Lessons from Michael Jackson and The Nanavan

So far this year we’ve spent 12 weeks living out of a van (five with Michael Jackson and seven with the Nanavan).

It’s been a fun experience that has taught us a few lessons and reinforced others.

  • Keep it simple. I’ve always had a tendency to live fairly simply, without many knick knacks or unused items around the house. Living out of a van has emphasized this mindset and forced a lifestyle void of clutter, which leads me to….
  • Uni-taskers take up valuable space. Having such little storage means really having to weigh the usefulness of every item that goes in the van. If an item only serves a single function, it better be a darn good function!
  • Be respectful of one another’s space, even when that space is also your space. We’ve discovered that life is easiest when only one of us is attempting to stretch, get dressed, and/or reorganize our bags in the van at any given time. Be patient, it will soon be your turn to use the space.
  • Organization is a key to sanity. There’s not really any room in the van to be messy. I’m usually overly-tidy anyway, but it’s really no fun tearing the van apart trying to find something, especially when it’s cold, hot or raining outside.
  • “Clean or dirty” is more of a scale than absolutes. This applies to utensils, cookware and clothing. Alter your standards when necessary, it makes life much easier.
  • Everything in moderation. This has applied to more aspects of life than I anticipated. Aside from the obvious things to moderate like food and drink, we’ve also discovered the importance of varying our scenery and experiences. The desert was absolutely amazing….for the first month, then we started missing the trees. Climbing and hiking all the time was great…..but then I started to miss hanging out with friends and family and, dare I say it, going to work. Peaceful solitude with no cell service was so relaxing and refreshing…..until I yearned to know what was going on back home.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. I’ve been working on this one since before we left for our trip, and it’s definitely easier said than done. It takes mindful effort, but I do try to remind myself that life is pretty darn good and we have a lot of leeway for things to go downhill before we actually need to start freaking out.
  • Wet wipes can make all the difference in the world. Enough said.
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