Van dwelling is different for everyone. We’ve all come into this through different walks of life. A great many of us are outdoor enthusiasts and some are just college students or 9-5er’s trying to make ends meet. Regardless of what brought you to the mobile life (why I chose the vanlife), and regardless of what you have planned. I can easily say that making your van feel like home is one of the most important steps in your build. It is also one of the least talked about. Everyone has “must haves” and “space savers” for the hashtag vanlife but I want to talk about something a bit closer to the heart. Making your van a home and not just a house.
Not Another a Homeless Statistic
The first step I took in making my van more than just a mobile habitat was giving her a name. Her name is Frieda and she is more than just a van. She is a mobile HOME crafted by my bare hands with literal blood, sweat, and tears. She is countless hours of anxiety and trepidation. She is the personification of all of this and so much more. How could I not love her? And from that seed of love, started the roots of a real home.
As soon as I slide her side-door open I am greeted by two beautiful life forms. One is my thirteen-pound life companion and best friend Sir Achilles Maximus Weinerus III Esquire, the long-haired Dachshund. The other is a four-foot long Philodendron vine named Robert Plant that has done nothing but thrive within the warm embrace of Frieda. By simply sliding my door open, I already feel welcomed. (Welcome mat aside)
Upon stepping in, it feels like what a home should feel like. It is exactly what makes me feel comfortable, built to my exact specifications.
Build What You Want. Not Just What You Need!
It’s important when you make your build to do the little things that make you happy. Yeah, plywood walls are cheaper, easier, and sturdier. But do they make you feel relaxed and content? For me, it was no. So I went with tongue and groove. As I mentioned in 5 Ways I Went Wrong, I wish the wood was a tad thicker. However, I would never want to change the feel of the interior.
A home comes from more than just interior design and fancy building plans. It’s that splash of personality and nostalgia that truly gives the finishing touches. Too often are people overly concerned with wall space and storage optimization that they neglect the simpler facets such as decoration. Don’t be scared to take up a little extra wall space with a picture or tape some memories to the back of a cabinet to give you a reason to smile when you change your clothes.
Home is Where You Park it
Regardless of what Instagram says, the van life (especially solo) can be difficult. Countless hours on the road bringing you through a constant rotation of places and an ever-changing sea of faces. Anxiety and depression can affect everyone. Having a little extra freedom isn’t going to magically change that. Having your van as an anchor to keep you grounded is a phenomenal relief though.
More times than not, it’s not all the climbing gear I can fit in the back or the cool sliding table that brings me joy. It’s the small stuff. The travel magnets along the walls, the pictures of my girlfriend, or the silly dreamcatcher over my bed. It’s the old notes from climbing partners and Venom ice axes mounted under my plant. It’s my home. It’s the overwhelming feeling of being in a place that I absolutely belong in. And the best part? Having that feeling wherever I may be parked.
Share With Us!
Whether you have been full-time on the road for years or are just starting out on a new chapter of your life, let’s not forget to take the time to nest a bit. Personalize and enjoy our tiny spaces. Maybe go through and remind ourselves what makes our homes so special. I know we all have different ideas of what does. If you would care to share what makes your space special to you, I would love to hear it in the comment section below!