Our return to Canada last week marked the beginning of our van life project: a wacky attempt to combine travel, minimalism, and green living into one glorious lifestyle. As we drove off the ferry that had brought us back to Canada, we imagined all of the perfect road tripping adventures that were ahead of us. Instead, we had a rough start to the trip that left us stressed, tired and unsure of the entire project.
The bad luck started with a small accident in Victoria, BC (oops…I backed into a car while parallel parking) and got worse when we discovered that we might have to re-install our solar panels because the velcro was already starting to lift. After that, we realized that I had miscalculated our internet usage and that our plan to use a mobile hotspot device wasn’t going to work out. Ugh. Long story short? We started the big van life adventure as two very unhappy campers.
Our tough start was very humbling though, because it reminded us that there are ups and downs to travelling, especially at the beginning of a trip and even more so with experimental types of travel like van life. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the challenges we’ve experienced while living a nomadic lifestyle because as great as it is, it’s not always perfect.
We absolutely adore our friends and family, so even though we get to spend quality time with them when we’re at home, we miss them like crazy when we’re on the road.
We both cope with new situations in very different ways. I prefer to quietly accept things like overpriced food, dangerous taxi rides and tourist traps while Mat reacts more vocally to these situations and so we usually end up arguing quite a bit at the start of a trip (until we get used to our new situation and then we’re all lovey-dovey again!).
Time changes, overnight flights, long days, loud hostels – there are at least a dozen different ways that travelling can prevent us from getting a good night’s sleep. On a 2-week trip it’s not so bad but when we’re traveling for months at a time, it can leave us feeling pretty exhausted and wondering why we don’t just settle down.
4. Constipation & Diarrhea
These are our constant companions when we’re travelling. As soon as we leave home, our digestive systems go berserk and it can take weeks or sometimes months for us to get into a good routine. I know it seems like a small complaint, but seriously, when you’re not having good poops, shit gets crazy.
5. Unexpected Expenses
No matter how much we plan our trips in advance or how much money we put in the “miscellaneous” column of our budget, there are always unexpected expenses that find their way onto our credit cards. We had to add 20% to all of our expenses in Washington this winter because of the terrible exchange rate. It was like throwing $20 in the garbage every time we spent $100 :(
There are many other challenges to living like nomads (depositing cheques, paying taxes, receiving mail, crossing borders), but these are the ones that we find the hardest to deal with. All that said, we still think the benefits of living like nomads outweigh the challenges. If you missed it, you can check out our post about why we live a nomadic lifestyle to read the positive things we love about the lifestyle because even though it’s not perfect, it’s still a lot of fun!