Trying Van Life with Kids for a Weekend in Our Minivan

I turned 34 and the day before my birthday we got a minivan. Which, to be honest, was basically my nightmare for the first 33 years of my life. But, in 2019, just after we paid off all our debt, we hit the road and took a 2-week road trip with our kids in a minivan rental, and…it was awesome! So, as our trusty Kia Sorento finally passed the 200,000 mile mark, we decided it was time for an upgrade. Then we hit the road for a weekend on Minnesota’s North Shore to experience van life with kids for a weekend. Here’s how it went.

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What is van life?

Van life is a movement right now where people are actually choosing to live in a van down by the river.

Since we downsized our house in 2016, one of our biggest goals has been to travel with our kids way more. That’s why we created The Bucket List Budget spending plan. We wanted to reach our financial goals while still soaking up life right now.

We still plan on getting an RV and hitting the road for a gap year. However, the second we hopped in the minivan for our weekend of van life I quickly realized…our dreams were already coming true!

Living the dream

It’s crazy how you set out on a journey and it can feel so far away when you first start, but when you stick with it, you eventually find yourself living the dream!

Purchasing a minivan was never a part of my plan and yet it feels like all the stars lined up to encourage me to finally make the leap and in doing so, we have been able to kick-start our adventures of life on the road!

Making money on the road

I started blogging in 2017 and worked to learn how to make an income from it as soon as possible. It has helped me not only pay off our debt but also travel year-round with our kids while homeschooling.

So many people love the idea of being able to make money from home (or on the road) but have no clue how to get started. If that sounds like you, I created a totally free training on how to turn your skills into a virtual money maker. Learning how to harness the power of online business and passive income has been one of the biggest blessings of my life and I think it’s something so many people could be taking advantage of!

More about making money online:

What inspired us to try van life for a weekend?

One word: quarantine! We headed out for a weekend of van life because it was my birthday/Mother’s Day weekend. Normally, this probably would have resulted in dinner and a movie … or some other typical celebration.

With fewer local options available, we decided to hit the road and explore the North Shore further than we had ever gone before. Normally this may have slowed us down because we would need a hotel or Airbnb (and those cost a lot of money).

When left with fewer options, we found we were forced to get creative and I am so, so, so thankful for that!

Our first night in the van

What went right

Thankfully we preplanned pretty well. We had a cooler full of quick-grab foods we could eat after hikes or for lunch. This allowed us to avoid over-spending when it came to buying takeout.

Foods we packed:

  • Baby carrots
  • Tuna in a can (yup)
  • Chip bags
  • Grapes
  • Cut up pineapple

While each of us only had a single backpack, we maintained just fine as far as having enough clean clothing, hiking gear, and warm clothing for the 30 degrees Minnesota nights.

Stuff we packed:

It was “nice” knowing because of quarantine we weren’t going to be going out to eat. We didn’t worry about having clean or nice looking clothes like we normally would if we were planning to hit up some of our favorite restaurants.

Trying Van Life with Kids for a Weekend
Van life allowed us to see and experience so much without hotel or campsite expenses.

What we’ll do differently next time

The biggest problem we faced was discomfort sleeping in the van. Next time I think more padding for laying on will be necessary for Tom and I to ensure a good night’s sleep.

We’re also hoping to purchase a camping grill so that we can bring more of our own food. We are also looking into hiking boots for the kids and better ones for us as well because we definitely want to do more!!

More on travel:

How to plan for van life

One of my biggest beliefs in life is to look at the big picture of what you want for your life and then work your way backward to take the baby steps needed to make it happen.

If you’re dreaming of more freedom to travel but it feels almost impossible, check out The Bucket List Budget. This is the exact method we went through to set our priorities straight, increase our monthly income and finally, finally have more freedom to travel!

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Trying Van Life with Kids for a Weekend
Trying Van Life with Kids for a Weekend

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