Because I can only write the same message back to people so many times, I've decided to write a little blurb on it. I'll address more frequently asked questions as they roll in... if you have a question that you would like to ask us email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or shoot us a direct message on Instagram.
1. The top question we get: How do you live the life you live financially?
Most people guess that we are either rich or sponsored. But no, we are neither. Although, we are open to both :)
What I like to tell people is it honestly takes more courage and perseverance than it does money. Having a steady paycheck is what we are all conditioned to be use to. It's that safety blanket we all clutch on to. It's the reason we take shitty side comments from bosses and come back day after day. We need to pay rent and we need to buy groceries, at the very least, and that pay check does that. Yeah, we participate in that life every so often. We save up enough money till it is time to hit the road. We both bartend and Kevin gets paid to do what he is passionate about every so often, videography and photography gigs. He does everything but, weddings because they are stressful as hell. But, we basically work, work, work, and save all our money, while living frugally out of the van (you don't need a van to live frugally). We don't buy anything but groceries. No new shoes, no new iWatches, no happy hours with co-workers, and no new anything we don't NEED. It takes some re-wiring. So, don't be hard on yourself at first. Everyone loves to spoil themselves after a hard weeks work, but always remember to think bigger picture and put that cash back in your piggy bank.
The initial start up (buying a van and kitting it out) of Vanlife can be expensive, which is why I suspect most people eyeballing the lifestyle don't do it. But, if you think about it...Once you have a van, you shed that need to pay rent. You have a roof over your head. Your expenses and need to work so many hours change dramatically. You go from shelling out $800-$1500 on rent per month and putting all that hard earned in your pocket. All you really spend money on is: gas to fuel the adventures, groceries to keep the moral high, and you may or may not decide to buy a nationwide gym membership for showers at $30ish dollars a month. You also shed that cable and internet bill and simply add more data to your cell phone bill or on a more frugal side, you find out that the library is the most amazing public institution that you never utilized. You can charge all your electronics, use wifi all day, print stuff for cheap, and even browse the travel book section to plan your next route on rainy days.
On top of all that, you learn that to be happy RIGHT NOW, you need less things than you think. Actually, in this case, less is more. The more things you own in the van, the more they begin to piss you off, especially if you don't use them everyday. They get in your way and they take up storage space for things that you actually need and use daily. And what that revelation leads to is the end of the consumerism for consumerism sake lifestyle. You don't spend all your precious hard earn greenbacks on dumb shit because your cable TV show had some advertisement that sold you on some dumbass watch or shoes or some sale on whatever the hell people are buying these days. Sorry, we have been out of that loop for a while.
It is basically a frugality lifestyle. You spend money on experiences and memories, not things. Things bring you momentary joy, but that joy fades as quick as the next model comes out ;)
2. What is your Budget on the Road?
This was a learning curve for us. We started with a $180 per week budget. That was supposed to include food and gas. This budget actually worked sometimes, when were were chillin in remote areas eating random meals of random left over ingredients with no stores in sight. But most of the time, that barley covered the gas, when we were exploring and driving a bunch. We bumped our budget up to $400 a week and that was way more realistic. We spend about $200 a week on gas, $150 on groceries, $50 for miscellaneous (eating out or beer--which we kinda gave up outside of the US because it's so expensive).
3. How do you shower?
Showering for these two hippies has never been a priority even when we lived in an apartment or house, haha. Baby wipes do wonders for those days in between showers. But this answer is unique to the situation. In Australia, we would post up at beaches surfing, working out, tanning, doing anything beachlife...At the beaches in Australia, they had cold beach showers at every beach. We would shower there or we had amazing friends that would let us come take showers at their house. We also had one of those cheap camp showers. We would put it up on the roof to heat up and we would shower when it got warm from sunlight.
In New Zealand, there are paid shower places, due to the crazy amount of people traveling around the country in their vans and RVs. Public pools and Rec centers are always good places to hit up for showers. We love to jump in the icy lake or river waters in New Zealand and clean up that way. We never use soaps or shampoos when we jump in the pristine lakes around here. We feel throwing our dirty sweaty bodies in there for 5 minutes is enough polluting to those waters ;) We've seen other vanlifers using cheap terrible shampoos in the lakes and it makes our skin crawl, because you can literally drink out of any lake in New Zealand. Their lakes are that pure, but if people are rubbing SLS's and sulphates all over the largest organ of their body, their skin, then jumping into the lake to rub it off.... it isn't very nice to their body or the environment :(
Easiest option is to grab a gym membership with locations nationwide. That way, if you go on a roadtrip, you can pull in and grab a shower whenever you feel dirty.
4. How do you do laundry?
This is also unique to the situation. In Australia, we basically lived in our bathing suits. So we had little to no laundry, but when we were working we had some. We would do it at a friends house or just keep up with it daily. I would wash underwear daily and hang them in the van to dry. I would do this in bathrooms whenever I could be sneaky and prepared enough. Laundry mats are pretty expensive, so we avoid them at all costs. We only go there for big loads combined with rainy days. Sometimes when we go on multi-day hikes, our laundry backs up. We've been known to utilize a really strong shopping bag...fill it up with water, Dr Bronners, and dirty clothes (we've learned to keep socks separate). We hand wash inside the bag and line dry on a sunny day. It's very old school, but we are use to it now.