Living the van life is an absolutely incredible experience. You’ll experience so many sights, adventures, and beautiful things that you wouldn’t be able to see if you weren’t in a van!
However, living the van life doesn’t come without challenges, especially as you adventure as a couple. You’ll have not one, but TWO people in your van, and you’ll be sharing all of your space! Now don’t get us wrong, this is a wonderful experience to have, especially when you get to share it with that special someone, however we had a few challenges along the way. These ten tips for van life are how we got over a few of those challenges and how we’ve been able to sustain a healthy relationship while living the van life!
1. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset
Each morning and evening, take some time to soak in the natural beauty all around you. One of the best benefits to living the van life is all the moments you get to experience in nature, the best of which happens at sunrise and sunset!
You can make these times even more special by experiencing sunrise and sunset in beautiful places. If you are in the mountains, drive to a stunning overlook. If you’re near a beach, head for a walk on the beach to soak in the sight. This will give you a better appreciation for the beauty all around you and will help remind you why you chose the van life in the first place!
2. Do Something Outside Every Day
We are HUGE hikers, we absolutely love hitting the trails. We wholeheartedly believe that hitting the trails is a type of ‘nature therapy’ for us and our marriage, and we’ve found it works wonders in conflict resolution. On top of that, when we aren’t in a conflict (most of the time, we hope) this makes for a great time to get to know each other more deeply while experiencing an awesome site.
If you aren’t into hiking, we still recommend getting outdoors at least once per day. It can be for a walk through a park, swimming in a lake or ocean, or anything really! Just make sure there isn’t a roof over your head and you are breathing in fresh air!
3. Fight Fast (Repeat After Me: “I’m Sorry”)
Before we lived the van life, our fights could last for days. We worked in separate places, and had activities after work sometimes, which meant we weren’t spending hours and hours together each day, so unresolved conflicts could drag on. That can’t happen while living the van life, as you’ll be in each other’s presence for much more of each day!
Conflicts will inevitably be solved much sooner just because you won’t be able to stand it if your significant other is giving you the silent treatment for hours on end!
Our recommendation: learn to say the words, ‘I’m Sorry’.
This will go a long way. Be open and honest with each other about why conflicts happen in the first place and you’ll be able to ‘fight fast’ and have a healthier relationship!
4. Have Chores
When we started on our van life adventure we did not have assigned chores. We would just try and do whatever was needed when a chore needed to be done. This worked for a while, however sometimes it could cause a small argument. So what did we do? Assigned chores!
We wrote down a list of each thing that had to be done each day, and assigned them! In most cases, one of us felt more comfortable with a specific task. Zach loves cooking and was okay doing laundry. Julie opted for cleaning and making the bed. And on it went down the line! Now we know what we need to do each day and living the van life is definitely easier because of it.
5. Avoid Traffic
When you live in a van, there are certain things in life that you can completely cut out of your life. Traffic should be one of them. If there is traffic on the road you are taking, and there isn’t a way around it, then just pull over to a rest stop and hang out in the van until the traffic dies down! Read a book, watch a movie, do anything except sit in traffic!
6. Make Alone Time
One of the challenges while living the van life as a couple is that you are basically together with your significant other constantly. Of course, there will be times when you are apart, but those can be few and far between when you share less than 100 square feet of living space.
Therefore, we found it very helpful to make some time for each other to be alone! We often spend this time reading, writing, or exploring, really doing anything we each want to do! The time makes us feel more refreshed and helps us live a more balanced lifestyle, which keeps our relationship healthy and thriving.
7. Have Regular Date Nights
Even though you are spending a ton of time together in the van, you should still make a scheduled date night. Whether it is once a week, twice a month, or some other schedule, it doesn’t really matter, just put it on the schedule! Having a date night will bring a sense of normalcy to your relationship, which can be tough to come by while living the van life.
We tend to cook every one of our meals, so on date night we head to a local restaurant where we are able to sample the local food and hang out with local people! We find this to be one of the most fun parts about living nomadically, the experiences you’ll have in new places will be unlike any you can have at home. Date night is our favorite night of each week!
8. Make a Budget and Stick to it
When you think about what puts stress on a relationship, what comes to mind?
2 things: sex and money.
Before we tackle sex, let’s talk about money! Your budget conversation doesn’t have to be a super long, detailed discussion, complete with spreadsheets and graphs. However, the discussion does need to set expectations about what you are spending as a couple and how it is being paid for.
The money conversations is necessary for any healthy relationship to last, especially if you are living in a van travelling the world. This time will be full of fun and adventure, and the more you stick to your budget, the longer the adventure can last!
9. Go to Funkytown
Not literally, funkytown isn’t a real place, at least we don’t think it is…
Be intimate! Feeling sexy can sometimes be a challenge while living the van life, especially after a day getting dirty out on the hiking trails, but you gotta make it happen! Sex is critical to the success of a healthy relationship, and make sure you are meeting your needs while adventuring in your van!
10. Have Fun and Remember Why You Are Living the Van Life!
For goodness sakes, living the van life is such a unique and incredible experience. Take time to consider the life you are leading, and how incredibly awesome it is! You get to live in a new place whenever you want to, and get to experience the most beautiful sites all around the earth. This lifestyle is one of the best decisions you can make, and will lead to a lifetime of stories!
There you have it, our 10 tips for living the van life as a couple. We hope you benefit from our experience, and have a healthy, fruitful relationship while adventuring in your van!