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Best Things About Living in a Van Full Time
We’ve been living in our van full time for about 5 months now. There have been ups and downs throughout this time, but we want to focus on the best things that have happened. Here are our Top 10 Best Things About Living in a Van Full Time.
You Become More Flexible
When you live in 80 square feet, you become more flexible… oh wait, I didn’t mean physically! Living in a van full time allows us to be flexible with our plans; we can go anywhere at any time within reason. Since we are not tied down to jobs or houses, we are free to roam about. Having this flexibility is the number one reason why we chose the van life.
We’ve often gotten phone calls from a friend three states away asking us to come visit for the weekend. We’ve been known to drive 8 hours one way just to attend a New Year’s party out of the blue. When an opportunity for adventure arises, we want to be able to say yes in a moment’s notice. Living the van life has allowed us to do just that.
You Meet Great People
There are really two parts to this point. First: living in a van full time has allowed us to visit friends and family all across the country, many of whom we wouldn’t have been able to visit otherwise. When you only have 2 weeks vacation each year, you really have to prioritize where you go and who you visit – and quite frankly sometimes that sucks. The aunt that Nate hadn’t seen since he was a kid? We had an amazing time visiting her! The good friend from college that we hadn’t seen since college? Of course we stopped by her place! These things wouldn’t have been possible if we only had a few weeks of vacation time to travel each year.
The second part of “the people” is the people you meet on the road. Honestly, telling someone that you live in a van full time opens up some great conversation. We’ve met interesting and inspiring folks across North America and have had some incredible conversations with them. These connections we’ve made over the past two years are priceless.
It Opens Opportunities
If number one was flexibility and number two was meeting people, number three on our list is the culmination of those two: opportunities. Living in a van full time has opened the door to life experiences and work opportunities that we would have never dreamed possible in our former 9-5 lives. As we meet more and more wonderful people on the road, conversations have opened up to providing opportunities for us as well.
We Find Obscure Places
We don’t often plan our travels too far in advance, unless something like an event or a job takes us to a specific location. And since we don’t plan every detail, we tend to explore off the beaten path a little more than we would have if we were on a major time crunch and had to get back to wherever for a job. It’s easy to go to a national park and find pretty viewpoints. But finding obscure places like Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons in Southern Utah makes for a much better experience (in our opinion).
You Can’t Be Lazy
Okay, many of you will say this is not a pro of living in a van full time. But I beg to differ! Living in such a small space forces you to not be lazy. We can’t leave dishes in the sink because we only have two plates. We can’t leave our laundry in the dryer and just “fluff” them every morning. Cleaning and organizing are big parts of our lives, and being in a tiny space makes you very aware of the cleanliness of your surroundings.
Even with our dogs, we have to be proactive and not be lazy. In a house, we could let the dogs out in the backyard to run around and use the bathroom if we didn’t feel like going for a walk. In a van, we have to get out there and go with them (especially our little escapee, Sparta). But rather than seeing this as a negative, we appreciate that we are more active, more proactive in our lives, and more intentional with everything that we do.
There’s Always a Story to Tell
Any of you who know us, Nate in particular, knows that we love to tell stories. Umm, maybe that’s why we have a blog and vlog. Living in a van full time is always a fun story to tell, but even deeper than that, it always creates a story. There is rarely a week that goes by that we don’t see something interesting or do something interesting. Being constantly on the move and constantly in search of the next adventure gives us some great stories. If you see us sometime, just ask us; we’ll come up with a new story to tell!
Living in a Van Full Time Perpetuates Minimalism
We are minimalists, and living in a van really helps us make better purchasing decisions that further that mindset. Every purchase is very calculated, as the limited space in the van is eaten up quickly. Even beyond those material possessions, we try to remain minimalistic even in our consumption. Buying groceries is very calculated for us, as we have limited refrigerator space. Admittedly, we wasted a lot of food when we lived in a house. Food very rarely goes to waste now that we live in our van. We also use solar to power everything in the van, so we’ve reduced our consumption there as well. So cutting down on consumption all around really helps perpetuate the minimalist mindset.
There is Always Something To Do
From mountain biking to hiking to surfing to setting up or taking down camp, there is always something to do when you live in a van full time. In the past five months of living in our van, I can’t recall a single time when either of us complained of being bored. How can you be bored when you can walk outside to gorgeous views every day? If you do manage to get bored, just drive elsewhere! That’s the beauty of van life: you’re free to do and go wherever you choose. If the weather is crappy, leave! If the park gets crowded, go somewhere else! There are always other places to explore and other things to do.
You Learn to Go With the Flow
If we’ve learned one thing over the past two years of living on the road, it’s that you can go ahead and just scratch Plan A off the list right now: something will go wrong with a perfect plan. While we don’t always have a plan at all, when we do, we account for things happening: whether we get sick or the weather turns or a road is closed. Learning to not get worked up when things don’t go as planned has improved our quality of life tenfold. Just go with the flow, and everything will be fine.
It’s Not Always Instagram Perfect
Finally, Van Life is not always Instagram perfect: and we like that! What story ever starts with “everything is perfect and we are always 100% happy?” None that are interesting. Life is not all rainbows and sprinkles, and neither is van life. Sometimes we are unshowered for days; sometimes we don’t make the bed; sometimes the van is in the shop and van life becomes hotel life. It is what it is. When you mix in all of the previous points in this article, you come up with some very interesting stories and a very interesting, but not picture perfect, lifestyle. That’s what van life is for us!