When she's not writing guest posts about van life, Veronica Cavanaugh from VanSage.com, is camping, backpacking, or planning her next outdoor adventure. She also enjoys watching old movies and writing poetry. One summer she decided to pack it all in and start life in a van! Here she tells us about 7 lessons she learnt while living the campervan lifestyle:
#1: All employees at the grocery store will get to know you
This depends on how many grocery stores are nearby, and how quickly you move from place to place. My partner and I lived in one small town in Colorado for 4 months before going on the road. When you live in a van without a refrigerator, you are kind of forced to make frequent trips to the store for fresh food. To make matters worse, there was only one grocery store in the whole town. I know it sounds weird, but we were well known around the local Safeway.
#2: Make friends with the other rubber tramps
Another term for those living out of their campervan, vehicle, RV, or school bus is rubber tramp. Since there was only one place within 30 miles around the town to camp, quite a few people were drawn to the area. Within a week of our arrival, the area had enough vehicles to call us a community. A community we were! We saw a few climbers, partiers, and young families come and go, but the same 15 of us were there almost every night that summer. I learned a lot from the interesting characters in our rag tag band, and now I always try to make friends with other rubber tramps. It is good to have a loyal community.
#3: You will get bored, so have a plan
Van life is not all fun all of the time. You will get bored. In fact, you may be bored a lot. We were lucky to be camping on land surrounded by trails and wilderness stretching into Rocky Mountain National Park. However, there are plenty of times when you want to do things you cannot always do while living in a van. For those moments, I had a plan made up after my first two weeks as a van dweller.
Lumpy's Ridge and Rocky Mountain National Park
#4: Eating Costs More
Although we saved a lot of money on rent, we spent a lot more on food than would have been more cost effective in a house or apartment. At first, I didn’t realize how much more I would be spending on my monthly grocery bill. However, I quickly learned living in a van means buying more prepared foods, fresh foods, and restaurant foods. There are definitely ways to be more frugal than we were, but even then you cannot store leftovers without a fridge. Even if you do have a fridge, it will likely be too small for longer term storage.
#5: The local library is a lifesaver
You may know the library as a place where the elderly and homeless spend their time. However, many a vehicle dweller has benefited from the use of libraries. If I needed to get on the Internet, I could simply park my home in front of the library. There were countless evenings my partner and I fell asleep behind the library watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The local library was also great for its traditional purpose: lending books. Sadly enough, I read more books that summer than I have in the 4 years since.
#6: Plan on getting uncomfortably close to your partner
Whether for good or bad, you will get extremely close to anyone you are living with in a campervan. Two people in such a small space is enough to drive some batty. That is why it is important to give each other time apart. As I said, we were lucky to have wide-open spaces to roam in good weather.
#7: Minimizing requires a shift of priorities
Unknown to me at the time, the minimizing I did during my last two weeks in Montana began a shift in my priorities that would continue throughout my time living in the van. Before I left, I had to decide what I wanted to keep, and what I wanted to send home to my family. This forced me to decide what I absolutely had to have. In fact, I ended up throwing much more stuff away than I thought I would. While living in the van, I was constantly forced to re-evaluate my priorities in terms of what I could not live without. This was a valuable lesson that persists today, despite currently living in an apartment.
I hope you enjoyed my article! Are you interested in campervan life? Are you currently living in a van or other vehicle? I want to read about your experiences. Please comment below and share!
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