Skip to Content

9 Surprising Reverse Culture Shocks After Life on the Road

Living and travelling 17,000km in a small van for five months comes with a few lifestyle changes. Here are the nine features of ‘normal’ life in Vancouver that took the most time to get used to once the road trip was over…

Waking up in the same place every day

After five months of moving around and covering so many kilometres, it’s hard to get my head around that I’ve been in the same place for a whole month now. 

That’s like a fifth of the total trip time! In one place! I’ll probably here tomorrow morning too. And Tuesday. Most likely Wednesday as well.


This magical thing helps food last longer and other essential processes such as cooling beer and wine. We usually chilled the latter down by putting them in the nearby river or lake.

There’s a bit of a technique to it, what with making sure the bottles are deep enough but also not at risk of floating away…ah, all that fun is taken away by a big white box. It does do the job much faster though.

The Midnight Dome near Dawson City, Yukon
The Midnight Dome near Dawson City, Yukon, was one of my favourite places we woke up to

Unlimited internet

When we managed to find internet on the road, our priorities were as follows: emails, online banking, blog. And it sometimes took a while to do just those few things; after all, finding internet was just one thing, actually managing to use it was another.

I am now experiencing the wonders of unlimited broadband internet again, with everything I want to see, watch and upload at a touch of a button. Magic!

Not having to think about water

When you don’t have water from a tap at your disposal, making sure you have water becomes something you actually have to think about.

While we were never that hard done by for water (we were often by lakes and streams but disinfecting large amounts is a hassle), we did have to keep it in mind.

We had a 20 litre tank which would last around four days, but sometimes we were out in the sticks for much longer than that.

Sitting out the rain (and collecting water from the tarp) on the Powell Forest Canoe Circuit
Sitting out the rain (and collecting water from the tarp) on the Powell Forest Canoe Circuit

Quick showers

When you pay $1 or $2 for every couple of minutes of shower-time, you quickly get used to getting things done fast. And of course, you also get used to showers with variable pressure, strange shower head heights and questionable cleaning (as well as no showers at all for up to a week).

A private clean shower all to myself with no limit on time? And I can have another tomorrow?!

Charging electronics

As well as considering the general direction we were heading, we also had to think about what needed charging every morning.

We used an inverter in the cigarette lighter that gave us two sockets and one USB charger…but due to awkward shaped plugs, we usually couldn’t use them all at once. The cell phone was usually the priority followed by the laptop, then the camera. Being able to charge all these things at once? Witchcraft I tell you.

little bear bear fire camping, johnstone strait
Watching the sun set on our first night

Not having to go outside

You know those days when the weather just really sucks? When you’re camping, this means you usually have to go out at least once in that weather, if not for most of the day. Ugh.

In comparison, living in a house is pretty cushy. OK, you may have to leave it to go to work, but at least you don’t have to cook in it. Or walk to the bathroom. You know, normal stuff.

Not being outside

So on the other side of the above point, I really miss being outside all day, every day. Being in some building or another for most of the day seems like a strange concept after living outside all summer.

When you’re camping, the weather affects so much, whereas being back in a house, it’s just a very small part of the day.

So many people, everywhere

In my first few days in Vancouver, I think I saw more people than I had seen in the last couple of months, put together. And they’re always different people!

It wasn’t that uncommon to run into familar faces in the Yukon, even 800km away from where you last saw them. Vancouver is definitely a different kind of ‘big’ to the Yukon.

Found this post helpful? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

Receive a round-up of our latest outdoor adventures and exciting beyond the beaten path destinations direct to your inbox every month

Check out these other posts about vanlife in Canada


Wednesday 22nd of October 2014

Its good to be reminded of all the things you've been missing.

Nathan now 14 lbs at 10 weeks. He's a big boy. Ellie 7lbs at 3 weeks. She looks very tiny next to Nathan.

Love Linda xx


Tuesday 21st of October 2014

Nice to be reminded of what it felt like to not be living in a van after a big trip! It's funny the things that feel like a luxury after just a few days of van life!