Van life is more than just a movement, it’s a way of life, a way of being.
People all over the world are trading the monotonous daily grind for freedom & more control over their own time. They are claiming their sovereignty & living life in the way that they choose. They are ditching the possessions & everything they thought made them happy for a life that is, in many ways, a lot less simple.
Like us, they are van-lifers, & providing you are physically & mentally prepared for this lifestyle you can reap the benefits of living the van life just as we do.
The key thing to remember is, like anything, there are downsides to van life, which is why in this post you’ll discover seven truths to help you prepare for life on the road.
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Written by The Wilder Route on 10th May 2021
1. Living The Van Life Is Not Always ‘The Dream.’
Waking up to a different view each day, happy & free… really is ‘the dream’ but for us, as full-time van-lifers, we can tell you that it is not always this way.
Whilst living the van life is an incredible adventure, it is also, at times, very challenging. From searching for a spot to park up at, to figuring out where we’ll be able to charge our laptops & work, somedays meeting our needs can be hard work.
Now, we like to view these challenges positively, taking the times when things don’t go as planned as an opportunity to learn & grow but that positivity always comes with hindsight, not when we are in the middle of trying to handle something.
That being said, we do, however, disagree with the notion that hashtags such as #vanlife are filled with unrealistic images of this lifestyle – those dreamlike moments do exist, we have experienced a lot of them but they exist along with (some) nightmare moments which is why it’s important to remember that van life, like any other lifestyle, comes with its ups & downs.
2. Some People Won’t Get You Being A Full-Time Van Dweller
It’s amazing just how many people won’t ‘get it’ – remember though, that’s not on us van dwellers but them.
Societal shackles very much mean that people tend to expect things to ‘be’ a certain way. We’ve even had some of our family members tell us, 18-months after living in our van full-time that they truly believed that we would go on a trip or possibly 2 in our van & that would be it – bear in mind that when we moved into our motorhome, we sold everything, set up our online business & had 100% committed to calling it our permanent home. Granted we may not live in it forever, but almost 3 years on we are still here. So yeah, just a ‘trip’ it is not.
We’ve figured though that people view it in this way because that’s what they do, they go on a trip, then they come back home & resume ‘normal’ life.
Our advice – the sooner you care less about what others think of you being a full-time dweller, the happier you’ll be. Be sure to check out our post on how to live life on your own terms in which we’ve shared 7 actionable tips to help you live life as you chose.
3. Life On The Road Can Be Tiring
Moving around a lot can take it out of you, making it super important to take extra care of your health & wellbeing on the road.
Living the van life has enriched our lives in ways we never imagined possible. The freedom to do as we chose, to be able to spend more quality time together in nature as well as the opportunity to constantly experience new things is wonderful.
As awesome though, as the lifestyle is, it does come with a shadow side.
Because we are always ‘on’ – whether it be adjusting to our new surroundings, physically driving, or trying to figure out where to park up for the night, exhaustion & burnout is common.
Taking time to relax & slow down as a van-lifer is key.
4. Your Waste, Your Problem
Something we took for granted when living in a house was our waste just draining away & us not having to deal with it but when living in a van it’s all on you.
From emptying the loo to properly getting rid of grey waste, it’s something we have to think about & deal with day-to-day.
Now, the plus side to this is it has made us both a lot less wasteful, being acutely aware of how much water we have in our fresh & grey water tanks means we use less water.
So whilst dealing with our shower water & poo, isn’t great, we’re pleased that we’re now having less of an environmental impact living in our van.
5. Living The Van Life = Thinking More About The Basics
Simplicity was one of the main reasons we were drawn to van life in the first place. Living with less stuff & in some ways, less responsibility has certainly made our lives a lot less complicated.
Committing to a simpler way of being has meant taking it back to basics & by that, we mean looking at what we need to function day-to-day. The answer to that is a lot less than we thought we ‘needed’ before we started van life.
Nowadays we’ve come to know why material things & more stuff will never make you happy with van life being a perfect way to strip it all back & for us, get back to nature.
6. You Have To Be A Lot More Tidy
Ok, ok, you don’t have to be or do anything but trust us when we say, keeping our tiny space free of clutter helps to keep us sane (yes, even the messier one).
It’s amazing how quickly our van can turn into an explosion of all of our stuff when we let things slip, which is why we have a place (or as Kelly likes to call it a ‘home’) for everything.
Plus side is, ‘housework’ in a van is done in no time, meaning that once the chores are finished we can get on & enjoy our surroundings.
7. Tiny Living Is Tiny
Yes, yes, it seems obvious doesn’t it but hear us out… tiny living is tiny & you need to be prepared for that.
We have lived in our motorhome for almost 3 years & have learned how to navigate that together, giving each other space when we need it & taking time to discuss & set boundaries has helped us to make this lifestyle works for us as a couple.
It’s not just been boundary setting with each other either, it’s with ourselves as indviduals – things like knowing when to stop & take a break & listening to what our bodies need is vital to maintain a healthy & balanced life on the road.
Don’t underestimate the effects of living a small space can have on your mental state, as above, keeping it tidy along with making the effort to communicate effectively (with each other & with yourself) makes for a much more happy van life.
We hope these tips will both help & inspire your journey. If you’d like to learn more about full-time van life check out this post in which we answer a ton of questions.
Be sure to follow our adventures on Instagram & please do reach out if you have any questions at all (you can either dm us on Insta, email us firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a comment at the very end of this post).
Kelly & Adam x
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