When we took off in our minivan to travel the country there was a lot of unknowing. Sure, we had camped a night here and there in the van but had yet to experience relying on her as a home. We were asking a lot of such a small space with a very simple build.
Our build consists of a plywood bedframe with open air storage underneath. At first we didn't even have a cargo topper. Opal, our van, was quite cramped as we did the "vanlife shuffle" twice a day to find space for "sleep mode" and "drive mode". Our new lifestyle was so different that we came up with all these new terms to communicate with. One of which is "vanlife clean" which is simply a lower standard of clean you would have in real life. Don't Judge.
I'm sure many of you are curious how we do it, so here is a typical day that is almost always subject to change:
Sunrise: We're up with the sun or sometimes even sooner. Liz hides under the blankets while Charlie's hunger drive gets him outside setting up our kitchen which is a folding table, Coleman camp stove, a propane tank, toolbox with utensils and a frying pan. Eventually Liz gets brave and begins to put all the blankets away to start the transition into "drive mode." She is now warm enough to exit the van and begin making coffee with a backpacking stove and French press. Morning hikes with the shovel commence (potty breaks). We need not say more, but we're being real here and that helps others.
Mid-morning: Liz washes the dishes while Charlie cleans up camp. We get Opal completely in "drive mode" wether we plan to leave or not. This way we are always ready to roll because we change our minds A LOT! Let's just pretend we leave on this day which is almost always the case because we can't stay put. No, we don't know where we're headed typically.
Noonish: We get some miles in while listening to an audiobook or super rad music. Then we might get to feeling snackish so we eat our weirdest meal of the day which consists of whatever Liz can blindly dig out of the cooler from the back along with any goods in the "snack bucket" we keep up front. We almost never take the time to stop the van for said meal. We do eventually stop when a sign or cool place catches our eye. This is usually when the rockhounding footage or exploring an abandoned historical site begins.
Mid-afternoon: Crap, we have a video posting in two days. We need to find a library with some wifi so we can edit and update the blog! We Google the nearest one and spend hours in silence getting caught up and usually end up leaving at closing time.
Evening: Hopefully it isn't dark yet, but we need to find camp for the night. We check our apps and usually end up somewhere amazing that we can't really explore until daylight. Sometimes it's just a rest stop though. Dinner is a scramble to make in the dark with our headlamps. We are exhausted and switch the van to "sleep mode", play on our phones or watch our friends on YouTube in bed. If we don't have cell signal then we read or listen to any audiobook or movie we've downloaded to our phones.
"Nigh nigh time": Usually we are having the best sleep of our lives. Liz can have a hard time with sleep typically, but she sleeps so much better in the van. We both do.
As you can see life is different than any mainstream lifestyle, yet everything is accomplished. Some days are spent entirely at the library or on an adventure. Some we go to the laundromat, get an oil change, find showers, and reset the van. We've turned into den animals and it has hardly phased us. In fact, we prefer it. It's not at all what we expected as we thought we would have thrown in the towel a few weeks in, but here we are following our dreams and finding new rhythms toward our own version of success. We hope our crazy life either inspires or entertains you. Preferably both.
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