These last two hectic weeks have been the ride of a lifetime. I find that it is easier going into van life blindly your first time rather than living it for a year and a half, leaving it and then coming back. That is for one reason: EXPECTATION.
Selling our SUV marked the last thing on our To-Do list before finalizing our Spanish visa and jumping on an airplane to a life of more unknown than either of us realize. While we couldn’t be more excited, we find ourselves clinging to every single second of this van life to a point of feeling disappointed when it isn’t going the way we imagined.
You see moving to a slower paced life on wheels is more of an adjustment than you may realize.
Sure, there’s the space constraints and the lack of a toilet (which is most people’s concern). In reality, that stuff is nothing. You learn that quickly with some organization and indoor/outdoor living. The hard stuff may not be what you think.
These are the top 5 things that you wouldn’t expect to be an adjustment when living van life:
1. Slowing your BRAIN
Our first night back at life in a van Myles looked at me and said “well, now what”. We laughed because this is not the first time we have felt that way. Unwinding can be a difficult thing to master. But once you get it, it’s hard to go back. So hard in fact that most of our friends get frustrated that we are late for EVERYTHING. (Sorry everyone!)
2. Adjusting your internal clock to match the sun
No longer do you have this beautifully taken advantage gift of overhead lighting. Well, you do, but far less than ever before. While nighttime can turn into meaning fire time, generally speaking you begin to wind down as the sun does. In turn, you also wake up a great deal earlier to take advantage of all the beauty the sunlight brings. This change in sleeping patterns takes some adjusting but really becomes the most wonderful thing.
Waking up with no more alarm clocks: YES PLEASE!
3. Getting used to being on display
While we intentionally put ourselves on display on occasion, as with our various social media handles, we are on display for more than just that. We live in a van that gets A LOT of attention. It also is surrounded with windows and to top it all off it looks a bit like a clowns car when the two of us and 3 dogs all jump out.
Just about every single time we stop, be it for gas or in a “secluded spot” we have at least one person come to talk to us. Something we love, but oftentimes it’s done when we have a mouthful of toothpaste, are feeding our dogs, or changing our clothes.
4. Being a slave to mother nature
When you live in a big house, if you don’t like what is going on outside of you simply don’t look out the window. How many times have people gone about their day without even noticing what the weather outside looks like? Well, NOT IN A VAN. With so many windows, dogs and only so much square footage you learn to get outside.
Needless to say, tarps become our friend. If you find yourself waiting for those picture perfect sunny days, chances are you are not going to like living in a camper. Instead, learning to embrace no matter what mother nature throws your way will take you to new highs.
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After a week of what we can only describe as a stressful chaotic mess all of our worries disappear into this beautiful place. ** The moody weather is almost a celebration, the drizzle washing away our prior concerns and the clouds helping to clear our minds. ** It's wild out here, it's not always hot with endless sunshine. And that's ok. Learning to dance in the rain, find beauty in the fog and bask in the imperfect is the best way to enjoy life!
5. Understanding that where you are is not where other people are
Once you’ve gotten used to living a camper lifestyle it can be really quite hard to go back. While you are not in a rush and perfectly happy driving in the slow lane, taking naps in the middle of the day, reading for hours on end and just being, you will find this is a concept most people don’t understand and won’t like. We aren’t in a rush.
So many times WE ARE THOSE PEOPLE that you’re honking at for driving too slow, yelling at for making conversation with the barista at Starbucks, holding up a parking spot because we are in absolutely NO RUSH. Time slows down but realizing that everyone else’s time doesn’t can be a challenge.
The problem is, we know our time is limited. We know we have only 5 short weeks to enjoy this lifestyle and we so badly want to skip past steps 1-4 and jump straight to 5. Well, here’s to ENJOYING our next few weeks living van life with as minimal expectation as possible.
Did our list surprise you? Or unlike us, did you expect to have these challenges when living a camp-based lifestyle? We’d love to hear if anyone else experiences this when they take extended camping trips and how you turned into vandwellers.
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