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How to solve the five biggest challenges when living in a van…


From an early age and before I ever lived in a van; I have always found myself very curious about what it would actually be like. I of course romanticised it with my rosy coloured spectacles. Gypsy art bus roaming around Europe. Free-spirited lifestyle, away from convention, with hippie-chic flowers painted on everything! And, it is WONDERFULLY  free and I LOVE our nomadic life. But, there are inevitable challenges and that is what this post is about. I share my five biggest challenges and what I do to solve them.

Shower facilities

I need a bathroom to shower and wash my hair. We have a chemical free toilet but no shower and storing and maintaining enough water for washing is an ongoing task. Using campsite and motorhome stops with hot showers are very necessary. Dry shampoo can be a life-saver but I prefer not to use it as it has nasty carcinogenic chemicals in it. Note; home-made natural dry shampoo recipe of cornflour and cocoa (for brunettes) does work but is very messy in a small space…

Being and staying at a comfortable temperature

We left the UK in the depths of winter and used our diesel heater which worked very well and doesn’t require electric hook-up. Therefore, we were warm and cosy even when wild-camping. Hot water bottles, warm layers and a big duvet also helped to keep us snug. Then the spring arrived. The temperatures quickly rose to average summer peak heat and beyond due to heatwaves and the hottest summer in Portugal in twelve years. One day, in May it was predicted the temperature would reach 50 degrees! I think it got to about 45 degrees and we weren’t prepared; we didn’t even own a 12 volt fan! I remember attempting sleep on the floor of the van on my yoga mat and the only relief was a cold wet flannel and facial spray. Suffice to say since then, we have acquired fans and a way to run our fridge without the solar panel so we can park in the shade. I think in a different van air-con would be heaven, even if it was just in the cabin. Can’t believe I am actually saying that, but it is true!

Storage, storage and more storage

Confession – I am no minimalist! I am a girlie girl and have a lot of stuff! (Sorry James!) I need to store all my stuff for safe and easy access; so it is clean and not crushed into a crumpled ball just so it fits into whichever space it has been allocated (shoved). I spend far too much time: finding stuff, losing stuff, packing away stuff, unpacking stuff, moving stuff, getting rid of stuff, buying new stuff, finding places to store the new stuff, finding out which stuff you need regular access to and shuffling around the stuff… OhmyGods! I definitely could use more storage than we currently have! Watch this space, a building project on our current van or a new van is on the horizon…

Mosquito and insect netting

Necessary covering for all openings! This doesn’t need much explanation. We do have coverage but the sliding door has made being absolutely mosquito safe difficult.


Needing a creative space

I am an artist, a mixed-media artist. This means I need alot of STUFF (are we really back to that?) to create. I almost wish sometimes that I was a purely graphic artist with just a computer to clear away at the end of a session. But I love to mix art materials, get messy hands, smear paint, swirl inks and watercolours…. mmmm yummy, so I KNOW I need a physical space for this – to spread out and make a mess. How do I solve this right now? Short answer – I don’t! I improvise and compromise. I depend on how I am feeling which dictates how much stuff I can be bothered to get out to play with. I have a minimised travel art kit which lives next to my bed. This definitely helps. I can journal outdoors or in our dining area, or, in my FAVOURITE place – the van boudoir. In comfort, with the back doors open, fresh air coming in and an ever changing view.

The most important factors in being able to manage the challenges is our ability and willingness to improvise and compromise. And, added difficulties occur when you live in such a small space with your man… but maybe that part is another story – which I will save for another day…


Out of the clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, find opportunity.

Albert Einstein


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