The “Bus Life” Matt and I have created has helped us meet new people and talk about our lifestyle on a regular basis, which I find to be an incredible thing. We are simple at heart, and together we have built a system that allows that simplicity to flourish. Every new opportunity that comes to our van door is a blessing, and we value the freedom we have to open ourselves up to new possibilities. What is even more incredible is the community that has supported our endeavors. Our families and friends have had open minds, leaving the lights on in the front porches of their homes should we ever need a place to spread out for the night. We are blessed, and life is good.
That being said, I want to give some realistic insight to what living in van is like. We have learned along the way that how we do things is very different from other van dwellers and vagabonds– each person we meet has their own story. The following list is a few facts about what van life is like for us:
- We do work: taking shifts at the local climbing shop a couple times a week, along with picking up other odd jobs here and there. We like to say that we have five-day weekends to play and adventure. Living in Utah, that leaves a lot of nearby territory to explore, but there are times when we work more and play less. The entire month of January we have been working almost double the normal hours, making up for drained funds and paying off debts accrued on our credit cards.
- We live on our van full-time, but we don’t always travel very far from home base. Some have been confused by this– after all, our home can travel just about anywhere. The problem with long-term travel is that you need a savings to live from, or a job that you can work while on the road. The work we have found to make us happy requires that we stay close to a central location. (That doesn’t mean we don’t travel, it just means that we aren’t always traveling very far.) So when people ask us, “how’s life on the road,” I’m not really sure how to respond. The end goal is to continue venturing farther from home and exploring the world, but we are content spending a week in the Utah desert as well.
- Showering isn’t an issue (as long as you don’t mind public facilities) As silly as this sounds, I actually had a hard time using public showers for the first few months of van life. I cringed every time I used the scummy shower at the local climbing gym. Now that I have adjusted, I look forward to each chance I get to rinse off. Public showers and restrooms are a big part of van life, even though Matt and I would rather be running barefoot in the dirt and rinsing off in streams and waterfalls.
- Life gets messy. I don’t mean this figuratively– tiny spaces get messy really quick. When one thing gets left out-of-place, its only a matter of time before total chaos follows suit. Two people can create a lot of mess in a short amount of time, but thankfully it only takes five minutes to have things in order once more.
- We like each other even more after living in a small space together. Even the best of friends will be tested when you put them in a 40 square foot box and tell them to get along for weeks and months at a time. We have found that the extra (close) time we’ve spent together has only made us stronger as a couple, and we both feel lucky to have a partner that we can work well with in such an intimate environment.
- Opportunities arise because we open ourselves up to new possibilities. Having and open heart, and maybe even more importantly an open schedule, allows us jump at the chance of new friendships, new adventures, and new job opportunities. From exploring new climbing destinations nearby, to traveling overseas, being able to accommodate our time to that of the people we meet has given us the chance to do more. We work for people who encourage us to take time off and build experiences.
- “Suck out all the marrow of life” is a goal we seek to live daily. Life is too short to waste a drop of. We value the days we have to play in the mountains, we are grateful for the work we have that supports our lifestyle, and we take advantage of rest days where to do nothing at all. Regardless of how each day is spent, we try to make the most of every moment. When little stresses arise, they are quickly resolved when we realize how much we have and how grateful we are for each other and the life are living.
Van life isn’t a perfect fairytale, there are certainly less than glamorous aspects to the lifestyle, but Matt and I love every part of it. If it’s something that intrigues you, you should try it for yourself, if only for a short period of time. Wherever you are in life, make sure that you are living it fully– that you are spending your days outside with the ones you love. We were meant to adventure and to experience the world, to live intimately with nature and to build deep relationships.