If you search on social media for the hashtag vanlife you will find happy smiling people living out of campervans, classic VW campers and converted Ford Transits. You’ll even find some couples who have converted a full sized bus into a home. Yet, what none of these photos will show is the sheer unmitigating horror of living in a van.
First, in order to sleep at night you need to black out all windows. This can be as simple as a curtain but, if you’re anywhere warm, you’ll need thermal reflective pads to counteract the sun roasting you like a turkey in a metal oven. What they don’t tell you is that vans don’t come with air conditioning when the engine is switched off but the sun still rises in the morning and will turn every window into a magnifying glass with you as the poor hapless ant set on fire for it’s amusement.
But to stick up thermal pads you need to have the reflective screens as close to the window as possible, ideally stuck on them. This involve plastic suction caps that stick on the inner windows – but only if you lick them first to provide some liquid to act as a glue. Licking it stops air getting in and reducing the grip.
So, vanlife means you need to spend every night licking the suction caps to attach the reflective shields to every window and, if you don’t lick them they fall off, which means you wake up covered in sweat because the sun has got through your defensive shield, and your window is open to the world for everyone in the camping site to look in. You’re in your PJs, sweaty and bedheaded. Vanlife!
And then you have to pack away your bed and restore the seats so you can have breakfast and drive away. Which you think would be simple but WHY WILL THE BED/BACK SEAT NOT ROLL BACK LIKE IT SHOULD?!?!? And you have to elbow drop it like The Rock winning Wrestlemania to close it.
And at the end of that day you have to do exactly the same thing but in reverse to get from a seat to a bed and you realise you’ve spent two hours sumo wrestling a sofa bed. Every single day. Twice. Vanlife!
I hated vanlife. I drove round France for two and half weeks to follow the Tour de France. And every morning and every night I hated that van. So much so that by the end I was booking into hotels rather than spend any more time gargling a two litre bottle of water just to get ready to French kiss one hundred suction caps.
Vanlife? Avoid! More like banlife! If you want to live like a Blur song then I recommend Country House. He lives in a house, a VERY BIG house…!