After spending eight months building our tiny home on wheels, we left the country eight days ago. It has been a real rollercoaster but after lots of work, we are finally able to live our dream.
We have spend quite some time in the van now, without the comfort of our parents’ house next door. Which made us learn quite a few things already!
Although we’re sure there’s more to learn, we’ll walk you through the lessons we’ve learned during our first week of vanlife today!
Everything takes a bit more time
One thing that may not come as a surprise, but which we didn’t realize before moving in, is that everything takes more time. Every single thing we do, be it doing the dishes or taking a pair of socks from the wardrobe, takes at least twice as much time now we’re living in a camper van.
Partly, this might be related to the fact that we’ve only just moved in. We still have to get used to where every item is stored, just like one would after moving into a new apartment.
The main reason however, is the fact that our tiny home on wheels really is incredibly tiny.
The sink is only half the size we’re used to. Our toilet has to be pulled out from under our bed. Pots and pans are stored behind one-another. Clothing is packed tightly behind bungee cord in our wardrobe. We can go on for a while. But what we want to say is, everything we do always includes at least one extra step of work.
This isn’t bad, at all. We’re actually more aware of everything we do. How many dirty dishes we make. The share amount of pots and pans we own. How often we have to visit the bathroom. But one thing we have found, is that there’s not much time left in a day to work whilst still being able to spend a few hours exercising our dogs.
We’ll have to work on finding a good routine in order to get over this hurdle. we are not worried though, we are sure that it’ll work out just fine over time.
We are super stoked to have a toilet in our van. It’s a luxury, but definitely one that we do treasure. Doing ‘your deeds’ in nature is not at all great for the environment (especially going number two), and we don’t want to rely on gas stations and other places to visit public restrooms.
During the first night in our van we realized that once our sofa is converted into a bed, the toilet drawer can no longer be pulled out. This is just one of those things that you only figure out once you actually start living in the home you have created.
Luckily, the drawer can still be pulled out whenever our sofa bed is in the sofa position (which it is most times during the day anyways). We just have to plan ahead and remember to pull out the toilet before we go to bed at night!
And that brings us to the next, and probably most important, thing we’ve found. Over the past few days we’ve come to realize that we really have to plan ahead about everything. Not just about grocery shopping, but about so many more things.
Our water tank has the capacity to hold 125 liters. Since our camper van is quite heavy already, we started our journey with the water tank filled halfway. Three days later, we were in need of a new supply in order to keep doing our dishes and offer our dogs a fresh drink several times a day.
We were in luck, as we were parked at a beach near a large city in Germany. It was easy for us to find a parking lot that offered (waste) water facilities for motorhomes and camper vans.
Sadly though, the one Euro coin we dropped in did not offer the 100 liter it promised to do, we only got around 40 liters. The next day, it was time for another fill!
But this time it was much easier. In Denmark they seem to have everything sorted out for campers quite nicely. Just about every parking lot along the highway has facilities to empty your waste water and fill your fresh water tank for free! This doesn’t just go for parking lots, we’ve also found these free facilities at the entrance of a camping.
We filled up our water tank completely, as we knew we would not be near facilities for a while.
Some of the other things that we have to plan ahead are grocery shopping, waste disposal (though the amount of waste we create is little), buying raw dog food, and washing our clothes.
Waking up wherever we want
Finding a spot to park up for the night is actually not that difficult. Since we are completely off-grid, we can park our van just about anywhere. Luckily, the countries we’ve visited until now allow this! When we do not exhibit so-called camping behavior and just spend the night in our vehicle, we’re allowed to park our camper van almost everywhere.
Over the past week, the weather has been incredibly hot and sunny. So we thought, why not spend some time at the beach? Well, this is now an option for us! We simply drove to a beach, parked our home on a free parking lot next to the ocean, and took a refreshing dive! Afterwards, we could chill on our sofa with an incredible view, go to sleep with the sound of waves, and wake up to seagulls chatting away to one another.
Living in a camper van adds quite a lot of flexibility. When tired of the area you’re in, or don’t like the place you went to, you can simply pack up and find a new spot! That’s much easier than having to find a different place to sleep if you don’t like the AirBnb you’ve booked for a week (we had this once – not a great experience)!
It’s beautiful to park up at the edge of a forest or by a lake, and wake up next to beautiful nature. It can be quit scary though, at times! When parked somewhere in the dark with no other people nearby, there’s this nagging feeling that we’re all alone. But it just takes some getting used to (we hope).
Tidy tiny home
Everything has to be kept neat and tidy (and behind doors/bungee) because whenever you have to go anywhere, your home has to go along.
Over the past few days we’ve been driving over dirt roads with quite a lot of bumps in the road. We’ve certainly noticed how everything can go flying around if not kept tidy.
Not to forget, emergency moments. One day, our dog Mojo started peeing some blood. We had to get to a vet as soon as possible (she’s all better now!). At those moments it is nice to be able to be on the road almost immediately without having to worry about anything else.
Besides, it’s also nice to have somewhat of a representable home whenever someone asks to take a look. Which actually happens quite often!
Do you live an alternative lifestyle, too? How did you experience the switch? Is there anything you’re really missing, or that you had difficulty adjusting to? Let us know in the comments below 🙂