Its been 7 months that Babu and I, have been living full time in our VW camper van!
It actually feels a lot longer than that, not in a bad way, but because I feel so comfortable living this lifestyle. Not once have I missed my old apartment, nor do I regret my decision to give up #houselife.
I could never of imagined how easy the transition to full-timing in a camper van would be. It really isn’t that much different to living in a small apartment or bedsit, albeit with a few little inconveniences.
The obvious inconvenience is not having a toilet or shower onboard my vessel. I try to find parking spots where I know I have those facilities close by, especially toilets incase I get a sudden urge! At night I use a piss bottle instead of venturing outside in the cold, and in the mornings I empty the bottle into a public toilet. Swimming or showering on the beach when its cold and windy sucks, but it wakes me up in the mornings and I feel clean and revitalised!
Preparing and cooking food in a small space, is another small inconvenience. I must sit on the end of my bed either crossed legged directly in front of the cooker worktop, or sit with my feet on the floor and my upper body twisted left facing the cooker. Neither position is practical for long (Im getting old!), but fortunately my dinners are quick and simple to prepare. Washing dirty kitchenware puts my body into these awkward positions too, which is a slow process of boiling water, scrubbing kitchenware with soap, and rinsing with clean water, all done carefully in a tiny sink so I dont splash everywhere.
I could opt to cook outside on a small gas stove, or even wash dishes in a bucket? But I manage fine inside the camper and I paid a premium to have a fitted kitchen, so Im gonna use it.
The sad truth is, the only thing I miss most about #houselife, is wifi. Yes, I am an internet junkie! During my 7 months off-grid, Ive gone from 3, to 5, and now 8GB’s of internet per month on my iPhone, and its still not enough. But at 29 euros a month, its the only bill I have to pay and staying online keeps me sane. (A special thanks to Kim’s bar for letting me charge my laptop and use their wifi, whilst I eat the best English breakfasts in town!).
An interesting self-discovery from my short time living outside, is my lack of care concerning what other people may think of my vandwelling. I quite happily lounge around inside the van with the sliding door open or the back door raised, even though people walk past looking in.
Its very normal in Gran Canaria, to see the locals with vans or motorhomes, setting up camps, cooking and eating outside, lounging around half naked in their swimwear all day. They are very comfortable with themselves and I envy that coming from a country of prudes.
At night, Im completely aware that with my interior lights on, passersby (or voyeurs!) can see quite clearly through my thin curtains. It does not bother me at all and I do not feel overexposed, although why anyone would want to watch me pick my nose…?
Van life and living outside has definitely made me less self conscious, (as worrying about what others think is hardwired into my British DNA). Im much more relaxed now, stoked with my lifestyle choice, and Im not embarrassed by my washing hanging out to dry in public (although I do find secluded areas, always with the best views).
But just because I personally feel more liberated by my lifestyle choices, does not mean I will forget my manners, disturb my neighbours with loud music, or go out looking scruffy or smelly (at least I hope Im not stinking?).
I will continue to be the polite young man that my parents molded, respect the people around me, and keep my campsites clean. I might be less self-conscious, but I still have a good conscience, and that pays dividends.