When you get excited about something it’s kind of hard not to daydream about it and think about it all.the.time. That’s what we did when we were at work and school. We just thought about living the glamorous van life for the next year. Daydreaming made us form all these expectations about what van life would be like. Needless to say, our expectations have been a little different than our reality.
Photo: Mike Folden
In honor of our 6 months on the road, here are 6 expectations we had when we hit the road on January 2, 2016 and the reality of each.
Expectation: Waking up to beautiful views out the back of the van, or around a smoldering campfire.
Reality: It’s hard to find free camping that’s also accessible. We were in for a rude awakening from the get-go with hardly any free camping in the southeast. Walmart parking lots became our go-to and that’s kind of stuck with us. We’re doing our best to seek out dispersed campsites now that we’re out west and free camping’s more abundant. But we do end up gravitating to a parking lot when there’s a workday on the horizon.
Expectation: We’d work one day a week and create videos and images that’d make clients flock to us.
Reality: Freelance life is hard and certainly isn’t for everyone. We have to constantly be seeking out new opportunities and knocking on doors. Opportunity’s not going to come knocking and we’ve realized that we have to seek out the work we want to do.
Expectation: There wouldn’t be a need to drive more than 2 hours between destinations.
Reality: This country’s massive and sometimes it’s a long haul through the middle of nowhere.
Expectation: Our van’s fairly new with low mileage and has been properly cared for. What could go wrong?
Reality: Regular wear and tear is bound to happen. No matter what we do, it’s impossible to prevent any and all troubles. Sensors have been our biggest issue and we should’ve known that going into this. Oh and don’t ever valet a Sprinter. Unless you want a moon roof, they’ll help you with that, free of charge!
Expectation: Becoming best pals with all the coolest local people in each area we visit.
Reality: We spend a lot of time just the two of us and are stoked when we can meet up with a friend from the blogosphere. Sure, we meet cool people on the road too, just not as often as we anticipated. (Pictured is Denis and his bait canon. That’s right. Bait. Canon.)
Expectation: We’ve grown up together and know each other perfectly. We will get along without many problems.
Reality: We butt heads more than we like to admit. We are different people with different views, habits, and thought processes. Just like any relationship, it takes work to make it work!
I think it just goes to show that while expectations are fun to have leading up to something big and exciting, they’re usually unrealistic. We’ve found that if we do have an expectation of something, like a place we’re about to visit, it’s probably not going to be the same as what we expect. That’s not to say that it’s less special or not as aweinspiring. It usually is magnificent, just in its own way. And it’s a lot of fun to be blindsided by something amazing. We just have to let it happen.