I think that some of you might be thinking about this question: “how is the daily life in a van”. Or with another style: “how do you still live together in a thing that small ?!”.
So, we will let you discover our life style, our daily life in the Americas.
For few reasons, our life has progressively merge with the rhythm of the sun.
The main reason, and people who already experienced camping in full summer can confirm, is that the sun awakes you most of the time. But I warn you that there is no point to sleep with a mask on the eyes because this is not the light that will awake you here. This is the heat! However, we worked a lot on the thermal insulation of our van, but in hot countries, it’s not working that well anymore… excepted that you can win some minutes before the oven starts. Well, yes, it is not always that hot. But I confess that writing this article just in the middle of the rainy season in Costa Rica can influence someone judgment…
One of the first things, if not the first thing that we do each morning, is to look through the window 🙂 . We chose this kind of travel for good reasons, and each morning at this precise moment, we know we made the good choice.
This is also an immutable moment! We can not live without our Italian coffee maker. We searched for a bigger one, all over the continent, in order to drink a mug each, every morning, but without success. The rare ones we found were off budget.
So, we are enjoying the one we have. We do not grind our self the coffee, but we buy some local ones, as much as possible. And in Central America, we can say that it is a paradise for coffee lovers!
What are we doing today?
This is not always the same day that we decide the next step of our travel, but very often. And if it’s not the same day, we discuss it the day before. And that’s also an exciting thing in this kind of travel: we do what we want, without having to plan it in advance. We live it, and let the planing move with the encounters, the landscapes. If we like the area, we stay longer, if we have bad feelings, we move!
In general, we do a brain storming just before entering a new country. We take a look at the guide books, on the Internet or in advice we kept from other travelers, and we note it down on a map. Depending on our motivations and the geographic location, we draw a macro level itinerary. Of course, this is never definitive, but it’s a good base to know which way to go!
If we calculate the time and the distances traveled since we left, we drive around 140 kilometers per day (but the rhythm decreased a lot since we entered Mexico). Some days, the truck don’t move, some others we drive several hundreds of kilometers. All depends on our mood, but we still keep an eye on our timetable.
We settle down
We decided since the beginning of our trip to find a place to sleep and to reach it before dark. First, it’s a general recommendation for a lot of countries we crossed. Not only to avoid meeting some bad people in some risk areas, but also because driving during the night can be dangerous (road signs missing, domestic or wild animals crossing, people walking on the road in the complete dark, road condition, topes…).
Our Graal to look for places to spend the night is the iOverlander application. This ingenious invention, created by and for overlanders is a kind of map on which people can add points of interest. Not touristic ones (although it can happen), but the most important for us: spots where we can sleep, with a tent or in your car. It can be some boon-docking into the wild, official campgrounds or unofficial ones (hotels…) or even places to fill our water tank or propane bottle. Anyway, a must have.
Do you take showers, you Frenchies ?
In general, this is at the end of the day, after sweating a lot, that we take a good refreshing shower. The shower inside the van is partly set up… only the water is missing… At this time, we used it once. The hotel where we stayed refused to let us use the showers, and the torrid heat of Honduras finally convinced us to try it, with the solar shower as water source and a tarpaulin on the rear doors as curtain!
Otherwise, we use the showers that we can find in the campgrounds and hotels, on the public beaches or in some gas stations.
For the clothes, it’s pretty easy. As soon as we arrive at the end of our stock of clean clothes, we find a laundry and a place to wait (with Internet, if possible), where we leave our clothes to be washed and dried. For a few dollars and few hours waiting, we get our all fresh clothes.
In some rare cases, we wash our clothes by hand, or using the washing machine available at the place we stay. And it can look like that:
And where is the bathroom?
We have done two investments in this domain before leaving. The first was the portable chemical toilet, stowed at the back, under the bed (so not so accessible in case of emergency):
We transport it all along the continent, we make it travel the world. Until we used it, one day of march 2017! This is in the city of Antigua, in Guatemala, that we tested it (and for the number 1 only…). The touristic police free campground doesn’t have any toilets, so it was mandatory to have some in the van in order to be allowed to sleep there. And we were too lazy to walk 15 minutes to the McDonald each time, so we resigned to use them…
And this is our second investment: the folding shovel!
We used it a more often, particularly in Canada and United States, into the big spaces… the desert ones!
But most of the time, we just use coffees, restaurants, public restrooms, or just the campgrounds or hotel where we sleep. Some nights, in the middle of cities, we try not to drink too much, avoiding to get stuck between the last closings and the first openings!
The most important new thing of the Tikal v2 is, without a doubt, the portable stove. It is not only that the old stove was working on a single burner, and was blackening our plan, but the big advantage of the new one is the possibility to cook outside. Without dwelling too much on the matter, with the hot weather we met on the road, it is not a bad idea, even to cook a simple coffee!
So we can cook our own dishes every day… or almost. The living standard is lower than in France, so we can have the luxury to eat out more often, from little sandwiches to market stands, and even fast foods (yes, it happen some times…) and expatriate’s restaurants (we now really understand how much we love cheese after some months in Central America…)
Our 90 litters water tank and our sink allow us to do our dishes everywhere. The water evacuation is directly under the van. We can put under, if needed, our 20 litters tank to empty it further. But most of the time we don’t need it, because we only use biodegradable dish-washing liquid.
Have a good night
These days, we confess, the bed remains in… bed position. This is one thing that we do not have to do before going to bed!
Once well settled and after eating enough, we have the habit of watching one or two episodes of a TV show, or a good movie. With the laptop between us, in our cocoon, with some marshmallows, it is pure happiness!
Tomorrow, we will wake up with the sun, so we don’t go to sleep too late. In general, there is not so much people available in the van at 10PM…