This is how it happens…you’re at your 9 to 5 job: bored with many elements in your life, searching for your purpose and what to do with your future, and scrolling through instagram… BAM! You see all these beautiful, idealized photos: shots out the backs of vans with a beautiful backdrop, people cooking out of their vans in the middle of the forest, the infamous steaming coffee in a cute mug with a blurred out mountainscape behind it, and you think- I want to do that! Bingo, commence the saving for a year or longer to be able to be, basically homeless. It sounds crazy, but it really is a beautiful life to live, at least, just temporarily for us. My husband and I have been living “van life” for almost 2 months now and I have found, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…at least sometimes.
VAN LIFE DOESN’T ALWAYS CONSIST OF WAKING UP TO BEAUTIFUL SCENERY
I don’t know about others, but Ian and I try to stay on a pretty tight budget, and we try to avoid paying for overnight camping or parking, whenever possible. This means, parking in Wal Mart parking lots overnight (check online for approved Wal Mart Locations), turn outs and rest stops off the freeway, and sometimes we park overnight at trailheads to avoid campground costs.
YOU AREN’T CLIMBING TO THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN AND TAKING THAT SHOT FOR INSTAGRAM EVERY SINGLE DAY
I mean, I suppose you could- if you weren’t traveling long distances for an extended amount of time. But for us, we are traveling though large areas (from California to Alaska, and through Canada)- so this means a lot of driving. This also means, to make sure we see the highlights we want to, we don’t have time to stop at every single trailhead, to go for a hike. I thought I would be in the best shape of my life, living van life. But with a lot of driving, comes less time for hiking.
THERE IS A LOT OF DOWN TIME
Maybe people would see this as a positive to van life, but sometimes, down time gets old. Maybe you did a strenuous hike the day before, and you are having a rest day. Or maybe you drove half the day, and pull over the other half of the day to break from driving. Regardless of the reason, there is a lot of time spent- doing nothing.
THE NUMBER OF DAYS ONE CAN GO WITHOUT A SHOWER, BECOMES EMBARASSING
This is something I had mentally prepared for, not showering for many many days. Luckily, my husband built a portable shower on top of our van (AWESOME, RIGHT?). Except for the fact, that it isn’t heated, and when I am in the middle of Alaska, wearing my down jacket and long underwear, the last thing I want to do is take a nice, cold, 30 second shower J
We will often use our natural resources to do laundry and shower too (this means any rivers, or streams nearby).
YOU CRAVE THE WEIRDEST THINGS, JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE UNOBTAINABLE
The hardest part of van life for me, is not being able to have any food item of my choosing, in a second. This makes me sounds like a crazy food hoarder- I assure you, I am not. I just crave the things I can’t have, and I crave them when we’re in the middle of a campsite with no reception, and no grocery stores within our general vicinity.
These are the things I have learned, in my time living on the road. Even though we have come to all these realizations, I still love this life, and we do it because of the huge amount of joy it brings us. Because in those moments when you are picking blueberries in the forest, waking up to a beautiful view, and driving to whatever destination you want-whenever you want- all the negatives of van life are forgotten, and it’s all worth it.