Living in a Sprinter Campervan
100 days of Vanlife
So we have been living in our little home on wheels now for 100 days. Actually it’s 131 days but I’m tardy at putting posts up .
We still haven’t killed each other, though on occasions we have been very close.
We can officially call ourselves van dwellers, one up from cave dwellers, one down from house dweller. We are location independent digital nomads (well at least one of is, I’m in training on a Mac!)
Living the dream or nightmare, dependent upon the day and close quarter living induced meltdowns.
So what have we learnt during our 100 +days on wheels?
Vanlife and our stuff
Well the less you have the better, fortunately the previous 9 months living out of a backpack proved it is possible to survive with 3 pairs of pants. Possible, but not fun, so the pant count has gone up as have other luxuries such as socks and extra clothing, plus a few games, books , computers and cameras.
We have also managed to fit in 2 bikes and an inflatable kayak. Oh and a pair of skis & boots. Sadly though, the scuba gear hasn’t made the trip, but I did sneak in a mask and snorkel, so all is not lost.
So apart from the sports equipment, the electronic equipment, personal clothes / trekking gear / books etc., we also have the normal household stuff for cooking, washing and cleaning.
Actually reading this has made me realise that we have more not less, so much for downsizing.
The key to a happy van apparently is storage, and a use it put it away mentality which can help avoid bloodshed. No one wants to find your pants on the table, especially if they are yesterday’s.
Storage in the van is split between the garage under the bed, which holds the big stuff. Under the seats in the dining area (get us), is where the loo, shoes, coats, and Poppy’s stuff lives. Behind and under the seats in the cab we have spare food storage and we keep the kayak paddles, life vests etc.
The Ikea kitchen units hold water / food / plates / pans / the essential coffee supplies, a multitude of condiments (a girl cannot have too many dressings) and food. This leaves a large drawer each for our assorted bumf that seems to accumulate.
Despite all this storage, we can still manage to lose things, keys, purses, the will to live, and sunglasses mainly. Also sadly we lost poppy’s toy sprout, which rolled out of the van door somewhere between St Abbs and Glasgow never to be seen again.
Vanlife and keeping ourselves clean
Keeping clean, is essential, no one wants to be, or live with a smelly van dweller, but you do have to be creative about how to do it.
Trekking across the Pyrenees taught us the refreshing nature of a wet wipe. A rub down to freshen up, after a hot sunny day was bliss. Alas experience has also shown, that a multi surface kitchen wet wipe should not be used on the delicate parts of ones anatomy.
One up from a wet wipe is a bowl of hot water, a jug , shampoo, and a cloth, this allows a full body and hair freshen up, the trick is to work from the top down and not the bottom up !
The once taken for granted shower, is now our searched for holy grail, these have been acquired from family and friends on visits, motorway service stations, marinas, swimming pools and of course the trusty campsite. There really is nothing better than a lovely hot shower to make you feel happy.
Vanlife and bodily functions
The dark arts of the number ones and twos have also had to be adjusted too, as living in a van brings you much closer to your personal bodily functions. No longer can you shut yourself away , dispose of your deposits with a quick flush. Vanlife requires planing on this front.
So for number ones, where the opportunity for an alfresco wee or normal loo doesn’t present itself. We have a dometic porta loo, we don’t use chemicals in the loo partly eco reasons, but also cost, so we use white wine vinegar to keep things clean and smelling like a chip shop. This all worked fine until the second month , when the loo sprung a leak around the seal, who knew you had to grease the ring !! .So we had to replace floorboards / matts and do a decontamination exercise.
Jac has the nose of a blood hound and could smell wee from twenty paces, but I have become desensitised due to too many years inspecting Chinese factory toilets.
For number twos, again if a call of nature cannot be timed to a more normal location and ”as there are no solids in the downstairs lavatory “ (thank you league of gentlemen ) there is the bag it and bin it system, we have a dog so there are plenty of biodegradable dog poop bags and thankfully dog poop bins, I will let you work the rest out for yourselves.
Vanlife and water
Water is essential to life, next to cake that is. Getting enough water to ensure adequate washing and hydration needs to be carefully managed and also conserved. There is not a limitless supply at the turn of a tap, so we need to make sure we have enough to last between resupplies. On average we carry 60 litres in 6 x10 litre containers which we switch out and fill when the opportunity arises. So far water sourcing has not been an issue since we increased containers, Europe maybe different so we may need to re-appraise, we have filled up at petrol stations, toilets, family and campsites, apparently churchyards also have taps but as yet we haven’t checked.
Vanlife and sleeping
Parking up our home for the night, at first was a bit daunting, you worry that someone will bang on the door and tell you to clear off, or someone will try and break in whilst we are snoozing.
I mean this is England a relatively safe and peaceful country and we are nearly 50 so the likelihood of us being kidnapped and sold into white slavery is pretty slim.
Now we are old pros (no pun intended) and are much better at finding places to park up and also more relaxed.
Jac has a rule that we don’t park near houses or where it says no overnight parking, I have a rule that says no parking signs can been ignored especially in the middle of nowhere.
So we have slept outside of hospitals, Drs surgery’s, lay-bys, harbours, on mountain passes, besides lakes, car parks, forest parks, canals, seafronts, mum n dads, brothers, friends, a fly tipping spot, a bus stop and last but not least campsites.
All very peaceful with the exception of the hospital .. big mistake.
That about covers the main differences and learnings to living in a van. We need to still make adjustments, mainly we need to be better at budgeting as cost wise I would say at this stage we are still in holiday mode, and that is no good for waistlines or bank accounts.
Things I have learnt…
Crocs although a very comfortable but not a stylish footwear choice are not ideal van shoes, they take up too much room and very nearly caused us to kill each other. Mainly because of our different storage methords, Jac’s on the step of the van, where they would fall out every time you opened the door and mine where they happened to drop off my feet and cause Jac to trip over them. This caused what we shall call CROCGATE and very nearly resulted in us shoving them where the sun don’t shine. Thankfully Jac built a shoe box so all footwear now goes in this, apart from the crocs which have become kayak shoes so now live in the back of the van where they can cause no more harm. Thanks Aunty Glenda !