrina
published on April 11, 2018

I am an avid backpacker and have travelled the whole world with a big smile on my face. But now I am living vanlife in my self-converted campervan a whole new world opens up to me. There are so many advantages when you are travelling in a campervan as opposed to backpacking, I never could have imagined! Get inspired 😉

9 great things about travelling in a campervan

You don’t have to carry your luggage and no weight restrictions

If you research vanlife on Instagram, one of the coolest hashtags you will see is #homeiswhereyouparkit. When you are travelling in a campervan, you basically carry around your whole home. Most campervans have storage space for clothing, kitchen supplies, camping stuff and just random things you like take with you if you travel for a long time 🙂 If I remember the times when I carried my 18KG backpack on my half-year long trip through South-America, I consider myself pretty crazy right now. I got my whole life with me in my campervan and only have to take out stuff when staying in a hotel, couchsurfing or with friends 🙂 A definite advantage!

Also, when you are flying or sometimes even when you travel by bus you have weight restrictions on your luggage. The weight restriction on the van is about 3000 KG, so that’s quite hard to fill up 😉

No location is off limits

I usually like to travel to off-the-beaten path destinations, but it’s not always easy. Small villages without public transport connections? Sleepy beach towns without any hostels or affordable accommodations? No more 🙂 Simply drive with the van, open one of the awesome apps to find a free parking or camping spot and enjoy your new location.

Especially if you have a 4×4 campervan, you can really go anywhere. Our van is a regular van so sometimes steep, rocky or muddy roads are a bit too much and we try to find a different route. But 99% of the times we arrive at our desired destination 😀

No checking in, curfews or weird hours

Arriving really early or really late at your hostel or hotel can be a total pain in the butt. There is either no one present at the reception desk, the rooms are not available or cleaned yet or you cannot check in after 22h00. I even stayed at a hostel in Verona, Italy once, that made us leave the premises at 11h00 and we could only come back at 16h00! There are also hostels that have night-time curfews so you cannot go out late at night.

When you are travelling in a campervan it’s so different! You don’t have to find the way to your hostel, check in, adhere to curfews or other strange time restrictions. Sometimes (especially in high-season) you may be woken up by the police to leave your place for the night, but other than that you have few restrictions to take into account. One hassle I had in France was that many receptions of campings were closed for a couple of hours around lunch time. So if you would start driving in the morning and arrive at a campsite around 14h00, you would often find a closed door.

No fixed Hours – travel whenever you want

Flying at shitty times, because those are the cheapest fares? Arriving in a new city at 23:30 or 5:30 in the morning? I really don’t like it!

Of course, the negative part about travelling in a campervan is that you have to do all the driving yourself. In a bus, train or plane you can simply sleep, watch a movie or read a book. But when you are driving with the van, often the journey is more important than the destination 🙂

Can stop whenever and where every want

You know that moment you’re in a bus or on a tour and you see this amazing spot you would love to check out and take a picture of? But you cannot because the bus won’t stop or you would hold up the whole group? Or you see a supercute shoe store that you really want to check out, but your tour guide is walking like he’s running a marathon?

Travelling in a campervan

If you are travelling in a campervan that problem is non-existent! There have been countless times that I saw a cute village or a beautiful spot and simply pulled over. Plenty of time to take some pictures or even pull out your chair and make some lunch. Most of the time I just drive and see if I find nice spots on the way. Or I use an app to find free camping spots like Park4Night to find nice spots to have a break.

Always have a kitchen

Dirty, dirty backpackers! Hostel kitchens are amongst the worst and dirtiest kitchens ever in my opinion (the exceptions exist, of course). I have seen lots of hostel kitchens in for example Australia and South-America and it wasn’t great. Even if you were able to cook a proper meal, it was often busy, smelly and things didn’t get washed up! In other countries you often don’t even have kitchens, because it’s cheaper to eat out. Of course in countries like Thailand and Indonesia, where this is the case, you also don’t see too many van lifers 🙂 But, those countries are on my bucket list!

I love the kitchen in my campervan. It has two stoves, running water and plenty of storage space. This way I can make a healthy breakfast every morning and vary with lunch and dinner. I also use an extra table that I can attach to the kitchen to have some more space to chop things and leave dirty dishes. By cooking my own meals, I can save a huge amount of money. Travelling in Europe is already expensive enough – eating out every night is not an option.

No snoring people or other noise-makers in your dorm

One of my biggest annoyances while backpacking were other backpackers. Even though dormitories are great places to meet other backpackers, go partying and make plans for future travels, they are not all that great. Especially the ones that you share a dorm with and that either snore, or do very inappropriate stuff in dorms 🙂

If you are a solo vanlifer, you won’t have anything to deal with. If you travel with a boyfriend or a dog, you may encounter some snoring once in a while 😉 I loved to be a backpacker and sleep in dorms during my travels in my 20’s, but now that I’ve hit the 30 year old mark, I’m pretty much over the 6,8 or 10 person dorms!

No other people that steal your stuff

Remember that Christmas dinner that you bought all ingredients for? Or that lovely olive oil you invested in because you like salads so much. Or that chocolate your mum sent you for your birthday? AND IT WAS NOT THERE ANYMORE? Yes, I do remember.

Unfortunately it’s so common that backpackers steal other people’s food – especially when backpacking in countries like Australia where food is expensive.

Of course people steal or break into cars and especially campers and campervans. But when you are travelling in a campervan and you close and secure it well, there are no random people that are able to just grab your stuff out of the fridge. I wrote about basic safety measures for vanlife in this blog.

Luxury views for free!

A view over the lake, sea view, mountain view, beach view. You name it. You can have it all, but hotels with a view usually come at a price! When you are travelling in a campervan, it’s super easy to get the best views for free 🙂 If you use one of the apps to find a free camping spot, you can even read the reviews of other travellers!

Hiking in the Calanques near Marseille

View from my van in the morning 🙂

I hope this blog can inspire you to consider travelling in a campervan on your next trip, or maybe even full-time! There are definitely some downsides to travelling in a campervan too. I will write a blog about that soon 🙂


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