When we started this trip we had an idea of what it was going to be like. As much as we tried to do this without expectation and without any planning, nature set in and we couldn’t help but dream about our freedom. But, as always, reality is different. When we started this life, we were much like children at recess, running in circles basking in our new found freedom. We are now more like children after school – still running around hyped on sugar, but we know we have a little more time than the 15 minutes now.
In two months of Vanlife we have only paid to sleep once (I am writing this from an air-conditioned room in Saint Catharines, Ontario). We have slept everywhere from the mountains outside Lillooet to a department store’s parking lot in Wisconsin. Vultures circling overhead while the sun rises over the mountains just outside Castlegar, BC was just one of the many breath-taking spots we’ve woken up to. We’re sleeping in a hotel room tonight because we’re currently in a crippling heat wave and after being under trees on the beach and paddle-boarding all day we made the executive decision that our family, specifically our little Chihuahua who has absolutely no tolerance to heat, needed a cooler environment and for the first time caved to pay for a room.
We have been asked endless questions about this unknown lifestyle. Never does it get old to be asked “Where will you poop?”. The answer is: anywhere you can.Stopping at gas stations or department stores along the way or outhouses are all good choices. Stuck in a remote campsite? Bring some toilet paper, or wait for the rest stop or department store you’re bound to run into. Honestly, it isn’t that big of a deal. The best part of this way of life is you are in 100% full control. You don’t want to turn right, don’t. Don’t want to relieve yourself in the woods, you don’t have to. Unless you really do.
After the common concern of our bodily functions, we are quickly asked “did you win the lottery?” Nope, although that is welcomed to happen anytime. The truth is we just got tired of waiting to win the lottery. This life is full of too much waiting. Freely traveling, that was something you only do when you retire. But, why wait? What if I (knock on wood) don’t make it to retirement? Then I never get to travel to my heart’s content? So that fueled this entire Vanlife movement. With a small amount of money, and more faith than you can ever imagine, we jumped. The beauty of this life is there is a very small amount of overhead. We need gas, we need food, and we need dog food. We will go off of what we have, and when we run low we will find “gigs” along the way to fuel our adventures.
Doing this with three dogs, it creates challenges. Honestly, it hasn’t been the easiest, especially in this heat. But it has also been amazing, encouraging us to stop and see some of the most amazing sites along the way and brought us even closer as a little family. I have found that being out in nature, we are the best we can be. Being in the city is almost confining. It might be the tangle of three leashes wanting to go in different directions but life seems harder in the city. I decided to change my way of life because it meant I take control. I don’t have someone telling me where I can walk my dogs, where to stand, how to spend my money. Cities seem to exude stress, something I being the former city lover that I was, didn’t expect. Nothing compares to laying in a field not worrying about your dogs playing in traffic.
All these questions are now easy answers for us. We are now struggling with real problems. After our six months in the USA we are allowed, where do we want to go next? Ship our van to Europe? But if we ship our van to Europe we can’t bring our paddle boards, maybe we should head to South America and work our way back up? There are no limits to Vanlife. Well, I guess we will go think about that now…
Ship your van to Australia! Although no dogs in National Parks…
We’ve definitely thought about it! Winters in Canada are the worst. And we’ve snuck our pack into more than one National Park 😉
Three dogs in the van?!? After living in my van in 2012 alone, doing it again now with a dog has me concerned. Glad to hear you are making it work. Do you guys boondock at all? Been concerned about the dog needing to go at night and how stealthy that could be done 😉
Yeah we boondock all the time. We’ve only paid for three nights since we left, and one was to make us closer to Hot Springs. We let our dogs go out right before we go to bed. It’s not the most stealthy scene but it gets the job done :). We have a small flashlight that we use if a dog really needs to go in the middle of the night. Nobody’s awake so if you’re quiet you shouldn’t have an issue.