Things We Learned from Camping–That We’re Taking Home with Us

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Lifestyle

We’re finally heading home after a few weeks doing the vanlife + camping thing. As you may have read a couple weeks ago, nothing is quite as idyllic or “simple” as it seems. It’s hard to balance work, training and regular life while living out of a van at a campground! Laundry without a machine, meal prep without a stove, oven or microwave, and keeping an eye on an adventurous/loud dachshund don’t make for a more streamlined schedule. But there are a few takeaways that I’ve been thinking about that I’m hoping to put into place when we do get home, because they did ultimately give me back a lot of time for training:

Making outdoor time a priority

This is obviously the big one—you’re camping, so of course you’re outside a lot. But while we were working at a picnic table or in camp chairs most days, and eating every meal outside, it occurred to us that even though we don’t have a big yard at home in our condo, we do have a patio with plenty of room to sit. We just don’t bother to take the few seconds to move our meals or laptops outside when the weather is good. The same applies to just taking a few more little nature ‘snacks’ during the day, taking DW a little further on his walks to pee rather than going out, getting business done and heading back in. Even my morning yoga could easily be moved outside onto the beach by the house or at minimum, to our patio. I’m hoping we can keep that in mind when we get back.

Turning WiFi off

I got so much more efficient on this trip for one major reason: The campground didn’t have internet. That meant I was relying on my phone hotspot, or I was paying per gig with a Solis wifi device. Because I didn’t want to get dinged for overuse or cause a slowdown on my phone hotspot or use up all of my pre-bought gigs of data, I was turning the wifi on my computer off whenever I didn’t need it. This meant I couldn’t get distracted while writing an article, which tends to happen when I am connected to wifi. You know how it goes: You tell yourself you just need to fact check or find a link or spelling of something, but then you end up opening your email, checking Instagram, etc. and quickly, you’ve lost 20 minutes of writing time. Because I would have to actively turn the wifi back on, I was more inclined to finish as much of the article as possible before I turned the wifi on, and because I didn’t want to overuse my hotspot, I was much less inclined to scroll aimlessly. As a result, I got my actual work done much faster, and spent more time on the important writing work!

Less “what to watch” debating

Whether it’s while I was doing yoga or as we were relaxing after dinner, we had limited viewing options on my iPad. I had pre-downloaded a couple of shows that we’d never seen (Ted Lasso—highly recommend—and The Morning Show—only kind of recommend) and that’s what we had to watch. Again, I didn’t want to use up more data by streaming, and that meant even if we weren’t in the mood for English soccer sitcoms, that’s what we were watching. Honestly, it turned out great because it saved us that 15 minutes of scrolling as you try to find just the right thing to put on. I’m not positive how to replicate this perfectly at home, but I think it’s going to be something like setting a timer to pick, or just opting for the first thing that looks decent rather than trying to find the perfect movie.

Easier eating decisions

We were fairly far from a grocery store at our campsite in Ocala, FL, and because we had the van all set up with the seats spun around and all our stuff unpacked, I had very little desire to drive anywhere if we could avoid it. There also weren’t any easily run-able spots to grab snacks or pastries or any other tempting treats. As such, we had stocked up at the grocery store and that was what we had to eat. (There were still pastries, don’t get me wrong here—I’m not talking about a salad-only/no-junk-food diet). But it did a) force me to get really thoughtful about the food we did want to have on hand, and b) gave me a daily menu that stayed pretty consistent and made it a lot easier to decide what I was going to have, because I didn’t have unlimited options.

Less ‘stuff’ to stress about

Admittedly, the day to day stuff of van life isn’t simple. It can be a headache to be trying to make breakfast in the rain under a popup tent, or deal with a soaked dog in high humidity. But it was nice not thinking about if/how we should renovate our bathroom, or if I should drop everything right now to organize my gear drawers. Basically, it took away all of my usual distractions (though it did replace them with the distraction of DW going bananas anytime another dog walked by…). Working from home is fantastic, but it does take a fair bit of energy to stay focused on the task at hand. Being in the van—and even in the AirBNB we stayed in for a bit when it was too chilly in NC—made that much simpler. I’m going to try to keep that going when I do get home, and try to not stress myself out with wanting to task switch to the home stuff when there’s work or training to be done!

Basically, all of this boils down to less time and headspace spent on making decisions, from picking a show to picking a snack to using willpower to come back from an internet scrolling moment. And that’s ultimately what I want to take home with me.


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