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Vanlife view
Experience the magnificent staircase-shaped waterfall Trappforsstegen, 5 kilometres south of Saxnäs in northern Sweden.
Photo credit: Oscar Wettersten/Scandinav

Vanlife – a new type of ‘all-inclusive’ travel

The vanlife trend offers all the perks of an ‘all-inclusive’ trip – without the crowds and with a feeling of total freedom. Sweden’s accessible nature and varied landscape make it the perfect destination for you and your campervan.

Whilst most people might require that the ‘all inclusive’ experience must include such things as poolside sipping an ice-cold drink in the comfort of a luxurious hotel, a new type of ‘all-inclusive’ travellers are making a mark on the international travel scene.

However, instead of seeking the full menu of a 24/7 room service, this community of travellers seek the experience of total self-sufficiency to the limits of all they can include in a single camper.

The ongoing trend of vanlife travellers, whose recorded encounters with nature have found their way into our feeds these days, shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the demand for “vanlife” is booming at a faster rate than ever. Not only in terms of how many people are looking for inspiration but also in terms of the number of reconstructors of old and new vans who seem to have a never-ending line of requests to their workshops, giving rise to booming second-hand prices and a surge in rental opportunities.

If you’re curious about the vanlife community, this information will help you on the road. Are you already a familiar vanlife explorer, check out our practical guide for Sweden.

Why choose vanlife?

The reasons are many. From the “Into the wild”-inspired explorer who seeks to bring more gear to have a versatile outdoors experience, to the inner city exhausted who just needs an escape.

From the people making the most of their circumstances, who enjoy the countryside within the borders of their country, to those who are curious whether or not they could live a life away from their belongings that the limited space of the van does not allow for.

Regardless of whether the individual motivation is governed by access to nature or escape from the concrete blocks of the inner city, there seems to be a common ground in the sense of freedom that the vanlife experience has to offer.

When looking through the Instagram profiles of travellers enjoying the vanlife experience in Sweden, the variety of open landscapes, revealed views of misty lakes through a pair of unfolded backdoors and relaxed poses in front of the van, all tell a story of the liberating experience when having nowhere, yet everywhere to go.

Some travel with the intention to make a stop at one of southern Sweden’s many farmers offering a taste of the refined agricultural raw materials harvested in the area.

Others aim to avoid highways by travelling the country roads with its many adjacent flea markets full of Swedish antiques.

Some are marvelled by nature’s own creativity while enjoying the view of its column-like landforms created by waves moulding coastal rock over centuries in the northern parts of Gotland.

Whilst some take the coastal route to reach the end of the road of Swedish Lapland, ‘where the sun never sets in the midst of the summer.

The vanlife traveller has no check-in times to keep and no reservations to uphold. They set their own clock of when to move on to the next destination. A location, which for the vanlife traveller, is anywhere they decide to make a stop.

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On the road in northern Sweden

Discover the mountains, forests and lakes of Swedish Lapland on a vanlife trip.

Photo: Michael Jönsson/Visit Sweden

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On the road in northern Sweden

Photo: Michael Jönsson/Visit Sweden

Limestone monoliths on Gotland

Photo: Lucas Günther/imagebank.sweden.se

Midnight sun in Sweden

Photo: Asaf Kliger/imagebank.sweden.se

Moose in water

Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

Vanlife – a near nature experience

Whether you want to wake up overseeing the wonders of a roaring river or get the picturesque turn of the century experience of small-town architecture, the vanlife travellers understand that they are there visiting on the terms of the circumstances they put themselves, and their van in.

Especially when travelling to the more remote locations of where the roads take you, animal life and encounter with creatures not recognized from the concrete blocks of the inner city can be expected. Having a moose lick the road salt off your bumper or getting eye contact with an owl looking back at you from its rest on your rearview mirror might be an experience of a lifetime.

However, it is important to limit the impact you have on nature. Although it might be a viral bomb to record when a bear nibbles on the leftovers you didn’t bring inside overnight, you must recognize that the bear will come back for more at some point in time. You simply don’t want to set this precedent for yourself or for other travellers visiting the same spot and not being so lucky as to wake up to the sight from the inside of the van.

Equally, the disruption that things left behind have on nature’s all year inhabitants might set off the flow that maintains the circle of life that make these places unique in the first place.

Thus, having respect for your surroundings and leaving places better than you found them is what will truly enrich the experience for both yourself and future travellers. Maintaining nature, its rich animal life and marvellous opportunities of near magic encounters is, therefore, an intricate part of the vanlife experience.

Inspiration for the perfect vanlife

Luckily, the vanlife community shares many of their best advice and worst experiences through a full range of accessible formats online. There are more than 11 million posts on Instagram using the hashtag #vanlife and when looking for more specific advice #vanlifesweden, #vanlifestories or #vanlifeproject might put you in contact with an essential network of people if you slide into the DMs and ask them a question.

If you have a specific enquire, a creator on YouTube is sure to have at least one video with the answer and if you prefer reading guides, a simple Google search will surely give you an answer to fulfil your needs.

Here are some Instagram accounts you might begin your search with:

Alternatives to vanlife

If this article has scared you away rather than pulled you into the community of van living enthusiasts around the world, there are plenty of alternatives. Sweden in particular is very accessible and open for both interrail and backpacking.

Sweden is safe and easy to travel through and depending on your comfort requirements there are plenty of options when trying to find a cottage in the middle of nowhere using Airbnb, staying at an alpine hotel or simply enjoying life from a tent on one of Sweden’s many camping sites.

You choose what you do. The limits are endless within the open boundaries of the law. If you want to get more tips and tricks on vanlife travel, don't miss the practical guide to vanlife in Sweden.