Let’s face it, at this point most of us have seen those perfectly captured van life Instagram pictures. Beautiful sunset snapshots sitting oceanside, aesthetically pleasing interiors that could put the tiny home crowd to shame, and either an unbelievably attractive young couple or a pretty single gal with a couple of dogs as the piece de la resistance. And they always seem to have it all together, don’t they?
Well, I’m here with the lesser seen third perspective: two best friends deciding on a whim and a couple of broken hearts to sell their belongings, pack up what’s left, load up the dogs and hit the wide open highways. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?
News flash! Van life is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you don’t have the luxury of sharing said space with a romantic partner. Here’s 3 reasons why being on the road with your friend sucks (like, really sucks.)
- Privacy is a thing of the past. When you’re in a relationship, you’ve usually already adjusted to the differences in privacy with your partner. Two single girls in a less than spacious van, plus two large canines, means an end to any sense of privacy you’ve known. Using the bathroom, eating, sleeping, or even just working. They’ll be there for it all. Save for the occasional motel nights, you’d better be prepared to be seeing a lot, and I mean A LOT, more than you ever bargained for in your friendship.
- You will get on each other’s nerves. Agitation and a lack of privacy seem to go hand in hand, and being in such close quarters constantly ensures that you will have a fight or two before the journey is over. Differences in living preferences, driving habits and daily routines can quickly turn into heated words and angry silences, and is almost entirely unavoidable. Factor in monthly hormonal changes and you’ve got yourself a nuclear meltdown just waiting to happen.
- You’ll become very acquainted with each other’s various body odors. Being on the go without a lot of dough means that showers are an occasional luxury. Even with a shower bag, water is a precious commodity as well, so you’ll get to experience each other’s week old BO and greasy hair smell up close and personal. Deodorant and dry shampoo only gets you so far (invest in baby wipes).
Now that we’ve covered all the sucky things and my road trip partner is glaring at me in the rearview mirror, I suppose I should mention all the GREAT things about being on the road with your best friend.
- You’ll always have someone to share the bad AND the good with. Because there will be awful days when you’ve broken down on the side of the road and you’ve lost hope and want to turn around and give up. And they will be there to pick you up, dust you off, make a plan and carry on. There will be days where you just have to stop and sit and take in the beautiful view after a long day’s drive, drinking cups of tea in comfortable silence. No matter what, they’ll be there through it all.
- Despite the inevitable squabbles, your bond as friends will become stronger in the end. It’s hard to adjust to life in a small space with another person, but I’ve come to appreciate the little gestures. A shared sandwich when our food cupboard is all but empty, a cup of tea you didn’t ask for made ready as you work, sending memes and giggling together in the late hours of the night when neither of you can sleep but you’re too tired for conversation.
- They’re your best friend. They know you in and out, the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of you. And they still, for some crazy reason, came along for the ride. You wouldn’t trade them for the world, even if you drive each other up a wall from time to time. You’ll watch each other grow and learn and come out stronger for it.
No matter what, taking off to live the van life has its ups and downs. Navigating the roller coaster that is van life is much easier when you have someone to share in your trials and tribulations, even if you have to put up with smelly socks every now and again. By and far, I wouldn’t trade sharing this experience with my best friend for anything.
In parting, if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and hitting the road, consider dragging a good friend along with you. Neither of you will regret it. Happy trails!