Cheapest Way To Live On The Road

Written by
Amber Hobert
Published on
April 23, 2022
Table of Contents

Life on the Road

We all like to travel for different reasons. Sometimes it is for a vacation or a holiday to get away from our stressful daily routines. While there are so many reasons to travel, there are people that have made living on the road a full-time thing to allow them to explore different places and understand life better.

Are you thinking of becoming a part of people who live on the road? The main thing that comes to mind with this type of lifestyle is the expenses involved. Even though the van life can help you cut down on certain costs, life on the road can become expensive without a source of income. This is one reason why it is usually advisable to have a on the road job.

When you have a job, you need to know how to lower the cost of living on the road. There are many ways to lower this cost, and in this article, you’ll find the cheapest ways to live on the road and a few tips to keep you prepared.

Before we go into the cheapest ways to live on the road, we’ll first cover some important things you must know, so read on.

Preparing for Life on the Road

There are different ways to start a life of traveling, and there are also new and popular travel options to choose from. The primary decision you'll make when living on the road is how to get from one point to the other and where you'll stay.

Deciding how long you'll stay in any location can be spontaneous. However, you'll need a lot of logistical planning to make living the van life a reality. Here are some tips to help you plan effectively:

Choose a Way of Living

RVs are the most used travel means for people living on the road. Other long-term options are vacation rentals and houseboats.


Recreational vehicles are the most widely used means for living a life of travel. It’s like a self-contained house on wheels, and RVs are available in different sizes. With an RV, you won’t need to book a hotel when you arrive at your destination. You can either stay by the road or use a convenient slot in any RV park.

If you don’t have an RV or have never driven one, you have the option to rent before you invest in one. It is worth mentioning that driving an RV is not as easy as it may seem, especially when it comes to parking, backing up, or making a tight turn. You also need to be conscious of heights, especially when entering a garage or approaching a bridge.


This will depend on your budget, but if you want to have more flexible travel, you might want to consider hotels when living on the road. The modern plumbing, room service, and more will make the experience more enjoyable. One fantastic thing about hotels is that there's always an option for different comfort levels and budgets.

Therefore, whenever you’re in a new city and would prefer to stay in a hotel, you can have an option that would match your budget. Even though staying in a hotel comes with greater comfort and luxury, it might not be the best option for someone who wants to live on the road for long.

Take an Inventory of Your Items

This is usually not easy because you’ve spent time with some of your belongings and have grown emotionally attached to them. With the van life, you may need to let go of some of these items because you may not have enough space for them. Deciding which items to take along and which items to leave behind can be an arduous task.

Before you start packing your things for the move, you should first take an inventory of everything. This will make it a lot easier for you to decide what items to leave behind and what items to take with you.

Get Rid of What You Don't Need

Do you have items you've stored for so long, and you’re wondering whether to take these items or not? The truth is you might never use these items again, and if you take them with you, they will only end up consuming a lot of space.

If you’re going to live on the road, you’ll need to know how to conserve space a lot. Once you have sorted out all the essential things you'll need, you can get rid of other things. One way to go about this is by selling some of these items to raise money.

What is the Cheapest Way to Live on the Road?

We have provided a short background to prepare you and help you with some essential things to keep in mind. This leaves us with the big question to answer: What is the cheapest way to live on the road?

There are many ways to live on the road without spending so much, and even though some of these may not be as comfortable as you’d want, you can be sure that they can help you with saving money.

To cut down your expenses when living on the road, you may need to take specific measures, which might affect what you eat and where you sleep.

Here's a run-through of some of the options you can utilize:


Not everyone will buy the idea of living in a hotel, but it is worth mentioning that there are different hotels out there, and you might want to try living in them. One fantastic thing is that you can find hotels in other places with top-notch amenities and private rooms. Some of the amenities you’ll get in hotels include a laundry room, computer lab, kitchen facilities, cable TV, and internet connection.


This is an excellent option to use if you are looking for a clean, comfortable and quiet place to stay. It is also a nice way to get to know people in your new city and try new things. If you don’t like sharing your space with someone else, homestays may not be an ideal option for you.

This is because homestays imply that you'll share the place with a person that already lives in the house. However, you’ll have your bathroom, room, and in some cases, a kitchen. Some homestays usually have cable TV, internet connection, and other local services. It is important to note that you might not receive some of these services in a motel or hotel.

Homestays can also provide transportation for you if you want to explore the city or go shopping. Another thing to note is that homestays are not the cheapest options available, but if your aim is to save money, then you might want to try them depending on how long you’ll be staying.

Homestays are perfect for short trips, and if you don’t plan to stay for less than a month, it may be a nice option to use. Homestays are also a great option if you want to learn more about the culture and tradition of a city. You can easily do this while maintaining your travel plan. This is by far a better option when compared with renting an apartment or living with someone else while traveling.

Living in a Van

It is the cheapest option to use to cut expenses on accommodation while living on the road. However, before you set out to live in your van or buy a van, there are many things to consider. The first thing you should consider is the fact that vans are not usually as lovely or as appealing as cars and other vehicles, and this is because they are designed for traveling purposes and not for convenience or comfort.

Also, whether you rent or buy a van, you might not be able to park overnight in some parking lots. Not everyone will want your van parked there overnight. With this, you might need to resort to private parking spaces. Additionally, it is essential to make inquiries about whether there are strict rules on vans in the city.

You wouldn’t want to get a ticket or have your van towed. This means that you’ll need to go through the regulations for parking overnight in the city. One of the things to expect if you choose to live in a van is that your trip won’t be as easy as you may want it to be. Cleaning up, cooking, going to the bathroom, and other day-to-day activities may require additional space, and finding a place to do this can be hard.

If you like a more organized life, living in a van may not be the best option for you. However, it will help you save a lot of money for other future expenses.

Short-Term Room Rentals

Do you want a cheap place to stay for a while? You might want to try using short-term room rentals. These are homes that offer rentals for as short as a week rather than yearly. You can easily get a short rental for a week and at a very low bill. Short-term room rentals are an excellent option for people who don’t want long-term commitment or anything that could alter their trip.

With this, you can explore the town and still have a place to rest at night rather than paying substantial hotel bills. However, it’s not always easy to find a short-term rental, especially if you’re not in a large city. The demand for this type of rental is higher in larger cities, which is why they are easier to find.

In addition to taking a short-term rental, other temporary housing options include private rooms in homes, church basements, tents, or camping. These are also flexible options to use, and they are very affordable. However, they have a few drawbacks that you might not want to overlook. For instance, you may not have the type of privacy you need, and cooking may be a bit hard.

Go Homeless

Okay, yes, it sounds ridiculous. There are many people who are homeless not by choice but because life has thrown different curveballs at them, and they find themselves in situations whereby they can’t afford a roof on their heads. However, people still decide to live on the street even though they can afford something better. Some of these people have a tent they use, while others use cardboard boxes. This is hard to imagine, but it happens, and depending on individual preferences, it’s an option to consider.

You'll be surprised to find out that professors, lawyers, doctors, and more choose this option because they want to save money.

RV Living

As mentioned earlier, this is the most commonly used option. It will let you travel in style and also cut down your expenses, especially on accommodation and other upgrades. You can either use a rented RV or buy one if you decide to use these options and depending on what suits you. RV rental companies are available, and they are the easiest way to get an RV.

With an RV, you have enough time to visit different places without spending a dime on accommodation. There are so many rental companies that you can check, and you can rest assured that you’ll get affordable rates from these companies.

However, before you rent an RV, here are some things you should consider:

Storage Space

The space in most small RVs is usually the same as that in a truck or an SUV, and this might not be enough if you plan to travel to different countries with all your luggage. You might want to go for a larger RV or one with enough storage space to contain all your belongings.

Number of People You're Traveling With

If you’re traveling alone, then you only need an RV that can contain your luggage. However, if you’re traveling in a small group, then you’ll need a larger RV. For example, if it's a group of six, you'll need an RV that can contain six people.

Renting a bigger RV will also save you money since you won’t need to pay rent for everyone.

Do You Need a Camper or an RV?

Sometimes, RV rentals offer campers in their packages. Campers are better suited for people who only need a little space. Cooking is also easier with campers, and they are also affordable.

How Much You Need to Save

Whether you'll buy your own RV or rent one, it is vital to check all the available offers and align them with your budget to easily ascertain which one works for you. Therefore, you might want to consider renting one before buying to know what it’s like to own an RV before you actually invest in one. Once you’ve tried different RVs, you’ll know the cost of RV living, purchase, and maintenance. With that, you’ll be able to save enough for it.

How Far You'll Go

Depending on the length you plan to live on the road, you can explore different places and go farther distances if you have enough time. You can also visit various campgrounds and stay there for a while, which is excellent, especially if you don't want to spend extra money on hotels.

Last-Minute Traveling Tips to Help You

While you're preparing to start living on the road and seeking ways to make it less expensive, you also need to be ready for unplanned situations. Even though you can’t predict everything that will happen, there are ways to put your mind at ease and prepare for these unforeseen circumstances.

Here are some nifty travel tips to guide you:


If you own a home and you plan to live on the road for a while, it is advisable to notify your insurance agent. This is, so they will know that you will not occupy your property for a while. Sometimes you may need to get additional coverage for this, and if you want to rent the property out, you’ll need to get landlord insurance and a property manager to deal with issues and collect rent from tenants.


There are so many emergencies that could occur while traveling, and you wouldn't want to be caught unaware. Getting a health insurance plan before starting life on the road is essential. Most of these insurance packages will provide you with coverage for emergencies when you’re not home.

Another option is to get medical coverage that’s better suited for travelers and one that provides emergency coverage. Before you start your journey, you might want to meet a doctor to get the necessary medications and also renew prescriptions. The best thing is to get enough supplies that you can take with you.

In addition to getting medications, you can also see a dentist and have your dental work done. All these are key to ensuring that you are healthy throughout your journey.


Like with properties, it is essential to notify your insurance agent that you'll be storing your vehicle for the long term. You'll also want to inform your DMV to avoid incurring unnecessary DMV registration fees. For this, you'll need to complete the non-use certificate. Depending on the surrounding circumstances, you can also get reduced auto insurance fees.


Before you embark on your journey, it is essential to notify your credit card company and your bank. You might also want to ensure that you have a current passport because you’ll need this if you plan to cross borders.

It is also advised to have a spare credit card account. Consider opening one if you don't already have a credit card account. For other important documents, you might want to make photocopies. This will include insurance policies, driver's licenses, and more.

Don't Be Caught Unprepared

Asides from preparing yourself and your van for life on the road, it is crucial to complete all vehicle documentation before you start living on the road. Doing this will keep you prepared whenever you’re faced with an emergency or other unforeseen circumstances. If you are yet to sort out your vehicle registration or secure a valid driver’s license, you may need to contact a professional to help with the process.

More so, when living on the road, you will need to enlist the services of a mail forwarder. This ensures that your documentation gets to you wherever you are on the road and vice versa, as you don't want to be caught without your essential documentation when you need it most.

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