Not long ago we published an article about the reality of van life, and all the not-so-glamorous parts of it. Turns out there is a lot to talk about, so now we’ll dig into even more detail.
Missed the first part? Check it out now!
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More Things to consider before moving into a van
Traveling together? Small irritations become big ones very quickly.
When you’re living in a 5 square metre space you are always on top of each other and in each other's way. Traveling together takes teamwork, and before you set of you should talk about setting some rules so you can co-exist and keep things peaceful.
Planning to travel together for a long time? Find ways to occasionally take a break from each other, like hobbies that you can do individually, to avoid burnouts and keep your friendship/relationship healthy. Do however focus on experiencing exciting adventures and creating awesome memories together.
Laundromats? Do those things still exist?
Yes! Laundromats! You’re probably gonna spend more time in them than you’d like as you won’t have a washing machine in the van and you’ve turned all your undies inside out and worn them again. Doing your laundry in laundromats is expensive, often your clothes don’t get washed properly, and no matter how many times you throw your washed clothes in the dryer, some will always come out wet.
An alternative is hand washing your clothes and drying them outside, but as this is 100% weather dependant, laundromats are a necessary evil.
How do you wash yourself if you don’t have a shower?
Unless you have a big motorhome, you probably won’t have a shower inside the van. This means that taking a shower comes with some logistical challenges. Here’s some of the options that we’ve explored and obstacles that we’ve run into.
Public showers: In some countries you’ll find public showers, this can vary from a small high tap near a beach to a warm water shower cabin that can be locked. The latter being very rare, but feels like a blessing from the gods when you find one! If you go outside of urban areas you’re however unlikely to find any public showers.
Solar shower: This does the job and is really cheap, but it only works if you can put it in direct sunlight to warm it up.
The gym: Become a member of a large gym chain and you can take a shower whenever you’re near one of their gyms. Added benefit is that you’re more inclined to exercise since you’re already at the gym. This however costs money, and there won’t be any gyms when you venture into unpopulated areas. And let’s be honest, the unpopulated areas are usually the areas you want to explore.
Aquatic centers: Most towns have an aquatic center or something similar where they’ll let you have a shower for a small fee. But same as with the gym, this costs money and you’ll only find those in populated areas
Rivers and lakes: This is absolutely the cheapest, but often also the coldest option. Find a body of water and just jump in! Do however check if it is safe to swim in, and do not use soap. When you’re far away from populated areas this is quite often your best and only option, and while it might take you some time to build up the courage to jump in, once you come out you’ll feel so much better!
Baby wipe shower: Wait, what?! Yup, baby wipes. Make sure to always have a pack of them in the van because you’ll use them more than you’d think. When all of the above options aren’t viable, cleaning the dirt and smell off with baby wipes is your last resort, and it actually does the job!
Gas heated shower: An option we didn’t implement in our current van, but definitely will install in our next van is a water heater that runs on gas. Attach a shower hose to the heater that’s long enough to go out of the van and you have your very own, very public hot shower!
Good old friend dirt
This does not apply to personal hygiene. While you may not take a shower everyday, there are many already mentioned ways to stay clean and it is not that hard. What I’m referring to is dirt in the van. You can do your best to keep your van clean and tidy, but 80% of the time the outdoors is as much your home as the van so dirt, sand and dust will get in. If you like to get off the beaten path, as we do, you’ll be driving on dirt and gravel roads a lot which means the van is one big moving dust cloud.
As we’re writing this we’re parked in a beautiful national park. There’s a lake, trees all around us, and mountains in the distance, but this also means that whenever we step out and back into the van, our our feet will bring in little twigs and dirt. And as it’s hot outside all the doors are open, so every gust of wind blows in dust.
You can sweep and wipe all you want, but dirt and dust will find its way into every nook and cranny and you need to learn to get comfortable with that.
Online shopping isn’t convenient anymore
Nowadays almost everything can be bought online and it will be sent to you. You don’t even have to get dressed to get food as you can just order takeout. Easy peasy, but not reality for us. As you don’t have an address when you’re traveling around, getting something sent to you takes a whole lot of planning.
Sometimes you can have something sent to a post office in a place you’re staying for a few days, you can ship it ahead to your next destination or maybe you can have it shipped to a friend’s house and pick it up later. But often this doesn’t provide an outcome so you might just have to step into an actual store. Feels like going back in time right?
Being on the move gets tiring
Living on the road is super exciting as you get to see new, stunningly beautiful and amazing places each day, but constantly moving around can also be challenging. Having to move often, pack in and out and looking for another place to park up every day can get really tiring.
Try to have a general idea of your options before going somewhere (but don’t plan too much to keep it exciting and spontaneous) and stay in the same spot for a few of days every once in a while so traveling doesn’t become stressful.
So why do we love van life so much?
We fell in love with the freedom that van life brings. Waking up somewhere beautiful every (most) morning, being able to pack up and go to the next destination whenever we feel like it. And while being together in such a small space, where the table and bed can not co-exist, is sometimes challenging, we’ve learned a lot more about each other than we would have otherwise. Van life brought us even closer.
Van life is also a lesson in patience, acceptance and minimalism. Cutting down on all the belongings you accumulated, but don’t really need is soooo liberating!
Good! If you read both parts of this article, and your heart still skips a beat at the thought of van life, that means that van life is something for you! All that’s left to do now is to go out and experience it for yourself! Hope we’ve answered all your questions and addressed all your doubts, but if there’s anything you’d like to add, drop us a comment, don’t be shy ;)