Vanlife ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I know, because I’ve done my fair share of it. Anyone that tells you it’s all perfect hasn’t lived in a van for long enough. A life in a van is full of excitement, for sure–but not all excitement is a good thing. Sure, looking back on a lot of those times makes me smile a little, but only because they were just so… shitty.
Here’s a story I wrote after a month of living in a van back in 2013. Already, the rosy glow of life on the road was fading. My girlfriend and I spent three months living in Venice in a van–which, as it turned out, was a pretty gross place to live in a van. Then, six months in, the glow was well and truly gone. “Eventually, it started to get to me,” I wrote back then. “There is so much about Los Angeles that is almost unbearable. It is bathed in a sense of falseness, one based on living a life that everyone else wants. Humans, in western society at least, are so easily able to fall prey to a stifling narcissism. But somewhere underneath all that still lies the beauty that dragged people west so long ago: the perfect weather and incredible views, all that serenity just waiting to be skimmed from the surface of our filth. That’s the funny thing about it, I think. People know it’s there, but they’re blinded by all the glitter that crouches above it, hiding it underneath its mud-stained dress.”
But you know what? If you can manage to stay on the move, vanlife IS nearly perfect. Like so many other things in life, though, it can get stale, and get stale quick. The key is to keep on moving. Now, I leave the van in Mexico near an airport. I’ve done the drive, and I’ll do it again in the future. But for now, a van full of surfboards and a few of the bare essentials just waiting for a Mexican road trip suits me just fine.
Mick Rodgers gave up a home without wheels for a Ford Econoline. He’s got the right mindset, I think: don’t expect it all to be wonderful because if you do, you’re in for a disappointment. But take it for what it is and learn to enjoy the journey… well, then you’re stoked.