Van life. It’s become quite the little phenomenon, and rightly so—it’s awesome. Having your transport AND accommodation all wrapped up in one tidy package is a convenient and cost-effective way to travel. Not to mention, having your own vehicle gives you the freedom to explore places that planes, trains and buses won’t take you.
However, there are some downsides to #vanlife that Instagram isn’t showing you. Yes, it all seems very boho-chic when all you see are photos of some attractive couple living out of an attractive campervan in some attractive location. But there are some things about van life they aren’t telling you.
There Are No Toilets In Your Van
If you search the hashtag #vanlife on Instagram, how many photos come up of someone doing their business behind a tree? None. It’s all hammocks, acoustic guitars and shiraz, isn’t it? But take note—you will need to go to the toilet at some point, and you will have to do it in the bush.
Likewise, There Are No Showers In Your Van
So get used to looking and smelling like a foot. For girls with beautiful long hair, this is particularly relevant—after a while, the hair on your head will start to resemble the hair clogged at the bottom of your shower drain back home.
Scenic Is Not Always Better
When you pull up somewhere for the night in your van, you may be inclined to choose the most beautiful location you can find, so you can awake to a spectacular view. Sounds nice, doesn’t it—but guess what? If you think it’s going to be spectacular in the morning, other people think so too. Cue you waking up the next day, sliding open your van door ready for your morning toilet time, only to be confronted with hoards of people enjoying walks, jogs, picnics or play time with their kids. This leaves you in a bit of a dire situation with nowhere to go—and is made much, much worse if you drank lots of shiraz like the #vanlife people on Instagram the night before.
Cars Can Break Down
Especially when they’re being taken on long drives through all sorts of terrain. Learn some basic car mechanics before you set off, especially if your van life adventure is somewhere remote; otherwise you’ll be waiting a damn long time for RAC to come to your rescue.
There Is No Fridge In Your Van
Unless your van has a second battery allowing you to run a fridge in it, you won’t be able to store any food that requires refrigeration. Hello Vegemite sambos for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You Need To Park On Flat Surfaces
All these pictures of people parking their VW Combi at the top of a hill look very speccy, but come bedtime, those #vanlifers are going to be sleeping on the mother of all slants. Not comfortable. Pick a flat surface over an attractive one.
There Is Now Power In Your Van
Again, unless you’re one of these lucky duckies who has a second battery in your van, you won’t be able to charge any of your electronics when your car is not moving. Invest in one of those cigarette lighter power adaptors to charge your phone/camera/Kindle while you drive; and consider buying a rechargeable power station so you can charge things even when the car isn’t running.
Mosquitoes Are Attracted To Light
Like the light coming from your head-torch, which you will need come nightfall, for instance. This cruel dilemma is indeed inconvenient, but manageable. Cover yourself in Aeroguard, and don’t under any circumstances use your head torch inside your van while the door is open—otherwise you will be joined by a family of mosquitoes who will use your body as their own personal buffet while you sleep.
There Isn’t A Whole Lot To Do If It’s Raining
If you’re planning a van life adventure, you’re probably doing it in summer time and are ready to spend your evenings cooking outside your van, eating dinner under the stars and enjoying whatever serene location you’ve chosen. However, if you get unlucky and have a few nights of bad weather, be prepared to spend a lot of time inside your van. Pack books. And Uno.
You REALLY Need To Like The Person You're Vanning With
Spending extended periods of time in a car with someone you’re not particularly fond of is a bad idea—especially if you are forced to deal with point number nine. Make sure you like your van life companion. A lot.
Ready to take the plunge? Check out our travel page to decide where to go.
Image credit: Kirsty Petrides