Life in our van… adventurous & freeing but also, at times, absolutely exhausting. Of all the van life tips we wish we would have researched before starting, it has to be health & wellbeing on the road.
Since 2018 we have learned a lot, from being mentally prepared to knowing when & how to slow down. Here we share with you 10 tips that will help you, as a van-lifer or soon to be van-lifer, to maintain a healthy & balanced van dwelling life.
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Post written by The Wilder Route on 9th May 2021
Van Life Tips
So we’re guessing you’ve either started or are looking to start van life & if so you may have looked into a few van life tips… maybe things like which van is best to buy or perhaps how a leisure battery works (or what on earth one is)?!
You’ve got all of those practicalities under your belt hey? You (almost) know what to do when something goes wrong with your beloved van… but what about you?
Back when we started van life we were the same, totally prepared for the practical side of van life, but mentally? Ummmm, no!
After almost three years on the road we are finally so much better at taking care of ourselves & are delighted to be sharing with you these pointers to help you to do just that.
1. Get Ready To Take Care Of Your Health & Wellbeing On The Road
When it comes to taking care of our physical & mental health on the road, it’s important to remember that van life comes with added strains. Things such as not knowing where you’ll be able to park up for the night or when you’ll be able to top up with water or take a shower, may seem trivial but, sleeping & washing are basic needs & when those needs aren’t being met, it can take its toll.
Being ready & preparing yourself for such eventualities can take away (some if not all) stress from potential situations.
For example, having at least a plan B (& perhaps a plan C) of where to park for the night, especially if you are late arriving, will help those panic levels when you are searching around in the dark for a spot. & if you know you are not gonna be able to shower for a while, carrying some extra water in jerry cans so you’ll at least be able to wash & feel a little refreshed will be so worth it.
In fact, there are tons of scenarios for which a little preparation will remove a lot of strain. So, being prepared is key.
2. Be Mentally Prepared For Van Life
Van life brings so many benefits. benefits such as the freedom to do as you chose, more time in nature & the joy of constantly experiencing new things.
It really is an amazing lifestyle but it also (like anything) has a shadow side.
It can at times, feel isolating & lonely with the act of driving (whether you are the driver or passenger) taking it out of you – add to this the uncertainty of van life which (due to moving around so much) can leave feelings of unsettledness, you’ve got yourself a bit of an anxiety cocktail really.
& if you are building your own van, well that’s a whole other story. Our pals, James & Sarah however, have recently converted their own Sprinter Van showing that the blood, sweat, tears & stress of a self-build van is worth it. Go check it out, it’s beautiful.
You’ll also undoubtedly have the opinions of others to deal with along with the stigma attached to full-time van dwellers.
This is where we have learned to step in & help ourselves – meeting our own emotional needs & reminding ourselves of exactly why we started living this way in the first place.
Our post ‘How To Live Life On Your Own Terms’ covers a lot more (& includes 7 actionable tips) on being mentally prepared when choosing to live life a little differently.
3. Become Acquainted With Your Surroundings
It is super easy after a long drive to perhaps cook some food, get into bed & crash for the night. The benefits, however, of getting in touch with your new surroundings as soon as you arrive at a place are massive.
Have you ever listened to a guided mediation & heard a calming voice say something like “sit quietly & before closing your eyes, take a look at the room around you, what can you see, how does it feel, etc.?” – if you haven’t, this happens, it’s a well-known relaxation technique & it is well known because it works.
Being comfortable with your surroundings means that you are much more likely to naturally relax.
So, what we’d recommend is, whatever time you arrive at a new place, get out of your van & take a walk around… get your bearings so to speak. & if you want to go the whole hog & it’s suitable to do so, walking around barefoot to ground yourself to the earth will also help a lot.
4. Slow Down
We’re guessing, you are not about to (or have embarked) on van life because you want loads more tension in your life.
Are we right?!
You envisage your life being wonderful & free, of having the time to do all those things you want to do.
We’ll be honest here, sometimes to do that you’ve just gotta get out of your own damn way! You don’t have to go on every hike, post an Instagram story after every experience or see every possible spot along the way.
Slowing down & giving yourself time to soak it all up will not only be worth it but is necessary to maintain a healthy & balanced life on the road.
5. Take A Digital Detox
We, humans, are not designed to sit at our electronic devices for hours on end – we are supposed to be out in nature, as, well, we are nature.
Taking a day off social media doesn’t mean you’ll miss something, trust us, you may think so but as regular digital detoxers we can tell you, it’ll be fine.
When our work schedule allows, we like to reserve one digital detox day per week which works perfectly.
6. Find Your Community
We thrive with community, so finding yours, as a van-lifer, is something we’d highly recommend you do.
As well as the community online, something we love to do when we arrive at a new place & know we are going to be staying longer than a few days is scope out places or events where we can meet other people.
Co-working spaces are a great place for us to meet other remote workers, with coffee shops becoming more & more frequented by digital nomads. Kelly, as a lover of yoga, will also check out any group classes she can join if we are in an area for at least a week or two.
MeetUp is a fantastic place to connect with like-minded people & discover events to attend.
7. Scope Out Wellness Activities
There are wellness centres everywhere, in fact, since we moved into our van we’ve booked ourselves in for a day at a spa on more than one occasion.
But wellness activities don’t have to be expensive.
For example, when we were travelling in Spain in our motorhome, we researched natural hot springs & came across an awesome spot in Arnedillo, La Rioja. There’s a motorhome parking place at the top of town so we paid a small price to stay there & every day (ok, ok, twice a day) we walked down into town & to the (free) hot springs located right on the river.
One of the things we miss about living in our van is having a bath, so when we get the chance to have a good soak, we make the most of it!
8. Create Your Own Van Life Routine
Keeping in mind the things you love to do along with what you know makes you feel good, make a rough plan of what you want to include in your day-to-day & your week to week.
For example, Kelly’s van life routine involves yoga & meditation, whereas Adam’s includes making & listening to music (he’s not only been a dj in the past but also produced music) – so, individually we set aside time to do these things. We also have things that we love to do together, such as hiking & wild swimming, which we ensure we make time to do.
Setting a routine is the easy part, it’s sticking to it that’s tricky.
This is when you’ll need to be on hand to motivate yourself, whatever you include in your routine, know that it is going to make you feel good once you’ve done it & use that as your motivation.
Kelly uses the The Daily Greatness Journal which is designed to help you to transform your habits, achieve your goals & improve your life. With daily prompts, weekly check-ins & space to review where you are at quarterly, Kelly loves it!
9. Eat Well
Food is medicine, we all know that yet (ourselves included) let our eating habits slip.
Living in a tiny space does not mean that you cannot prepare healthy balanced meals & give your body the fuel it needs.
We find that meal planning plays a key role in helping us to eat well. Living in our van & running our business on the road means we have a lot to juggle but when we know what we are going to cook & have all of the ingredients on hand we are much more likely to eat healthily.
We love these easy & healthy camping meals from Two Wandering Soles.
An added benefit of driving through remote places is the lovely local produce that’s on offer, in the UK we often stop at the boxes outside of farms & countryside houses to pick up fresh veg & eggs, popping our money in the ‘honesty pot’ provides us with food straight from the farm, just the way we like it.
We also always pick wild berries when they are in season, a win: win for eating well & saving money.
10. Count Your Blessings
If there is one thing the past year & a bit has taught us, it’s to be grateful – grateful for it all!
Van life comes with its challenges – challenges that can sometimes become pretty relentless but that is what makes this lifestyle what it is.
With each challenge, we learn & grow.
& at the end of each day ‘good’ or ‘bad’, we get into our cosy bed with that same feeling of amazement… amazed that we live here in this tiny space – a space we are so happy to call home.
A Round-Up Of Van Life Tips For Health & Wellbeing On The Road…
- Get ready to take care of your health & wellbeing on the road – prepare yourself for potentially stressful situations.
- Be mentally prepared for van life – it’s an amazing lifestyle but remember it has a shadow side.
- Become acquainted with your surroundings – so that you can naturally relax.
- Slow down – it will help you maintain a healthy & balanced lifestyle on the road.
- Take a digital detox – at least one day per week, if you can.
- Find your community – online & offline.
- Create your own van life routine – & stick to it.
- Eat well – meal planning can play a key role in this.
- Count your blessings – because van life brings plenty of them.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our van life tips for health & wellbeing on the road, if you know anyone else who would enjoy this post, please do share it with them.
Here’s to a long & happy van life,
Kelly & Adam x
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