Myth: We all have trust funds.
Reality: Only a select few have trust funds. Most vanlifers either save money from previous jobs, work seasonally and save, work remotely, or are sponsored and get some money. Either way, most vanlifers find a way to sustain their lifestyle in some way. It also doesn’t take much money to live in a vehicle. For us, Alex’s works remotely, and I save my money from seasonal jobs.
Myth: We are always dirty.
Reality: We may not have immediate access to a hot shower, but we can usually find a shower at a community center, take a sponge bath, use a portable shower, swim in any open water source, and use baby wipes. Before living in a van, I would shower everyday. Now I realized that was too much and unnecessary. Either way, we aren’t smelly all the time.
Myth: Every night we camp in a beautiful setting.
Reality: Most nights are spent sleeping either in truck stops with the humming of trucks idling, Walmart, in a dirt lot next to the highway, or on a town street. These are the common vanlife sleeping spots. Occasionally, we get to sleep in a beautiful location with the sun rising behind a mountain, a toilet nearby, and a river for bathing. These are the nice spots, but its rare. Vanlife is becoming a popular thing. That means lots of people are looking for a spot to sleep and at the end of a night, any spot will do.
Myth: We meet friends everywhere we go.
Reality: Of course we meet people and connect. But most nights, it just us (my husband and I) hanging out in our van. Everyone has their own life and partying every night is not feasible. Sometimes, we don’t see a single soul. Vanlife can be lonely at times. The nights where we meet and connect with other vanlifers or weekend warriors are typically in the areas where free camping with a fire pit are available.
Myth: We live stress-free.
Reality: There are plenty of stressors that come with living on the road. For starters most people living on the road probably have debt from school or medical bills that they have to pay off. Keeping up with vehicle expenses and the occasional breakdown are common among any vanlifer. And we can’t forget about finding money to pay for all those expenses, finding a place to sleep each night, and making sure no one breaks into our van homes. These are just a few common stressors that each vanlifer needs to deal with.
Myth: We never get homesick
Reality: We do. Although living on the road has allowed us to meet up with friends in different locations, we do miss out on events at home. Just recently a close family member passed on and it was a challenge to get back home to see the family. I missed out on some valuable and emotional days with my family. That was hard and brought out the biggest challenge of living on the road, being thousands of miles away during an emergency. The best way to keep relationships intact is trying to stay connected via phone calls and messaging.
Myth: Vanlife is glamorous.
Reality: It’s not. Living in a vehicle means that the luxuries of a house; hot water, dishwasher, oven, and wifi, are not there. Some people have these things in their vehicles, but most do not. Ourselves included. I wash my face in a public bathrooms, search for wifi in public spaces, take showers when I really feel dirty, wash the dishes usually twice a day, fill up water every four days, and dump the pee every other day. Like I said, living in a van or vehicle takes effort and a bit of open-mindedness.