Before I bore you all with another race recap of Johnson City, let’s take a closer look at #vanlife.
When the van started to come together I really wasn’t sure of what I would need. I mean, bikes –check, spot to sleep –check, clothes –check, food –check…. Okay good to go? The main things were easy to cover, but the details are always what matter most. As I filled the van with all the little things I thought I might need for 3 weeks on the road, there was definitely an uncertainty about whether I was bringing enough, too much, or just the wrong things all together.
After 12 days of vanning, I got to stop home for 2 nights. Just enough time to get some work done and make adjustments to my van load. Honestly I don’t think I was too far off with what I had brought. There was enough extra room in the van that I could easily grab a few more items before hitting the road again. What was I missing? My trainer. For some reason, I didn’t think it was necessary as I typically do not warm up on it before races. However, when faced with a rainy day, I really could have used it! Extra water. I took 2 gallon jugs along with making sure all my bike bottles were filled before hitting the road. Better lighting. While I had flashlight type lights, this wasn’t ideal for filling the dark van with light in the evenings. Found a new ‘room filling’ style lantern at Target. Changed the curtain to a ‘prettier’ design. Not essential, but it was nice to spruce up my living quarters. Extra plastic bags for trash. That was really about it. My cooking food and equipment stash was serving me well, I only replaced a few food items that I had used up, but didn’t make any big adjustments to what I brought. My clothing choice was fine, a variety of sporty attire for a variety of temperature ranges. I had extra clothes, but you never know… good to have a few additional pieces if things get dirty or wet. Also, rain jacket is a must. There were a few things I had that taken that didn’t seem to be too useful. The rice cooker couldn’t be used with the power adaptor, so this was useless in the van, but great when I had a host to stay with. The small table I brought along wasn’t really needed. I think I used it once. Most places I stopped at had picnic tables to use, but good to have the option if I was in a spot that I needed to create my own set up. I also didn’t need to use the laundry wash soap/line. Since I only went 5 days without a host house, it was doable to forgo washing things camp style.
So overall what I brought was not far off what I really needed. A big part of making #vanlife livable is keeping everything tidy and in its place. There is a spot for everything. Some things need to be easily accessible, like toothbrush/ lantern/ sunscreen/ sunglasses/ headphones/ lighter/ etc… Other things get packed into utility bins which make it easy to lift in and out from beneath my cot and bikes. One item I could really use is screens for the windows and a fan. In the cool/cold temps its nbd, but this in the sticky, sweaty heat with mosquitos around, I could benefit from some air. Every time I do anything, whether its stretch or cook, I need to take each item out, put each item back… it is a process. Figuring out where to place each item for maximum efficiency and effectiveness is a work in progress.
I’m sure as I go along, I’ll figure things out a little more. Every trip in it is an adventure; not only a travel and racing adventure but a lesson in minimalist survival and making good use of public services (big shout to Starbucks for providing WiFi + the occasional #restroomshower ).
Have you experienced van life? I'd love to hear your suggestions! :) Thanks!