Navigating Van Life with Kids

Parenting is a roller coaster of emotions – from heartwarming moments to ear-piercing screams, it’s a journey of extremes. At Roost Vans, we’re a team of parents who understand the challenges and joys of raising kids. In this guide, we’ll share our personal experiences and insights into making van life with children although challenging, incredibly rewarding.

Let’s face it – parenting is an unpredictable ride. I have two amazing kids, a 7-year-old boy, and a 3-year-old girl, and the spectrum of emotions I traverse in a day is mind-boggling. From tears of gratitude to moments of frustration that make me scream, it’s a wild journey. Strangely, my wife and I wouldn’t trade it for anything – well, depends on the minute.

Van life, with its confined spaces and unique challenges, amplifies the highs and lows of parenting. My aim here is to share my story and perspectives, hoping to shed light on whether it’s the right fit for your family. Before we delve deeper, let’s clarify what we mean by “Van Life.” Living out of your van, without a brick-and-mortar house, is an adventure worth exploring. But, for the purpose of this guide, we’re focusing on extended vacations in a van, sans hotel stays, lasting around three weeks or more.


One aspect my wife and I cherish about traveling with our children is the ease of having an adventure anywhere. While we were once avid backpackers exploring distant lands, the arrival of children prompted a shift in our perspective. A shorter trip to a small town with the kids became a cherished adventure, requiring less planning but delivering immense joy in discovering new, beautiful areas. Amplified by the wonder of our children

When we built our first van, we marveled at how leaving the house became a breeze. Everything was ready – clothes, food, games, diapers – making a spontaneous trip possible in under 30 minutes. Having a van as a home base meant we always had snacks, water, a safe nap spot, and a portable toilet at the ready. The decision to extend a trip became less about having the necessary stuff and more about having the time to spare.
Staying at home often feels more challenging than traveling in a well-equipped Class-B camper van. The reduced stuff, simplified chores, and slowed-down pace contribute to a more relaxed family dynamic. Unlike home, where daily tasks and projects can consume us, life on the road encourages us to savor the moment.


One of the beauties of van life is finding adventure in unexpected places. My kids don’t care about the destination; they relish the time with mom and dad. Some of our most cherished memories stem from impromptu stops – trailheads leading to outdoor escapades, quirky small-town museums, or stumbling upon community events. Life tends to unfold when we step out of the house.

A typical routine involves intentional routes off the beaten path keeping daily drives under 100 miles. This deliberate choice allows for relaxed stops at points of interest my wife and I have earmarked on a shared Google Map over time. These stops include trails, quaint towns, family-friendly restaurants, weird points of interest and facilities for the kids.


Van life forces us to have less stuff, and surprisingly, it makes life easier. Practical tips include light, quality plastic cookware, nesting cups with lids, and the philosophy of ‘less is more.’ The less you pack, the less stress you bring, and the more enjoyable the journey becomes. 1 spork, 1 Plowel (plate/bowl), and one cup per person. Interesting how the kids, and we for that matter, learn to keep it clean and keep track of it. The less you have, the less you need. Now I’m not a minimalist mind you, but we’ve learned that you don’t really need much when you are on the road. We live in an INCREDIBLE country, the USA. Utilize it. Be prepared, but avoid the temptation of bringing all the stuff. A Kindle, a single large tablet for snuggling up to movies, 3 sets of clothes and layers that you will inevitably re-wear several of them. Yes, underwear can be worn inside out. Disgusting? Fine. Whatever. That’s what we do backpacking. You are living out of a van after all, with kids, not an RV. The more you pack with you, the more stress you are bringing.

The key to a successful van life with kids is setting intentions properly. We opt for smaller national parks, explore areas instead of specific spots, and leave room for downtime. Boredom becomes a catalyst for discovery, and we find wonder in the simple joy of kids playing with sticks.


  • The parents eat out of the pot after serving the kids. Less dishes and to be blunt, intimacy with our spouse can get shot with kids. Small wins.
  • We cook in the van, always. Haven’t had an issue with smell. Ever.
  • Waterproof covers on the beds for kids is helpful.
  • Easy games like cards or dice or others that don’t have small pieces to manage or a big board that can get bumped and shoot the game to hell.
  • Pack clothing in layers.
  • Let the kids get their shoes wet and just pack one pair. It’ll happen once, maybe twice. And then a peculiar thing happens, we see our kids take extra care with their shoes.
  • A favorite stuffy.
  • 1 toiletry bag for everyone, self care is a family event. Then it gets put away.

In the grand tapestry of van life with children, the key is to embrace the chaos, simplify, and savor the unexpected moments and opportunities. Not just move onto the next thing. It’s not just a lifestyle; it’s a journey filled with beautiful memories waiting to be experienced.

Photo credits:

Top 5 Gems for Your Adventure Van Expedition

Embarking on a journey with your Van is an invitation to explore the diverse and breathtaking landscapes of North America. From coastal wonders to mountain retreats. Here are five destinations that perfectly complement the spirit of Roost Vans:

  1. Pacific Northwest, USA and Canada

The Pacific Northwest is a haven for van lifers, offering a blend of lush greenery, rugged coastlines, and vibrant cities. Take your Van along the Pacific Coast Highway. Explore Olympic National Park. Immerse yourself in the creative energy of Portland. Cross the border into Canada to discover the stunning landscapes of Vancouver Island. Or enjoy the majestic peaks of the Canadian Rockies.

  1. Baja California, Mexico

For those seeking a sun-soaked escape, Baja California beckons with its desert landscapes and pristine beaches. Navigate the scenic Baja Peninsula in your Roost. Camp by the Sea of Cortez. Indulge in the vibrant culture and delicious cuisine of towns like Todos Santos and La Paz. Baja offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure for van enthusiasts.

  1. Rocky Mountains, USA and Canada

The Rocky Mountains provide a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Your Van is the perfect companion for this grand adventure. Roam through the iconic Rocky Mountain National Park. Traverse the Icefields Parkway in Canada. Or camp under star-studded skies in the mountainous landscapes of Colorado and Alberta. The Rockies offer a majestic backdrop for your van life journey.

  1. Newfoundland, Canada

For a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience, set your Van on a ferry to Newfoundland. This eastern Canadian province boasts dramatic coastlines and charming fishing villages. You may also enjoy the otherworldly landscapes of Gros Morne National Park. Embrace the tranquility of this remote destination and discover the untamed beauty of the Atlantic.

  1. Utah’s Mighty Five, USA

Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks – Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion – are a must-visit for any van life enthusiast. Your Van is your ticket to exploring the red-rock wonders, towering canyons, and expansive vistas that define the southwestern United States. Camp in the heart of these natural wonders and witness the magic of the desert landscapes.

Roost Vans: Elevating Your North American Adventure

Roost Vans is not just a brand; it’s a companion for your unforgettable journey across North America. With our commitment to simplicity, innovation, and durability, your van life experience reaches new heights. Check out our Instagram Here! Your adventure awaits – let Roost Vans be your guide to the open road. 🌲🚐

Summer 2024 Van: The Procrastination Trap

Ah, the allure of van life—the freedom, the adventure, the wind in your hair as you traverse scenic landscapes. But hold on, aspiring van dwellers, before you hit the road. There’s a crucial element to consider: The timing of your van build. We’re here to spill the beans and give you some insider tips. This blog can make or break your dream of hitting the open road in style.

The Van-Build Frenzy

Picture this: February rolls around, and like clockwork, the Roost Vans phones light up with frantic calls from eager customers. The reason? The collective yearning for a van build that will be road-ready in time to enjoy the summer 2024. Roost’s innovative product line allows for extremely fast build time, but it’s not just about the duration of the build; it’s all about securing your spot on the schedule.

In the intricate dance of van building, timing is everything. If you’re eyeing a summer escapade in your newly built van, listen up. Most van builders, including Roost, operate on a schedule queue that hovers between four to six months. Winter might offer a breather, dipping to the lower end of the spectrum, but as spring approaches, so does the demand. By early march, most van builders will have their schedule booked out six months or more. This can turn your summer dreams into another year of anticipation.  

The Early Bird Gets the Van

Now, here’s the golden nugget of wisdom: If summer is your target, your best bet is to get the ball rolling by early February. Don’t wait until the sun peeks out, and the birds start chirping to secure your spot. Engage with your chosen van builder as early as possible. Try to reserve your spot on the schedule by early February. Missing this window might mean your dream van won’t hit the road until the fall.

DIY Dilemmas: A Twist in the Tale

For the hands-on enthusiasts opting for a DIY van build, the rules bend, but they don’t break. While DIYers don’t have to wait for the availability of our installers, there’s still a catch—lead times on essential components. Roost Vans can provide many of your build components with little or no lead time, but in the broader industry landscape lead times are a huge obstacle, and four to eight week lead times are not uncommon.  

Like building a house, a van build involves a lot of interdependent sequencing, with some stages of work reliant on the completion of others.  A six week lead time on a build component doesn’t just delay the build time for that part, but any portion of the build that follows.  Advance planning is key, and the sooner the start, the more likely you will spend your summer enjoying your van rather than working on the project.  

Roost Vans distinguishes itself by delivering interior build components promptly, providing DIYers with a huge head start. Nevertheless, a reality check is in order—DIY builders frequently underestimate the total time required for the entire process. Even in the realm of DIY, a mid-February to mid-March start is recommended to ensure your van is summer-ready.

Reserve Your Spot

Here’s a game-changer: you can secure your spot on the schedule with a deposit even as you’re on the hunt for the perfect van. While most builders may not explicitly offer this option, Roost Vans does. A small deposit with a solid plan can reserve your place on the build schedule, a proactive move that aligns your dream van’s completion with your envisioned timeline.

In the intricate ballet of van builds, Roost Vans doesn’t just offer a product; it provides a strategy for success. Whether you’re eyeing a professionally built van or embarking on a DIY adventure, heed the timeline. Mark your calendars, engage early, and let the road-tripping dreams unfold seamlessly. Your van life journey awaits, and with the right timing, it’s bound to be an adventure like no other.

Van Life Holiday and Gift Guide

The twinkling lights, the scent of pine, and the warmth of cocoa – the holiday season brings a sense of joy and togetherness. But what if your home is on wheels? Can you still capture the magic of Christmas while living the van life? Absolutely! In this guide, we’ll explore how to make Christmas in your van memorable and share a Van Life Gift Guide for those who call their van home.

Creating Christmas Cheer in Your Van

1. Roost Vans Tie Down brackets:
Discover the versatility of Roost Vans Tie-Down Brackets – the ultimate starting point for transforming your space! Elevate your van life experience by utilizing these brackets for various purposes, from hanging lights and stockings to showcasing ornaments and more. The possibilities are endless with Roost Vans Tie-Down Brackets!

2. Compact Christmas Tree:
Consider a tabletop or wall-mounted Christmas tree to bring the holiday spirit without taking up too much space. You can even craft your own tree using reclaimed materials.

3. Holiday Scents:
For safety reasons, try to avoid candles. Infuse your van with the scents of the season by hanging scented ornaments, or use an essential oil diffuser.

4. Van-Friendly Stockings:
Hang mini stockings on a Roost Vans tie down bracket, along the dashboard or on cabinet handles. Fill them with small treats, creating a festive touch without overwhelming your space.

5. Van Life Christmas Lights:
Embrace the charm of string lights. They’re not only festive but also provide cozy ambient lighting. Opt for solar-powered or rechargeable battery-operated lights to reduce excess wire. Use these tie downs to help manage wiring.

Van Life Christmas Gift Guide

Now, let’s explore some thoughtful gifts for your fellow van lifers or those aspiring to hit the road:

1. Compact Cookware Set:
A space-saving cookware set is a practical gift for van dwellers who appreciate home-cooked meals. Look for nesting pots, pans, and utensils designed for compact living. All one piece as not to lose anything, but compact and light.

2. Portable Coffee Maker:
Keep the caffeine flowing on the road with a portable coffee maker. Choose options like French presses or pour-over devices that don’t require electricity. An Aeropress with a built in mug and reusable filter is a great option.

3. Compact Camping Gear:
Consider space-efficient camping gear like collapsible chairs, foldable tables, and compact grills. Practical items that enhance outdoor living are always appreciated.

4. Van Life Books:
Feed the wanderlust with books about van life adventures. Whether it’s a captivating travel memoir or a practical guide to life on the road, a good read is a great gift.

5. Portable Heater or Blanket:
Help van lifers stay cozy during chilly nights with a portable heater or a quality, heated blanket. Look for options designed for outdoor or RV use.

6. National Park Pass:
The gift of exploration! A National Park Pass allows van dwellers to discover the beauty of nature while saving on entrance fees. It’s a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

Van Life Christmas Memories

While celebrating Christmas in a van may require some creativity, the joy of the season can be fully embraced. Whether you’re decorating your compact space or gifting practical items for life on the road, the spirit of Christmas is about creating warm memories, no matter where your wheels take you. So, light up those fairy lights, sip on some hot cocoa, and make this holiday season a magical one in your cozy van home. Merry Christmas!

3 Steps to Consider When Building a Van

There are many different resources available online about building out a camper van… From blogs and videos, to social media groups. Sometimes it can feel like an information overload. At Roost Vans we like to be somewhat in the middle…

Do you want a professional, high quality build at a good value? Are you wanting to DIY the whole thing? Maybe you want to hire Roost Vans to do the hard parts, and you do the rest? We like to provide the van life community with an approach that meets your budget, skill set, schedule, and everything in between. In this blog, we are going to break down the 3 major decisions you should consider when diving head-first into the van world.

1. Platform

You’ve made the big decision to buy a van, but you don’t know where to begin. You have probably heard of the 3 most popular vans on the market: Sprinter, Transit, and Promaster. Which is right for you? They are all great vans, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. It really comes down to the process of elimination. Let’s do a comparison of the three vans to help you choose the best one for your needs.


Sprinters are known to be one of the most luxurious and comfortable vans. They are available in rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and 4×4. Sprinter vans also have a high resale value. That being said, they are going to be the most expensive van and not as fuel-efficient as the Transit or Promaster. If your budget allows for it, a Sprinter Van is going to be a very valuable option.


The Transit is known for its fuel efficiency, cargo capacity, and affordability. Just like the Sprinter van, Transit vans are also available in rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and 4×4. It is going to be the most fuel-efficient van and has the widest range of trim levels and options.


The Promaster is a very versatile van known for its affordability and customization options. Of the 3, it is going to be the most affordable van. Promasters are available in a variety of body styles and have good fuel economy for a van of its size. That being said, it won’t be as luxurious or comfortable as the Sprinter or Transit vans.

So, which van should you choose?

For the more budget concsious person, we would recommend a Transit van, particularly if you plan to buy new (but we will get into that later). It is the most fuel-efficient and the cargo space gives you more room to work with.

If the budget allows for it, Sprinter would be the best option because of its reliability. The Sprinter has a lot of aftermarket parts and accessories available. This makes it easier to find the things you need to build your camper van.

This leaves Promaster being the least desirable all around. The curved roof and metal supports can make it more difficult to insulate or run plumbing through. On the other hand, buying a Prosmater can save you money on the purchase price of the van and it will give you the most space.

Finally, one last insider tip that is worth mentioning would be that you find a van that already has the basic configuration the way you want it. This will save you money, rather than paying to modify it. For example: A cargo van is going to give you way more bang for your buck than a passenger van when doing a full conversion. You will pay for a lot of finished interiors with a Passenger van that ends up getting torn out. Also, Buying something with the window configuration you want will save you thousands in adding new windows. Lastly, for a heavier build, buying a 2500 or 3500 is way less expensive than having to beef up the suspension to support the build.

2. New vs. Used

One of the most important decisions is whether to buy new or used. Buying a new van will come with the latest features and technology, and will often have a warranty, which can give you peace of mind. New vans are definitely more expensive than used vans, but you know exactly how the van has been driven and maintained.
The most obvious pro of buying a used van is that they are typically less expensive than new vans. You can still find vans with the features and options you want, even if they’re not the latest model. Sometimes used vans may have hidden problems that aren’t apparent during a test drive.
So, which is the better option?
The answer ultimately depends on your budget. Generally speaking we would recommend something under 10 years old, and less than 100k miles. Anything older is probably not worth putting the money into finishing it out. It could be like putting lipstick on a pig. Roost Vans product line (and most modern build product lines) are for 2008 and newer. We think a safe window would be buying 2 to 5-year-olds.
Just remember to do your research. Consider buying a van from a private seller, as they are often more willing to negotiate on price than dealerships. If you’re planning to finance your van, getting pre-approved for a loan will give you an idea of how much you can afford to spend. If you’re not happy with the price or the condition of a van, don’t be afraid to walk away. There are plenty of other vans available. Be patient: Buying a van on a budget takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the perfect van right away. Keep looking and you’ll eventually find the perfect van for you.

3. Conversion

You’ve got the van… now what? The most important part of the conversion process is HOW you are going to convert your van into the van of your dreams! We have an entire blog post on the pros and cons of hiring someone to build out your van for you OR building it out yourself. You can read that blog HERE.

In this blog we want you to consider the option in-between: a Hybrid build. Perhaps you want to go the DIY route but have a fear of getting the wiring or plumbing wrong. Or maybe you want to get the basics done, take it on the road, and come back later to add more. That’s where we come in. Roost Vans is great at meeting you right in the middle.
One of the most popular types of builds we offer is our Core Build. A core build can be a standalone project, or the first step of a full build in a multi-phase incremental buildout, allowing the customer to finish their van in phases.

Our core builds always start with our Smooth Rail Mounting system. This provides a permanently accessible, strong, and secure mounting point for most van build components and accessories. Components installed to our mounting system can be installed, temporarily removed, or re-positioned without the need to remove paneling or drill additional holes in your van. Most components can be removed or replaced in minutes with simple tools. Once our van rail system is installed, the possibilities are endless. Our Core Build also includes: our core electrical wiring system, insulation and sound suppression, ventilation, wall paneling, doorway treatments, and flooring.

Sometimes customers like having Roost’s professional installers do the bare metal vehicle work, allowing them to conduct other portions of the build themselves… projects more suited to their talents and available tools. We sell a very large array of van products that you can order online and install yourself.

If you’re serious about converting a van into a camper van, please feel free to reach out to Roost Vans. We would be happy to answer any questions you have!

Living Out of a Van: A Guide

Living out of a van is a popular choice for people who want to travel and live a more minimalist lifestyle. It can be a great way to save money and see the world, but it’s important to be prepared before you make the switch.

Here are some tips on how to live out of a van…

Choose the right van.

The first step is to select the right van for your lifestyle. If you are planning to live in your van full-time, you will need a van that is large enough to accommodate your needs. You will also need to consider the type of van you want, the features you will need, and the long-term cost.

Here are some specific things to consider when choosing a van for full-time living:

Size: How much space do you need? Will you be traveling with other people or pets? Transit vans are larger and have more space for storage. Sprinter passenger vans are usually a bit smaller, but more fuel-efficient.

• Features: What amenities are important to you? Do you need a kitchen, bathroom, or sleeping area? If you are wanting a kitchen, a bed, AND a living space, Roost Vans offers those products for both Transit and Sprinter vans.

• Cost: How much can you afford to spend on a van?

• Reliability: How reliable is the van? Will it be able to handle the rigors of full-time travel?


Once you’ve chosen the right van, you’ll need to convert it into a living space. You can go the route of hiring a van builder, like Roost, to convert your van for you. Or you can go the DIY route. We have an entire blog dedicated to helping you decide what choice would be best for you.

If you’re planning to DIY your van conversion, Roost Vans has everything you need to make the process easy and hassle-free. We offer a variety of van products that are simple to install yourself, so you can save money and get the van of your dreams.

Here are some specific examples of the products Roost Vans offers:

• Our 2-panel or 3-panel Fu-kit Bed System. With our Fu-kit Bed, you can add a Flip-up Kit, which allows you to turn your bed into a deep-seated sofa.

• We also have our Strap-up Bed! The Strap-up Bed is another versatile bed system that can be configured in a variety of ways. It can be raised or lowered to the perfect height, and it can be used to create a bunk bed system by adding the Fu-kit Bed.

We also have Passenger or Drivers side kitchen cabinets, Upper and Lower cabinetry, and so much more. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you, just remember to add plenty of storage space. We recommend really think about the features you want to add to make your van more comfortable.


If you’re planning to travel full-time, you’ll need to plan your route. There are a few different ways to do this. You can either plan a specific route and stick to it, or you can be more flexible and decide where to go as you go. The possibilities are endless!

Some factors to consider when planning your route are…

• Your interests: What are you interested in seeing and doing? Do you want to visit national parks, hike trails, explore cities, or something else?

• Your flexibility: How flexible are you with your plans? If you’re willing to change your plans on the fly, you’ll have more freedom to explore and discover new places.

We recommend visiting Portland, Oregon! Portland is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, with mountains, forests, and rivers all within easy reach. There are endless opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, and fishing. Not to mention, the food and craft beer is something you won’t want to miss out on. We might be a bit biased though, as Roost Vans is tucked inside the PNW, located in Clackamas.

If you would like to try out the van life before committing, read our Try Before You Buy blog post. This will give you the chance to hit the road and see how you like it before taking the time and spending the money to build out a van.


One of the biggest challenges of living out of a van is finding a place to park. There are a few different options available. You can park in campgrounds, RV parks, or you can also look for free or low-cost parking spots in cities and towns. Be aware that parking on the side of the road can be seen as suspicious in some areas. It may also be illegal in some jurisdictions. Do your research and always choose the safest option



It’s important to be prepared for emergencies when you’re living out of a van. Make sure you have a first-aid kit, a flashlight, and a way to communicate with others. You should also have a plan in case of a breakdown or other unexpected events such as bad weather. Make sure you have clothes and gear for all types of weather.

Living out of a van can be a great way to see the world and live a more minimalist lifestyle. By following these tips, you can make the transition to van life easier and more enjoyable. Don’t expect to adjust to van life overnight. Be patient with yourself and your surroundings.

Check out the video below of one of our builds, Towne, to see some of the products Roost Vans offers.

Photos by: Leah Smith