“I knew I had hit the life lottery when my wife agreed that we could buy a van.”
words and photos by Aaron H. Bible
The van life, the good life.
Over the last four years we’ve spent months each year traveling the country living out of it. Sometimes it feels a bit like a traveling circus, when we come rolling out with our baby, our 116 pound Rottweiler, my wife’s Chihuahua barking up a storm, fly fishing rods, climbing crash pads, five pairs of skis, inflatable kayaks and the like.
Along the way we’ve learned a few things about how to cohabitate, how to work on the road, how to poach showers and Internet, and how to live productive lives and stay relatively clean without getting detained by the police or frightening the locals
1) Only break one law at a time: Of course this was much more important back in my younger days of solo van dwelling (i.e., before weed was legal and #vanlife didn’t exist, back then they just called us hippies — but let’s just say you still don’t want to get pulled over, ever, it’s just a hassle. Make sure your lights are always in working order and your registration is up to date, especially when traveling in Southern states.
2) Switch drivers every two hours: My father-in-law taught me this one, and at first I thought it seemed like a waste of time, but in the long run it’s made life more bearable and more fun for all involved for long days on the road. Sure, if we’re just heading up to Steamboat for the weekend, a three-hour drive from my house in Nederland, we might not switch drivers, but for cross-country road trips it’s a rule we try to follow.
3) Be seriously handy: Unless you are a Trustafarian, you have to be able to fix, build, and work on your van and your van life yourself. You know all those fixer-upper shows on TV where they timelapse everything and make it look like anyone can do it? Yeah, those are fake.
4) Keep it neat: The most important rule of van life is the same rule professional organizers use: a place for everything, and everything in its place. In other words, pick up your shit, and put it back where it belongs. That way everything goes much smoother inside the capsule. You’ll never meet a messy van dweller, at least not one with a girlfriend.
5) Get a wireless hotspot and a job that allows you to work remotely. We just happen to both be writers and artists and work in digital media, so that’s how we’ve made it work, but you’ll be shocked at how much you can actually get done when you don’t have to go into an office.
6) Invest in the right gear: You wouldn’t go climbing without the best gear that you trust your life to, and I wouldn’t take my family out on the road without the best van camping gear. From put-it-on, leave-it-on Ridge Merino baselayers, MSR and Therm-a-rest everything, Biolite solar power and lighting system, backed up with our trusty Goal Zero solar batteries, to my collection of SOG knives and our Dometic fridge/freezer, having the right gear makes everything better.
Oh, and coffee.
Equipping your rig with the right gear, and keeping everything in its place, is almost as good as not getting pulled over, ever.