TOP
realities of van life

Van Life Reality – What You NEED to Know

There is a pandemic going on right now and I’m not talking about Coronavirus (but seriously…WTH?!?).  I’m talking about #VanLife or #BoatLife or any other form of traveling home that might have taken over your Instagram feed and possibly become your new need-to-accomplish #Dream lifestyle.

In case you’re new around here or missed our previous post, we’ve been full-time travelers for almost ten years now and Jason’s mom Mary, just became a full-time Van Lifer.  See that story here: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/van-life-mom

Some say there isn’t enough transparency when it comes to the realities of these alternative lifestyles.  I sort-of disagree.  Sure, there are a few accounts out there that only share the perfect-filter-applied version.  But there are loads of my fellow camera-toting full-time travelers doing a solid job of documenting both the good and bad of their home on (fill in the blank) traveling lifestyle.

I think the bigger issue is just how easily we (the viewer) can gloss over those challenging moments and by the end, only remember that epic drone shot.

The reality is, any lifestyle comes with its challenges and sacrifices.

The big question is, which sacrifices are you willing to make, and which problems are you willing to deal with?  What truly makes you happy at the end of the day?

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

Big life questions…but ones you should ask yourself.  And, if you don’t know the answers, go searching for them!

One thing our decade of vagabonding, and all of the inspirational nomads we’ve met along the way, has taught us is: We must place what we love at the center of our lives.

The what will be different for all of us.  Surfing, climbing, cycling, paddling, freediving, writing, photographing…you name it.

For us, and for Mary, our love is nature.  Our happy place is out exploring the world and all it has to offer.  We’re selfish like that.  We want to gobble up as much life as we can, while we can.

Which is what inevitably led us to Boat Life and Mary to Van Life.

It sounds like a fairytale I know.  Ruler of our castle with the freedom to live anywhere or any way we please.  In reality, van life or boat life, is still life, with ups and downs.

Downsizing and turning our entire life upside down (or right side up) and embarking on an alternative lifestyle isn’t as easy as the romanticized dream in our heads.

Watching Mary go through all of these changes, challenges and reaping the rewards of a new lifestyle is exciting…and frustrating.  This is why we wanted to share some of the what-to-expect-realities of jumping into this alternative lifestyle.

So, if moving into a van, boat, tiny house or any other nomadic dwelling is your future, this one is for you.

🎥CAMERA GEAR USED IN THIS VIDEO📷

 

🎶Music:

 

🙏 MADE POSSIBLE BY YOU!

Ups, downs and all around, we share it all.  We’re able to do so because people like you show up each week, read, watch, comment, share, shop our gear store and put tips in our production jar.  If you like what you see, there are lots of FREE ways you can show your support.  Thank you for being a part of the journey!

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (26)

  • Valerie Coffey

    Truer words were never spoken about the nomadic lifestyle! Ask anyone with an RV, especially a NEW RV, about the frustrating incompetence you find with how they are put together and how they are “fixed” — or more like, “one thing fixed (maybe), two other things broken” by RV service centers. As they told us, “We can’t find people fast enough to train, much less techs who are competent at fixing awnings, slides, HVAC, electrical systems, pumps, motors, engines, carpentry, plumbing, and appliances!” Which is why after a few years you kinda learn to do most everything yourself! But still, it’s worth it, right?

    reply
  • JD

    Pls tell Mary A) You go girl and B) Try this for the cup holder dilemma: Go to any coffee shop and pick up one of those cardboard sleeves that go over the base of the cup to keep your finger tips from burning and set that in the cup holder. If it doesn’t fit, undo the sleeve at its seam and try again. Believe it or not, that extra height the sleeve provides keeps the bottle from tipping over. Now, mind you, mine in my car has a soft rubber lining that slips into my cup holder and I think that helps keep the sleeve from popping out but give it a try in yours. It has worked in mine for years.

    reply
  • Andrea

    Quick question from a low-tech, now online teacher… what program do you use to create and edit your videos?

    reply
    • Curious Minion

      Adobe Premier Pro is the primary video editing software but it won’t be the best choice for a beginner. A better (and cheaper) place to start would be Windows Movie Maker for PC or iMovie for Apple. Best of luck with the “new normal” of online teaching. Interesting times!
      Curious Minion

      reply
    • Michael

      Even cheaper might be Lightworks or DaVinci Resolve on something like Debian. Hard to beat free.

      reply
  • Mary

    Thanks for all of your help Jason and Nikki! Safe travels back to your home. I can’t wait to get back into mine!

    reply
  • Ed Grant

    Jason & Nikki, it is great that you are able to “school” Jason’s Mom on the care & feeding of her RV! Hopefully she is taking copious notes and watches closely as jobs/maintenance/repairs are made along the way. It truly is the “Lifestyle” you have bought into and it isn’t for everyone. As they said, take your time, relax, make your initial journey’s close to friends/family just in case something happens. My parents did many years of RVing and loved every minute of it! You will too.

    reply
    • Mary

      I took great notes and shot video just in case I forget.

      reply
      • Mary

        They are both excellent teachers with a great amount of patience!

        reply
  • Alan Solomon

    Thanks for this Awesome Video. I sent it to a friend who just bought a 32 ft., motorhome in great shape.
    Best travels,

    reply
  • Joanna

    Also, my condolences about Cleo, I’ve been there it’s rough, but it will get better; Flower Essenses can help greatly and or Essential Oils, they are obviously not a fix but will greatly help because I Know it takes a while to heal. Know that she Loved/Loves you three so much, and still watches out for the three of you. I’m so glad Singa is able to play on the farm. Love from Alaska, Joanna

    reply
  • Joanna

    Thanks for sharing, “small shake down trips”, good reminder. I desire to say I LOVE your shows, they give me peace, joy, hope and much needed smiles. Your shows, personalities, kitties, openness have helped me so very much. Thank you thank you; you both are so inspiring and have greatly been helping me through a rough patch. Blessing 😊

    reply
  • Carol

    Thanks so much for this and all your videos. I watched many videos before we bought. I tried to tell my husband we should take short trips but he wouldn’t hear of it. We’re supposed to be traveling but we got to our first destination and I think he decided that was enough for him so now we’re stuck somewhere I really didn’t plan on staying at and am not all that crazy about. So yayyyy for the RV life (not!!). I do have a backup plan. If anything happens to him I’m decking out a shuttle bus and I’m outta here. All electric, as much solar as possible, a composting toilet (hate those ‘black tank Wednesdays’)and the beautiful words “La Promessa” as its name. Oh yeah and a dog for protection cuz I’m a wuss! Thanks again Jason, Nikki and Jase’s mom Mary.

    reply
  • Andrea Lawson

    We have been full timing for the last three and a half years now. You guys were part of the inspiration for us. We have two sayings that we always use the first one is “It’s all part of the adventure!” And the second one is “If that’s the worst thing that happens today it’s going to be a great day!”

    Life happens whether you’re living full-time in an RV, in a sticks and bricks, or on a boat. You just have to make the best of it.

    reply
  • Roger B

    We are not full timers and that for us, at least, is probably a good thing. We are glad that you are full timers so we can enjoy traveling with you through your videos. Thank you for that.

    reply
  • Tom Fitch

    I would think you guys could put together a pretty extensive list of your followers who would be happy to help you out during breakdowns all over the country. I’m not sure how you would screen out the bad apples, but maybe there is a way. I for one would be happy to have you stay here if you ever were “stranded” in my area. I even have a car you could use! Just a thought…if a list like this already exists, I’d like to sign up.

    reply
  • Dick Epler

    At 86 yo, I’ve been RVing for awhile and still loving it. But then I’m old-school with a whole different set of expectations than most of the newbies. After buying a new rig, usually having taken factory delivery, I actually look forward to the many challenges I know will come (love all the new technology). I’ve had 5 brand new rigs over the last 20+ years, mostly Monaco’s (one was the 32′ Vesta).

    After leaving the factory, I’ve always done a week’s shakedown cruise, returning to the factory with a list. The Monaco factory techs are the best. So far, I’ve found that they never cut corners. If there was a leak that damaged a few floor tile, they’ll replace the whole floor. If the windshield cracked, they replace the whole windshield. If necessary, they’ll remove a front cap, or a fiberglass wall to fix an electrical or plumbing problem. For them it’s easy … not so much at the various service centers.

    When my wife of 63 years passed a couple of years ago, I downsized to a Sprinter Class B/C (take your pick), and for my shakedown cruise this time, I took a trip from Canada to Mexico, from the Pacific to the Atlantic … and back, stopping to visit friends and relatives along the way … about 8000 miles over 5 months. No major problems, one dually flat tire fixed at a tire shop for $10. Nothing broke, the MB diesel ran like a dream. Bit of a learning curve with the new electronics but nothing I couldn’t figure out after a good night’s sleep. I solve a lot of problems in my sleep. This will be my last motorhome.

    I stayed home this winter, but look forward to getting back on the road again … fewer people … mostly to enjoy the flora and fauna … it’s a great live …

    reply
    • Curious Minion

      You’re an inspiration! I hope I’m still traveling when I’m 86. Shoot – I hope I make 86! :o)
      All the best & safe travels!
      Curious Minion

      reply
  • Jim S.

    All good points made here. I think the hardest part is determining the “type” of RV you want, either for extended stay traveling or full time travel. In our extended stay travels the RV trailer / tow vehicle fits our mode where we will stay put for a 5-7 days in one spot, and explore the area within 0-25 miles. Everything from hiking, biking, kayaking or entertainment options. And I think this combo is a little less worrisome as far as break downs. It took us 18 months in finding the “right” RV this last time. Yes, “Quality” does cost more. In 15 years of RVing this way, only had two minor tow vehicle issues. (Alternator, and a nail* in tire * Yes in Alaska, Yes, at the same spot the Wynn’s had theirs.) But once your in a groove, time under your feet, things become normal in your new lifestyle. As we’re only extended stay travelers (2-15 weeks at a time) you sometimes forget you have a sticks & bricks home to go back to.

    reply
  • Jacquelyn Partin Hall

    For us, the #1 problem limiting the RV experience is lack of available, COMPETENT repair facilities, even for simple things. We have an interior outlet that has failed and been “repaired” 4 times! Our unit has sat at facilities for over a month until we threatened to retrieve it. Not to say we haven’t had good times with our 2008 Winnebago Journey, but had we known the difficulties getting basic maintenance/repair, we may have opted for hotels and flight travel. Should there ever be self repair classes offered at a technical school, we’ll be at the door to register!

    reply
  • Louis Miller

    When are you going back to you water home ? Keep in having fun 😃

    reply
    • Curious Minion

      They are mid-journey as we speak. Send them all the good travel juju!
      Curious Minion

      reply
  • Dan

    Good reminders, thank you! I was really taken by the scenery in your aerial shots With the van in the woods fairly isolated, and that creek at the end. Where is this?

    reply
    • Mary

      That is North Carolina at one of the coolest soon to be get away experiences. Lots of great hiking and paddling around. I’ll get the exact name of the property in case you ever get out that way! It’s between Ashville and Charlotte. ❤️

      reply
      • Dan

        Please do get the name of the property. Regarding coronavirus, how are you faring with the RV lifestyle?

        reply
  • Suzy Shepard

    Maintenance. I’m a single grandmother and have owned/ lived in an Airstream Sprinter/Mercedes Dodge Van (Parkway) since 2005. I had to find a special RV place to fix everything as the original dealer and company charged for maintenance that was not done right and had to be redone and redone. Please keep reminding your followers that the best maintenance is finding someone who is trustworthy and capable of fixing the issues — not necessarily the “well known” fancy service center.

    reply

Post a Comment