With over 500,000 touring vans in use across the UK alone, the van life community is strong. Meeting other people with whom you can form meaningful connections & have a deep conversation within 5-minutes of laying eyes on them, is priceless. That’s what happens when you share interests, goals & values, small talk is replaced with the things that matter & real friendships are formed.
Being such a deeply emotional person, I (Kelly) thrive in an environment where I am surrounded by like-minded people, people who ‘get me’ but hey, don’t we all? It can be difficult to know how & where to connect with others whilst travelling & how to manage relationships on the road, so in this post, from online to live events, we’ve covered how to do just that.
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Written by The Wilder Route on 20th May 2021.
Before we start...
As we all know, we are currently living through very strange & difficult times – needless to say, we need community now more than ever. With ever-changing rules & regulations in mind, we haven’t noted how current restrictions are affecting anything we mention or recommend. We are not here to remind anyone of the rules, your safety is your responsibility so please check with the respective website or resource on what’s happening & when. The same goes for private meet-ups, although we have met loads of people in person that we have met online we are not advocating that as safe for you, it’s up to you to make judgments based on your situation.
Ok, now, let’s get back to the blog post!
The Van Life Community & Other Adventurers On Social Media
One of the easiest ways to connect with van lifers & other like-minded people is through social media. In fact, this is the way that we have met most of the people who either live in a similar way to us or share the same interests. From people living in their vans to other travellers & digital nomads, we’ve made some awesome friends on social media.
Using Facebook To Form Connections
Van Life Groups
There are loads of groups on Facebook, dedicated to everything van life – these groups are a good place to ask questions, join discussions & meet others who live in or own a van.
Activity Groups & Pages
Joining a group or following a page that’s dedicated to an activity that you are interested in is a great way to connect with like-minded people, chat about the things that you love to do & maybe even arrange to meet with others in person. There are Facebook groups & pages for almost everything you can think of, just search for your interests & Facebook will bring up suggestions.
Destination Groups & Pages
Following a page or joining a group dedicated to a place you are about to visit, will not only be a great way to get a load of tips beforehand but will also keep you up-to-date with anything that might be going on in the area whilst you are there.
When we drove Scotland’s Nc500 a few years back, we joined a fab Facebook group in which we asked for tips on lesser-known spots to stop at. A local guy gave us an awesome list of all the places to stop off at on the East coast & we visited them all. If you are thinking of doing this road trip yourself check out our post on it which includes our exact route & a link to the Facebook group.
Connecting On Instagram
Van Life Accounts
Searching for & following other van lifers on Instagram will not only give you an insight into van life (especially through stories) but through private messaging will mean that you can chat with others who are adventuring & living the van life.
Van Life Hashtags
Following van life-specific hashtags on Instagram is a good way to see content from different accounts, remembering to hit that follow button on your faves. Just search van life on Insta & you’ll find loads of suggestions.
Other Activities & Interests
As with Facebook, you’ll find accounts & hashtags on Instagram for almost anything you can think of. From hiking to wild swimming to crafting, your people are out there waiting to be found.
Interacting via stories & leaving comments that encourage open conversation on Instagram is a great way to build relationships.
Many people don’t ‘get’ Twitter & we get that because when we first started using it, we didn’t have a clue what it was all about. Twitter was the place though, when we first starting our travel blog, back in 2017, that we found other bloggers & travellers to connect with.
It’s a lot more fast-paced with fewer characters allowed for tweets, comments & replies which in some ways makes it easier to use. The main reason we are mentioning Twitter though is for the Twitter chats – a series of questions around a set topic, hosted by one or more accounts, for which people are invited to join at a specific day/time to answer the questions. It’s a great way to have a conversation with others about things you are interested in.
CultureTrav hosts a chat every Thursday, covering all things travel & adventure. More info & how to join can be found here.
SundaySunsets held on the first Sunday of each month is a day to share beautiful sunsets & of course, you’ll be able to see other people’s sunsets too. More info & how to join can be found here.
Join Meet Ups
The more you connect with people online, the more you’ll find meet-ups & events popping up. Joining them is a great way to form deeper connections with people, chatting online is great but there’s nothing like meeting people in real life or even getting together for a Zoom call.
If you are not finding anything in the places you currently hang out online, Meet Up is a great place to make friends, find support, & explore your interests.
Attend Van Life Community & Other Big Events
We have attended & even spoken at events that are van life &/or travel-focused & have found them amazing for meeting awesome people with whom we share interests & goals. Some of our faves, paired with recommendations from others are…
Traverse – a conference for digital content creators with a packed programme of skill-based sessions alongside networking, practical skills workshops, exhibitors & social events.
Borderless Live – a network for content creators & influencers. This network is open to everyone, wherever you are on your creator journey.
Destinations Shows – an event packed with displays & talks to inspire, as well as to help you research, plan & prepare your next trip.
The Caravan & Motorhome Show – the biggest show in the North of England, dedicated to buying your first campervan or motorhome, with both on display as well as numerous stands & talks.
Music festivals are alo a fantastic place to meet people & are of course a lot of fun too.
If you are a remote worker, going to places where other remote workers gather, such as co-working spaces or coffee shops is a great way to meet others. Even if it’s just for a day or two, chatting with new people & a change of scenery can make all the difference. You might also move from place to place working along the way at farms or maybe even seasonally on campsites, both of which would be a good way to meet new people.
Go To Classes or Workshops
If you are going to be staying in a place, even just for a few days, it’s worth looking up what’s in the area as well as what exactly is on whilst you are there. You could join yoga classes for a week, meet with a local walking group, or go to the local gym for a class (if they allow non-members). Be sure to take a look, you may even find something new to try.
Build On Existing Relationships
As well as meeting new people & embracing an adventure-filled life in your van, you can also, in your free time, build on relationships with the people who truly matter. Granted, there will be people from your ‘old life’ who don’t get your ‘new life’ but equally, there will be friends & family who stick around & encourage, love & support you. Take it from us, those relationships are worth all the effort & nurturing. The people who are happy to see you grow, to watch you live your life for you, to witness you spread your wings & fly, & whilst doing so cheer you on… they are the most special kind of peeps & are the ones who are worth spending the time & energy on.
We hope you’ve found the tips in this post useful. If you’re looking for more van life tips & inspiration be sure to check out our van life page.
If you have any other ways, that we haven’t mentioned, to connect & foster a sense of community, please do add them in the comments section at the bottom of this post so that us & others can see.
Here’s to a life of adventure & to friends, old & new,
Kelly & Adam x
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