8 Things #VanLife People Fail to Mention

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Lifestyle

As we keep ticking away at little additions to our van heading towards some winter warmer weather training adventures, I’m reflecting on our last trip down to Kansas and Arkansas, where temps were a little all over the place and we were also all over the place. Even though we spent a few nights in different houses and AirBNBs, we did get enough time in the van to learn a few key lessons.


We prioritized open space in our ‘build’ (a loose term for what we have, though we do have a bed, counter, shelving and swivel seats) but even without a full counter in front of the door, and with the addition of swivel seats, you are CONSTANTLY in your partner’s way. It’s like a bad meme about being in the kitchen trying to both make any kind of meal. Tensions will run high unless you keep your cool.

Getting ready for anything takes longer

Getting ready to ride or run? Much less streamlined than getting ready to run or ride at home, somehow. Despite less stuff being in the van, everything just takes a bit longer, partially because we’re getting used to it, but also because we’re trying to put things away and back in place as we move around. That means I’m still trying to figure out how the heck to organize my clothing so it’s easier to grab-and-go.

Temperatures feel exaggerated

This is something I know about camping but managed to put out of my head for van living…. until we were trying to sleep in just-under-freezing temps and very quickly realized that it gets very cold in the van. We added some blankets and were fine, but waking up and trying to work in a very chilly van? Not ideal.

Food prep and storage means compromise on meals

I alluded to this in a previous post talking about how my routines were all askew in the van, and it’s particularly true of food. I’m a super regimented breakfast/lunch person, with a definite ‘go to’ set of meals. Even dinners are pretty similar night to night. A few days in the van showed me that I need some new normals to replace my usual staples with, and I’m still trying to decide what those will be. I’m thinking pokè style rice bowls for lunch and oatmeal for breakfast versus my usual eggs and potatoes for breakfast and yogurt/berries/toast for lunch.

Need wifi? Plan ahead

KOAs and other places in middle America that claim to have wifi often don’t have amazing service, as it turns out. Next trip, since we’ll be working full time as we head south/west, we’ll have to plan ahead as we navigate interviews and deadlines. I’ve talked about how thrown I get when wifi goes, and I know that I need to pre-plan what I can do online versus what I can get done offline.

Bathrooms are a very real issue.

While I don’t want a toilet in our van, I think we may have to come to terms with some kind of setup if we do these longer trips. But the toilet in or out of the van is almost not the issue: The issue is the middle-of-the-night need to pee, which means everyone wakes up, and you have to shuffle around to get out of the van, go into the truck stop or wherever, then come back, get back in, etc. A toilet in the van wouldn’t solve for this either, since it would still require someone exiting the van so the other person could pee in privacy.

I do think overall, what we’re  learning is that in the van, everything just needs to be a bit more organized and regimented—basically, to experience the freedom that living out of the van can provide, we need to by hyper-organized and stick to those routines and regimens in order to actually maximize the benefits of being in the van.. or more specifically, being in whatever location we’ve decided to park!


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