How to Beat Van Life Loneliness by Finding Community on the Road

Van life doesn’t have to be lonely. Here are ways you can make friends living on the road.

woman standing in front of campervan

Van life or nomadic living can come with its own set of challenges, one of which is finding a sense of community on the road. There’s no doubt that living off-grid can be lonely, especially if you enjoy boondocking like us.

However, finding a sense of community on the road is still possible. Courtney Stevenson, an experienced van lifer who has lived solo in her van for over three years, shared her story about finding community on the road. Courtney is an avid traveler and hiker who’s been living out of her 1999 Ford E150 camper van since 2020.

Courtney’s insights and experiences can be used to help van lifers find friends and build a community while living the van life lifestyle.

Let’s get into the interview!

When Courtney Got Into Van Life

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Like many van lifers, campers, and RVers, Courtney’s journey on the road started during the COVID era. In 2020, she was backpacking Southeast Asia when the pandemic hit. 

She returned to the US, unsure of what to do next, as the pandemic decimated her work industry. With money saved for travel and the desire not to settle down, Courtney decided to buy a van and hit the road. 

Her initial plan was to travel for six months, but she’s still on the road almost four years later.

Did Courtney Have Worries About Meeting People While Living in Her Van?

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For Courtney, COVID made it very difficult to interact with people. She said, “Even when you were out, like on hiking trails, people were just kind of keeping their distance, and everyone was really kind of distancing.”

Courtney also admitted that the first van route she took made it harder for her to meet people. She visited less popular van life destinations, like the upper peninsula of Michigan and the northeast. She only started meeting more people in person when she headed southwest in the winter. 

How Courtney Found Community on the Road

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Courtney’s number one tip for finding community on the road, which she did when she first started van life, is to use social media to make internet friends. Social media is a fantastic way to connect with like-minded people, find people to talk to when you’re in remote locations, and learn more about van life.

Courtney started by joining Facebook groups for solo female van lifers. She used these groups to connect with people who shared her interests before finding them on Instagram and messaging them. 

Connecting with people online is important to Courtney, especially when she started van life because she wasn’t meeting people in person.

How to Meet Other Van Lifers in Person

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The first time Courtney met another van lifer in person was when she was on her way to San Diego. She saw someone she’d previously connected with on Instagram posting about also being there.

She sent her friend a message and organized a time and place to meet her and her friends. She said, “I remember being so nervous because I thought they all knew each other.” However, she met up with the group and had a great time. 

Courtney has since realized that the van life door is constantly revolving, and there are always new people to meet. She finds that most people are very welcoming and that it gets easier to meet people once you’ve done it a few times.

How to Keep Track of Van Life Friends

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During her van life journey, Courtney has found that Instagram is crucial to the van life community. The app quickly lets you see where people are based on their posts. Often, you’ll see someone in a specific place and plan to meet up with them if you’re nearby.

Otherwise, you can keep in contact by commenting on each other’s posts and sending messages. Courtney also spoke about an app that allows her to share her location with other people. 

The app allows users to connect with each other, chat, and make plans to meet up. Courtney used this app to organize a potluck and a bonfire in Joshua Tree. The people she met at the bonfire became van life friends. 

The Demographics of People Courtney Meets on the Road

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Courtney typically meets solo female van lifers, mainly because that’s the demographic she chooses to connect with.

Having said that, she also said that she’s met couples and solo men. She thinks this can be attributed to van life attracting people with different backgrounds, ages, and professions. 

She described the situation well, telling readers, “You kind of get all of it.” From our experiences, we can safely say this is the case.

Attending Van Life Events and Gatherings

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When asked if she’s ever attended any van life events, Courtney said, “Yeah, and that’s another really great way of meeting people on the road. It’s kind of where you can meet the most people all at once.”

The first van life event Courtney attended was Descend on Los Sierra in 2021. She reconnected with many people she knew at the event and found it a great way to meet new people. 

She also recommends van meet-ups and gatherings for van lifers who aren’t on social media. Courtney has also enjoyed popular events like the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous and Van Fest USA.

The Sociabilty of Van Life vs House Life

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When sharing how her social life now compares to what it was like when she lived in Las Vegas, Courtney said, “It’s hard to compare those two, but in van life, it really does feel kind of like feast or famine.” 

She believes you either feel alone, away from civilization or fully immersed in the van life community. There isn’t an in-between. However, she also said she had a roommate and a solid group of friends in Las Vegas, whereas van life offers more extremes. 

Therefore, balancing your need for community with your passion for solitude is important.

Courtney’s Advice to You

To finish off, here’s the advice you can take from Courtney’s story. Be proactive on social media, and don’t be afraid to contact others. Attend events and gatherings, and be open to meeting new people.

Building a community takes effort, but it’s definitely possible on the road. Hopefully, now that you’ve read this article, you know how to find community as a van lifer.

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