Editor’s Note: By a couple of real van dwellers, this is what van life is really like. This blogging duo has written for us before, explaining the beauty and growing popularity of the #VanLife movement.
To lots of people, living that common American dream is how they picture their life. Climbing the corporate ladder, reaching career success and financial stability sounds great. Buying a big house to raise their families with all the modern luxuries. Perhaps enough room for their new, shiny car. Sounds like a dream. But what happens when you’re a twenty-something year old, freshly graduated from college or even high school, and you struggle to find your identity? This American dream sounds undeniably comfortable, but doesn’t seem to fit you. Well, that’s where we were.
As a young couple we knew we should be working hard to save for a house so we could start our life, but something never seemed quite right to us. We knew we loved adventure and traveling and both had this terrible desire to live an ever-changing lifestyle. Social media showed us that there were people out there who made traveling their career, but with three dogs and little savings how could that be us? Never really being excited by material objects we were instantly intrigued with the tiny house movement. But could we take that one step further? That is how we stumbled upon the van life movement.
Tiny house? How far can we push that- how about three dogs and two humans in only 50sqft?
Adventure of a Lifetime
It is simple really, imagine packing for a road trip. While counting down the days you begin planning your route, pack some food, gather way too many pairs of underwear and you’re ready to go. Full tank of gas and a couple bags of chips and you’re off. Now imagine leaving for your road trip and never returning home. This is what van life is really like, except all those pairs of underwear live in our van with us with far too many blankets.
We saved some money, fixed up our trusty Volkswagen van, sold all the items in our two bedroom apartment, quit our jobs, and set off on a journey which was truly into the unknown. Our only plan was to have no plan. To travel solely using paper maps and directions from locals. The last four months of our lives have been a whirlwind. We’ve travelled 25,000 kms (and counting), driven through twenty states, five provinces, a terrifying tornado and a crippling heatwave. We have seen unspeakable beauty, attractions that didn’t even come close to our expectations, and lived in real life horror movies.
Imagine, packing for a road trip and falling so in love with the open road you never return home
This is what van life is really like. To some, van life is not so much about living in a van but rather the lifestyle that living in a van will allow. Photographers are able to spend their days with endlessly amazing motivation to fuel their dreams. Climbers are given a cheaper lifestyle to be able to afford all that expensive gear. Bikers are given the freedom to go where their tires take them. Our unique home allows you the opportunity to live the lifestyle you would dream of living if money weren’t an option. To us, living in a van is about absolute freedom. There are much more structured ways to live in a van but to us the ever changing scenery and lack of routine keeps us feeling alive.
If Money Weren’t An Option
“Our unique home allows you the opportunity to live the lifestyle you would dream of living if money weren’t an option.”
Lots of what we have experienced was expected. Our health has skyrocketed, our relationship has become much stronger, our confidence has boomed. But less expectedly, we have also become attuned to our internal clocks. You will often find us up and ready to go when the sun rises and curled up in bed shortly after it sets, a drastic change from our previous schedule. We have developed an intense appreciation for nature and have fallen absolutely in love with bathing in rivers and jumping into waterfalls. Our days are rarely the same, but we do have some constants.
So many people believe travelling is about expensive flights and long bus rides. But not many have travelled their own backyard.
It’s Different For Everyone
Van life looks a little different for every person, but to most it’s a chance to live the exact life you want, without restrictions of finances. It is typically only recommended for those who aren’t too keen on being consumers. We don’t use a budget but typically spend around $150 a week with our only expenses being food, gas and dog food. That is with all of our expenses included (except insurance – a once a year setback of $1,000). Without having much savings, we fund our lifestyle by whatever means we can. Writing gigs are our favourites. Other gig-like employment once in awhile is another great idea. We have worked a farm gig as well where two days labour for the two of us will draw in $450, enough for about three weeks on the road.
Days not spent working are filled with endless adventure, and lots of naps. Beach days are common. Making new friends everywhere we go is a must. Also playing with our little family is exactly what we are all about. This is what van life is really like.
Get ready, set, drive!
Van life definitely isn’t for everyone. But the aspects that make up this lifestyle is something that everyone should experience. This is what van life is really like. Complete freedom, undisturbed family time, no stress, and happiness for your whole being. It makes you healthier, think clearer, and changes your personality for the better. If that means utilizing your two week holiday and hopefully squeezing in as many weekend trips you can, we highly recommend filling up your gas tank and seeing all your backyard has to offer.