#VanLifeProblems – to keeping it real

I’ve done it before, and I’m doing it again.

I feel like it’s time to come on out and talk about #vanlife from someone who is living it – again. The hashtag “vanlife” is bumping, with almost 2.5 million posts and counting, with glossy images of ruggedly outdoorsy men with their equally adventurous, sexy, partner. These images sell freedom, mobility, travel, all with a perfectly modern van interior. All that and more, and for PENNIES!

Ok, maybe people aren’t outright “selling” vanlife to be this perfectly romanticized nomadic life, but it does paint the illusion that owning a van is easy, cheap, and for everyone.


Most of the instagram photos I come across are not only immaculate photos of beautiful locales attached with some inspirational quote of easy living, but most notably, these vans are EXPENSIVE! Hands down the best van to live in is the Sprinter Van – that bad boy would cost roughly $70,000 new, and of course, it won’t come decorated just so (brownie points if you add prayer flags), and you’ll want to add solar if you want maximum comfort, and a bike rack…make that a bike rack and a ski rack…and surf board rack.

My point is, this manicured type of existence adds up – the van, the modifications, the adventure toys, never mind the fuel to literally lug your house every square inch you travel, and the storage unit to house all the toys that won’t fit, or don’t make the cut for this particular trip. Simple indeed.

I know, it’s rather hypocritical of me to bash #vanlife when I’m shamelessly living in a van (with my ruggedly outdoorsy man, I must add). And quite honestly, if we could afford a Sprinter van, I would own one in a heart-beat! Those vans are slick!

So obviously I personally like living in a van. I have no problem with it, and I giggle when I pass fellow van-dwellers, stealth camping here and there, groggily emerging from their van-bed with a bed-head as wild as mine. It’s fun. It’s quirky. It’s friggin hilarious.

So what’s my deal? Why am I so down on #vanlife? I hash-tag vanlife myself, and my saved images are mostly of, you guessed it, decked out homes on wheels, with a mountainous back-drop. Heaven!

Here’s my issue. I like authenticity, truth, and simplicity. I just want people to be real. How much did that conversion cost you? Did you secretly just come from the spa for that van selfie? What day job did you leave before you van-lifed to Patagonia for 10 months – a real estate agent? Maybe you won the lottery? Or maybe you just saved up money for a really long-time in advance, working a regular blue-collar job – like Dan and I did years ago.

I’m totally cool with people having lots of money, and choosing to travel in this simpler manner. I just think it’s hard for the average person to distinguish between the glamorous vanlife, and the truly gritty, gnarly, dang hard vanlife. Maybe we need a new hash-tag that shows the rough bits of living in a box – the pee bucket in the back corner, the mould growing (yet again) on the roof, the harassment by authorities, or the down sleeping bags you have stashed in a cupboard, “just in case” you run out of power in the night and your heater chokes – that one happens ALL. THE. TIME.

Maybe that hashtag exists? I’m not all that savvy in social media, but here’s some top runners in my opinion:


Alright captivated audience of 5, I’m obviously just having fun with this, and throwing some humour into the equation. I love vanlife. Honestly, I’m beyond sold on this lifestyle. We are living in a dumpy, rusty, 1978 GMC Vandura, and we are having the time of our life. We need to keep a good sense of humour on the daily, as sh@t happens all the time, but overall, it’s a breeze. We sleep where we want, we bum wifi all over town, and we justify our climbing gym memberships because come on, we need to shower somewhere!

We are doing this the dirt cheap, dirtbag way, which works for us. It is possible to save money and live in a van, but it is NOT possible if you want to look like 80% of the van-lifers online.

Vanlife is great. Vanlife is not-so-great.

So in true van-lifer fashion, I’ll leave you with this slightly staged #vanlife photo from back when we lived in a Westfalia – never mind my sports bra, shamelessly drying in the wind – not staged.

To keeping it real.