Maintaining Happiness in the Van

Maintaining Happiness in the Van

Van life is an amazing experience & we pinch ourselves daily having this time & opportunity to do what we are doing right now. It no doubt looks amazing to the outsider looking in at our great adventure pics & the epic sunsets we have found along the way. For the most part van life is awesome but … there is always a but! We have put together a bit of a list of our findings / learnings from the past 100+ days living in our van & how to maintain happiness & be in the moment…

{Parked up in Slovakia, doing some stretching & spreading out the contents of the van}

  1. Making the most of Time on the Move;

You are on the move or thinking about the next move a lot of the time. While this is exciting and you are constantly exploring new places it can also be quite draining and time consuming. To fully utilise the time on the move we have been listening to a number of amazing podcasts & audio books. This can be great for expanding perspectives, learning new new things and generally just keeping entertained on those 5+ hour road trips!

Some of our podcast fun finds to date;

  • The Tim Ferris Show; from the guy who wrote the 4 hour workweek, 4 hour body and 4 hour chef. This is an amazing array of interviews with some incredible people. Our favourite to date is with Jamie Fox & Arnie (Arnold Schwarzenegger – Part 1 & Part 2)
  • The Journal by Kevin Rose; we have only recently started listening to this one but enjoying his monthly updates too.
  • Found My Fitness by Rhonda Patrick; this is an amazing podcast SO much information though, so you may need to listen to them a couple of times! A stand out for us is a short & jam packed one on sugars / refined sugars, find it here!

Our favourite Audiobooks have included;

  • Black Box Thinking, by Matthew Syed. An amazing story, maybe you could even call it a self help book. You learn so much from failure as well as how to learn from the mistakes you make & bounce back from adversity.
  • Sapiens: A brief history of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Mans Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl. A phenomonel read! Not only a tragic memoir of the Holocoust but a story of hope & ultimately finding meaning to life.
  • Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. We are currently listening to this story but after reading the story in book form over 5 years ago it’s great to listen to it narrated. The narrator does a great job of all the different accents and really brings the book to life.

Try out a podcast or audio book in the car this week. You never know, you might learn something! It is a great way to keep the mind thinking, learning & engaged.

{Just a cheeky shot of the two of us & Barry – the van}

  1. In the Spring & Summertime’s, once the sun goes down the bugs come out to play.

This can be very annoying & painful! Having a fan & mosquito net for the hotter nights is crucial. We bought a great Mountain Equipment mosquito net for about £13 & it’s our saviour. Also it’s quite cosy & romantic getting into it on the nights when it’s needed.

{In the mosquito net early one morning after we stayed at the National Park in Bratislava}

  1. You don’t need much & its an empowering thing.

We have far too many things in our van with all the activities that we like to keep up with & the mixture of seasons that we have travelled in. Now that we are in summer we have too many warm clothes for the hot days. This means having more clutter to search through and makes you realise just how little you really need to live which is an empowering thing & something that I will take away from this trip forever.

Our must haves list includes;

  • a good book (we have kindles),
  • a journal / a notebook (we have moleskins)
  • a flask (we have Hydro Flasks, they are the best),
  • a pair of crocs (matching navy ones)
  • a bamboo or cotton towel (these can team up as a shade in the van, a scarf at night or its purpose as a towel when you swim or bathe)
  • A portable speaker (we love our Logitech speaker + our sound system in the van is old school so this is our stereo too.{Lachie journaling by a lake in Serbia}
  1. No toilet in the camper, sucks!

Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of towns, cities or even parked up at a park with lots of people around & with no toilets which can be a tricky one. There have been a few instances where the orange bucket in the van has had to be used.

  1. Patience is key!

Being in a small space has its advantages & disadvantages. Getting up in the morning & thinking you’ll be able to get dressed, make a cup of coffee, eat some breakfast & be out the door in 10 minutes is next to impossible. It requires more time & consideration with preparation, organising & another person in mind… Patience is key.

{The view from our van in Slovakia, practising patience}

  1. Having high value goods in your car, can add to your stresses.

Ultimately living in a van means you have everything you own with you while you are on the move. When the van is parked up & you are exploring a town or city it plays on your mind that you may have your camera or laptop in the car for someone to break in & steal or it means that you just carry everything with you!

  1. Documenting the travel aka

Is a great way to keep track of things but its not always how it looks on our Blog or Instagram. We have found having the blog to document our highlights & fun finds has been a great way to remember places, things that happen, people we meet along with give us a purpose to our travels. Also it’s been a great excuse to try out some tasty coffee in local cafes while we upload our posts online!

{Great coffee in Budapest at Espresso Embassy, strongly recommend going here!
Fun vibes & traditional jewish cakes too}

  1. Having four bikes, yes that’s right four bikes… in our van is becoming a bit of dilemma!

Its great having the town bikes to cruise around cities on & the mountain bikes to climb mountains on, but when the mountain bikes are erected which has been about 90% of the time these take up our living space & consequently mean we are climbing over bike tyres while brushing our teeth or putting the morning cup of coffee on & can get irritating & a little maddening at times!

{A great camping spot we found in Slovenia, note all the bikes in this picture, in the foreground & on the back of the van}

  1. Avoiding cities & getting off the beaten track.

We avoid the toll roads, which consequently results in longer travel time but means that you cruise through all the towns both big & small. Some of our best camping and adventuring locations have been found by travelling this. For us the best discoveries have been in the mountains & it has always seemed to be very easy, with no problems. The problem with cities is that it’s often hard to find good convenient places to park up the van. In contrast vanlife is perfect for remote places / the mountains / by lakes / where there is space.

{Walking towards a mountain that we hiked & camped on, in Switzerland}

  1. ‘Ice-Cream’ in every language you visit is a must know!

In saying this though you need to know when the right time to say yes….

  • German, it’s ‘Eis’
  • Italian, it’s ‘Gelato’
  • Hungarian, it’s ‘Jégkrém’
  • Serbian, Hungarian & Slovenian is all the same, it’s ‘Sladoled’
  • Slovak & Czech is the same, it’s ‘Zmrzlina’
  • French, it’s ‘Crème Glacée’

{The gelato creation a cute little Italian man made me}

  1. The best and most important thing on a van trip, is having the time!

Although in saying that the time that we have to travel of almost 9 months is not going to be long enough (if you can believe it). To make the most of the time we have, we try to get up early around 6am & seize the day. We meditate for about 15 minutes every day to check in & practise stillness of the mind & heck in with the body. We are also taking the time to keep a journal & appreciate what we are doing, why we are doing it, what we have in our lives & create goals for our future lives too. This is something I still want to practise now & moving forward, it’s a great way to reflect & work towards something, even if it’s only a to do list!

{Overlooking Lake Thun, Switzerland}

Oops & almost forgot… Taking in a few sunrises & sunsets. This is very important.