As this trip is ongoing I thought I would continue to develop my van life reality posts as things happen and who knows by the end of it I might have shattered the Instagram #vanlife perception. So far on the trip we have travelled from the UK to Venice to Sardinia, this does not seem far, and it is not, you could do it in under a days drive, but it has taken us around four months to get here. In this time we have been freeloading to the maximum, no campsites, getting drinking water from public sources, jumping on free wifi whenever we can and so on. On the way we have had the good, the bad and the ugly and these posts will probably be more about the ugly!
Parking in strange places
Ever dreamt of having a campervan, sleeping out in the midst of nature, with the perfect night sky shining above you, well this post is not it, this post is a dose of reality! In an effort to save money we have tried to not use hotels or campsites. Before we left, we discussed staying in a hotel once a month or so, just to be comfortable for a night, a little bit of pamper and luxury to keep our sanity! However, our van is so cool and comfortable that we have not wanted to, and we are more than happy to stay in the van all the time. Although, this does occasionally mean that a car park is your home for the night, with shopping malls or warehouses for neighbours and the bright glow of neon signs creeping through the roof light rather than that of the moon.
Now I seem to have the habit of parking in places where the next day, everything will be different. For example, when we were woke up by a market in Dijon that had appeared outside and around our van overnight. Or the time we were woken up with cattle bells ringing and the shouts of people, this time we were parked right in the middle of the route for the marathon du Mont Blanc. Another time we parked behind a Decathlon, on a massive trading estate, in the morning we could hear excavators, diggers and trucks all working to tear up the surface around our van, so much so we had to drive over the works to get out, it’s weird that out of the twenty or so parking lots to choose from that day, we chose the one that was being resurfaced the next morning! In all these instances there was no signs warning us and we woke up and made a casual exit, like the penguins in Madagascar ‘smile and wave boys…’
This is not to say the Instagram moments do not happen, most of my posts and some others are filled with the joys of living in a van. This post is special as it highlights what happens between the amazing scenery, when the need for wifi, power points and civilisation, outweigh the lust for the great outdoors.
What a load of shit… (warning: toilet humour section)
We do have a toilet on board, although this is used on a strictly No.1 only basis. So toilet hunting has become a regular excursion, and when all else fails there is a tactical trowel in the front of the van. Although sometimes this simple task can go wrong. We pulled up at a McDonald’s as we needed to do some repair work to the van, I went in to use the toilet, there was a cleaning sign keeping the door ajar, but popped my head in and all was clear. I was then weirded out by there being no urinals? I went back to the door and double checked the picture, I was definitely in the men’s, I proceeded to use the facilities and when I finished nothing worked. I couldn’t flush, so I went outside, I tried to wash my hands, no water, I went back to the toilet…oh shit, literally, nothing worked, maybe that’s why the door was wedged with the cleaning sign? I did whatever any person would, got the hell out of there! I popped my head around the door, the hallway was clear, i stepped out and the door clattered with the sign, ‘shit’ that will bring attention… I could feel a trickle of sweat on the back of my neck, I made a brisk walk through the restaurant, at the door, ‘boom’ a massive sign, how did I miss that? I don’t speak Italian, but it definitely said something about the toilets… I rushed across the car park to the van, not daring to look back incase the accusing eyes of workers were seeking me out. Finally at the van I shut the door and let Jess know of my shame. I truly feel sorry for whoever dealt with that one, it was truly the motherload, and I’m sure this moment may have cemented my place in hell!
Jess is no better though… we were parked at the edge of town in the Dolomites in a normal car park, I went to get some water and left Jess at the van. When I arrived back at the van it was locked and Jess had disappeared? I started to worry as she was gone, but even worse her phone was still in the van, she never goes anywhere without that, something was seriously wrong! Before I could do anything I needed the toilet, all that trickling water and I needed to go, so I went in the van, but locked the doors as I could just imagine Jess opening the back door and exposing me to the world. Whilst pondering on the throne, I came to realise that nothing bad could have happened to Jess as the van was locked up, and I’d be surprised if a kidnapper would be so decent to make sure the van was secure once they left. So I sat in the van and started reading.. that is until I hear rustling at the side of the van, I wondered what it was, on opening the door I could hear water, ‘a leak’ I thought, and shot up and looked outside, only to see Jess squatting beside the van having a wee, she screamed at me to bugger off. From her side, she had been to town to find a toilet and found nothing, on returning to the van she tried the black door (as I had weirdly predicted) but it was locked, and at the point of desperation she just had to go… and well you know the rest of the story…
So something as simple as going to the toilet can often become a mission, and sometimes it becomes a story in itself, most the time it is fine though. Before we left for the trip, me and Jess were not the type of couple to do toilet in front of one another, however, on a couple of occasions, this trip has enforced this on us.
So that’s all for now, just a little update on living in my van and the realities of life! I don’t want to sugar coat it, I just want to give an honest account, warts and all, but even with these, the lifestyle is great fun and I will not go back to my old life willingly!