How to Tell People You Live the Van Life?
I've met some really cool friends but how do I tell them I live in a van?Living in a van or any type of vehicle is something different from the norm. It's not something most people do and there is sometimes a social stigma attached to it so it can be difficult to tell to someone that you meet. It can be even more difficult to talk to family and friends about wanting to live in a van in the first place. Why is it so hard to bring it up? What makes it so uncomfortable? Simply, it's the uncertainty in how someone will react. Generally, the person you are having a conversation with is someone you care about on some level. Be it a friend, coworker, family, or even a potential date. For that reason, you don't want them to think differently of you, judge you, or give them reason to not like you. Maybe your afraid of getting unwanted negative attention. Whatever the reason it's something you will have to face at some point. Everyone is different and will have their own preferences in handling this. Some prefer to be secretive while others have no qualms with everyone knowing. We are going to approach this topic from two different situations. The first as if you want to tell people you know like family and friends about your decision to start van life and the second as if you were meeting somebody for the first time.
People You Know
Before telling your loved ones about your decision to live in a van its best to be prepared. A lot of the doubts and questions they will have come from a place of worry and concern. They may ask questions like: Why do you want to live in a van? Where will you park? Will you be warm enough? How will you cook/eat? What if there's an emergency?
Be PreparedThe best way to get them on board is to have answers to all their questions and provide them some peace of mind. Approach the conversation with confidence and information. Tell them why you want to do it by explaining the ways it will improve your life or contribute to your goals. Here's some ideas to draw from:
- It's a means to sustain a traveling lifestyle.
- Reduces some major expenses like rent and utilities.
- Provides financial freedom to pursue your passions.
- Enables more time for nature and the outdoors.
- Allows your home to travel with you everywhere.
Give them an idea of what the lifestyle would be like. Provide them with pictures and videos. Go through the pros and cons with them. Help them understand your perspective. Chances are that you will find common ground and they will be happy for you and your journey. Sometimes that isn't the case and that's okay. You can't expect everyone to approve of your lifestyle. People grow at different rates and follow different paths. If van life is the next step in your life you can't let others hold you back from growing.
People You Don't Know
Let's talk about the people you meet along the way. Sometimes they are fellow travelers. Other times it may be someone you meet on a trail or at a restaurant. It could be a coworker at the job you've just started. In each case it's different because you don't know them, and they don't know you.
Upon meeting someone new it's human nature to start making assumptions as to character, personality, trustworthiness, etc. People often have preconceived notions about certain things and as we said before we don't know what they might already think. That brings us to tip number one. Don't even mention you live in a van. At least not at first. Now I know this is about how to tell people you live in a van. Don't fret, we're getting there.
Get to Know One Another
Give the person a chance to get to know you for who you are first. Talk about other aspects until your comfortable with that person. If you lead with "I live in a van?" Then that's how the person may associate you. Pretty soon you're the "Guy that lives in a van." However, if you talk about other things first like your hobbies and passions then they have a chance to form a different perception. For example, I love surfing, hiking, and long-boarding and I travel the country in my van looking for the best waves, pavement, and trails. You can see how that paints a different picture. Just as if I were to say I am in the army. Now you would see me as a soldier first and not that perhaps I am an artist, writer, photography, etc. Perception is reality.
Be Honest and Genuine
When it comes down to it though being genuine and honest is what matters. Trying to hide the fact that you live in a van gives others a reason to think it's bad. Generally, people hide things they are ashamed or embarrassed about so own it! How you portray it to others largely affects how they view it. When I talk about living in a van, I'm excited about it and show a lot of enthusiasm. The person I am talking to often responds with phrases like: "Wow man, you're so lucky." "That's actually really smart. I wish I had thought of that." "You'll have to show me the van sometime!
Accept Your DifferencesAnd if you do get negative comments that's okay. Don't take it personally. Some people are set in their ways and conceptions and not everyone is very open minded. For whichever reason that is special to you, you chose this lifestyle. You chose it for yourself and not everyone has to be okay with it. In the end you got wheels so just shrug it off and move along. Also, I would like to point out that not everyone has come into this lifestyle by choice and that is okay. Make the best of your situation and own it. I hope this has given you some useful information to make it a little easier to tell people about your lifestyle. If this was helpful check out our other awesome guides! Have you ever had difficulty telling someone? How do people react when you tell them you live in a van? Do you have any advice? Share your experience and let us know in the comments below!
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