We've been living in the van for two months, so I've decided to share what our life has been like so far. As expected, there have been ups and downs. Having no bathroom and living in a vehicle during the heat of summer have been the two biggest downs. Saving lots of money and having rad conversations we wouldn't have experienced otherwise have been the two biggest ups (for me at least).
When I have van life conversations with people, after asking about our bathroom situation (I can't even tell you how many times we've been asked where we go to the bathroom and it's only been two months!!), I usually get asked what our daily routine looks like, so the following is what a standard day (on a day I'm not working) in our life in a van looks like.
A Day In Our Lives
0645: Justin gets up and walks to the hospital to shower and get ready for work. He leaves from there to the clinic or stays in the hospital if he's on an inpatient rotation.
0730: I get up and drive the van from the hospital parking lot to a shady spot in a large park near the hospital. We have two fans in the van but no air conditioning, so if it stays parked all day in the sun it gets very hot. Plus, if I'm not at work I don't want to take up a spot in the hospital parking lot. On the way to the park I drive right by the UPS store where we have our mailbox, so I usually stop and pick up the mail.
0800: Yoga + breakfast + plan my day, which for me involves making a list of things to do.
0900: Clean the van + van projects. Stuff gets messy fast and I'm still working on getting everything organized. Even though we didn't have the van quite finished, we had to move into it end of May because we were renting and that's when our contract was up. As such, we still have some projects to finish and so I try to spend some time each day working on those.
11:00: Run errands like finding a dumpster to empty trash, filling our water containers, emptying the gray water, banking, grocery shopping, etc.
1600: Drive to a laundromat and do laundry. Because we have a limited amount of clothes and we need clean scrubs and dress clothes for work, I often end up doing laundry twice a week.
1800: Drive the van back to the hospital parking lot and prep dinner.
1830-1900: Justin usually gets home somewhere in this time range and we head to the gym. We get a double benefit from going to the gym - working out and getting to use the showers afterwards.
2000: Eat dinner, chat, watch some Netflix, read, brainstorm van projects/work on van projects, trip planning, photo editing, compare work schedules to plan the upcoming week etc.
Expected something a little more exciting perhaps? On Instagram, van life looks pretty glamorous for the most part. Search #vanlife and you'll be inundated with photos of people chilling in beautiful places drinking beer, and that very well may be the reality of those people's lives. However, it's also just as likely that they too face many mundane tasks in their day to day lives and have to put up with annoying things they wouldn't have to deal with if they were living in a "regular" house. Living in a vehicle isn't all fun and games. It does, however, afford most people the extra flexibility they need to fulfill their wanderlust dreams, thus the allure and photos in awesome places.
Our van life is different though. Justin is in a family medicine residency, which means we can't pick up and go until he's done. We have to do laundry regularly, shower every day, and go to work. We're of course not the first working professionals to move into a van, but our situation remains rare in the van community from what we can deduce. Would we like to hit the road full time? Of course, and we'll get there eventually, but our message for now is don't limit yourself by not doing something just because the timing isn't ideal. Life is full of unexpected road blocks that make selecting a perfect time to do something nigh impossible.
Maybe now is the time to do whatever you've been contemplating that will launch your life in a new direction. Failure and ridicule is always a possibility, but so is awesomeness and life changing experiences! Alright, done with my speech. Also, I promise I'll try and post about van stuff more regularly.