In recent times “van life” has become somewhat of a glamorized trend. However, the reality of van-living is a lot more challenging than it may seem on social media. Living in a van is an extreme form of minimalism that involves living exclusively inside a van or vehicle.
From cooking and sleeping to waste disposal and ablutions, there are several obstacles to this ‘simple’ lifestyle. In this article, we will be exploring all of the facets of minimalist living in a van. After reading through the following points, you will have a good idea of how to live minimalist-style in a van, and whether or not the lifestyle is for you.
Cooking and Eating
Like minimalism itself, minimalist simple living in a van differs from person to person. While some might choose to prioritize facilities for cooking, the majority of van-minimalists prefer to eat takeout. Without rent, takeout is more affordable, and it is more convenient as most vans are not equipped with a fridge.
Of course, some minimalists will develop their own style of grocery shopping, but this mainly centres around buying food when needed. As minimalists, unnecessary products or items are not hoarded, and this includes excess food.
Sleeping and Parking
Most vans that are being used as living spaces include some form of the bedroom. Generally, minimalist van-dwellers will create a section in the van for a mattress, pillow, and blanket. This space can be used to relax in during the day, as well as to sleep in at night.
Most minimalists consider a bedroom-like space to be a priority, for the simple reason that sleep is fundamental to quality of life. That being said, not knowing if the van will be towed during the night is one of the greatest stresses of van life.
Waste disposal is essential to van life, given that the minimalists are living in highly confined spaces. Minimalist living in a van requires a significant degree of organization, and a system for waste disposal is essential. Of course, as minimalists, the goal is to generate as little waste as possible, and for this reason waste disposal is generally rather easy.
Most van-living minimalists will simply keep a box, bin, or packet for their waste items. When the container is full, the minimalists will drive to a public bin and dispose of their waste this way.
Depending on the personal priorities of each minimalist, the amount of clothing kept in a van varies widely. Clothes for work and leisure are the bare minimum, and some minimalists choose to keep what is known as a “capsule wardrobe.”
A capsule wardrobe must contain 37 items or less, not including clothes for fitness and special occasions. Having fewer clothes means less clutter in the van, as well as less decision-making over what to wear. It is the philosophy of minimalism to reduce stress through simplicity, and the fewer things that are owned, the less there is to worry about.
While some minimalists might keep a basic first aid kit, others will forgo medical supplies entirely. In light of the fact that van-life is highly mobile, it is easy for van-living minimalists to obtain supplies as needed. A quick run to the local pharmacy is all that is needed for minor illnesses and injuries, so there is really no need to hoard medical supplies.
Minimalist living in a van is not about abandoning society, in fact, minimalist living in a van relies heavily on society in order to simply survive. For this reason, van dwellers can never be self-sufficient, but this is a choice based purely on minimalist principles.
Cleaning and Laundry
Living in small spaces can be rather messy, and in the same way that you keep your home clean, so minimalists must keep things tidy. For this reason, most minimalists choose to invest in a hand-held vacuum cleaner. This can be used to keep the space dust-free, and it can also be used to hoover up leaves and grass.
Additionally, minimalists will typically keep a cloth and one cleaning product with which to wipe down the van. In terms of laundry, some van-livers will visit the laundromat, while others will simply visit the homes of friends or family.
Without a doubt, showering and going to the bathroom are the most challenging aspects of van life. Most minimalist van-dwellers will familiarize themselves with public bathrooms, depending on whether or not they are nomadic. Nomadic van-livers will have to scout out new bathrooms based on wherever they go.
Most van-living minimalists will shower at gyms or public pools, while others frequent the homes of friends and family. At the end of the day, minimalism is the intentional choice to have less, meaning you need to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Minimalism varies greatly depending on the personal priorities of each individual minimalist. While some may choose to keep more than necessary, others might choose to maximize space. When it comes to digital devices like laptops, cell-phones, and the like, each minimalist must choose what matters the most on a personal level.
We are all unique, and each of us values different material possessions more highly than others. When it comes to minimalism, the journey is about pinpointing the things that bring value to your life.
The Bottom Line
Although minimalism differs for everyone, there are overlapping advantages that attract people to the lifestyle. With van-living, this includes liberty from the responsibilities of rent, as well as the opportunity to explore the world.
The beauty of minimalism is that you can choose what it means to you personally by examining your lifestyle, needs, and desires. While van life might not be for everyone, there are other forms of minimalism that bring the same host of benefits. If you are looking to enhance the clarity of thought and reduce stress, minimalism is for you.
It is time to begin living a minimalist lifestyle in your own van (or any car)…