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VComing off a high from a 3 day Vanlife Gathering, I have learned a few things about going into your first vanlife meetup. It can be super intimidating going to a gathering for the first time and meeting so many people at once. Most of us are introverts and putting ourselves out there on the intent that we might find a few like-minded people that you connect with and occasionally travel with on the road is insanely exhausting.
Someone like me with some slight anxiety and total introverted-ness I had my moments of exhaustion, self-doubt. On the other side, Shawn and I came out of the event with so many new connections, great spots to see, and a brightened outlook on vanlife. To help you with your first gathering here are a few tips to help you through the weekend.
Learn my favorite Top Van Life Kitchen Essentials
Haha, maybe that’s just me and my constantly hungry stomach talking but seriously come prepared with food, toilet paper, water, and any other supplies you might need. If you’re a vegan, bring extra! In the van life community, there are often so many other vegans and it is so amazing to connect. A great calling card to other vegans is to cook something for everyone. For instance, there was a pancake breakfast for everyone but unfortunately, it was not vegan. We decided since we had FOMO to make some pancakes for ourselves that were vegan, we had extra and started asking around if any other vegans were feeling the same FOMO and wanted some pancakes. People were so grateful and our only regret was not bringing enough Bisquick to feed all the van-life vegans!
Check out everyone’s Van
A great benefit of going to a van life meetup is seeing all the amazing vans! At this meetup, there were around 100 vans and every one of them was so different! This is your opportunity to check them out and get inspiration. Whether you are planning your build, building it out, or thinking about updates here is your chance to get up close and personal with all the Campervans you can imagine.
Mingle with all the Vanlife People
There are so many people at a vanlife gathering. Different ages, lifestyles, couples, dog owners, partiers…the list goes on. It can be easy to zero in and try to hang out with ONLY the people you think you will like. GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD. Even if you don’t end up being BFF’s, here is your opportunity to hear amazing stories, connect, and make an unlikely friend.
This one is my favorite. Everyone is different and that is what makes life beautiful right? In the vanlife community and in life there are so many different kinds of people. Entrepreneurs, social media influencers, vacationers, vegans, fast travelers, slow travelers, introverts, partiers, seriously the list goes on and on. Pretending to be one thing or another is not going to help you to make strong connections.
Don’t feel the pressure to be something you are not. For instance, we were feeling a little left out as we are vegans. The first two days all we met were meat eaters and at that, people who like to bond over cooking a good meal. I completely understand this and can absolutely bond over a good meal but that looks a little differently to vegans. The good news is by the end of the meetup we had met so many vegans and people regardless of diet who didn’t care what you ate or didn’t eat.
Remember to take breaks
When you are meeting hundreds of people and viewing so many vans it can be tiring. Advice from Amanda from Van Project, “Listen to what you need! You don’t have to go to every single activity. You don’t have to wake up early or stay up late. You do you”. I completely agree with Amanda, just like my advice to be yourself, that includes some self-care. It can be overwhelming to meet SO many people at one time and try to make genuine connections in such a short amount of time.
Take breaks. Introvert. Sleep. Eat. You will make friends by the end, I promise.
Get Your Van Instagram Ready
At the vanlife meetup, there are so many people taking Instagram stories, pictures, and even van tours. If your goals are to make money off your blog or Youtube this is a good chance to meet people you can collaborate with. So make sure your van is clean and decorated so you feel comfortable showing it off.
However, don’t be sleazy. Let these collaborations come naturally. No one likes a social media climber and your true colors will show if you are only trying to use people for their status. You aren’t getting famous from hanging out with Influencers. It takes tons of time, dedication, and a sprinkle of magic from the online gods.
Volunteer at a Vanlife Gathering
I have heard this from so many people but the best way to make friends in the vanlife community is to volunteer at a meetup. The duties are never extensive and you immediately make friends with tons of van-life people. Typically you can email the host of the meetup or look on the event page to see details on how to become a volunteer. We definitely will be trying to volunteer at the next meetup.
Future Vanlife Gatherings Summer and Fall 2019
Taos Vanlife Gathering
This gathering will be held at the Hotel Luna Mystica in Taos New Mexico. It will begin August 16th-19th 2019. Head to the Vanlife Diaries website to grab your tickets!
Go-Van Presents El Campo
If you are going to be in Canada this August then I recommend checking out the Vanlife gathering held by Go-Van. It will be held in Quebec City September 13th-15th 2019.
Ashville Vanlife Rally
One of my favorite cities in the US, Asheville will be the home to another rally this September. Asheville offers great vegan food, hikes and friendly faces so I highly recommend heading that way and joining another great gathering September 20-22nd 2019.
For more vanlife gathering check out Vanlife Diaries.
Past Vanlife Gatherings Summer 2019
Speaking of Vanlife gatherings coming up this summer there are two big ones that I know about. The first is a vanlife gathering held by Van Project and Van Life Diaries. It will be held on June 14th-16th Linn Canyon Ranch (1300 E 6000 S, Victor, ID 83455) in Teton Valley, Idaho, located just 30 miles (approx 45 min) from Jackson, WY, and under 2 hours from Yellowstone National Parks’ South entrance. Everyone I have talked to has said this was an original van life meetup and was so much fun. Plus you can’t really beat the scenery of the Grand Tetons.
Open Roads Festival Vanlife Gathering
The Open Roads festival is a jam-packed event happening in July at Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall, Idaho. Different from most vanlife meetups there will be a ton of outdoor activities and a chance to try out paddleboards, check out their epic mountain bike trails and attend various workshops. If you are heavily into the outdoors and are willing to spend a little bit more cash then I would recommend checking out this van life meetup by Kristen of Bearfoot Theory. Although I’m not sure if our budget will allow us to head to this event it is definitely something we are considering.