Super Squad ambassadors Patrice and Justin La Vigne return with their last post, sharing stories from their summer #vanlife adventure. Read on for three life lessons they learned from life on the road.
Well, the final numbers are in. We clocked 12,328 miles on the Superfeet van through 31 states from May 1 through July 26. Epic road trip complete.
But 100+ days living in a van goes beyond those daily mountain sunsets and rent-free existence. It teaches you a thing or two about yourself, and your partner. Here are three lessons we fine-tuned this summer alone.
1) Conservation = longevity.
The key to staying out longer is efficiency. We tend to boondock more often than not, and power and water can be finite for a home on wheels. The Superfeet van stores 11 gallons of freshwater and 5.5 gallons of dirty water. The fridge can be a battery drain, especially when the van sits for days in the hot sun. Living with less than 11 gallons of water and less than 24 hours worth of power makes you appreciate our most basic resources.
This summer, we devised a few strategies to help conserve. Charging our devices using the van’s cigarette lighter and the USB outlets while driving, as well as maximizing portable solar panels, prolonged our time off the grid. Freezing water in containers and turning the temperature down sustained the fridge longer. Lastly, pretending like we didn’t have running water to wash dishes meant filling up our 11 gallons biweekly instead of weekly.
2) Make friends with public places.
We rely on public restrooms, various Walmarts and Starbucks for our in-transit places. Certainly not the best bedroom views nor the cleanest, but they’re typically right off highways and a necessary evil for gypsy life. With 24-hour surveillance, Walmarts serve as an ideal place to sleep and Starbucks allows us to grab a few hours of WiFi. Plus, both give you a taste of local flavor.
With that being said, we are never bashful accepting offers for flushing toilets and high-pressure hot showers from friends.
3) Organization is fundamental for survival.
The Superfeet van has 4 cabinets, 4 drawers, a handful of nooks and crannies and a large under-the-bed area to store larger items. Grand total: 50 square feet.
Our possessions this summer consisted of 6 duffel bags full of clothing, gear, cook/dishware and other essentials. Clearly, van life forces you to declutter and simplify your stuff down to what you really need (in our case: gear), but it is inevitable that you will always wrestle with the elbow room.
In small spaces, everything is magnified. The trash is in your face. The dishes are in your face. The laundry is in your face. Your partner is in your face.
Finding a home for everything and sticking to that specific location will keep the peace. And every once in awhile, explode your possessions from the van. Because something will always get buried and go missing. Always.
Your van may be a passport to carefree wandering, but it can be just as imperfect as real life. With these three suggestions and your own trial and error (okay, maybe more error than anything), you’ll be on your way.
Check out this video from Patrice and Justin for a sneak peek of the 50 square feet of living space inside the Superfeet Sprinter Van.
Patrice La Vigne is a writer and adventurer who lives a life less ordinary with her husband, Justin La Vigne. The self-proclaimed nomads spend more time outside than inside with their main passion being backpacking. The couple walked the length of New Zealand’s Te Araroa in 2014-15 and just finished up a nationwide speaking tour about their trek. For more information, check out www.wanderinglavignes.com.