When I first told my parents I was going to live in a van, I’m not sure there are words to describe the look on their faces. They always support my choices, even when they don’t agree with them and since they clearly were not sure how to react, I quickly clarified… “That is if I can afford it!” Well that really confused them so I pulled up class B vans on the Internet and showed them I would be just fine! After all, even though their free-spirited, curious-minded, wandering unicorn wanted to travel across the country taking photos and spreading peace, love and kindness whilst living in a van, they would always want to make sure I’m safe and happy.
You would think I’m “20-something” venturing out on my own for the first time. Not quite - I am almost 50, but I am as giddy as a kid in a candy store as I’m about to embark on the sequel to the book I call my life. It’s not just a chapter it’s a new beginning in a way.
Like so many others who choose vanlife, I get a barrage of questions which usually include ... “You’re doing this alone? (yes). Won’t you get lonely? (maybe). How do you know what to do? (I don’t). How long are you doing this for? (No idea). What are you running away from? (actually running towards).” And the list goes on. Of course, it’s followed up with either “Wow, you’re so brave I could never do that” or “I’m so jealous I wish I could do that!” Oh and let’s not forget “I can’t believe you gave up your life to do this!” Well, that’s hardly the case. I’m choosing my life.
So why and how vanlife? It came to me as I was driving through the Canadian Rockies. I felt so peaceful, calm and present. Every mile seemed more beautiful than the previous one, and I felt like driving forever in order to keep this feeling alive. It occurred to me life could be like this if I wanted it to – I just needed to make a choice. How badly did I want to continue feeling this way, free to explore the beauty around me? I think it was a rhetorical question! My decision was made!
I already acknowledged I didn’t fit into what society considered “normal” although as my son’s T-shirt says… define normal! I believe as with most of us, my journey started long ago, the difference I think is that I listened and acted on it. I spent years swimming against the current, teaching my children lessons that I had finally fully embraced, after all, what good would it be if I didn’t practice the path I set out to guide them on – living authentically. I no longer worried about what others thought of me, or feared making a “mistake”. Doubt didn’t creep into my mind attempting to conform me, nor did the desire to own what others have, convince me otherwise. I was happy for those who wanted a certain lifestyle and appreciative of the fact I knew what I wanted.
Change is rarely fast or easy. It is however liberating. I was choosing more which meant I needed less. I was ready for a more simple lifestyle. I wanted less clutter in my brain and my surroundings, less possessions, less chaos, less crowds, less distractions. I wanted more nature, more freedom, more authentic experiences, more time to live life.
I’m not exactly lacking for “luxury” in my van. The lifestyle I have chosen may very well be alternative to most but I certainly have everything I need. Water, electricity, a kitchen, a bathroom, a bed, a sofa, dining room table, TV, computer… it’s just living life on a much smaller scale… and of course, it’s about making major changes. It’s about my wants vs my needs and it’s personal. There is no right or wrong. It’s not good or bad and there is no judgment on anyone else for their choices. Just as there is no one way to live life, there are many options to living in a van, but no matter the changes I make, one thing is for sure – I’ll always be a rainbow unicorn!