The Van Life Dream
There are no rules (except for those pesky speed limits!) and no one calls the shots except for you. But it means shifting the way you think about your place in the world. Many of us find security in our homes. Yet, home truly is where the heart is.
Even though a bus or a van conversion isn’t a house, in a traditional sense, it’s still a cozy home. It’s small and always moving, but it allows you to ride in the slipstream of life – and it’s the most exhilarating experience you’ll ever have.
The Price of Freedom
Jumping off life’s treadmill can be scary. You may even wonder if freedom can be found outside of its constraints. Real freedom starts when you rise above society’s idea of who you are and where you should be.
I don't mean to sound like an anarchist, but when you live the van life or in a skoolie, you realize just how little it takes to be happy and comfortable. You get rid of a lot of your material possessions because you simply don't have room for them. You cut the BS out! This even applies when living in the woods camping for a week at a time. Something just seems to happen in your mind where you're so in tune with your surroundings, it's peaceful.
This whole movement of the minimalist isn't just a fad. Before it had this fancy name and it was cool to be a minimalist, it was just called simple living. That looked like many things to many different people. You could have a house in the middle of nowhere, growing your food. You could live in a small apartment even though you can afford more, you could live in a van down by the river...
This is where van lifers and skoolie dwellers find a lot of happiness. Living simply, treading lightly on the planet and minimizing waste. But don’t be fooled. It can take a while to get there, and everyone’s experience will be different. You may encounter frustrations and obstacles. You won’t always get it right. But it doesn’t mean you won’t get there but don't move too fast too soon, know that this takes time. Rest assured that the journey more than justifies the reward.
A minimal life is a frugal life.
When you throw out all the extraneous things in your life, something very interesting happens. You don’t need them anymore. That’s why frugality becomes your friend when you're living small. Minimalism and frugality are two sides of the same coin – and they are crucial to living well on the road.
For years we’ve responded to subconscious prompts that promise happiness, but once you tear away the shiny wrapping, what lies beneath is an ugly, disposable lifestyle built on unfair trade, unethical practices and cruelty.
So, what can you do? Buy less. Do your research. Choose products based on quality and provenance, not a fluctuating price point or a slick advert. Your body, mind, and bank balance will thank you for it.
Ditching the waste.
You’ve heard a lot about minimalism lately. A classic example is Marie Kondo. Her books on the Japanese art of decluttering have taken the world by storm.
You don’t have to align yourself with any particular philosophy to start culling and reorganizing your life to move into a conversion van or skoolie. Start with skin products (men will find this a cinch!). Once you realize how much you spend on makeup, moisturizers and hair products (and how much plastic waste they produce), you won’t feel bad about ditching them.
Finish what you’ve got, throw away any expired items and donate any unused products. Once you’re living the van life, you won’t need these products anymore. Instead, you’ll be dreaming of an all-in-one product that can clean your body, floor, windshield, oil and bathroom. Who knows, there might even be an entrepreneurial vanlifer working on it right now!
It will absolutely take a while to get rid of all your needs and some of your belongings might be seasonal. For me, my hockey gear. paddleboards, kayaks, bikes, and other bigger items that I can't live without are stored in a storage facility. It's super affordable and a great way to save space and money when downsizing. Your van or bus only has so much floor space so conserving space and renting out a storage unit can be a great way to START downsizing. If it doesn't fit in here OR in your bus, get rid of it.
Then comes the clothes...
Next in the firing line is your wardrobe. How many clothes still have their tags? Are there any articles you haven’t worn in years? Sell them or donate them to charity stores.
You’ll be surprised how much you’ll make, particularly if you have designer pieces lurking in the depths of your wardrobe. I sold half of my wardrobe and cashed in on a few hundred extra bucks.
It’ll be difficult parting with items that are tied up with your identity, but it’ll be worth it in end, aren't you changing that anyway? Letting go of things is cathartic, so trust in the process.
Keep what’s comfortable and what makes you feel good. It’s easier maintaining a compact wardrobe, and you’ll find that your savings and limited closet space in your van conversion will grow too.
Normally, there’s no television in van life. If that's still your jam, and you find it relaxing at the end of the day, we can still put a satellite and a TV in your van or skoolie...
The bonus of being on the road is that you’re getting away from the noise, so why pollute your mind with things you shouldn’t be watching, doing and buying?
While you're cutting down on everything else, try a TV and social media cleanse. There are so many benefits, you'll have less FOMO and have more personal interactions for starters.
When you throw away your television, cancel your subscriptions, and cleanse from social media, you can be mindful of what you watch – and put in your mouth. How many times have you seen a tantalizing slice of pizza on TV and ordered takeout? We’ve all been there. But don’t worry. You're far less likely to spend sporadically when you aren't seeing ads all over the place.
Ditching your day job and hitting the road is liberating, but you have to keep an eye on your finances. Maybe you can pursue your boss of the productivity benefits working from home, or van can bring.
Sure, you’re no longer guzzling takeaway coffees or lunching at pricey inner-city eateries. You’re not commuting to and from work or shopping for shoes during your lunch break. But without a steady stream of income (unless you’re lucky!), you have to get creative.
Before making the transition to van life, pack your lunch or watch movies at home in your van conversion or comfy skoolie instead of the theatre.
Indulge in free activities, like walking on the beach, hiking or watching the sunset. You could move to a small apartment or get a roomie to reduce mortgage costs or rent.
All of these things are easy to do. They’ll feather your nest, lighten your load and prepare you for the simple and transformative joys of van life. You won’t look back!
Don't know where to start when it comes to converting a van or school bus into a custom tiny home? Shoot us a message, we'll shoot you an email back in less than 24 hours!