Are you questioning if vanlife is for you???
Before starting our vanlife adventure, there were many questions I asked myself. I pondered on them heavily, for days, weeks and months, before making the final leap. Lockie was set on the idea and had been for some time. He was used to a life of change, working fly in, fly out or moving interstate for blocks at a time. I had a more settled life when we initially met, a 9-5 job in my hometown where I had worked for years. It all really depends on what type of vanlife you are planning on living, as to what things you need to consider before making the decision to go for it.
When Lockie and I first started talking about our vanlife dreams and build plans, we had very different ideas on certain things. Lockie initially said no to a toilet in the van! I straight away thought, you are crazy and it will never work, especially considering we planned on living through the winter in alpine regions. He finally saw sense and came around to the idea of having portable toilet and now says it’s a great idea! I, for one, could not live without a toilet and I sure as hell wasn’t keen on heading outside in the middle of the night at -10+ temperatures. Some people go without one and do just fine but for me personally, I think its a basic necessity for full-time vanlife.
The next topic we had multiple back and forth discussions on, was a shower. Now a shower is something I think you can do without, especially if you are planning on staying in caravan parks mostly or doing vanlife in summer or warmer regions. You can usually find public showers or fresh water lakes to get by on. Again our vanlife experience was to involve colder climates, so we ended up putting one in. Now we could have opted for just an outdoor portable shower but we thought if we are going to have one, it may as well be of use in all climates. We have not used it often, but since corona lockdown, it has come in handy. It is only small so it’s definitely not luxurious, but it does the job. Lockie has said if he had his time again, he would change it and do something less fixed as it does take up a bit of space, but I personally like it and it gives us a good spot to place our portable toilet in daily and gives it essentially an entire ‘bathroom’ feel. Having a toilet and shower in our van definitely made me feel at ease so we could have normal hygiene practices.
The next thing to think about is, can you actually live with this person 24/7 in a tiny space? It sounds harsh but it’s definitely true. On cold, rainy days when its miserable outside, you will be stuck indoors with this human, in each others faces, with no other human interaction. I honestly don’t think many couples out there could do this. Luckily for us, we actually get along very well and have learned to cope and even thrive off each others company. Corona lockdown sounds like a nightmare, stuck with your partner in a van for 8 weeks, with not a lot to do or no where to go but we got through it, didn’t kill each other or even have any over the top falling outs. There was, however, a few meltdowns along the way but we got through it and it was usually weather related and the trapped feeling that got to us. Supporting each other is key here and will get you through those crappy days.
Vanlife is a simplistic way of living. Think about this. Simple. Simple means basic. Can you live with just the basics? Do you need 10 different pairs of jeans, 20 pairs of shoes and a cupboard full of beauty supplies? If you answered yes, then I don’t know that vanlife is for you. I’m not saying I don’t like having options or numerous pairs of clothes and shoes, but you have to cut right back. Instead of 10 pairs of jeans have 2, pack one pair of each essential shoe type, pack the make up basics if you need them, just don’t be excessive. I think I packed my bag at least 10 times before I left, each time removing 1 item I actually didn’t need. Even now, I have items here in the van that I don’t actually need or use and would definitely leave out if I was to do it all over again.
The questions you can ask yourself are endless. Are you open to change? Can you live life moving from place to place? Can you live away from close friends and family? Are you flexible with work options when you need money? Can you let go of the thought of a normal life? Can you give up some of your expenses? Are you willing to sacrifice things short term for long term gain?
To be one hundred percent honest, some of these things, I couldn’t answer before I left. I hadn’t done anything like this before so how could I know? The thing that I was sure about was, that regardless of if I struggled with some things, I was fully committed to making it work and to learning, and growing through the process. Don’t give up when things don’t go to plan, nothing in life will. Just trust that this is all part of it and you will in time, look back and say my god it was worth it. Happy Travels from one vanlifer to another…