Van Life, Back to Balance

Today we can choose to live in a temperature-controlled home with hot running water, fuzzy carpet, porcelain poopers, and your very own dishwasher. All of this comes with a price tag though, and not just a numerical one. We don’t need any of these things. Many of us are raised believing that we do, but it's all extra. What if we chose not to pay for the comforts and conveniences? What if we would rather opt out of a traditional “home” and spend our resources in other ways?

This is where myself and my boyfriend (as well as many others across the globe) find ourselves at this point in our lives. As we become more conscious of how our resources are expended, we are searching for different, more economical ways of living that allow us to do what we love more often. Casey and I are going on a full year of living in our camper van and are about to take on a Colorado winter. Why would we want to do this? As the cold creeps in at night and I start sleeping in my socks, I have been contemplating that question more. What is it about living in our van that is…well, so good?

To be honest, I have been thinking about this for a few months now. At first, I started a list of all of the reasons why I love van life, but it seemed redundant to what I and others have already written. So I thought a little harder. And the other day it all came full circle, all of my answers added up: living in our van for a year has brought me back to balance in my life. It is the remedy to a distracted life with too much convenience and waste; it simplifies everything.

Ultimately, whether on the road or back at home, choosing to live in the van allows us greater freedom with our time and with our money. Time is life; the more time we get to spend doing the things we love, the more fulfilling our lives will be. In addition to more free time, the past year has taught me to be more frugal and aware of my spending habits, to ditch distractions and focus more on my dreams, to also ditch a lot of unnecessary shit, to be less wasteful, to stop wasting time “getting ready,” and to slow down and give more attention to everyday tasks, truly being present and not feeling so disconnected. All of this has contributed to a year of positive personal growth and a hell of a lot of good times in the van with my man.

Because we live in our camper van we do not have a rent or mortgage payment or any of the other bills associated with a house. This one factor has allowed me more freedom of choice than I have had in a long time. On the road, our days are spent outdoors exploring and discovering new places. While at home in Colorado, I choose to work part time, which has meant that I now have more free time to spend in other ways.

A quintessential example of this is how I have gained my mornings back, an important time for me to find my center and affirm my day. I am able to sleep until my body is ready to wake and really enjoy that cup of coffee (that I roasted). I can move slowly and begin the day in a calm and balanced state as opposed to waking up to an alarm and rushing out the door. I also have finally given time and priority to some personal goals and passion projects that I never had the energy to pursue while working multiple jobs to pay the bills. I have really slowed down my pace of life in general, and this has brought me so much peace of mind and lifted that constant sense of hurry that is so prevalent in society.

Also prevalent in society: distractions. Oh so many distractions. We just did a three week house-sitting stint for a friend (the longest time out of the van in a year) and I thought about this as we were moving back out into the van, how excited I was to get away from all of the distractions that a normal house offers. Television, video games, multiple rooms to clean and so many dishes to dirty/clean, endless wifi, newspapers and magazines, so many ways to get distracted from my own thoughts and all of the sudden half the day is gone and I did nothing productive of my own…but the house is spotless and I watched a movie that I don’t know the name of. When you live in a van, this shit doesn’t happen. You could not physically fit that many distractions into your home. Simplify.

Good organization along with simplifying can bring so much peace of mind into our lives. In the van, everything has it’s place. Always knowing where things are and not having way too much stuff, keeping the tiny home clean and tidy (which doesn’t take long at all), and having a sense of order in choosing where to put things in such limited space all create a happy home and throw chaos and disorder out the window…never wasting my energy on clutter again. We have what we need and not too much extra.

Our van is a cozy little cabin that can go wherever we want, putting a whole different spin on the word convenience. It is my little sanctuary; I love spending time in it. I don’t want to live anywhere else. Continuing to choose to live in our van, to choose less has proven to be a more fulfilling decision than I ever thought it would be. Living in our van for a year has given us our freedom of time back, and that is everything. We won’t live in here forever, but what fun and interesting times we’ve had and lessons we’ve learned so far. Who would have thought that living in a van would be just what I needed  to bring me back to my center? Not to mention every day feels like an adventure when you can take your home pretty much anywhere.

If you are currently living this lifestyle or are seriously considering it, let’s all work together to keep this a community of like-minded, awesome, and respectful van lifers. Whether on the road or staying put somewhere, it’s so important to be considerate and courteous of local laws, state/national park rules and regulations, and/or the peace of mind of your neighbors, as well as being respectful of the Earth and land that we live to explore. Deal?

Tiny LivingJane SaleeComment