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In this Van Life Academy review, I’m covering all your burning questions about the popular course that teaches you how to build a van and live on the road.
Are you looking for resources to learn how to build a DIY camper van for van life? How about resources to teach you how to thrive on the road?
This course claims to have them all… but do they deliver? I signed up for this course and went through every module myself to bring you this in-depth review.
In this review, you’ll learn:
* What Van Life Academy is and who it’s for.
* My honest opinions after going through the course myself.
* What’s actually taught in the course.
* How it might actually save you money.
* Whether or not it’s worth the investment.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Van Life Academy?
Van Life Academy is exactly what it sounds like: an educational course that teaches everything you need to know about Van Life.
I was pleasantly surprised the first time I logged in to the course: it truly leaves no stone unturned.
Taught by 4 expert vanlifers, this course shows multiple different camper van conversions, answers every FAQ imaginable, and has a forum for further student discussion.
It teaches everything in step-by-step guides, too. There are currently over 95 in-depth lessons that combine video, tools, PDFs, and text, and the creators are about to add around 96 new videos.
Van Life Academy includes PDF’s, checklists, electronic schematics, tools, calculators, diagrams, videos, and exact processes to help you organize your planning and accelerate your van build.
They even have a handy tool called The Vanalyzer that helps you determine the right kind of vehicle for your own van life if you haven’t gotten one already.
The bottom line?
Van Life Academy is an online van life course that will take you from Van Life dreamer to Van Life achiever.
From buying and building a van to figuring out how to actually live and make money on the road, this course has it all.
Who Is It For?
Van Life Academy is for anyone who wants to build a campervan and/or live van life successfully.
This course is for anyone who wants to build a camper van and live van life… even if you’ve never touched a tool in your life.
If you’ve been dreaming of van life but shrug it off because it seems too hard, overwhelming, or you don’t know where to start: this course was made for you.
It breaks down the overwhelming process into step-by-step lessons. It starts at the very beginning – before you even get a van.
You’ll learn how to pick a van, how to build it, and how to live happily on the road.
It’s made for you to go at your own pace, so you don’t have to be ready to start van life right away.
You get lifetime access to the course and all the updates so you can work through each lesson as you have time and as you build your van.
If you’re like me, you might choose to build your van a little bit at a time.
Personally, my wife and I prefer to spend a little bit of money at a time instead of paying for the entire build at once. It makes it more achievable, and that’s easy to do with this course.
You can take it one lesson at a time or one big expense or project at a time. Before you know it, you’ll have a complete campervan and be ready to hit the road.
This Course is For You If:
- You want a step-by-step process laid out for you.
- If you want diagrams to follow and easy to understand schematics.
- You want to save time and money on your build, tools, and supplies
- If you want to buy and build a camper van but have no idea where to start.
What Does Van Life Academy Cover?
Van Life Academy has over 95 lessons that are organized into 7 main modules.
Each lesson is a step-by-step tutorial that teaches you something different about the van life.
The course modules are:
- Welcome (Plus how to use the course)
- Preparing for Van Life
- Planning Your Conversion
- Building Your Camper Van
- Step By Step Build Tutorials from 4 Expert Van Lifers
- How to Live on the Road
- Next Steps
The modules are structured in an easy-to-navigate way. You can mark a lesson as “done” when you complete it so you don’t lose your place in the course.
If you want to see a more in-depth look inside the modules, click the drop-down arrows for the following sections.
The Welcome Module
The welcome module has 4 lessons that tell you how to use the course.
It also provides the course outline and gives you the links to access the places you’ll want to use the most: the Project Van Life forums and how to access support.
The welcome module also has a section where they post every time they add an update or a new lesson to the course. So, you can always find all the new content in one spot.
Preparing for Van Life Module
This module is the first real learning module of the course. It’s split into 3 sections:
- Is Van Life Right for Me?
- Choosing the Right Vehicle
- Vanalyzer Tool Automated Tool to Find Your Perfect Vehicle
This module is full of expert tips, forum discussions from other newbies, and all the different types of van life vehicles (plus pros and cons of each one).
Planning Your Build Module
- Van Layout Priorities
- Designing Your Layout
- Other Layouts for Inspiration
- How to Budget Your Build
- Timelines, Schedules, and Deadlines
- Tools Needed to Build Your Van
The Build Module
- Preparing for the Build
- Body Work and Exterior Components
- Water & Plumbing System
- Flooring Installation
- Walls and Ceiling
- Kitchen and Living Area
- Solar Electrical System
- Popular Upgrades
Build Tutorials Module
This module features detailed tutorials from 4 expert vanlifers that walk you through the process of their van builds.
You’ll learn from:
- Mitch Cox (@mitch.cox on IG)
- Jayme & John (@gnomad_home on IG)
- Nate Murphy (@nate_murphy1 on IG)
- Pete Thuli (@petethuli on IG)
They share things like how they chose their vans, how they planned their builds, and then step-by-step walkthroughs of the entire process.
Life On The Road Module
This module has 5 lessons that teach you everything you need to know about life on the road. You’ll learn:
- Tips and Tricks (cooking, hygiene, pets, mail, and more)
- Common Issues (money, climate, parking, etc)
- Legal Requirements of Van Life
- Finances, Income, and Working from the Road
The Best Parts: The Planning and Building Modules
My favorite parts of this course were both the planning and building modules.
And you might even say these modules are the “meat” of the course because they’re so jam packed with information.
What I Loved About The Planning Module
This module teaches you how to plan your van life build even if you’ve never touched a tool in your life.
Each lesson in this module gives you a broad overview first, including the tools and materials you will need for each step of the way.
Then it breaks down how to do literally everything, including how to create your own van build blueprints.
My personal favorite lessons in this module were budgeting and scheduling.
If you’ve ever wondered: “what do I do first?” this module is for you.
It gives you a step-by-step process of what to build first so you’re not scratching your head, and helps you plan the entire process for your specific situation.
It even comes with an automated budget tracker spreadsheet to help you budget your build costs.
And, you’ll also learn how to create a budget for life on the road to have a more realistic idea of how much money you need each month.
I love data, planning, and money, so this module was definitely my fave.
What I Loved About the Build Module
The Build Module is the backbone of this course, and it’s where you’ll learn to do everything regarding your van build.
And yes, even if you’ve never used a tool in your life.
You don’t have to be an expert carpenter to build a cabinet.
You don’t have to be an electrician to learn how 12v power works.
And, if you don’t understand some of it, that’s what the forums are for.
This module starts at the beginning and takes you all the way through to the end of the van build. And it even tells you when you should consult an expert or try to DIY it so you can stay safe and end up with a great finished van.
My Honest Thoughts on the Course
I lived and traveled in an RV for two years before transitioning into van life back in 2019.
I’ve worked on two different van builds and am currently working on a third build with my wife.
I say all of this to say: I’m familiar with van life, buying a van, building a van, and the struggles (and joy) of life on the road.
So, my honest thoughts on Van Life Academy? I truly think it’s pretty incredible.
I’ve been wanting to see something like this for newbie van lifers for a LONG time, and I’m really happy it was created.
I really feel like the creators of this course touched on every single thing related to converting a van and living on the road.
I think it’s organized really well and put together in a way that even someone who is a total beginner can understand it and start the process of buying their van, building it, and hitting the road.
When I first became a nomad, there weren’t any resources like this. It was all stuff you had to figure out on your own. And if you didn’t know how to use tools or build stuff, you were basically out of luck.
I wasted a ton of money, broke tools, and bought a lot of unnecessary supplies when I did my Ford E-350 van build. If I’d had something like this course, I know for 100000% fact that I would have saved myself time, money, AND supplies wasted.
When you’re building a camper van, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at all the options, possibilities, and materials.
This course takes away the overwhelm and decision fatigue and gives you an easy step-by-step process to follow.
And, it’s presented in a way that even a beginner with no building knowledge can do it.
Is there anything I didn’t like?
It’s hard for me to find something I don’t like about the course. It’s a TON of information presented in an easy-to-understand way.
The only real thing I think the course could improve on is having more videos to go with the lessons but they’re already working on that as I write.
In fact, the creators are about to add 96 videos to the course and they might even be done at the time of publishing. I’ll update this article when the new videos are added.
Who Created Van Life Academy
Van Life Academy was created by the minds behind the popular Instagram account @project.vanlife. This IG account has grown to over 1 million followers and also has a website, forum, and popular YouTube channel too.
The minds behind Project Van Life partnered with 4 vanlife experts to bring you the most helpful and accurate tutorials that cover every aspect of van life from the build to actually living on the road.
I’ve watched this brand grow over the years that I’ve been in the community and I’m consistently impressed.
Pros and Cons of Van Life Academy
Alright, here are the pros and cons of Van Life Academy as I see it.
Pros of Van Life Academy
- Covers every single thing related to finding a van, buying a van, planning a build, building it, and living on the road.
- Contains detailed tutorials and step-by-step walkthroughs.
- Helps with the difficult parts like planning and budgeting with free spreadsheets and planning templates.
- Helps you decide what order to do things in so you don’t get lost or stuck.
- Teaches you how to actually live on the road and how to do things like make money, shower, deal with common issues, etc.
- The course is organized super well and great for beginners all the way to advanced.
Cons of Van Life Academy
- It’s a LOT of information. 95 lessons, in fact!
- It needs more videos (96 new videos are about to be published)
I really tried to come up with more cons for the course. I want this review to be as honest and unbiased as possible… and it is.
For the price, I really don’t see any significant downsides to this course.
At least, not if you’re serious about wanting to build a van and live the van life.
Like, sure, it’s a ton of information. But you NEED a ton of information. So is that really a downside?
How Much Does It Cost?
Van Life Academy pricing is a one-time payment of $294.
For this price, you get lifetime access to over 95 lessons. You also get free access to all future updates and bonuses, even if the price of the course goes up.
However, they’re improving the course all the time and the price won’t stay this low for long. In fact, they’re about to add over 95 new videos and I won’t be surprised if the price goes up after that.
Additionally, the Van Life Academy course comes with a 30-day refund guarantee.
50% off Van Life Academy
For a limited time only, you can get Van Life Academy for 50% off here!
Is Van Life Academy Worth It?
For the price and the amount of information you get in this course, YES. It’s MORE than worth it.
I have never seen a more thorough and organized presentation of information about building a DIY camper van or living on the road in my life.
And I’ve been creating van life and nomadic lifestyle content since 2018 I feel like I’ve seen it all.
Van Life Academy Reviews From Other Students
You don’t have to just take my word for it. Here’s what other people are saying about Van Life Academy.
“I had no idea what I was doing because I never had anything to do with electrical before in my life. But this made it so much easier with nice little diagrams to follow. Just made everything a lot clearer than if I had to figure it out for myself.” Carly
“I’m quite happy and fortunate that I stumbled across the van life academy from project van life. (It) taught me everything I need to know to become a full time vanlifer. I can highly recommend it, I’m already 80% through the course. It’s great, professional content, professional speakers, and strong support from the community.” Kirchoff
“When we started to look into van life we had a million questions and didn’t know where to start. We really think Van Life Academy covers everything you need to know. It’s going to make your progress a lot easier and affordable.” Bas & Bianca
Alternatives to the Van Life Academy Course
Alternatives to Van Life Academy include reading random blog posts and searching for YouTube videos and trying to put the pieces together yourself.
Can you do it? Absolutely. That’s how many people did it before this course existed.
Just bear in mind that it might be difficult to find the right information and you will have to sort through a lot of videos and articles to find what you need.
Then you’ll have to save the links and organize them so you can go back to them when you’re ready to use the info.
As far as other van life courses go, there aren’t any.
If you want everything you need to know about building a van and living on the road from A to Z, I recommend the course.
You won’t ever Google another van life related problem or question again, that’s for sure!
Plus, if there’s something they don’t go over in the course, the forum is right there for help.
And if it’s a big topic that somehow isn’t covered, the creators might even make your question into a lesson on its own.
Final Thoughts On The Van Life Academy Review
My final thoughts on Van Life Academy: get it before the price goes up. Seriously!
It’s totally worth the investment.
In fact, I think the price of this course is less than the price of the money you’ll end up wasting if you try to go it on your own.
And… trust me on this one. (grimace)
I wasted thousands of dollars on my first full van build. And I’m still reeling from that today! I can’t tell you how many times I bought the wrong material or wanted to change the layout. I also destroyed a few tools.
If I had this course back then, I would have saved SO. MUCH. MONEY.
It’s worth it, I promise. Plus, you have a 30 day refund window to decide for yourself. What are you waiting for?