Living in a van throughout 3 continents has led us on one hell of a ride. But it’s also taught us a lot about how the rest of the world views us. We’ve been slotted into categories on many an occasion, but figure it’s just the price we pay for the freedom of the road. When you’re living in a van it’s hard not to be typecast into these 7 categories.
1. We’re all dirty hippies.
OK, let’s break this down into two parts. First: ‘Hippy.’ We have encountered hundreds of people on the road who live in vans just like us and we cannot recall once seeing a long-haired beardy dude wearing a tie die shirt, bell bottoms, and round glasses waving a flower saying ‘yeah man, groovy’ while flashing the peace sign. Yet, this is what we all picture as a stereotypical hippy. That isn’t to say that we don’t follow some of the guidelines such as seeking freedom, caring about the environment that we live in, and spreading the love on the road….man.
Second: ‘Dirty.’ Do we shower as often as house dwellers? Probably not. However, that isn’t to say that we all have dreadlocks in our nether regions or a smorgasbord of various lice to contend with. Remember, a van is an awfully small space and you find out pretty fast if you’ve been stewing in your own juices for a little too long.
2. We’re all a bunch of pot heads.
Fair enough. We’ve seen the occasional blunt being passed around a campfire or a pungent haze billowing from the windows of a van, but that isn’t to say that we are all sparking up a fat one every chance we get. Drugs cost money which is precious when you’re on the road, not to mention the risk of getting hauled off to the local jail in the remaining states that have not yet legalized medical marijuana. You might as well wave bye-bye to your van lifestyle as you attempt to convince the judge that the pot was for your arthritic pinky finger.
3. We are homeless.
You see that big metal box with wheels? Guess what, inside it has a bed, a stove, storage and if you’re lucky like us, a toilet. That’s right, just like your house, the only difference is we can move anytime we want and have an oceanfront view without paying the big bucks. How about you?
4. We must be unemployed and lazy.
Nowadays a lot of ‘vannies’ — yes, we made that up — blog or write for various outlets along the way. This is no easy task. We’ve got to be disciplined as we struggle to find WiFi, record the elements on the road, and get it all written on a regular basis.
On top of the odd jobs along the way, everyday life in a van isn’t all peaches and cream. Our daily life involves planning routes, managing supplies, parking, sleeping, cooking and dealing with crap weather and breakdowns. These are all things that are not part of the everyday house dweller’s routine. So for those who think we’re lazy, our work is just a little different, that’s all.
5. We’re all just ‘lucky.’
This stereotype might be the one that pisses us off the most. Choosing to live in a van is a lot of frikking work and we personally had to put two years of hard labor and countless dollars into our beloved van before we clocked a single mile. Where did that money come from? It certainly wasn’t from any pots attached to rainbows.
We worked hard to save for the open road. Food, gas, campsites and of course the evening’s box of wine all rack up, meaning that our bank account had to be filled prior to traveling. It wasn’t luck. It was a combination of choice and daily commitment.
6. We’re a bunch of thieving gypsies.
Sadly in Europe, the word gypsy has become a negative slur due to a choice few illegally squatting on private land and stealing anything that isn’t nailed down. So a stereotype has been born. However under English Law, the term gypsy means ‘persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin’ which to us sounds like a compliment and we will gladly take it.
But ‘thieving’ is an insult and these name callers should be ashamed simply for thinking that, let alone saying it to us. What if I judged you based upon your brick and mortar dwelling? It probably wouldn’t feel good.
7. We’re all tree-hugging vegans.
This is a very common one and to be honest, we have nothing against vegans or people who embrace the occasional Baobab. Those who keep the environment or wellbeing of animals in mind are all right in our book. But if you serve us seitan-based vegan bacon with eggless eggs for breakfast, however, a swift throat punch will ensue. As for tree hugging, we cannot deny that we may have explored the box wine a little too intensely and found ourselves being held up cheek to tree, does that count?
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