5 things they don’t tell you about van life

Van life is all about more time in the outdoors, more adventure and seeking freedom.

Van life in Canada is always a worthwhile adventure

5 things they don’t tell you about van life

Twice I have lived out of a Van in Canada.

The first time was for 4 months from May 2019 to August 2019. The second time was from May to September 2021.

Van life has gaining popularity amongst all generations but increasingly for millennials.

With rising house prices and the ability to work remotely, many people have turned to van life as a way to make their lives more adventurous while incorporating travel and still having a ‘home on wheels’. But…

5 things they don’t tell you about Van-life

1. Showering is hard

Hard-core van lifers will disagree with this, but for me it wasn’t so simple.

Yes it’s true you can use Gym showers if you have a gym membership to a franchise like FitnessFirst or F45 which have gym’s all over the world.

But it is still an inconvenience to chase down a shower, and walk into a gym with your toiletries and a change of clothes. It is just not the same as having a home shower. Especially after a long day of driving, working or outdoor adventuring it is a pain to have to go and chase down a gym to shower-in when you are all dirty and sweaty.

Luckily in Canada there are countless lakes, so for me a lake swim was good enough some days. But, a hot shower is a great comfort and it’s not always easy to get when doing van life.

2. Keeping a workout routine is difficult

I love the ability to wake-up in new locations or be able to pack up everything I need and head off to a new adventure at the drop-of-a-hat. That’s the beauty of van life.

But I also love having a fitness routine which includes lifting weights and running.

Your thinking, “Ahh, why not just have some weights in your van and go for a run whenever you want”?

Again, it’s not that simple with van life. If you go for a run you will be sweaty and want a shower or a swim afterwards, can you do that? Is there water nearby? Are you in a city or in the middle of the woods? Where do you put your sweaty clothes? If your van is tiny and you can’t stand up inside, where do you get changed after your run? The same applies to lifting weights, you just can’t get the same quality of workout when doing van life as you can with a steady workout routine when you are in one place.

For me that was the reality of van life and my fitness goals.

3. Cooking is difficult

Despite all the Instagram pictures of Van-lifers’ cooking underneath the shade of tall redwood trees or by the beach it’s not as simple as it looks.

Cooking itself takes a little more planning and effort and if you are not in a boujee van conversion, it’s likely you will cook on a gas stove and a fold-out table. It’s certainly not impossible to cook, but it just takes a little more preparation. If you have a smaller van your fridge space may be limited and having fresh supplies of fruit and veg becomes more difficult.

Washing up is the same

Washing up dishes is not easy if you have a small van without a sink or a van with little head-room and no-where to stand.  If you don’t have a water-tank in your van and you are somewhere remote, then you either have to use drinking water to wash your cooking utensils or keep them dirty until you find somewhere else to clean them.

4. You sleep in weird places

It’s not always beaches, lakesides or forests. Sometimes it’s carparks laneways and suburban streets. If you are doing a road-trip sometimes things don’t go to plan or take longer than they should and you might end up having to spend the night in an unplanned location.

5. You can keep working a job while living out of a Van

I worked a full time job both times I lived out of my van. The first time I was doing a Tree Planting contract in the interior of British Columbia in Western Canada. The second time I was landscaping.

These weren’t even ‘desk jobs’ or ‘remote worker’ jobs, I was putting on work boots and hi-vis and going to work every day. It was rough but you can do it. Everyday I would come back to the van covered in dirt and mud, hop-in, drive to the gym, do a workout in my work clothes (I apologise to the gym who were incredibly understanding) then have a shower and change out of my work clothes to go meet friends in town.

It was actually a bit of a scummy lifestyle but for a guy in his early 20’s it was a few months of fun and a way to save double as much money by not paying for housing.

Van life is about sacrifices. You sacrifice the normality, comfort and stability of being in one place; and trade it for more freedom, autonomy and access to the outdoors.

Van life doesn’t have to be a super commitment either. You could just have a converted van you use for weekends. Or you could try it for a summer and work a seasonal job then go back to your home. There is no right or wrong way to do van life and a van doesn’t have to be a super expensive conversion to make it work out.

I hope this blog helped one person.

Some great Van conversion websites are:

My good friends at WeSeekTravel wrote an incredible blog on van fit-outs so if you are looking to convert a Van check out this blog > https://www.weseektravel.com/diy-van-conversion-australia/

Otherwise, if you are in British Columbia and looking to get a van build done, my friends run a van conversion company call Outdoor Thrills Van CO which completely fit-outs your van! Check them out at > https://www.outdoorthrillsvanco.com/

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