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Vanlife – Ready for a life in the camper van?

A man is lying in a camper van with the rear door open

A camper vanlife? A dream for many, unthinkable for others. One thing is for sure: you have to be the type for the Vanlife. We tell you what it takes and what you have to consider.

Roadtrip or Vanlife – is there a difference?

Vacation or travel? It’s more or less the same as road trip or Vanlife. Vacation means not having to work, leaving the daily routine behind for a limited period of time – but sooner or later returning from your road trip back to the (working) routine. Vanlife means, on one hand, leaving this routine behind once and for all, being a traveler and being on the go every day anew. But also: to have to work on the road, to organize yourself on the road, so that a nomadic life is possible in the first place. The living room? The camper van. The office? Also the van. Those who choose to live on the road should be aware that their own four walls are now always present on four wheels. And they can drive to wonderful places. But not only …

Ben sitting on the edge of the Sprinter's sliding door

Getting dressed on the edge of the Sprinter’s sliding door – photographer Ben gets dressed in the morning. He lives in a Mercedes-Benz camper van.

From minimalism and the freedom of a life in the van.

What could be nicer than eating dinner in the evening in a beautiful natural setting, under a starry sky – perhaps every day? How reassuring it must be to work on your laptop and let your gaze wander outside, where a quiet lake stimulates concentration. All this is Vanlife: freedom, spontaneity, a life in the here and now, a home in outdoors. “Especially in the last few years we had to fight with stress, fear and the many expectations society places on modern people,” says the Australian Jonny from Rebel on a Rainbow (to the interview), who traded his apartment for a Mercedes-Benz Vito, then for a Sprinter with his childhood sweetheart Jess. “So we decided to simplify our lives. We wanted to throw off unnecessary ballast and find a new balance in life.

  • A man sits on folding chair in natural landscape looking at cows
  • Take a shower in front of your Sprinter
  • A white Sprinter parked in the countryside, and a woman preparing food

Vanlife – It is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Living in the van also means: minimalism, modesty – to do without many things. Because, for many people it is enough to experience this sense of freedom in a van for just a few days or a few weeks on a road trip. After all, you have to be the type for a life in a camper van or motorhome: love nature, be able to scale down your expectations and above all be spontaneous and flexible. “Think carefully through your everyday life, every aspect of your daily life,” advises US photographer Ben, who has moved into a Sprinter with his girlfriend Katch, also a photographer.  “Life in the van also influences habits you didn’t initially know you had, the little things in everyday life.” Like what? The morning shower, the post office, the laundry, and, and, and, and …

A woman and a man sitting on the steps of a van

Katch and Ben – have been living in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter for a year now. And they are not thinking about quitting.

The right van and the right bodybuilder.

How comfortable you can design your everyday (working) life in a van depends of course on your own camper, its size, equipment and your own individual inventiveness. One thing is certain: Mercedes-Benz vans and motorhomes are the right choice for every requirement. The Citan is suitable for smaller tours, the Vito or the Marco Polo, the Marco Polo HORIZON and the Marco Polo ACTIVITY especially for (sporty) road trips. Especially popular in the Vanlife scene is the Sprinter, which has been lovingly converted to a camper by countless travelers either on their own or with the help of a bodybuilder. There are no limits to the imagination.

The right travel partner.

Just as important as the right vehicle is whoever is with you in your camper van, because this is more than just a passenger. No forced partnerships, please. The perfect solution, of course, is if the travel partners complement each other and at least one of them knows a little bit about the vehicle, so that in the rare event of a breakdown, you can do it yourself. Life in just a few square meters with little privacy requires compromises. If you travel alone instead, this solitude can also be challenging. “The most important thing is to divide up the work that comes up and to always address problems openly before they become arguments,” says Samara and Samuel. The couple lives in a Vito and has some good tips on how to manage life in the van together.

A man, a woman and a dog stand on a cliff platform in Norway

“Travelling with a dog is not difficult. But you have to bear in mind that you cannot simply visit three museums in one day”, explains Samara.

A yellow Vito parked in front of a lake

How would the couple describe their van? “The Vito is reliable, beautiful and versatile”, explain the Spanish couple.

A woman and a dog stand on a surfboard in the blue ocean

Samara and Samuel love outdoor sports such as skiing, climbing, cycling and surfing.

Mobile Home Office: working on four wheels.

Very few Van Nomads live and breathe the day, because the money must come from somewhere after all. The solution: instead of the regular 40-hour week in the office, it’s called working in cafés or simply in the van on a fold-out table, which turns into a desk of your own mobile home office. For this reason alone, a life in a van is not suitable for everyone. It is most suitable for self-employed people and freelancers who are able to work from anywhere and can improvise if necessary and who only need internet access and a laptop. With a mobile router it is usually very easy to access the Internet. If reception is weak, a signal amplifier helps. Most of the time, however, it makes sense to have worked on his independence before moving into a van. The Canadian Julien Roussin Côté has turned his life in the van into a business model: among other things, he publishes the online magazine “Go-Van“, which deals with topics related to life in motorhomes or camper vans.

Travelling with a camper van through the Rocky Mountains.

This summer Julien travelled through the Rocky Mountains for the first time and was fascinated by the landscape’s beauty.

Where does the mail and paperwork go?

Anyone who is constantly on the move – especially abroad – naturally lacks a fixed postal address. Letters have to follow you around. This usually works better than you might think, as most documents and the majority of correspondence can be handled digitally. And the little bit of paper mail that still reaches you can also be received and digitized by family or friends. Even better: in the meantime, there are services that accept mail for a small fee and then send it by email. Even faxes can be sent online.

Sprinter from the inside with sink, laptop and cabinets

A nice kitchen? You think! This is what the Sprinter of the American photographer couple Katch & Ben looks like.

Clarify early on: bureaucracy, taxes and insurance.

If you are planning to move into your van and go on a trip around the world, for example, you need to consider some organizational matters. These may vary from country to country. For example: where am I registered, where do I pay taxes and what are the bureaucratic consequences of each option? Most of the time it is worth staying registered in your country of origin, but here too, however, there are deadlines for how long you can stay abroad in order to be able to remain registered at all. When it comes to bureaucracy, attention to detail and research is required! Furthermore, motor vehicle insurance, liability insurance, if possible also theft insurance to protect the inventory of the camper van and, last but not least, health insurance is recommended. Make sure that all these safeguards are valid for foreign countries.

Moving into a van – is anything but a permanent holiday.

Those who choose to live as a Van Nomand do without much that modern society offers in terms of convenience. They have to make compromises, overcome numerous organizational hurdles and leave a lot of things behind. But completely new dimensions are also revealed to them. They are characterized by a close relationship to nature, modesty and, above all, freedom. Are you fit for Vanlife? Find out with our list!

Are you looking for inspiration for your road trip? Then we recommend our top ten tips.

The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.


Regardless of what job you have to tackle – the Sprinter will make your day-to-day tasks easier. And even if those tasks are weighty ones, together, you’ll move mountains. Thanks to a host of different variants and over 600 optional features, the Sprinter can meet a wide variety of requirements.

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