Some adaptations were needed when transitioning from house to van. After living in my van for 6 months, here are 10 things I had to quickly get used to:
1. The dark
I came from the city. I forgot how dark actual dark is. Camping in the woods in a foreign country, on my own and in complete darkness was scary at first.
2. Driving (really slowly) on the other side of the road
Driving a big van was new to me. Driving a big van in a foreign city, on the other side of the road (with steering wheel on wrong side) took a bit of getting used to. The van is also slow – I cruise at 55Mph max. I’m used to holding people up now.
3. People staring
I wash in rivers, I do exercises on the floor next to my van, I eat my dinner on the floor outside and if there’s a good bin, I look in it. Yesterday a guy sat and watched whilst taking pictures.
4. Waking up wondering where the hell I am
It took about 2 months to get used to this. I now wake up and I know I’m in my home… somewhere in Europe. Put the kettle on!
5. Everything can go wrong in a matter of seconds
This is not as safe as living in a house. Breakdowns, crashes, vehicle breaks ins, fires, leaving the gas on, forgetting to put the handbrake on are all things I worry about – I have to be careful. I know that all my time and effort can be lost in a matter of seconds. I have to remember this but not let it bother me too much.
6. Being prepared to wake up and move at any time in the night
The first couple of months I’d wake up at every little sound thinking I was going to be asked to move. I spent a while working out the rules and boundaries of free camping. My instinct for a good spot is getting better all the time though.
7. Hearing and feeling every bit of weather
I cannot just close the door and completely isolate myself from a thunderstorm. I feel everything. The van rocks, knocks and the door leaks. If it rains hard in the night, it is difficult to sleep from the sound.
8. Not having a mirror
Mirrors are overrated. Most houses are littered with them. I just shave in the wing mirror. I’m also perfecting the art of cutting my own hair with no mirror. Life skills.
9. Not showering every day
The first few weeks I felt dirty just because I was so used to showering every morning. I’ve realised this is partly a psychological thing and It’s easy to stay clean without showering every day using various methods – sock and cup wash is my favourite… unless there’s a river or stream.
10. Digging a hole in the woods
Taking a spade into the woods and digging a hole for a toilet wasn’t something I was used to. It feels normal now though. When there is a proper toilet I think ‘woah, what an invention’
If you’re interested in living in a van, this book is FULL of really useful tips and tricks:
How to Live In a Car, Van, or RV: And Get Out of Debt, Travel, and Find True Freedom
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