You may have seen my post about things that are hard about van life. Admittedly, that was written during a time where I was still getting used to this lifestyle and was annoyed more often than not with the challenges. There was a day where I was texting a friend about how hard things were and thinking that I couldn’t do this and I remember saying to her, “I just need to climb a god damn mountain.” I was suffering through all of the planning and process of getting to where I wanted to be and hadn’t yet seen many of the rewards. The benefits were not outweighing the tribulations and I was questioning my decision to live a mobile life. But sure enough, as always, time always helps and slowly but surely, I began to feel comfortable living in a van. The benefits have been shining their little rays of sunshine in the most unexpected places. So in efforts to bring some more positivity to what I am doing, here are some of the best things about living on the road:
I really enjoy the silence
I have never gone such extended periods of time with such unpredictable cell service or WiFi. Of course I need to be around civilization for work, but on the nights and weekends, I never really know if I’ll have service where I am going, which limits communication, social media and even listening to music at times. This has proven to be a lovely surprise in many ways and I have grown to really enjoy the quietness of nature. Peace. Nothingness. If I close my eyes, all I can hear is the soft crunch of Simone’s paws on the gravel pathway and the gentle whistle of the wind behind me. As I walk, I begin to hear the buzz of a stream and as I move closer, the chorus turns into a roaring river, beating against the rocks without remorse. There is such power and force in nature and I truly appreciate being able to tap into the depth of it on my hikes. The sternness of the mountains speak to me. The squeak of the chipmunk delights me. I notice details that I wouldn’t otherwise because all of my senses are alert and ready for whatever beautiful surprise lies around the corner.
It is never boring
Whether that means I am getting kicked out of a parking lot in the middle of the night by the cops or because I stumble upon the most adorable little sustainable cabin along a river at the edge of the mountains, there is nothing boring about this lifestyle. Every moment is full of surprises and adventure and newness. Change is the norm. New experiences emerge every hour. As someone who thrives on adventure, this is a dream come true. I soak up the stories of the people I meet like a sponge, it’s like going to the cinema and watching a documentary about your favorite hero, except that every person you talk to is a brand new script. I glow at the sight of their weathered skin and bask in their kind and gentle hearts. I love watching people’s eyes as they tell a story, you can see so much about what they are feeling by looking at the expression in their smile lines. I can’t help but want to consume every single one of their words and memorize what they are telling me. It truly is a gift.
Every morning is different
If you know me at all, you know that I love mornings. I love the lighting. I love how refreshed I am at the beginning of the day. I love that when I jump out of bed, anything is possible. Anything my heart desires can be reality. There is nothing so pure and fresh and abundant and full of hope than the morning light. It breathes life into everything it touches. It inspires. It refreshes. I want the morning light to possess my entire body, run through my veins, light up my skin and warm into the depths of my soul with its goodness. I cannot accurately express what it does to me, it’s one of the most magical things I have ever experienced, and lucky me, it happens every day. Part of what I love about mornings is that each one is different. It doesn’t matter where you are, each one is unique, but the differences are even more exaggerated when you are in new places as well. To sit and sip my coffee on a deck with the Rockies hovering authoritatively over me or to open my eyes and see a bumbling stream joyously singing to me good morning… there are no words to express that satisfaction.
There is no pressure
One of the best things about being mobile is that there is no pressure to find the “best” place to visit. I have hardly researched anything at all on this trip because I would rather go where feels right and discover whatever that place has to offer. I have even stopped searching for coffee shops or stops along the road, because I would rather pull off and wander around a little town to see what I find. This has proven to be a good strategy because I have an aversion to touristy areas, so I often discover simple hidden treasures that are off the beaten path instead. I have still experienced some of the great beauty of the more populated places, but the ones that really dig deep and touch my heart are usually the quieter spots. I have no regrets about anywhere I have gone or not gone, because you know what? I can always go back. Time is on my side.
My free time is always spent outside
I have always loved nature. I grew up camping, playing sports, walking in the city, canoeing, hiking, traveling, etc. My parents took us all over the world as kids and we got to discover everything from the rain forests of Australia to the ski slopes of Korea to the cobble stone streets of London. Thinking back, the things that I remember the most are the outdoor activities. I am not sure if that is just because that was what we mostly did as a family or if I have a selective memory, but either way, nature has always been a force that has an incredible power to move me. Even to the point of tears. I remember when I was twelve years old, we were in Australia as a family, it was the middle of the night and we had gone out to watch the turtles hatch on the beach and run towards the ocean. To this day, I couldn’t tell you a thing about the turtles. But I do remember staring into the sky for what felt like an eternity and getting lost and even dizzy by the beauty of the stars. I had never before in my life seen such a thick layer of stars, sparking, dazzling, mesmerizing. I remember being so in awe that it brought tears to my eyes. I will never forget that moment. That moment solidified that I wanted to be an astronomer when I grew up. (which obviously turned out… lol). I couldn’t imagine a better life than to stare in the stars, study them, learn from them, analyze them, and maybe even go to space one day. There is no doubt in my mind that I am at my best when I am outdoors and I am so grateful that this lifestyle allows for me to do that.
I forget to look in a mirror
It has been incredibly liberating to not give two shits about what I look like for the last three months. I put on whatever outfit is at the top of my drawer. I don’t wear makeup. I’ll wash my face if I’m feeling fancy, but hey now… let’s not get too crazy. It’s amazing that I am still able to brush my teeth twice a day. I have embraced the fact that on most days I look like a homeless hippy who doesn’t own a hairbrush and you know what? I am totally ok with that. I am MORE than ok with that. It is freeing and beautiful and has opened up a whole new way of thinking for me. I used to always say that if someone didn’t find me beautiful, it didn’t matter because there were plenty of other people who did. But I was also so careful about my appearance before. I did dozens of different things to make myself look a little bit “better” than what I looked like naturally. But this new life is a whole new level of that mentality. Sometimes I don’t shower for a week. Sometimes I have broccoli stuck in my teeth and don’t realize it for 48 hours. Sometimes I forget to shave. Most days my hair is tangled and I struggle just to put it in a ponytail. I am not polished. I am not pulled together. I am disheveled, but I am so happy. I find it so beautiful. And I love this new me. It takes away the vanity and creates an environment where I can truly focus on what brings me joy instead.
This is sort of a no-brainer, but the freedom has been incredible. I get to wake up every morning and not know where I will go next. Every weekend is like opening the greatest present of your life and it never disappoints. I have no events that I need to attend. No activities. No appointments. Outside of work responsibilities and making sure my pets are alive, I can literally go anywhere or do anything. This could mean staying in bed for a week because I have a fever. But it could also mean waking up one morning and deciding to drive 6 hours to another state. It is such a thrill. There is so much to be seen and I love the feeling of being called in a giving direction and just being able to go. I love that I am on this adventures. Challenges and all, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.