Finding places to sleep in a van is not that complicated!
It’s true that at first, this aspect of vanlife can seem intimidating. How do you find a safe place to sleep every night in your van? But with the right resources and a little experience, it’s a lot easier than you might think. So here are 5 platforms and apps to use to find places to stay while sleeping in a van.
A classic! iOverlander is the most famous and popular application to find places while you’re sleeping in a van. No need to register to use the platform: you just have to download the free app on your phone and that’s it!
As the platform is entirely volunteer-run, it’s the users who suggest places to add to the database. It’s then possible for other vanlifers to add details, photos or comments related to their stay.
The map helps you find the closest place to you and the filters allow you to refine your search. Although the app is often used to find boondocking places, it’s also possible to find official campsites, hotels, gas stations, showers, etc.
Why use iOverlander
- Free app
- The map is available offline
- Large database
Our advice: make sure you click on the place you choose to sleep and read the reviews before you move! Sometimes places on the map are closed indefinitely. Also, as the app is very popular, during the high camping season, it’s worth arriving early as the spots might already be busy.
Harvest Host is a network of over 4000 wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms and landmarks that allow vans and RVs to stay overnight on their property. Just make sure you have a self-contained van as there are no services available on site.
You have to get an annual subscription to be able to use the network, but once you do, you will have free access (24 hours at a time in most places) to the different places to sleep! As hosts offer their land for free, it is highly recommended to encourage the producer and give back.
This type of overnight stay will allow you to meet new people and create unique contacts. By purchasing their products, you will be able to discover local flavors while helping a small business, a win-win situation!
Why use Harvest Host
- Membership gives you unlimited access to the network
- Allows for unique encounters and memories
- Gives you access to exclusive locations
Our advice: the vast majority of hosts in the network are in the United States, so it’s worth it if you’re planning a road trip there!
Kift has a slightly different concept than other platforms. Their goal is to bring the digital nomad community together by offering community houses to members. While your van serves as your personal space and place to sleep, the community houses have all the amenities you need to work with other vanlifers like yourself.
Wifi, bathrooms and showers, fully equipped kitchen; you’ll have everything you need to settle down for a few days or more. Some of the houses also have bikes, paddle boards, a pool and even a yoga room accessible to all members. Since the community houses are located in the wilderness, you’ll still be able to enjoy the great outdoors in your van while getting a little more comfort.
Why use Kift
- Find more comfort on the road
- Meet other digital nomads
- Share moments with the vanlife community
Our advice: if you don’t have a van yet, Kift can help you find and buy a van (with some discounts) or rent one so you can try the experience.
Obviously, we couldn’t write this article without presenting our latest project! The Go-Van.CLUB is a network of spaces created by vanlifers, for vanlifers. As we do with our events, the goal is to bring the community together and create connections between nomads on the road.
While the amount of vanlifers has increased dramatically in the last few years, we want to make sure that vanlife remains a sustainable way of living or traveling. That’s why we collaborate with municipalities, tourist spots and even producers and individuals to offer unique and safe places where to park your van for the night.
We have several types of experiences that will please everyone. Family or outdoor activities, cultural sites, agrotourism sites, regional parks… Our network is just at its beginning! We strive to find the best places for you to live unforgettable moments surrounded by people who share the same values as you.
Why use the Go-Van.CLUB
- By making a reservation, you ensure that you have a place to sleep
- Network with van-friendly resources
- Affordable prices
Our advice: as our network is still developing, come back regularly on our platform to discover new spaces.
Formerly known as the The Vanlife App, Sēkr’s main purpose is to bring the vanlife community together. Much like iOverlander, the app allows you to find free camping sites, water dumping stations, toilets, etc. But its unique feature is that it allows you to connect directly with other vanlifers!
By enabling the option, the app allows you to locate other vanlifers near you and send them a message to meet up. This can be a great feature for people who travel alone in a van and are looking for companions who share the same values and lifestyle! The app also highlights several events organized by the community.
Why use Sēkr
- The largest database of dispersed camping in the U.S.
- Huge amount of resources on one app
- Allows you to connect with other users
Our advice: their app also includes Bureau of Land Management lands, so if you’ve ever wanted to try spending a few nights at a BLM, it couldn’t be easier.
Obviously, there are other apps that will allow you to find amazing spots while you’re sleeping in a van! We also suggest you try Campedium, The Dyrt, Park4night or Hipcamp and even follow your favorite vanlifers on Instagram who sometimes share their favorite places to camp on the road.