When I first tell people that I live in a van there is usually an initial shock, which is always followed by a barrage of questions. The questions are usually pretty consistently the same, so I decided to try and address the ones I get the most! Please comment below with any other questions you have!
Where do you park?
The beauty of living in a sprinter is the fact that it looks like a standard maintence van. I often park in national forests and wherever I want to shoot sunrise in the morning. But there are many times I park in parking lots and urban environments. I’ve been known to park outside of coffee shops so I have a place to go right when I wake up!
How did you get started? And how do you make money?
I’ve dreamed of owning a van since I was a kid, long before I was even an adventurer. That desire has grown stronger over the past two years and finally bit the bullet in July of 2016. I make money as a photographer via licensing and selling prints. Having the van actually makes it easier for me as I’m not constantly paying rent and can park my van wherever my clients want me to be.
Where do you shower?
I get this a lot, it’s usually the first question people ask when I tell them I live in a van. The answer varies. If I’m in Montana I have enough friends in every major town that always extend a shower to use. But also shower in campgrounds, truck stops, and the easiest will be a gym. I’m looking to get a gym membership to whatever gym has the most locations nationwide. Then I can get a workout and a shower in. Also, as gross as it sounds, you get really used to not showering every day and it becomes less of a priority. And as seen below, a good river and lake shower in the summer is tough to beat!
Do you do your own van maintenance? And have you ever broken down in the middle of nowhere?
I’ll admit that I’m a terrible mechanic, and my mechanical knowledge is less than steller. But thanks to the internet and youtube I’m learning. I’ve yet to break down in the middle of nowhere (knock on wood), but have had it not start due to some electrical problems a few times over the last month and had to get it jumped.
Where do you go to the bathroom?
Next to the shower question this is also the most frequently asked question. Well if it’s #1 that’s pretty easy being a guy, a tree or a bush does the trick. If it’s #2, well, gas stations and grocery stores all are easy enough to find. Or of course take the shovel into the woods and leave no trace.
Do you ever get restless or cabin fever?
This is something a lot of people don’t understand about #vanlife, there’s a lot of downtown. You can’t constantly be on the move, it’s just impossible. So there’s a lot of time just sitting in the van and it’s easy to get restless even with a life on the move. So you fill the gaps reading, watching movies on your laptop, or just writing down your thoughts.
Where do you get mail?
Most mail I have sent back to either my sister’s house or my parent’s house back in Billings, Montana. I usually make it back at least once a month and collect mail. My trips to Billings are also a good opportunity for me to bunker down and catch up on way too many emails and backlogged editing.
Has the van ever gotten stuck?
Having only a rear wheel drive van is a little sketchy considering what I do on a day to day. I’ve been close to stuck a few times but wiggled my way out. So fingers crossed, but most likely it’s not an if but a when.
What do you use for internet?
There are parts of #vanlife that aren’t as glamorous as social media makes it look. I often am out for sunrises and sunset, but during the day I tend to bunker down in coffee shops to edit and answer emails. In Billings I spend most of my time at MoAV, where they gave me my own airpot of drip coffee and a reserved sign for the table I sit at.