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3 Honest Reasons Why #Vanlife Isn’t Always Fun

Chec OK, hard truth time. While I love being on the road in our exploring all the best British Columbia has to offer, it is not all sunshine and roses.

We are travelling and living in a small van and with that comes a few complications. So with that in mind, let me tell you about the less fun side of our grand road trip around Western Canada.

Vanlife downside no. 1: Space

This is the major one. Our beloved Astro van isn’t large by any means. It’s not the kind of camper in which you can really stretch out much; for one thing, you definitely can’t stand up.

There is not a huge amount of livable space either.  We pretty much only drive and sleep (and watch the laptop) in the van. This means that everything else has to be done outside, which isn’t particularly nice when it’s raining.

Luckily, the weather has been good to us so far, and it’s going to get even better with summer just around the corner.

A challenge of space and storage

Lack of space also means we have to be careful about putting things away in the right place. Sometimes it can be hard to access the cupboard where we keep our clothes, so I get into a bad habit of keeping lots of clothes out which drives Jean Robert crazy.

We do have a fair amount of storage under the bed, but since we travel with everything we kept from our last apartment (think snowboard gear, books, tools, JR’s diving equipment) it’s pretty full.

You may be wondering why we didn’t buy a larger vehicle, but with the budget we had, it was either a bigger van or a smaller road trip. The latter will always win for us.

Seton Lake, British Columbia
Seton Lake, British Columbia

Vanlife downside no 2: Parking

This can be tricky in cities (hard to find plus potentially expensive too), though since we are not too keen on busy places, this doesn’t come up too much.

With the canoe on top of our van, we would also have the additional worry of being too tall to enter multi-storey parking lots. Parking was a much larger issue during our three-month road trip around Europe in 2011.

Two months into our Western Canada trip, we are finding it fairly easy to find a free parking place every night.

What is more of a problem for us is parking while we are camping elsewhere such as during our recent canoe trips on Desolation Sound and around the Powell Forest Canoe Circuit.

Since all of our possessions are in the van, it can be a bit concerning leaving it unattended for so long. Possessions aside, we don’t want our vehicle to be towed for parking in the wrong place either.

Cooking al fresco at Lois Lake, BC
Cooking al fresco at Lois Lake, BC

Vanlife downside no. 3: Lack of a real kitchen

 I love preparing and eating food al fresco, but I do miss having a proper kitchen with a sink, worktops, an oven and a fridge. I sometimes dream of making complicated meals involving more than just two pots on a camp stove, and not having to worry whether it’s going to start raining in the middle of making dinner.

Keeping things cool hasn’t been too much of an issue so far since we’ve been travelling mainly in spring, but it’s going to get more difficult.

We both eat mainly vegetarian means (if JR does buy something extra for himself, it doesn’t tend to sit around very long) so keeping meat and fish fresh isn’t the problem, rather butter, cheese and certain fresh vegetables.

For the time being, we’ve decided to only buy small amounts of dairy, for the above reason and also for the budget. It’s probably a good thing health-wise anyway!

Despite some downsides, it’s still worth it for the joys of the open road…

Driving on Vancouver Island
Driving on Vancouver Island

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Sunday 27th of September 2020

Well... I live in a minivan (I would never ive in a camper van), so I can park anywhere and nobody knows. I have a real kitchen (2 gas stoves, minifridge, mini oven, sink). And I cook alot !!!! Drain pipe on top on my minivan so I can have a shower and use gravity for water. Pull out bed so I use it as a couch during the day and bed during the night. Mini electric heater. Top fan (air in or out) , ....... Everything organized and super clean. Not messy like most people living in their van. Solar panel on top and can also plug my battery on cigaret lighter. Everything is about organization and believe me, people have been surprised how I keep everything not messy and super clean.


Wednesday 7th of October 2020

Hey John, that's awesome! Organisation is so key, I agree. We absolutely love to cook and even though we are quite ambitious with our van cooking and baking (we usually make fresh bread every other day, for example), there are still aspects to regular kitchens I miss.


Friday 20th of June 2014

Happy Birthday Gemma Have a great day Love from everyone Mike Linda Katy James Jessica Dan and Jo xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Friday 20th of June 2014

Really enjoy reading about your road trip adventures - even the not-so-glamorous moments. Safe travels!