It’s so easy to get caught up in the designer blankets, the steaming coffee mugs artfully arranged in front of incredible beach views, and the starscapes sprawling over dreamily lit vans while scrolling through the #vanlife hashtag on Instagram, that you forget you actually have to live in a van, and living in a van isn’t always easy. There are so many rewarding things about living a nomadic life, but the drawbacks can be just as intense. Everyone always assumes the worst part of #vanlife is pooping outside, but the downs are much deeper than bathroom jokes. Read on to learn more about some of the unexpected downs of #vanlife.
When you pack everything you own into a small metal box and drive on down the road, you have all your THINGS with you, but you don’t have your RELATIONSHIPS. We both left family (including a two-year-old niece that we adore) and friends to achieve this lifestyle. While we are gone traveling, they are hanging out, strengthening bonds, celebrating birthdays and making future plans. We are missing out on the growth of those relationships. When we come back to our home base, we are the ones that have to make an effort to get everyone in one place to catch up. Our friends aren’t used to us being there, so why would they call us randomly to hang out if we’re never around? It’s absolutely a strain on those friendships that we have been cultivating for years before we left. We miss our friends, we miss our family, and sometimes living this lifestyle doesn’t seem worth the ache in those relationships.
What we do have is a road community. We have met so many incredible humans along the way that have become friends we see over and over again. We see them when we visit their cities and camp together at festivals. We have a network of people willing to host us, let us do laundry at their places and park in their driveway. To our road community: Thank you!!
Every day is different, which is wonderful. We have no problem with a lack of routine. I think that’s why we do so well in the van. What we do miss is taking classes, having a favorite yoga teacher and growing skills with other humans consistently. Being on the road for an extended period of time makes it impossible to sign up for a six-week pottery class, or join a frisbee league. Building skills outside of work become a self-reliant responsibility. You have to watch harmonica learning YouTube videos by yourself in the woods, or practice cross stitch while you cruise down the road.
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics
Everything is a decision. Because consistency is out the door, and you’re sailing on the wings of freedom, you have to choose where to go, what to do and how to do it. We have a unique situation where we attend 40 events in an eight-month period, so those create the structure for most of our weeks. But when we don’t have an event to mark as our North Star, we get confused and frazzled. The expanse of freedom is overwhelming. We have to make decisions every minute.
Then there are the forced decisions. When the sink breaks or the fridge stops running, and we have to stop everything we’re doing so we don’t get water behind our insulation or have everything in our fridge spoil. There are also logistics for living in a house, but the urgency of #vanlife logistics take unexpected home repairs to a new level.
Throwing up in a van is very high on our list of things we hate to do. When you’re sick and tired and want to be close to a bathroom, being in a van in the middle of nowhere is the last place that is comforting. We have been sick a few times while living in a van, and every time we either get ourselves to a place where we can be under a roof with a bathroom nearby or pay for a place that will provide those things. When you feel terrible you just want a comfy bed, Netflix and easy access to water. Even just having a headache in the van can be miserable when you don’t have the comforts of living in a house. When the going gets tough, living in a van only adds to the tough. If you want to read about our last “being sick in a van” experience, check out our blog post from last year. It was zero percent fun, and one hundred percent miserable!
Living in a van has its ups and downs, but we always say the ups outweigh the downs. These examples are just a few of the things we struggle with; there is a whole host of other issues that we face on a daily basis. But the freedom (even when you’re making 1,000 logistical decisions) is glorious and the views from the back doors unbeatable.
There is one way for this tour to be a reality, our sponsors! Sending a thank you shout out to our title sponsor Nite Ize, and all of our other awesome sponsors that make this happen: Crazy Creek, National Geographic, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, Lowe Alpine, Old Town, Leki, HydraPak, UCO Gear and Wenzel. If you like the gear that keeps us groovin’ click here to enter for a chance to win