Written by Destination Addict on 17th October 2020.
We have recently passed the day that we celebrated living in a van for two years – our full-time van life anniversary. Looking back on those 24-months, they seem to have gone so quickly yet so much seems to have happened at the same time. One thing we can say for sure is that neither of us is quite the same person as when we first embarked on this life-changing journey.
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Living In A Van For Two Years – How It All Started
If you know us & have read our blog before, we’re probably about to sound like a record on repeat for you. None the less (& for the benefit of those of you that are new here) this post is about our entire journey, which started almost three years ago when we returned from a year-long trip travelling around Canada, Central America & Colombia.
We came back home from that trip with the feeling of adventure in our souls & instantly knew that we didn’t want our lives to return to the ‘way they were before’. Part of our time in Canada took us along the Icefields Parkway & through the majestic Canadian Rockies where we got engaged. After Adam’s epic proposal (with the backdrop being the pristine Lake Louise in Alberta) we talked about building a life together that would mean living a little differently – we wanted things to be more simplistic & to be closer to nature but most of all we wanted adventure to not be something that we would enjoy occasionally, but to have it weaved into our every day.
Deciding To Purchase & Live In Our Motorhome
After thinking about the type of life that we wanted to create for ourselves & mapping out what we wanted that to be centered around, we started to think about ways in which we could make a life of adventure possible.
In May of 2018, when road tripping around Scotland, including the iconic nc500 we met lots of people in their motorhomes & campervans. It was then that we really saw the freedom that van life could bring & so, started to think about getting a van for ourselves.
Buying a van ticked all of the boxes for us as it would give us somewhere to both work & adventure from, as well as providing us a ‘home on wheels.’ After much consideration, we decided upon a motorhome as opposed to doing our own conversion & so took the plunge by purchasing our Bessacar E560. After putting it to a poll on Instagram, we named our van Barnaby & have to say after two years of living in him full-time, we hold not one ounce of regret in taking this leap.
Van Life Adventures
Making adventure part of our every day was perhaps the biggest reason for us choosing a life on the road. Travelling in our van has taken us to so many remote & beautiful locations, spots that had we not had our van, we simply would not have experienced in the same way.
Added to this, waking up, most mornings we are surrounded by nature, often with a different view & on the road we can choose to stop & soak it all in, as often or even as little as we like to. This gives us not only a huge sense of freedom but lots of flexibility when it comes travelling too.
How Living In A Van For Two Years Has Shaped Our Day-To-Day
To say our day-to-day has changed drastically would be a massive understatement, to say the least. A lot of the things that would fill up our days before we started our full-time van life journey have disappeared completely, making a lot of aspects of our life far more simplistic & less ‘busy.’
That being said, the basics such as cooking, showering & going to the loo, are all things that take a lot more planning not only when we’re on the road but when we are parked up at a campsite too. Emptying the waste, the water & making sure we have enough gas to cook are some of the things that we have had to get used to.
We also have the added challenge of working on the road, in the form of our online business that we started just a few months before we purchased our van. All-in-all compared to when we first met over five years ago, it’s safe to say that our life priorities have changed immensely.
Building A Business From Our Motorhome
Working from remote locations, being surrounded by mountains, nature, or overlooking the sea when sitting at our laptops is incredible. For us to do that successfully though, requires a lot of planning, discipline & balance.
Ultimately we want to continue growing our business in a way that fits around our lifestyle but we have learned is that that does come with a lot of give & take. We wanted to mention this here in this post as it can seem from the outside looking in that all we do is travel around & visit beautiful places – whilst that is true we have worked & continue to work hard to make this our reality – we’re very happy to answer any questions if you’d like help in making this yours so get in touch if you’ve got any for us.
Did you know that part of our online business is our organic & sustainable clothing range Nature Threads? Inspired by nature, sparked by adventure & designed by us. If you haven’t already, you can check it out here.
Getting Married On The Road
If you’ve read this far, you may have figured out by now we’re not ones to do things in halves. Last June, we drove to & met up with our closest loved ones to get married on the stunning shores of Lake Garda in Italy. Planning a wedding is often seen as one of the most stressful experiences one can have, especially for the bride. For us, this remains a little true, however, what we did for our big day was work to ensure it was exactly how we wanted it & that it reflected us both perfectly.
As we kept most of our plans for the day a secret from our guests, including our close family, we were praised afterward on how we managed to organise such an amazing day whilst we being ‘on the road.’ For us, this just shows that van life is really just that, it’s part of our life & that it’s ok to choose to do things a little ‘differently.’
Our Italian wedding was captured by the incredible Sara Lancini, a wedding photographer who is based in Lake Garda, more of her stunning work can be seen here.
Living, Working & Travelling As A Van Dwelling Couple
How do you live in a van? Work together? Travel together? Do everything as a couple? These are all questions we get asked a lot & in a nutshell, the answer to them all is communication & boundaries.
Now, the boundaries thing may seem a little harsh but for us, it’s about living with the love & respect that allow us both the space we need. Living in a van together is completely different from when we travel in other ways, we are in really close quarters & a lot of the time are in rural or remote locations meaning we only have each other for company. Ensuring that we communicate well & can recognise when one of us may need five minutes of me-time is what keeps our relationship alive.
Want to learn more about van life as a couple? Here are our top 14 tips.
The Biggest Lessons We Have Learned (So Far!) – Which Will Hopefully Help You Too
Take a break
Anyone who has travelled knows how exhausting it can be & full-time travelling is no exception to that rule. Being so adventurous we often find it difficult to take a day to do nothing but equally, we have learned that it is essential to take time to relax & recharge.
We can’t always see everything
Taking a break also means not putting too much pressure on ourselves to see & do everything. Our spirit to explore means that we have tended in the past to cram too much in. We know now that if we slow down & pick a few places to visit at a slower pace, it turns out to be a much more rewarding experience all-round.
Being spontaneous is amazing but planning is key
Now, we are both pretty ‘go with the flow’ type of people who like to take things as they come so, but that spontaneity can mean that we do end up missing sights that we would really like to have seen. In this sense, we have found that planning is definitely key, whilst leaving room for spontaneity helps us to achieve a balance.
Our mental health & wellbeing really is the most important thing
Exhaustion & burn out have kicked in so many times for us whilst trying to find our feet with this lifestyle (spoiler – we are still learning!) After two years of living in our van, we now understand when enough is enough, when we need to stop & take a break & that making time to just be is as important as climbing a mountain or swimming in the ocean.
Some people aren’t going to understand us living alternatively but that really doesn’t matter
At the start of our journey, we found ourselves explaining what we were doing, when we were doing it & why we were doing it – a lot. Especially to some of those who are closest to us. What we have gained from this is an understanding that some people will only ever see things from their perspective & that is more than ok, with this knowledge we now know exactly where we are willing to spend our ‘explanation’ energy.
We listened to a podcast last week with former monk Jay Shetty, & actress Kristen Bell, on ‘Parenting, The Power Of Empathy & Avoiding Comparison Fatigue‘ (great episode, even if, like us, you don’t have kids.) In that podcast Kristen said something along the lines of “we go through life trying to find our balance but really it’s all about pivoting.” We couldn’t agree with this more. Sometimes it is about taking all of your energy & using it all up one thing or even not. Having that level of flexibility is what will help you to pivot & focus on the things that will drive you forward.
Van Life During 2020
In our last post, we wrote all about where our van life journey has taken us during 2020. Like most people, this year for us has meant taking things one step at a time & remaining open & accepting of what is, which has not always been easy.
The magical coast of Cornwall is where we have chosen to remain still for a while longer yet, not a bad place to be in our van & even though we’ve been here since the summer there is just so much more we’ve still yet to discover.
What Van Life In The Future Holds For Us
With this year being the year it has, who knows? But hey, seriously, who ever knows anyway?
What we do know is that we love the life we have created for ourselves, this lifestyle has challenged us both & helped us to grow in so many ways. It’s because of & not in spite of those challenges that we have succeeded in making our life together so different from what it would have been like if we had chosen a ‘safer route.’
We’re not sure what the future will bring but what we do know is that this it’s our journey to hold & it sure feels like we are on a good path.
We hope you have enjoyed this post & that we have somehow inspired your journey. If you think it may inspire others too please feel free to share it.
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