The #vanlife can often times be romanticized. Seeing couples frolic through gorgeous scenery gazing lovingly at one another or cuddled up on the bed laughing uncontrollably. Not a problem in sight.
But what happens when there is trouble in paradise? When unforeseeable issues arise, and stress starts to creep up?
We have been there. Oh have we been there.
Thankfully- we have also learned to work through these issues and figure out the ways to nip them in the bud before things escalate too quickly. It’s extremely important to have these considerations before moving into the van.
First- I cannot stress enough the following:
Issues that you have while living in a traditional home will only be exacerbated when living in a tiny space.
Please don’t think that moving into a van and traveling to the most beautiful locations will be the answers to your issues.
I repeat- YOUR PROBLEMS WON’T GO AWAY BY MOVING INTO THE VAN.
So with that being said, here are 5 tips and tricks we have learned from being on the road together.
Communication is by far the biggest key for living in a small space or dare I say- being in a relationship, in general. Make sure you have the proper tools to navigate the stressful and ever-changing lifestyle that van dwelling poses.
There is no room for being passive-aggressive- so it’s vital to address issues head-on without being rude or causing pain to the other person. Talk to one another openly and without being defensive. Listen to what one another is feeling or wanting. This is a huge lifestyle change both of you might be feeling completely different emotions at the same time. Be mindful of that.
2. Guilt-Free bins
When moving into a tiny space, everything has to have a purpose and place. But what happens when you strongly believe you have justification for a whole bag of facial products, but your partner does not?
In comes the guilt-free bins!
This has been an absolute game-changer for when you both have different ideas for what is essential.
We each have a bin that when things are in the category of “why are you bringing that?”and you really want it- drop it in your bin. Once your bin is full, you can’t add anything else or you need to re-evaluate your choices. It gives us a good break from having to decide on everything together or getting in little arguments over space.
This bin is yours, and yours alone. No one can judge you for bringing a pair of wedges that you haven’t worn since moving into the van. No one.
3. Merging Habits/ Compromise
I am a creature of habit. I like to be ready and in bed by 9:30 pm. I’m a light sleeper. I hate being woken up before my alarm.
I sound like a great partner, right?
Moving into the van has helped me grow out of strict routine and practice being more flexible, especially since Chucky is a complete night owl. We have practiced ways to help both of us feel like we can continue with our own routines, while also honoring the other person. Since sleep is the utmost important thing in my life, I have learned to sleep with earplugs and a mask for the nights Chucky wants to burn the midnight oil.
Similarly, Chucky is learning to acknowledge how light of a sleeper I am and stays in the front cab when working late with dimmed lights on. This is just a tiny example of what we do to move toward one another and compromise.
We have also learned to work together and create a routine that works for us. It’s all up to you both as individuals to see what works and what doesn’t.
4. Independent Hobbies/ Alone Time
Just because we are living in a small space and are physically together most of the time, it is still very important to have individual hobbies and alone time!
We can’t always be on the same page and want to do the same things, but sometimes it’s hard to push past the “togetherness” when you have literally no other place to go in the evening when you are camping in a dispersed campsite. So I think it’s always healthy in a relationship to have things you do together, but also apart.
For me, I’m a morning person and love my slow mornings to myself with a cup of coffee before Chucky or Olympus gets up. It’s something that is pretty sacred for me.
Chucky enjoys playing around on his computer and researching. Just giving each other space and not feel like we need to do everything together really helps and makes it feel even more special when we do carve out together times!
All in all, the understanding that one another is just trying to do our best will help soften your heart. You are about to live in a tiny space with the one you love- it’s exciting! But will be difficult at times, and knowing you all are doing the best you can, helps a lot.
You are about to embark on such an exciting adventure! And if you are already in it, you know how fun these times can be! Enjoy it, love it, live it.
I would love to hear from you- Any van couples have rules for living on the road together? Comment below!