So today makes it officially one month since leaving the apartment and doing this vanlife thing on a fulltime basis. So far, we’ve been absolutely loving this and the girls are so excited that we have a #vanlife. 😂 I’m loving the fact that we are all getting out to exercise (I’m starting to realize that I’m NOT as active as I used to be haha).
The girls have made a lot of friends and I’ve been having fun with the kids as well. From swimming, playing basketball to riding bikes, scooters and a hoverboard – it has certainly been an adventurous first month! I’ve also met several families that homeschool their children on the road and we got to see some pretty AWESOME school bus conversions aka skoolies! Meeting new people has always been something we’ve enjoyed as a family. We like getting to know other families and hanging out with them so this vanlife thing is right up our alley.
SLEEP MORE IN PHOENIX < SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
Aside from the tours and fun we’ve been having, we don’t mind sleeping in the van either. The girls actually preferred sleeping in it compared to the apartment we had. When we were at the apartment, to test out how sleeping in the van would be on a long-term basis, we slept out in the parking lot for several nights and it wasn’t too bad at all to be quite honest. I do prefer sleeping at a campground over sleeping in the apartment parking lot as it’s much quieter. Compared to living in apartments in Seattle and Phoenix, I’d totally take a motorhome (of any sort) or a travel trailer any day.
Also, dry camping at an RV resort mixed with boondocking for a handful of days has been quite interesting. I’m not really as freaked out as I thought I would’ve been. Yes, this isn’t an apartment or a stick and brick house, but it does the job of keeping you warm and providing shelter. It’s been really cold out lately and honestly once we’re in the van, we are actually warm. We have a couple of warm blankets, a sleeping bag that keeps you warm until around 30 degrees, and now a Mr. Buddy heater. We use the heater in the morning if it’s cold, but we’re totally fine with the blankets and sleeping bag. I can 100% say this as I am the FIRST person to openly state that I’m freezing. I don’t like being cold so to prepare for our vanlife adventures, I watched a lot of YouTube videos that talked about how to stay warm in the winter. I learned a lot from those videos and took notes so we were at least prepared for what was going to come (YouTube is where I found out about the sleeping bag – I simply unzip it and it covers us like a comforter). Thankfully, Phoenix isn’t as cold as Seattle, but on those days where it’s been 30 degrees out, our little system has certainly kept us warm.
OLD HABITS NEVER DIE EASY
Besides staying warm, I wanted to note that I still wash a lot. Because I do have young children, there are times where one of them may have an accident which means that I have to frequently wash clothes, sheets, etc., but honestly that was happening in the apartment. I am still potty training my youngest (which she’s getting better), but I’ve learned to accept that I have to wash often. The only thing that I didn’t calculate was laundromat cost. I went from having my own washer and dryers in nearly all of my past apartments to having to pay for laundry so although I knew I would have to do that, I didn’t expect that laundry would cost so much.
Continuing on the subject of washing, I’m recognizing that I SUCK at laundry. Not the washing aspect, but the folding up once washing is completed side. I’m going to keep things real… I’ve never been a fan of putting laundry away and with having to fold everything – this is not only new-ish (I say that because since college, I’ve had huge closets where I could simply hang the clothes up opposed to folding them…I haven’t had a need to own a dresser for the past 6 years) but I’m finding that if I don’t fold immediately afterwards, it bothers me. The goal of us full-time traveling is to be more intentional… in every aspect of life which includes laundry. With us living in such a small space, I can’t stand the sight of seeing clutter and unfolded laundry is clutter in my eyes. It’s something that I have to work on, but it’s something that I do recognize.
BE MORE INTENTIONAL
Sticking with being more intentional, I also notice that I am cautious with our water, electric, and toilet usage. Since we have a cassette toilet, that means that I have to both dump and fill it back up on a weekly basis. I also have to fill up our tanks that hold our water for the shower and sink. Doing so has been making me think about our usage more plus the importance of finding places I can dump and fill at. Thankfully there are apps that have helped me find dumping/potable water fill locations while we’ve boondocked, but the campground we were at offered a dumping/water spot for free so while we were there, we took full advantage of that.
Regarding electricity, I do think that I need another solar panel so I ended up purchasing another 100 watt Renogy solar panel. This will mean that we’ll have 200 watts now. I just need help putting it up so currently, it’s still in the box until I have the chance to put it on the van and connect it with the other panel up there. Currently, we’ve been doing fine with the one panel, but on those days where it’s been mostly cloudy for days I’ve noticed that the battery does get drained which I’m hoping have the second panel will combat that a bit. I have an inverter which allows me to plug things in such as my laptop, other chargers, and our rice cooker and it’s allowed us to be able to have enough power for all of that, but with more solar, that means more power. I still don’t know much about solar, but I’m learning so that’s what matters. One day when we have a bigger van, I’ll put more solar on it as I’ll like to have a full kitchen with a fridge, stove, and oven, but right now I’m thankful and content with having my portable Coleman camp stove, a portable sink that doesn’t require electricity, and a rice cooker and steamer that cooks nearly everything we generally eat on a daily basis.
The only downside I’ve seen thus far is that clutter can happen very quickly, but that alone doesn’t make me dislike this lifestyle. I’m still adjusting to these changes and it may mean that we need to cut back some more on physical things, but as of right now, we’re loving #vanlife. We love the views, we’re loving the new locations that we get to visit, and we’re loving the change.
I’m learning to be content in any situation and this is something I hope to teach the girls during this new journey.