Van life: 5 things to love and 5 things to miss July 21 2015

In this era of buying larger houses and acquiring more and more stuff, Kim House and Graham McGrenere have chosen to try something different. About eight months ago, they moved from their Vancouver suite to a 60 square foot mobile box to start their dream rock climbing trip around North America. 

We gave Graham and Kim a tin of F-Balm when we met them at Skaha, and took the opportunity to ask them what it was like to live in a van. They came up with a list of five things they love that are unique to that lifestyle, and five things they kind of miss:

The Loves

  1. Improved health. We go to sleep and wake up with the setting and rising of the sun. We eat better (in part to save money), we sleep way more, and we are active all day. We experience very little stress, and never get sick.
  2. Living simply. Our van home has a lot of storage space to hold the things we need, but overall we live with few possessions. We do not have phones or access to wifi (unless we seek it out), so we live a mostly distraction-free life, spending time with each other and friends.
  3. Our backyard. The inside of a van is a very small space. As such, we are pretty much only inside when it’s raining or when we’re sleeping. All of our every day chores happen outside of the van. Cooking, eating, washing, etc. This allows us to truly enjoy and appreciate our existence in so many beautiful natural places.
  4. Mobility: As the saying goes, “home is where you park it”. If we are tired of one place, we simply move to another. Being in a van as opposed to a camper or RV, we also have the advantage of “stealth camping” just about anywhere we go.
  5. Closeness: We simply have to get along in such a small space. Communication and teamwork are essential to keeping our van life successful. And we are forced to snuggle every night :-)

The Misses

  1. Friends and family. The van is a great magnet for meeting a lot of people, and we have made some truly incredible friends on the road. That said, being so far from our friends and family back home is a huge challenge.
  2. Lattes and Restaurants. Graham likes lattes… a lot. Back in city life, we’d often go out for a coffee a day. Being on such a tight budget, we are simply unable to indulge in these luxuries. Same goes for ordering out pizza… :-(
  3. Theft. Although we haven’t experienced this (knock on wood), theft is a worry. Our whole life is currently in our vehicle and a break-in would be devastating. There is nothing more haunting than parking in a lot with signs up that say “Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle”.
  4. Clutter. For the most part, we are pretty darn organized. We just have to be. However, after a hard day of climbing it is a lot more inviting to have a beer and relax with friends than it is to tidy the van. So inevitably, clutter happens.
  5. Showering. You really learn to live with it, and to be honest this one doesn’t really bother us all that much. The reality is, that frequent showers disappear from your life, as paying for them quickly adds up. We often have friends in different places say “you’re welcome to stay with us when you’re passing through!” We usually respond with, “Oh we’re very easy house guests. No need to put us up in a spare room, we’re happy in the van. But could we hit you up for a shower during our visit?” Same usually goes for laundry…

Happily, Graham and Kim found room in their van for a couple of tins of F-Balm. Graham had this to say about it:

“We would like to thank you again for the F-Balm sample and let you know… it’s outstanding! We love how it truly makes a difference on the skin. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical at first :p but it ACTUALLY promotes skin to regenerate faster! AWESOME! I also love how it doesn’t make our fingers feel greasy and moisturize more than needed.”

Happy travels, Graham and Kim!

Read more about their adventures on their blog site: