The first guest in our series on the realities of van life from full time travelers is an old friend from before life on the road.
Amanda has been living this lifestyle for over 6 years. She is an avid through hiker and inspiring solo female traveler.
Follow her journey:
Reminiscing on many years of living in a van with my dog Frank it has become clear that the common perception of #vanlife often misses the truly best thing about it. As much as I enjoy the travel and gorgeous places I call home, the interesting community, and independence of it there is something even better. Free Time. By choosing to live a simple, low cost lifestyle I have the freedom to choose to keep my time for myself instead of trading it for a wage. Having more free time than I always know what to do with means I can focus on personal growth, creative pursuits, and spend ample time with loves ones. For me this is far better than the pretty views and open roads (which are also great).
On the ﬂip side there are endless little struggles that rarely make their way onto social media. Dealing with moisture, mechanical problems, and bad weather are all less than ideal, but manageable with lots of free time. On the road there is nothing that irritated me more than waiting for late mail to arrive when I want to leave a town. This has happened many times and I can’t stand it. The days or sometimes weeks drag on, and I feel helpless living at the mercy of the postal system.
There is a lot about vanlife both good and bad that I was not expecting when I handed in my last apartment keys, but one thing stands out most. Over the 6 years I have lived in a van I have watched as more, and more places get red listed (meaning you can no longer park there overnight). Each year there are less options, and more newcomers who don’t yet understand the consequences of their actions on the road. So, for those who are entering vanlife please respect the places you call home, respect locals, and always practice Leave No Trace practices. Try to leave spots better than when you arrived, and be very discreet when stealth camping (or if it’s unclear whether or not you can be there). Conduct yourself as if you will be living in a van for the rest of your life, and as if you will return to each place you stay. We will all have a easier time enjoying the good things about vanlife if we are responsible as a community. And remember, it only costs as much as you decide. For me it’s not about the van, it’s about what living in a van allows me to to do.