Being part of the vanlife community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. While I love going to van life events, the reality is that I spend a significant part of my time traveling solo. Blogging is what keeps me sane as a solo female traveler!
Sharing my experience and reading other van life blogs has taught me so much. From what products to buy for my camper van build to learning the fundamentals of how to actually live in a van, I owe a lot to the van life bloggers who came before me.
Ready to start an incredible journey? Here’s how to start a travel blog: van life style!
Whether you’re already living in a van or are just van-curious and thinking about taking a trip, I highly recommend starting a travel blog. It doesn’t matter if you have one reader or one million. Ultimately, starting a travel blog is about reflecting and sharing your experience, because trust me, living and exploring in a van will likely lead to some of the best memories of your life.
How to Start a Travel Blog on Van Life- The Step by Step
What Kind of Travel Blogger Are You?
Before you start on your blog, it’s key to think about what you want to achieve. What is your why? Why are you sharing your story and who are you speaking to? What topics do you want to focus on? It is not going to be a 24/7 live stream (that’s what Instagram stories are for!), so you will need to determine your focus.
I’ve followed dozens on vanlife blogs over the years and I’ve noticed a theme: the blogs with narrowly focused posts always have a larger audience. This means shifting from a chronological journal-like blog to more specific, advice-driven content.
Choosing Topics for Your Blog
For example, rather than writing a post called “My first month on the road,” pick a specific element about your first month on the road (a place, event, or thing that happened) and then organize your post around that single element. This can help you narrow the focus of your content to a specific, niche topic like “My favorite camping spot near Yellowstone” or “What it’s really like to be a solo female traveler in Las Vegas.” When your content is very specific, your audience will have an easier time finding your blog. Google will rank your posts higher in search results and more people will organically find your blog, which is the goal here!
SEO for Newbies
You can still write about your first month living in a van, but if you structure your articles in this specific way, you’ll have a wider reach. In this example, people looking for an awesome camping experience in Yellowstone will be able to find your blog when they ask the Google oracle!
This falls within the realm of search engine optimization (SEO for short), which we’ll dig into more in this article below and will cover in future posts as well!
Ask yourself: What’s your niche?
Vacay Vans started out as a sustainable van build guide, but once I hit the road solo, it became all about my life as a solo woman living in a van. I’ve tackled important, difficult topics like mental health on the road and embarrassing dating stories like asking strange guys on the internet if I could use their shower. For me, it’s about sharing real life vanlife and helping readers follow their vanlife dreams.
When you start a travel blog on vanlife, you will quickly find yourself keeping an ongoing list of many different types of potential blog topics. Even if you want to become a full-time travel writer, you just aren’t going to have time to cover every idea that hits you. That’s why it’s good to start with some sense of what will be your most important content.
Who Are YOU?
So, who are you? Are you a couple on a mission to travel to every state? Are you on a summer van trip hitting up every National Park? What areas of your van life do you want to cover in your blog? Are you in an RV, Skoolie, or a vintage VW bus?
Selecting Your Domain Name
The way to become a van life travel blogger is as easy as setting up a website, which starts with getting your domain and website hosting.
The first step is to decide on a domain name. This can take a while because you will have to figure out which options are available– but don’t make yourself crazy over it! Don’t let yourself get stuck here because you can’t decide on the perfect name– just go with something simple and stick with it.
Domain Name Mistakes
Your domain name can be as simple as your own name and one attribute about yourself or your travels: WyattWanders.com, RachelsRV.com. In fact, the simpler, the better. You want a domain that is both easy to remember and easy to spell. Try to avoid underscores or weirdly spelled words.
Be sure whatever name you choose is available on Instagram in the exact same format– you want to be consistent over all platforms. Help people find you by keeping it simple!
Your Domain Name Doesn’t Define You
Try to pick something that is unlikely to change over time. Choose something that can be (more or less) timeless for you. But again, don’t let yourself get stuck here: your domain name doesn’t define you, your content does!
Once you’ve come up with a few options, start searching available domains. The domain is the URL or address for your site. For example, my domain is vacayvans.com.
Find the Best Web Host
Another core consideration to start a travel blog on van life is your web host. You will find a million options here. After lots of research and talking to other bloggers about the different options, I went with Bluehost. It ticks all my boxes: it’s easy to use, reliable, and cheap.
How to Set Up Your Hosting
If you’ve never set up a website, it can feel like a lot of work BUT it’s really not. In fact, it should take you less than five minutes to get started. Rather than me telling you, let me show you.
I’m stoked to be working with Bluehost on this article because they provide an awesome service that will help streamline your blogging. Because let’s be honest, the most important part to starting a blog is actually starting the blog (and not just talking about it!).
Is Blue Host Worth It?
Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee (which is great if you decide a week later that your travel blogging kick is over). And, most importantly, they offer 24/7 support so you get help anywhere, anytime. (I’ve definitely used this feature…a few times lol.)
I’ve got a special deal for Vacay Vans readers, so use my link here to have your blog online all month for less than the cost of a cup of coffee (50% off their regular pricing!). Once you get to Bluehost, you will select your plan. All of the hosting options are quite affordable so it just comes down to the features you want for your blog. I chose their recommended plan so I’d have all the features.
How to Set Up Your Domain
Whichever Bluehost package you go for, it comes with a free domain name for your blog. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll want to choose the “new domain” box and start experimenting to see what’s available. Enter in the domain name you want then press “next”. This will scour the web to make sure no one has the name that you want to use. You might get stuck on this page for a bit as you try to come up with something unique.
Tip- One you find a domain name that you like, double check it’s available on Instagram and Facebook before moving forward so you’re consistent everywhere on the web!
Once you decide on your shiny new domain, you will run through the payment process then… voilà! You are now totally ready to start a travel blog on your van life. Bluehost has a solid selection of themes for your blog. Just play around for a bit then go with your gut. You can also tweak this later to make it your own.
Once you decide on a good theme for your travel blog, you are ready to connect a WordPress account. WordPress is really the name in blogging for content management and it’s what you’ll use to actually write your posts. (It’s the platform I’m using right now to write this sentence! Trippy, haha….).
Go to “Start Building” and you can really dive in.
WordPress works inside of Bluehost, so it’ll walk you through everything step by step within the same platform, making it super simple to use.
Start by going to “Launch Your Site” so you can get a feel for how it’ll look.
Launching will allow you to create a Welcome Page, which you can start adding in everything. Once you have this welcome page up there, you just log-in and start writing posts. Congrats, it is your time to actually start YOUR travel blog about van life!
How to Write a Van Life Blog
If you’re going to do something, you may as well do your best and dedicate yourself fully to the process. For this reason I highly recommend getting into the nitty-gritty of blogging. Learn everything you can about this very interesting (and growing!) industry. Becoming a travel blogger is about more than just opening up WordPress and typing whatever comes to mind.
I highly recommend being organized from the start. Trust me, you don’t want to spend ages putting together content and then realize a few weeks later that you don’t actually like any of it.
Learn How to Blog with Courses
Udemy and Skillshare are great places to learn how to blog. They have nearly 300 courses on the topic that cover absolutely everything you could need to know. They have courses on everything from WordPress fundamentals to getting your creative juices flowing with new topics. You will even find travel hacking courses!
A lot of people think this kind of thing is only for bloggers who are trying to monetize a blog, but I disagree. Even if your blog is just to share your journey with friends and family, you still want to do it well. You wouldn’t just pick up a guitar and start playing without any lessons, would you? Trust me, in the long term, you want to hone your writing skills.
Blogging is a unique way of telling a story. It takes a bit of time to wrap your head around how to effectively communicate on your blog. Learn the fundamentals of blogging to bring your travel experience to life. Personally, I love learning about new topics and buy online courses all the time about everything from photography to learning how to use Pinterest (I even created my own Udemy course about minimalism, which I’m currently revamping!). Continuing education throughout your adult life is sooo essential in my opinion.
How to Organize Your Blog
Getting your head around the art of organization will go a long way as well. I would say 99 percent of blogs end up being abandoned because people don’t pace themselves and create a realistic long-term “content calendar” plan that keeps them motivated. Meera Kothand’s book is popular with bloggers because it lays out a simple plan for maintaining your blog. If you’re thinking about working with brands or trying to make your blog into a side gig, Laura Lynn’s book on Lifestyle Blogging Basics is a must-read.
While I love my keyboard, there are a few occasions when I find it better to go old school. Actually pulling out a pen and paper to write down my plans makes them feel more solid in my mind. It also helps my calendar from getting lost in the digital clutter. Organizers like EPIC BLOG: One-Year Editorial Planner are essential for keeping consistent.
I touched on this a bit above, but it’s worth mentioning again because organizing your content in a way that helps potential readers can find you online is so essential. People will generally find your blog in one of four ways: directly from you, word-of-mouth from other readers, media & press coverage, and searching on the web (aka via the Google gods). Learn to think like Google to attract people using Google!
When writing a blog post, ask yourself: what question is this blog article answering? If it’s not answering a specific question, it should be! People search the web to learn how to do things. Sure they want to be entertained, but ultimately they want a specific question answered. Format your work so it answers their questions and your blog will be an easily searchable success.
Don’t write about a topic just because you think it will be popular. Write what you know and write about your passions, even if you think the topic is too esoteric and obscure.
For example, one of my most popular articles is about sheep wool camper van insulation. I wrote it because of my passion for sustainability and green building and it became popular because it’s niche and informative. People found it on Google because they were looking to answer a specific question: what’s the best non-toxic van insulation?
Talk About What You Love
Think about the topics you love– low-light photography, downhill mountain biking, backpacking on a budget– and dedicate a post (or multiple posts) to each of these specific topic answering questions like: where’s the best spot, what’s the coolest place, what’s the top secret, what’s the essential gear you need, and even consider writing an complete guide for the topic! Articles like that will bring value to your audience and significantly help you grow!
How to Take Photos for Your Blog & Social Media
Upping your photography game is another good way to improve your blog. Since I started traveling, I have seen so many once-in-a-lifetime sights. I cherish the pics I’ve taken on the road and am always wanting to improve my photography skills to capture the beauty I see on the road.
Learning the fundamentals of composition is a game-changer. There are short and sweet Udemy courses to get you going and just investing those few hours can make your photography look professional.
I would also highly recommend getting a proper camera. I used just my phone for ages and really wish I had invested in better equipment from the start. There are so many places I’ll probably never get a chance to go back to so getting decent shots are a big deal to me. My travel pics are truly something I’ll cherish forever.
Depending on your travel mode and needs, there are a few good camera options. For newbies who don’t want to spend time learning, I’d recommend going with a point and shoot camera package. The Canon PowerShot is super easy to use. You can literally shoot professional quality pics by accident. You can get a good deal on a Canon PowerShot package from Amazon. It’s got everything you need and will last for years.
If you want to really dive into photography, DSLR cameras are the gold standard. You can keep experimenting with different types of lenses and have the camera evolve and grow with you. The sky is the limit on how much you can invest in DSLR camera equipment but start small. You can get a Canon EOS package on Amazon for not much more than a point and shoot. And, of course, if you want to go no holds barred and get the holy grail of cameras, there’s always the Sony a7 III.
What About Mirrorless Cameras?
Mirrorless cameras are also all the rage– they’re quite a bit smaller than a DSLR and are super hip with the modern professional photographer crowd.
Learn How to Design and Create a Van Life Blog
There are a couple of components I’d recommend learning as you get going with your blogging adventure. While you want to start with the essentials like learning how to write a blog effectively and finding your audience on social media, there is more to it.
As your blog starts flourishing, you will begin to feel your lack of coding knowledge. WordPress and Bluehost do make it ultra easy but the more you know, the more you can do.
How to Maintain a Website
Having a website is a bit like having a van actually. If you know how to drive and put gas in it, you are good to go. BUT, once you start driving a lot or— gulp!— living in your van, new issues start appearing. Knowing how to fix little things as they pop up means that you don’t need to rely on a professional for everything. In fact, you can actually start doing a lot of cool little things on your own once you know how.
Learning Skills to Become a Digital Nomad
And it’s an asset in a huge array of jobs. Coding is key to countless careers and makes it far easier if you want to figure out how to be a digital nomad.
TreeHouse is a great place to get started as well. You can learn the fundamentals of coding and create a solid knowledge base.
YOUR Turn to Start a Travel Blog on Van Life
So, travel bloggers, you are ready to start a travel blog on van life— whatever kind of life you love! I’d love to hear what topics y’all are interested in blogging about! Tell me in the comments below.
Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I get a small commission if you purchase via an affiliate link. Affiliate partnerships help me fund this #vanlife blog and offer as many free resources as I can for y’all! I only promote products and services that I use and absolutely love!
If you have any questions or want to learn more, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.