The Harsh Truths About Van Life
SOME DAYS YOU'LL GET BORED.
Not every day in the van is going to be amazing. Some days you may sit in the van all day because the weather sucks. It can get a little old being in a small space for too long. Especially with no internet, no streaming netflix or hbo, no TV. You have to find different ways to entertain yourself which can be a challenge when you are used to being able to watch every episode of breaking bad in one sitting. We usually opt for books, working on our business, playing Mario Golf on our Nintendo 3DS, painting, coloring in this awesome coloring book, or cooking interesting dinners. We’ve even started going to bed around 9PM because it’s easier than finding something to do in the evening.
THE TEMPERATURE IS NEVER RIGHT
Insulation only does so much. Sometimes its too cold, sometimes its too hot. Some nights you go to bed with no blankets and wake up freezing off your bum. It definitely is something to get used to when you can’t set your thermostat at a perfect 72 degrees every single day. When its cold, it gets really cold. We tend to bundle up in our Rumpl blanket and warm fuzzy socks..but that can only do so much.
We did purchase a Mr. Buddy heater for when its unbearable. (ALWAYS USE PROPER VENTILLATION IF YOU DECIDE TO USE ONE OF THESE)
FINDING SOMEWHERE TO SLEEP IS DIFFICULT
Ideally, you want to be sleeping somewhere like this:
But realistically you can’t find a place like that and you have to park here:
Sometimes you are spending more time stealth parking and in Walmart parking lots than you originally anticipated when you first started your van build. It’s not glamorous and it's not the best night of sleep you’ll ever get. It definitely has been the biggest challenge of van life so far. Once you find that perfect free spot though, you’ll just stay there for as long as you can. Especially when you have a super comfortable memory foam mattress and pillows in your van. Seriously guys, invest in your sleep!
We occasionally splurge on a camp site but it's definitely hard to justify spending 40+ on campsites every night when you are trying to save money.
One thing that helped us reduce the stress in finding places to camp is AllStays. Basically it's an app that shows you locations for Walmart, BLM, state parks, and independent campsites. It's seriously a lifesaver and worth the 9.99 price point!
SOME TOWNS & CITIES DON'T LIKE VAN PEOPLE
We’ve discovered some places are very against RV’s and camper vans. They shut down all bathrooms and put signs and city ordinances up stating that you cannot park there if you have an RV or camper van. Los Angeles and the surrounding area was probably the most difficult place for us to find places to stay or park, so if you head to the city either stealth camp, or stay at a friends house.
PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE WEIRD
Not everyone understands van life or why people opt to live in a van. Most of the time, those people don’t really spend a lot of time outdoors either. Thats ok, it’s not for everyone. But people really love to point out how you are weird, or they often think you are a millennial kid with a trust fund that doesn't want to get a real job. If you are wanting to live in a van, don’t let that bother you. Living in a house isn’t the only way to have a home, and just because you choose to live in a moving vehicle doesn't make you less than anyone else living in a high rise condo.
IT CAN BE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN YOU THINK
Many people opt for van life because they want to save money. Apartments and rent can get really expensive and van life seems like it would be so much cheaper. Yes you aren’t paying rent and you can be really frugal..but when you are traveling and visiting so many different places all you want to do is spend money. On new restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, markets, events..etc. The point of traveling is to experience different places, and a lot of the times being frugal doesn’t allow you to enjoy the different local bars, parks, food places or activities. It also can be expensive finding camping spots, filling up on gas, buying food, and paying for state parks and national parks. We do feel we are spending less on rent though, and more on experiences so thats definitely better than all of your paycheck going into someone else's pocket. Which makes where your money goes even better :)
One way we save money is cooking most of our meals at 'home'. Spending money on eating out can get very expensive, and especially because van life makes it a little harder for you to be able to cook gourmet every night. We've found that having great cooking tools like this propane heated oven and grill, or these stackable pots and pans has made it much easier for us to be able to cook at home more often. It definitely has helped us save a ton of money. Also, coffee. Get a jetboil flash stove like this one here, it is a LIFESAVER when it comes to making coffee in the morning. It only takes two minutes to boil some coffee. This will save you the 5-10 dollars you'll spend at Starbucks or various other coffee shops you'll visit.
This post was intended to point out some of the frustrations and difficulties with van life, because lets be realistic. It’s not always glamourous. Get the idea out of your head that you’ll be in a beautiful campsite every night, doing yoga in the morning by the ocean, and sitting by the campfire drinking some cold ones. That's what I imagined, but I never realized that sometimes it would challenge me and there would be times where we weren't in the most desirable places..but you learn as you go.
We always wanna be real with you, while these are negatives that happen, the positives far outweigh those shitty moments. We think its worth it and its just a lifestyle you have to adjust to. Just like anything else in life, you find solutions and figure out ways to make things easier for yourself.
Speaking of all this, we are selling our van! Not because we don't like van life, but because we are buying and building out another one! If you are interested in buying a sprinter van check out our craigslist post here.