When you think of it, the glamour and fun of van life as seen on social media accounts of famous van lifers is just the tip of the iceberg. It is always the happy moments caught in the camera, but behind these are struggles one experiences in living in a van, which, as we know, is nothing like living at home with your family. To help you get through it, let me share some self-care tips you can practice to make your van life journey healthy and worthwhile.
Break from the Van Once in a While
Sometimes, being stuck in the same place repeatedly has a negative effect on our mental health, especially in a van, where the space is limited, and the sight is always the same. No matter how many awesome places you’ve visited, you would sometimes miss the feel of the city, being near people you know, and having a break from the road life.
A break from the van is a much needed activity you can do both for your wellness and mental health. Think of it as when you lived at home back then, and you would have some days off from work where you go out of town to relax. In your case, it would be a break from the van to visit your old home and family.
You can also book a hotel and experience being attended by people. Just anything to break from the normal stuff you do. You can visit a luxury restaurant or a spa to have a different kind of relaxation than the ones you often do at your van. I guarantee you it would be worth every dollar you’d spend and after the break, you’d feel more refreshed and ready to take on new challenges in your van life journey.
Do Routine Exercises Daily
Get your butt off the couch and start moving! As van lifers with unlimited outdoor access, any activity requiring movements and making you sweat is good enough. I am not saying that you need to go hiking or running daily. You need to find an activity to do daily to help you stimulate your brain and give amazing health benefits to your body.
Some travelers take their bikes and do some bicycling as a whole-body exercise. This activity is great to do in the morning, to wake up your whole body from a deep sleep. If you are not a fan of extreme activities, a simple walk will do. You can also utilize your yoga mat and do some workouts with the many guides you’ll find on Youtube.
Regular exercise can positively impact mental health, especially for those dealing with depression and anxiety. And you don’t have to be a fitness guru to harvest the health benefits. Exercising helps relieve stress, improve memory, improve sleep, and boost your overall mood.
Take a Hearty Hot Shower
I usually start my day with a long hot shower after my daily exercise. Aside from the fact that it refreshes me after my workout, you’d be surprised how a simple shower can do wonders for you. It will help if you have a bathroom in your van and enough water supply. If not, there are many alternatives you can consider.
Fitness gyms offer nice shower facilities with good water pressure and a heater if you need one. You just have to pay their membership fee and use the gym and its facilities. You could also make use of your roadshowers if you have one.
With our daily routine as a van life, who’s always on the go and has tons of work to do aside from traveling, it is easy to get lost in these activities and forget to take care of ourselves. If you have piles of things to accomplish for the day, the best treat you can give yourself is a hearty shower.
Do the Things You Love
For sure traveling is one thing you love, that is why you choose to live in a van. But apart from it, you can still pursue your other passions while on the road or working remotely in your van.
Dedicate one day in a week where you can have time to do other things that make you happy. Buy that bag or dress you’ve been eyeing, or eat your favorite meal. Pursue your other hobbies so that you won’t be burned out with the fast-moving life in a van.
Aside from pursuing your other interests, surrounding your van with the things you like may also lessen the stress or give you something to focus on when you’re feeling a little lonely in the van. Remember that these things may be unnecessary but would be a happy pill and food for your heart and mind.
Talk to Someone and Be Part of a Community
It is essential to stay connected with someone throughout your van life journey. Talking to someone about your struggles, not only in living in a van but also in life, would lessen the burden you are carrying. You might be able to pick up some advice or two that you can use to lessen your stress or loneliness on the road.
Most travelers would find their community online, where they can chat and share experiences. They also utilize the online platform to hold virtual meetings and events to connect to other van dwellers. People you can relate to could be your best advisers and friends on the road.
Scope out places or events near your parking area that you can join. Co-working spaces like coffee shops are often frequented by nomads working remotely. Here you can meet new friends and hear new van life stories and life hacks that would come in handy when the time comes.
I personally love open places with food stalls and some live music during nighttime. If I am lucky enough, I may spot some live band performing and interacting with the crowd.
Eat Healthy Food
Food is therapy. When we get so busy living our lives on the road, running a business, or working remotely, eating healthy food would be a reward we rarely get. Since we don’t have time to prepare our meals, we often resort to fast foods that are not healthy.
Eating good food helps with almost everything in our system. It fuels our body and mind to do the tasks at hand and gives us energy throughout the day. That is why we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of delicious and healthy food.
Living in a van doesn’t mean you couldn’t make your food. Plan your meals and prepare every ingredient you need to reward yourself with home-cooked meals every day. There are many recipe books you could purchase and cooking tutorials online that could help you cook the perfect meal with all the nutritional values you need.
Visiting farms and picking up fruits and vegetables fresh from their roots is also a great way to eat healthy while saving money. Many farms on the road offer these fresh harvests for an affordable price.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water is one of the best van life self-care remedies that you should challenge yourself to accomplish. You’ll be surprised by what a glass of water can do to your body, let alone drinking eight glasses a day. This simple yet amazing hack can do wonders to your body.
Drinking water can prevent dehydration, resulting in unclear thinking, causing your body to overheat, and leading to constipation and kidney stones. Water further helps our body maintain its normal temperature, especially when traveling to a hot area or during the summer.
Purchase a water bottle you can bring during a hike or any outdoor activities you plan to join. A reusable water bottle is perfect for an economical and healthy drinking bottle. There are also bottles with a built-in filtration system to keep your water clean and tasting better.
Sort Your Thoughts Through Meditation
Meditation is one of the easiest activities you could do anywhere in your van or outside, with little to no equipment needed. Through meditation, you could benefit many areas of your life, especially if you are lately troubled with something and could not process your thoughts on some things.
Relaxing and calming your body and mind, providing better sleep, and making you more focused are just some of the amazing advantages of meditation. You could already see and feel its benefits in as little as ten straight days of practice, which is highly encouraging, especially when trying new habits.
According to studies, ten consecutive days of motivation reduces stress, increases happiness by 16%, and reduces irritability by 27%. Through the simple activity, you get to have a healthier body and mind and balance out the unpredictability of van living.
One thing that makes van living worthwhile is to think of it as a blessing. Imagine living in a comfortable space, although tiny and sometimes challenging, and going places with such breathtaking views and learning from the experience is already a gift not anyone could have.
Challenges in van life make it an experience full of learning, flaws, and growth. When you feel tired, always think of the first time you decided to pack your bags and go on an adventure. The joys and fun you felt back then were all good memories you can still recreate.
Remember that not every day is a bad day, and the challenges you face on the road will be your foundation for tomorrow. Practice gratitude by journaling. Write your goals for the future and the things you are thankful for in living in a van. Believe me. This would be a great help in overcoming your hardships.
Here is an easy exercise you can practice. Every day, think of three things that you are thankful for, anything in your life that makes you smile or live better. You can write them in your journal or state them out loud. The practice of recognizing these things would truly have a positive effect on your outlook in life.
Read Books and Be Smarter in Life
Reading is self-care. It improves memory, builds your self-esteem, reduces stress, and feeds you with so much information you can use in vanlife. The practice of reading books takes you to places while in the comfort of your bed or couch with limitless possibilities for learning. No matter what mood you have or the state of being you are in right now; there is a book that fits you.
There are countless ways to get your hands on books on the road. If you’re on the move, you can visit day-use libraries and enjoy a full day of reading. If you can’t finish a book in one sitting, you can just pick it up at the next library down the road; just remember the title and page you left off.
Checking out books is a great option if you stay in an area for a longer period. Some libraries would use the address of the campground you are staying in to lend you some books. Others offer library cards to non-residents at a cost.
Thrift stores, little libraries, and campground book swaps are other avenues to explore thousands of books on the road. Ebooks are also trendy book sources that offer millions of book choices ranging from different genres, including inspirational and motivational books.
Fix a Comfortable Bed in Your Van
After a long day of outdoor activities, resting in your comfortable bed is the perfect remedy for all your body aches. Even when not tired, the bed is the haven we long to be in when we feel lonely or want to relax. That is why bedrooms should be as cozy as possible, despite the small space in your van.
The best way to improve your RV bed is to buy a new mattress, and although expensive, your sleep will surely improve, and you’ll have your battery filled up by the morning when you wake up. If you don’t have the means to buy a new one, you can also purchase a memory foam topper, which is less expensive than a new mattress.
Aside from beds, pillows are another element that creates a restful sleeping space. Invest in excellent quality pillows to aid in your neck support and body pains. Having as many pillows as you like, with varying firmness, is advisable, especially if traveling alone. Other pillows come with built-in cooling technology for sweaty nights.
Lastly, it would help if you considered blankets smartly. A comforter would be perfect for cold nights. Don’t just settle for a mediocre bed when you can set up the coziest one in your van.
Beauty Therapy is Self-care
Life on the road can be very busy and fast going, so you may forget to take care of yourself physically. However, we do not want to be haggard and tired-looking all the time just because we are not getting social with other people in the van. Even if we stay in the same place all day, we should always groom ourselves because beauty therapy is a form of self-care.
When we feel beautiful, we feel happier, ready to take on the day’s work and challenges. Studies show that beauty routines have a direct effect on mental health. Beauty therapy, whatever form they are for you, could boost your confidence and make you feel your best every day.
Beauty therapy shouldn’t be expensive. If, for you, simple makeup makes you feel beautiful, then so be it. Many women love to take care of their skin by using beauty products and drinking supplements to boost their collagen and create healthier skin.
Others seek professional help by going to dermatology clinics or salons where they are given the best services. Shopping and dressing well is another beauty care that women love to do.
You’ll be surprised how these simple beauty care activities could positively impact your life. Beauty routines could help lessen stress, anxiety, or depression. It also boosts our self-esteem and self-love and gives us more energy leading to productivity.
Keep Your Van Home Organized
Keeping everything in your van in place and organized is a form of self-care that not everyone realizes. Being organized means saving time looking for things, as you already know where each of them is placed in the van, and having more time doing important tasks. This way, you’ll be productive every day.
Like other self-care tips I mentioned, staying organized reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and improves your work-life balance. In general, the organization benefits your health, as you’ll feel happier and more relaxed doing things in and out of your van.
Here are some organization tips for you. Install lightweight shelves in cabinets to maximize the space available. These shelves can be used as kitchen utensils storage or anything to save space on your van.
Extra pull-out drawers on tables are also a smart move, especially if you are working remotely. You can have all your things in one place while working and secured in a drawer when not needed.
Take a Digital Detox
If you’ve been following van lifers on Instagram claiming all the fun and excitement of living in a van, you might be feeling envy or, worse, anxiety that they got to leave their best life while you are stuck in your van, thinking of ways to be happy. I’m telling you, you are on the wrong avenue.
Stop scrolling and reading posts that only capture all the best in van life because they are not true. Take a digital detox to avoid comparing your life with others. Most of all, devote your time to doing things that make you grow.
Take advantage of your limitless playground, explore the wild and the mountains, rivers, and seas, and experience much more than what you see on the screen. Vanlife is a matter of how you make it worthwhile, not only during the fun parts but also amidst the struggles that would teach you life’s greatest lesson.
Be One with Nature
You have probably experienced all sorts of nature tripping since you’re a nomad, but slowing down and taking time to appreciate the surroundings is what it means to be one with nature. It’s not enough to go around without appreciating them and really soaking in their beauty.
Studies show that flowers are believed to help people manage their emotions and help bring peace and joy. Their vibrant colors trigger the production of melatonin or our happy hormones, leading to a sense of wonder and awe.
Waking up with the sunrise and sitting down at sunset is one effective way to reset your sleep schedule. After all, electronic lights and radiation from our cellphones are nothing compared to natural light, which is all free and healthy. You could go camping to truly immerse yourself in the wild and have your share of vitamin D.
Another proven and effective stress reliever, practiced for centuries in Europe and Asia, is soaking in hot springs. The sulfur content is said to relieve nasal congestion, while the calcium and sodium bicarbonate enhances body circulation. Aside from relieving our muscle aches and lessening pain from arthritis or fibromyalgia, hot springs could also improve skin conditions like eczema.
Nourish the kid within us and sleep under the stars. Stars are magical in themselves and could fuel one’s passion and playfulness, resulting in heightened enthusiasm and a sense of joy. Stargazing is a wonderful bonding moment with family or friends or simply you and your inner self.
If you are lucky enough, you might be able to come across a shooting star and make a wish. Do this while eating all your favorite food, indulging yourself with the joys of van living, and realizing there is no place you’d rather be than where you are now.
Every little inspiration and power to overcome each day comes from our inner self. If we are motivated and happy enough, we can get through all challenges we face on the road. We do this by taking care of ourselves, physically and mentally. It should not always be grand, yet these simple self-care tips would indeed have the best effect on your life as a nomad who’s always on the go.