Vanlife. Nomad challenges when living in the vehicle

September 12, 2018

The nomadic vanlife way of living became really popular these days, at least according to many publications and articles. It was that powerful that in as short as a few months my mind transitioned from “I need a beautiful house” to “Hey, I can just live in my car without issues, right?”. Yep, that’s when I’ve bought my Chevy van.

Have I done a conversion? Well, yes. I just threw out the seats, put the bed there, added some storage and boom - my conversion is done. I still plan to do other modifications, but in the core, it mostly satisfies me.

While I really do enjoy it and see much more positive in living so-called “van life”, there are disadvantages. Those are not in specific order of importance, just the issues that I’ve run into during those times. Let’s talk about those in detail.

Pulling up to campground/spot at night

I would highly recommend approaching the campground during daylight. But sometimes it’s not really possible and then the only option is to accept it and drive there at night. At night there is a bigger chance to run on something or park in the wrong spot or miss some road marker. But above all is the chance to get stuck in a sand. And believe me - it’s no fun!

Camping at night

Bad travel planning

If you have planned to stay in some spot and then after driving you have realized that this spot is closed, there are some roadworks or something else and you have no backup plan - that means you had bad planning. What things might go wrong:

  • There might be no cell coverage to check another spot
  • There might be not enough fuel to get to a backup spot
  • You forgot to buy food and you are in the woods or desert.. and you have a flat tire.. wait, and no water too? Oh-oh.
  • Your Google Maps and your phone may stop working and..quite likely you didn’t download an offline map, didn’t you?
  • You have no cash to pay at the campground and it might not accept credit cards (that’s usually not a huge problem, but it can happen)
  • You have no electricity in your car and you depend on it to cook food, do your job, have the lights, etc.
  • Your tires are bad and you have no air inflator and you are in the middle of nowhere at night

Underestimating a need for shower and laundry

Believe me or not - you will stink in just a couple of days if you don’t follow hygiene discipline. That includes looking for showers or having some solution to it - (for example, a solar shower). While sometimes I also do break this discipline, I still try to look at least not super horrible.

Forgetting about a weather conditions

Temperatures drop at night real fast. You must be prepared not to freeze your butt off.

Car issues

Your vehicle is your home on wheels now. It can break anytime and you should at least be partially prepared for it. Better to be fully prepared, but it’s not always possible. Get used to it.

Vanlife Land

What do you think? Does the positive side overweight negative side for you personally?

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Written by Dmitry Yarygin Test Engineer and a Digital Nomad.
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