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Will you throw your stuff in a pack and fly, bus, and even boat around the world?

OR will you choose to drive a vehicle country to country and ship it across seas as needed?

We've done both, so let us help you decide!


Pros & Cons of Backpacking vs. Vanlife

*Vanlife = any vehicle including a van, RV, Jeep, etc.



  • Can't fit as much stuff, which is sort of a good thing bc keeps packing list simple!

  • Constantly packing and unpacking can get annoying but you get used to it

  • Less clothes & nowhere to keep dirty laundry means doing laundry more often


  • Can bring more stuff (surfboard, cooking supplies, your favorite pillow) (Packing List)

  • No packing/unpacking!

  • Everything should have its place but can get cramped quickly



  • You can hop around to different countries and continents quickly via flights or buses

  • No need to plan too far ahead but will be reliant on flight/bus schedules & bookings

  • Very mobile and able to change your entire plan/location/circumstances quickly


  • Initial overhead cost of the vehicle means you're somewhat committed

  • Can be tough to sell or ship van elsewhere if you decide to change plans/location

  • VERY flexible day to day to go where you want and stay as long as you want

Wifi/ Cell Service


  • Wifi and cell service is very likely at airports and hostels/hotels BUT don't count on having it 100% of the time as you may go for days at a time without service or wifi

  • Can purchase SIM cards and can find free wifi at many restaurants and such


  • Most countries have widespread cell service BUT count on being disconnected somewhat often as you can go for long periods without Wifi or cell service

  • Can purchase SIM cards and can find wifi areas/campsites on iOverlander



  • Can be as expensive or as cheap as you want (Make a Budget)

  • Very easy to adjust budget and expenses as you go if you want to spend less/more

  • Easy to move into a work-stay situation to save money


  • Initial cost of vehicle and gas are requirements off the bat; research ahead of time

  • Don't have to pay for accommodations BUT campsite costs can add up

  • MUST have a budget for mechanical issues/maintenance + crossing borders



  • Easy to meet people at hostels, restaurants/bars, buses, etc.

  • Can be hard to have true alone time

  • Opportunity to sync up with new friends and keep travelling together


  • Great online community and often meet people at campsites

  • Can get very lonely for long periods of time especially on long drives or remote areas

  • Can be tough to travel with new people you meet along the way for extended periods

Cultural Appreciation


  • Harder to get a local viewpoint of the location seeing as you'll often stay and eat at hostels/hotels with other tourists but easier to find others to explore with or book tours

  • Harder to achieve 100% immersion in the language


  • By necessity you're constantly driving/living/eating/shopping among the locals

  • True language immersion because many remote areas will have few English speakers

  • You don't just see the highlights of a country, but rather the full view



  • Obviously depends on the country and places you're visiting but overall quite safe seeing as you'll often stay in hostels/hotels with other travelers

  • Relatively easy to leave a location if something goes wrong (More on Safety)


  • Obviously depends on the places you're visiting, but overall safe if you follow recommended safety rules such as don't drive at night and find secure sleeping areas

  • Can be very tough to leave quickly if something goes wrong (More on Safety)

Sleeping/ Relaxation


  • Your sleeping accommodations will change constantly so you must be able to adapt quickly and learn to sleep through most anything, especially noises & temperatures.

  • Can be difficult to have alone/down time at hostels or home-stays


  • You get to sleep in the same bed every night and its very easy to have alone time

  • Location of your home will change constantly and can be tough to find "perfect" parking each night so must be flexible and learn to sleep through all temps and noises



  • Depending on how fast you're moving you will be looking for & changing accommodations regularly; keep realistic expectations depending on location & costs

  • Accommodations often have shower, toilet, wifi, electricity, fan/AC/heating (maybe)


  • Your home is with you! Therefore, your accommodations stay more constant and will be as comfortable as you make it (ie. can include shower, toilet, etc)

  • You may often not have running water, wifi, electricity, fan/AC/heating



  • VERY easy to access most anywhere in the world (decide Where to Go)

  • Can move about quickly and relatively cheaply

  • Can change current or planned destinations almost immediately as desired


  • Must sell or ship vehicle across oceans to change continents (even North to South America or vice versa must ship across Darian Gap) which can be timely and costly

  • Will likely see more of each country and discover hidden places you'd never find 

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