I have to admit that traveling in a camper van isn’t what I expected; it’s a completely different lifestyle that is difficult to describe, but amazing to experience. Traveling in a van is like taking a step away from real life, it’s like putting life on hold and just living in the moment, and I have to warn you, it’s addictive.
This summer, my husband and I have traveled to the Adirondacks, Quebec City, the Gaspe Peninsula, Prince Edward County, Maine, and New York City and although none of our trips were for longer than a week there were still a few things I learned along the way.
- It’s the little things that count: I was surprised by how important the little things became to me; in fact when you’re living in such a small things, it’s the little things that really make your day – finding a YMCA with free showers, the perfect spot to camp for lunch, a beautiful sunset, or a little restaurant off the beaten path who not only know just what gluten is, but have a whole gluten free menu for you to choose from. In real life there are so many amazing things that happen in our day that we don’t even notice, but when you’re traveling they mean so much more, and give life that little edge that gets you over the hump between “content” and “truly happy.”
- Less is more: The first trip we took in the van we were like a newborn just out of his mother’s womb, all flailing arms and legs, no control over what he’s doing. That was us. Our first trip to the Adirondacks was the biggest eye opener to how many unnecessary THINGS we have in our lives. Being our first trip, we naturally over-packed; we took way too much food, way too many dishes, way too many clothes, and along the way we figured out how little of these things we actually needed. By the end of the summer, we’d narrowed it down to a science – two bowls, two plates, two forks, knives and spoons, and just enough clothes and linens to get by on. The point is, when you’re traveling in a very small space you start to prioritize what you need with you, and you discover how much you have in your lives that you will never even miss.
- Say what you mean (speak up or shut up): This is a hard one to understand, and even harder to put into action! When you’re traveling with a partner you both have expectations about what the experience will be like, what you want to get out of the trip, and where you want to go. After being married for more than 20 years, both my husband and I understand the folly of not compromising, so we would each make suggestions for experiences and stops that we thought the other person would enjoy. In the end neither of us were getting the experiences we wanted. This was brought home for us when we ended up spending the night somewhere we soon realized neither of us wanted to stay, simply because both of us thought the other person wanted it. So we established a new rule: say what you mean. If you want to see something, or do something, or stop somewhere, speak up! Otherwise, shut up! So far it’s working pretty good, although it’s a little quieter in the van now.