Reflections on living in the van for the last six months


3/14/21 Benson, AZ – On September 6, 2020 my job at Yellowstone ended and I headed to Utah to get van repairs done. I’ve been on the road since then, only staying at a hotel for 2 nights before returning home to Illinois. My second trip on Route 66 took me through several states, and I just stayed in a hotel for 3 nights, and technically, I’ve been on the road living in my van for just over 6 months now and wouldn’t change a thing, yet…
Traveling in the van has been the best thing that has happened to me physically, mentally and spiritually. I found what works and what doesn’t, and the changes that need to be made. Generally, things in the van have worked really well, and I have noted some of the changes I’d like to make in the van and with my RV lifestyle.
1- I have too much stuff and need to reorganize! When I first started, the van was just filled, and now it’s bursting at the seams! There are too many kitchen items, since I’m not cooking the way I planned and need to put them back into storage. I won’t get rid of them because they are rather new and pricey items and will want them when I settle down. I also haven’t used the generator that I bought or the small battery’s solar panel, which is still in the box untouched. These items are taking up valuable space and I can use it for other kinds of storage. I also have too many clothes that need to be purged.
2- The fridge design is not working with the wheeled platform. The fridge keeps moving off of the platform and the wheels made deep ridges in the floor and I can hardly move it now. A redesign is in the works.
3- I really could use hot water. Boiling water is OK for a while but doesn’t cut it.
4- The dry toilet actually works well for either #1 or #2, but not both. Originally, I bought the small shelter with the intention of having a separate receptacle for #1. Getting up first thing in the morning to go to the bathroom outside no longer works for me. Now I just use a Nalgene bottle when I am boondocking so I don’t have to leave the van. I’m seriously thinking about getting a composting toilet.
5- My cooking habits have changed drastically and I just don’t like doing too much in the van. I’d rather cook outside, but at the resort, it’s not too practical in the wind. And I am not supposed to wash my dishes outside either. I built the van more for camping than RV parks, and since I’m not doing that much camping, it’s time to rethink this.
6- It’s cramped in here! I’m thinking about selling the van and changing the type of rig I want. Though there are HUGE advantages to driving the van, I think more space would be a better choice. A SUV and small trailer might be the next move. I also drive on rutted roads when boondocking and the drive might be a little easier in a Jeep or something.
I love hiking and got plenty of exercise while I was traveling. However, once I settled into the resort working at the cafĂ©, I gained some weight and need to watch what I’m eating. My goal is to reach 10K steps before noon. It hurts my joints, but I try to walk every day. I also enjoy our weekly hikes and started to visit places with some friends here.
I’ve always been comfortable being alone, and still feel the same way to a certain extent. I love meeting new people and that was my intention of traveling this way. There are really some great folks out there and I’ve made a lot of new friends. I’ve never felt lonely and still prefer my solitude, but it would be nice to have some companionship now and then. So far, it’s been a good balance. I’ve also found that even though I have an outgoing personality, my inner me is an introvert. I don’t like parties or being around large groups of people, except when I’m hiking. Small groups suit me best.
I really like the van life, but sometimes I worry about my next stop. I don’t like planning everything out, but for now that might work best. I’ve gotten over many of my fears, but I need to be a bit more practical and plan more diligently so I can have some peace of mind.
I also think a lot about finances, but am working that out, too. Ideally, I would love to find a remote job that will keep me active and provide enough income for future travels and expenses. Then I can stay anywhere I want!
I thank God every day that I’ve been able to go on this journey and that I am still healthy. It amazes me, my family and friends that I was brave enough to do this alone and for this long. My journey has just begun and I have many more roads to travel and appreciate being cared for by my family, friends, and people I’ve met on the road. Blessings to you all!

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