We put the Latin American living on hold for a bit and spent the summer living in our van throughout North America. We traded in the exciting culture, lively trips to the markets, and interesting attempts at communicating for the ultra simplicity of traveling with a roof over our heads and playing in the mountains whenever we pleased. Having never spent more than a week in the van prior to leaving, we definitely had our doubts: Is it too small of a space for two people to live? Will too much time be wasted driving around aimlessly searching for free places to sleep? Will we be bored? However, we quickly realized how amazingly freeing van life is. Surprisingly, we never felt cramped or wished we had more space. Only once, well maybe twice, in over four months did we have trouble finding a place to sleep in the van. Thankfully, the US and Canada have vast open tracts of land that make it incredibly easy to find scenic places to camp in the van. And when we are in a city, we have no problems spending the night sleeping in a Walmart parking lot.
Without data on our phones, we were limited to internet access only when we had wifi. For me, this meant no searching the web before going to bed or when I woke up. I found this incredibly refreshing. Away from the fast paced lifestyle, anxiety inducing news, and demands of modern society, we lived in the mountains, without stress, and embraced life. We had so much time to do things we never had time for before. I flossed way more than I ever have in my life. We foam rolled and stretched. We read books. We enjoyed sunsets and cherished the time we spent doing our dishes together each night. And, yes, we still climbed mountains- lots of mountains! When we weren’t climbing mountains or riding our bikes, we spent hours preparing our meals on our two burner cook stove (we got pretty creative by the end- enchiladas, homemade pizza, lasagna, homemade cinnamon rolls, etc.). We also filled our time with daily bathing/swimming/icing sore muscles in the amazingly clear, and usually freezing cold rivers and alpine lakes.
We managed to spend very little money, too. Obviously our biggest expense was gas; however, it was much cheaper than rent! Except for a few occasions, we very rarely went out to eat. Whenever we felt like “splurging” and going to a restaurant, we decided to splurge at the grocery store instead, like on a filet of salmon or fancy pasta. Grocery store splurges were always more affordable than out to dinner splurges! We only stayed in pay-for campgrounds twice- both on voluntary accounts.
Although our trip has been a bit random at times, the overarching theme has been simplicity. Buying and having so little with us is so satisfying. We know from prior experience how easy it is to get caught up in a materialistic society; however, after taking a step back from the typical 9 to 5 day and the land of over consumption, we were able to realize how much happier we were with less. How much more joy experiences brought us versus material goods. And how much simpler and more enjoyable life is when we had time to focus on basic living tasks and taking the best care of our mind, body, and soul- preparing hearty meals, enjoying each others company, taking part in lots of physical activity, connecting with the natural environment, bathing in rivers, playing games, visiting with friends and family, etc. Although we are not on a permanent trip, we hope to carry the principles we learned from our travels and simple lifestyle with us for the rest of our lives.
If you are interested in our campervan setup/conversion process, check out our van post here.
Enjoy the photo explosion below from our summer travels!
It was wonderful to return to Colorado and spend time with so many friends, especially those who traveled far distances to come in for the wedding. However, after nearly three weeks in northern Colorado, we are about to say goodbye once again. We are stashing the van in Fort Collins and will work our way out of the cold and into the heat on our bicycles. Central America- beaches, gallo pinto, volcanoes, tropics, and all- here we come!