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10 Survival Tips For Living In A Van With Your Partner

From a couple who spent three weeks travelling Australia in a campervan... without killing each other

Ever dreamt of travelling the world in a campervan with your other half? I’m sure you have visions of romantic nights spent sleeping under the stars, early morning swims, pancakes in bed. Let’s just say the reality of #VanLife isn’t exactly like that.

Think you and your boyfriend/girlfriend could hack weeks living a small box with all of your possessions? Here are our survival tips…

1) DON’T BRING TOO MUCH STUFF

Photo: Ed Howell-Jones

Reduce your crap down to the bare minimum. This is rule number one of #VanLife. It might be nice to take all those books/shoes/jumpers/camera accessories but you have to sleep with it all around you. You will end up wearing the same stinky vest day after day and most stuff will stay in the bottom of your bag. Men, this includes you. Don’t moan about our diving gear if your skateboard is taking up half the back seat.

2) GET COMFORTABLE WITH EACH OTHER

Photo: Nina Zietman

If before this trip you have only lived in separate apartments and never in the same space, get ready for a shock. You are now living in a 5m x 1.5m space together with all your possessions. There is no such thing as privacy. You will wear the same stinky clothes everyday. Your bed will be full of sand. Be prepared to get to know your partner’s most intimate toilet habits.

3) STOCK THE VAN WITH LOTS OF BEER

Photo: Nina Zietman

Beer makes everything better. It’s sunset and you’re overlooking a beautiful beach? Hand your partner a beer. Tyre blown out and you’re sat on the side of the road, miles from civilisation? Hand your partner a beer. Other half getting hangry and you’re nowhere near food? Hand your partner a beer. Getting antsy because your girlfriend’s stuff is strewn all over the van? Get both of you a beer.

N.B. If you are in Australia, skip the VB and go for the Fifty Lashes to keep you and your other half sweet.

4) INTRODUCE THE ‘NO TOUCHING’ RULE AT NIGHT

Photo: Nina Zietman

This is especially important in places where temperatures top 25°C at night. While you might harbour the romantic idea of spooning with your other half at night (like you do in your regular bed), get rid of that notion right now. Vans are like sticky hot ovens a night. Even the slightest brush with another’s skin will make you want to open the van door and run away screaming ‘I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!’ Sleep apart, folks. It might sound counter-intuitive but you will be the harmonious couple eating poached eggs on toast together in the morning, rather than getting shirty about who washed the dishes last.

5) DO DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES DURING THE DAY

Photo: Ed Howell-Jones

You are on this journey together and you want to experience all the best bits as a pair. We get that. But don’t follow each other everywhere otherwise your normally easy-going relationship will turn ugly. Unless you’ve got an infinite capacity for patience, in which case fair play to you. Most of us aren’t that saintly. Take yourself off to a yoga class down the road. Go for a skate or a surf. Book onto a diving course even though your other half isn’t keen. Just get out of each other’s hair and you’ll appreciate them so much more at the end of the day.

6) YOU WILL NEED TO STAY IN CAMPSITES SOMETIMES

Photo: Nina Zietman

Everyone dreams of hitting the road and pitching up their van somewhere overlooking a remote beautiful beach. This is great, especially if you can find the right secluded spot, but in lots of places, the police are hot on fining campervans for parking up at the side of the road. (Australia, I’m looking at you…)

You will actually need to hook up your van’s electric at a campsite a couple of times a week to stop the fridge shutting off (especially if you are in a shit old van like ours). Trust us, it’s great having a camp kitchen and an actual shower rather than a river or sea to wash in sometimes.

7) AVOID ARRIVING IN A CAMPSITE AFTER DARK WITH NO DINNER IN YOUR BELLIES

Photo: Nina Zietman

You’re both hungry and tired. You feel sweaty and grimy. You’ve just been driving non-stop for seven hours. This is a very precarious time, my friends. Don’t wind your partner up during this time. Don’t pretend you’ve lost the car key or make a sly comment about the mess. Don’t tell them that the showers are out of hot water and all the local pizza joints are already closed unless you want a fist to the face. In fact it’s better to just not speak during this time at all until bellies are full with food and beer.

8) TAKE TURNS

Photo: Nina Zietman

This is the key to all areas of #VanLife. Take turns driving, even though one person prefers passenger seat navigating. Split the cooking duties, even if all you can make is a cheese omelette. Both do the washing up, even though you’ve only got a shit sponge and no washing up liquid. Here lies a happy life.

9) TREAT YOURSELF SOMETIMES

Photo: Nina Zietman

While you might be on the world’s tightest budget and all you can afford is tomato pasta, it’s worth treating yourself sometimes. This especially applies when it’s pissing it down with rain and you don’t want to sit inside the van for another night. See Beer Rule above. Treat yourself to a burrito and a beer. Remember you’re here to have fun.

10) SOMETIMES #VANLIFE IS A TOUGH BUT IT’S WORTH IT

Photo: Nina Zietman

Sometimes #VanLife is hard, but there are the moments that make it all worthwhile. You’ll be midway through a seven hour drive and you’ll find a great radio station playing classics tunes from the 70s to 90s. You’ll buy your partner a Calippo (because let’s be honest, who isn’t happier after a Calippo?), wind down the windows and sing as loud as you possibly can.

You Might Also Like:

8 Amazingly Inspiring People Who Are Living The #VanLife Dream

Everyone Wants To Live The #VanLife. But Which Camper Is Right For You?

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