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
Shower at a truck stop: $12
Weekly groceries: $75
Total spent today: $92.50
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
Drinking water: $1.50
Dinner and drinks: $150
Total spent today: $164.50
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
Total spent today: $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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