100 days of Vanlife
So we have been living in our little home on wheels now for 100 days. We can officially call ourselves van dwellers, one up from cave dwellers, one down from house dweller and have become location independent digital nomads.
So what have we learnt during our 100 days on wheels?
How much Stuff can you have Living in a Van?
Well the less you have the better- fortunately the previous 9 months living out of a backpack proved it is possible to survive with 3 pairs of pants. Possible, but not fun….so the pant count has gone up as have other luxuries such as socks, extra clothing, a few games, books, computers and cameras.
We have also managed to fit in 2 bikes and an inflatable kayak. Oh and a pair of skis & boots. So apart from the sports equipment, the electronic equipment, personal clothes, trekking gear, books etc - we also have the normal household stuff for cooking, washing and cleaning.
Actually reading this has made me realise that we have more not less, so much for downsizing!
Storage + Tidiness = Happiness
The key to a happy van apparently is storage and a use it put it away mentality which can help avoid bloodshed! When you are living in a tiny space it can get messy pretty quickly so there’s no more- the pots can wait until later excuse!
The storage in the van is split between the following areas:
Garage under the bed which holds the big stuff.
Under the seats in the dining area is where the loo, shoes, coats, and dog stuff lives.
Behind and under the seats in the cab we have spare food storage and we keep the kayak paddles, life vests etc.
The Ikea kitchen units hold water, food, plates, pans, the essential coffee supplies, a multitude of condiments (a girl cannot have too many dressings) and food. This leaves a large drawer each for our assorted bumf that seems to accumulate.
Despite all this storage, we can still manage to lose things- the common offenders are keys, purses, the will to live and sunglasses!
See more about our storage hacks in our campervan by reading our Campervan Storage Solutions blog here.
Vanlife and how to Keep Clean
I will keep the shower talk brief as I wrote a whole blog on how to keep clean recently. In brief though- keeping clean is essential- no one wants to be, or live with a smelly van dweller. However, you may have to be creative about how to do it if you are living off-grid and don’t have a large water tank and permanent internal shower.
Trekking across the Pyrenees taught us the refreshing nature of a wet wipe. A rub down to freshen up after a hot sunny day was bliss. One up from a wet wipe is a bowl of hot water, jug , shampoo, and a cloth- this allows a full body and hair freshen up.
The once taken for granted shower is now our searched for holy grail. These have been acquired from family and friends on visits, motorway service stations, marinas, leisure centres and of course the trusty campsite. There really is nothing better than a lovely hot shower to make you feel happy.
Since writing this blog we have now created a clever pop up shower which can be used inside or outside- to see how this works see our video on instagram of the pop up shower.
Toilet Talk- The Real Vanlife!
The dark arts of the number ones and twos have also had to be adjusted too as living in a van brings you much closer to your personal bodily functions. No longer can you shut yourself away (unless you have a cubicle- learn why we chose not to have one here) or dispose of your deposits with a quick flush.
So for number ones, where the opportunity for an alfresco wee or normal loo doesn’t present itself we have a Dometic porta loo. We don’t use chemicals in the loo partly for eco reasons, but also cost so we use either white wine vinegar or eco friendly toilet cleaner to keep things clean and smell free.
For number twos we try and use public toilets as much as possible however, as with number ones, we do have the Dometic portable toilet.
We do know some van lifers who manage without a toilet but for us- it saves ever being caught short and doesn’t actually take up much room. The porta loo simply slides in and out from under the bench seat and you would never know it was there.
Vanlife and water
Water is essential to life- next to cake that is! Getting enough water to ensure adequate washing and hydration needs to be carefully managed and also conserved. There is not a limitless supply at the turn of a tap so we need to make sure we have enough to last between resupplies. On average we carry 60 litres in 6 x 10 litre containers which we switch out and fill when the opportunity arises. So far water sourcing has not been an issue since we increased containers. We have filled up at petrol stations, fountains, toilets, special camper stops (Europe is great for these) and campsites. If you are ever struggling to find anywhere check out park4nite app which lists water stops. Worst case scenario ask in local shops or gyms- as long as you are spending money in them they don’t tend to mind filling up a container or two
How to Find Park Ups in a Campervan
We knew we would need to wild camp at least 90% of the time whilst living in our van. Campsites are expensive and to be honest- we prefer to be out in the wild rather than being surrounded by people.
Parking up our home and wild camping for the night was a bit daunting first. You worry that someone will bang on the door and tell you to clear off or someone will try and break in whilst we are snoozing.
In reality, after the first few nights it just became normal and you learn to sleep through and switch off to the odd noise outside. You also quickly develop an intuition into where is safe and where isn’t. You also need to have respect for other people so we don’t tend to ever park near houses and avoid anywhere with a no camping sign.
So far we have slept outside of hospitals, Drs surgery’s, lay-bys, harbours, mountain passes, beside lakes, car parks, forest parks, industrial estates, canals, seafronts, mum and dads driveway, brothers, friends and last but not least campsites.
Depending on where we are going we tend to look for somewhere to stop for the night before turning up in our intended destination. We usually use ParkNight app (available on App Store) or just have a look on google maps sometimes works fine. We have been know to get some where and then just look for a pull in but this won't work everywhere- if it's built up and you want somewhere quite then you will need to do your research!
As always- if you have any questions please do contact us.
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