What comes to mind when we say we live in a van? Some may say we are too poor to afford a home, others may claim we are rich kids living off of mom and dad’s money. Maybe your first question is how do we eat? Or what do we eat? How do we go to the bathroom? These are all valid questions that we will break down in this post where we debunk some of the biggest van life myths and misconceptions.
Are you guys trying to isolate from people?
Quite the opposite actually! This is a major van life myth. Our families live about 4 hours apart so we thought the van would be a fantastic way to visit family and have our home in whichever city we so choose. Having done quite a bit of travelling for the last 5 or so years we’ve made some friends all over the world as you could imagine. We thought that having a van would be a fantastic opportunity to not only see our family, but friends too.
Do you guys just eat hot dogs and marshmallows?
Although we may have more campfires than most people probably do the answer is sadly no. Our 10 year old selves would be stunned. Living the van life has actually made us much more aware of what we eat but more importantly what we buy. We have a limited amount of fridge space and no oven so sometimes we have to get creative. The lack of fridge space means that we never have to eat up what we have, we get to pick exactly what we want for each meal and the fridge is there to keep condiments and frequently used ingredients (as well as a few adult beverages). Sometimes only having one burner and always doing the dishes right after you eat can get a little annoying.
Do you have ghosts in your ambulance build?
Now clearly this one does not apply to all van lifers but this is our most frequently asked question as we converted a retired ambulance.
We have experienced nothing but good energy while living in our ambulance! We smudged it when we first bought it and as far as we can tell we’ve had no spirits stick around. Some of you may be thinking, “yeah right, this is all bologna” but this really is our most frequently asked question. Is it a van life myth for everyone? Maybe not – but is it for us ambulance-dwellers? I think so.
How do you guys shower/go to the bathroom?
If we don’t have access to a public washroom we can always rely on our gym membership. As part of our van life bills having a 24-hour gym membership is one of the most important. This means we can always work out, shower or use the washroom whenever we need to. We do have a Dometic toilet in our build that we only use for going pee, but its always there in case of an emergency!
Are mom & dad paying for this? / Are you guys poor?
For some people living in a van may seem cool and exciting and for others it may be necessity. Unpopular to van life myth believers, nothing is wrong with either of these things. For us, the answer lies somewhere in between. Yes we are incredibly lucky to have parents that had the tools and property for us to live and build our van but everything we’ve done we have paid for and built ourselves. My parents haven’t given me a dollar for over a decade – but they have provided me with a roof over my head when I was getting the project underway. We understand that some people may not be so lucky and be in a van our of sheer necessity but for us it’s something we’ve always wanted to do as well as a means to be able to save money for our future together.
Remember – you can’t judge the size of someone’s bank account just by looking at them.
Do you have to be handy to live in or build a van?
To this we would say the answer is no. The wonderful thing about living in the 21st century is that most of us have access to everything we need to know right in the palm of our hands – and one of the biggest van life myths is that you have to have it all memorized. Although Nick does have prior construction experience there has been many many times we have become “YouTube mechanics” or “YouTube carpenters” while taking on this project. The most important thing to know is to have the confidence and patience to look for, diagnose, and fix the problem if you have to. Of course not all problems can be sorted out/fixed without a professional but try your best without! Hey, nobody said van life was gonna be easy!
Do you guys sleep in beautiful places every night?
If you follow most Instagram pages about van life (including ours), you’ll notice that all of them have pictures of the back doors opened, laying on the bed, enjoying a coffee and looking out over a gorgeous lake or mountain top. This is one of the top van life myths – believe it or not! While occasionally this is the case, usually the reality of van life is spending 30 minutes to an hour every night trying to find an inconspicuous place to park within a city where a bylaw officer doesn’t wake you up at 4am to kick you out or give you a ticket. Although when you find that perfect spot on the top of a lookout or at the perfect beach nothing beats it!
Where’s the van life reality? This must be fake.
As I previously mentioned, if you follow any van life pages on Instagram or even YouTube you will see nothing but beautiful places and amazing food and travel photos. This can be frustrating for some people because, especially if you’ve lived it, you know that this isn’t always true. Sometimes van life is staying in a Walmart parking lot and peeing in a bottle. But other times its eating amazing organic food and looking out over the ocean. There’s a give and take with living van life and sometimes we can be guilty of not showing the true realities and difficulties we as van lifers go through. We personally do try to be open and honest as much as we can with our experience and on our YouTube channel to help you truly understand the upsides and downsides to living the van life.
Speaking of #vanlifereality – is van life even cheaper than living in an apartment anyway? Read our write up here!
So what’s in our van anyway? Here is a list of van life essentials that we simply can’t live without.