Friday, October 18, 2019

Van Life So Far as a Solo Woman and Other Observations...

It has been several months living the van life now.  I get little questions from friends and family from time to time, and I see a lot of discussion around the subject of being a lady living in her van.

There is a lot of great women who have a lot of cool insight into this subject for sure.  But here are a few observations I've made so far!

My Take On Van Life So Far...

I have done the whole van life thing for about 4 months or so. Full disclosure... there was a whole month I lived indoors in a house, trying out renting a room from a friend.  And it is nuts...I realized I really, truly missed my van.  And here is why: it's mine.  I may not have a lot, but it gives me a place to call my own, do my own thing, and save up for future goals.  I find that my new career is all about being flexible and able to travel at any given moment, so my van makes this happen without a lot of added expense.

But, of course, there are tons of things I have had to come to terms with. Everything takes longer. You often have to have a bathroom plan, because I don't have room for one.  Showers are a thing.  Oh, it snowed last night - Is that why it's so f'ing cold? did all these mosquitos get in here?!  Hold on, I need to put this item away before I can get to and use that one...

None of these are bad things for me I am learning (well except for mosquitoes.)  I know it is definitely not for everyone, but I like having a small routine. I (mostly) like pushing myself a bit and not being complacent.  I like that it makes me workout to get a shower. ask...what does that routine look like?  

It all depends on where I stayed the night before.  My preferred place is a campsite that is secluded and free (which often means without amenities) but this lends itself to comfortably making coffee and breakfast and getting ready without feeling weird and not really worrying about the morning routine.

Morning routine + no power = foam rollers!

Other times, I may stealth camp in town.  If I stay at a truck stop or parking lot, I skip the morning routine almost all together, throw on clothes and run in to buy a coffee.

And if I stay at a campground with amenities, you better believe I take my time, as I probably paid for that shiz.

I also have a gym membership so I workout in the evenings when it is quiet and can take showers there.

Which all that brings me to observations of being a solo-woman living in her van...

First and foremost, I always listen to my gut feelings of a spot.  If I feel weird about it, I just leave.  Honestly, I also had to feel out what I was comfy with and what I wasn't.  And I have become more comfortable with a lot, actually.  Less than a year ago, going camping by myself freaked me out- quite a bit, actually.  It was a combo of being a woman and being newly single.  I'd gone straight from living with my parents to living with my husband.  I'm not saying it because it is a bad thing, but for me, I realized doing things alone was a tough new experience.  I just had to learn I could do it. And now I find that I am pretty cozy in my little van wherever my gut says is cool.

First solo camping trip!

In addition to gut feeling is defense. An awesome friend bought me a badass knife and some bear mace, and that helped me feel much more in control.  I know some ladies keep a gun, or a bat, but basically I think you should choose some kind of defense that makes you feel comfortable and helps alleviate concerns.  Hopefully you never have to use it, but it sure feels good to know I have something I can use if I felt the need.

However, I also realize that all I can do is take precautions, and I can't control everything that happens.  That drives me a bit crazy but is also freeing.

Here are my go to precautions...I park the van to where I could easily drive off if I need. I keep all doors locked all the time I am in the van, and if I am sitting outside the van (campfire, picnic table, etc) then I keep the front of the van locked and my rear door unlocked for quick access. I keep the aforementioned mace and knife within reach.  (Last night my knife doubled as a fire poker. Think about how that would smart! haha) I put up my blackout window covers even when camping in a secluded spot.  If stealth camping, I make a strong effort to only exit and enter from the driver side door and not the back doors (which are my access doors) so it isn't obvious I am living in there. And I wear leggings to sleep in, because it's what all the cool kids wear now. Oh, and mostly because they are not obviously PJ's.

I am also lucky in that my dad made sure I knew how to do basic mechanics, and I am now pretty good at changing a tire, jumping my vehicles, etc.  But I also have roadside assistance just in case.

Other observations...

At first I really hated saying I was living in my van.  It felt weird to say what I was doing.  And to be fair, if my gut feels weird about stating it, I don't say anything.  But I have some super cool people in my life that not only have had faith in me, they know I can handle my shit and have really bolstered my confidence. I kind of love it now when my friend's daughter tells her friends I live in my van. I love how at the moment it makes me a bit unique.

Also, it actually wasn't my first choice.  I wanted to find a little place of my own.  However, life pushed me in this direction, and I am so glad it did. I am now pretty close to self sufficiency.  And it is my long term goal to pay off debts and save my money over the next year and then decide what I do. I think the only way I would live in a stick built place is if I have a yard where I can play outside as much as I can.

All I know for sure right now is that I try my hardest to take each day as it comes.  And (most of the time) that is actually a pretty cool feeling.

What questions do you have about living in a super tiny place?

- Ash

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