The Motel is Not a Hotel
Only a couple days in to Vanlife and I have fallen ill. We expected that this would eventually happen, but I had no expectation it would happen so soon. Oh curses I say to you! You have failed me, inside and out, body of mine! But alas, it must be dealt with because illness on the road – it does not go away unless you take the time to heal yourself.
JC and I follow a lot of van-lifers online and we have even reached out to some of the more popular ones to get advice. With that said, every single one of us is going to have a uniquely different experience than the other. That is the very nature of getting off the grid to live by your own code.
We are Road Pirates, only the treasure we seek is not in stealing the coffers of others, it is in filling our own coffers by not subjecting ourselves to financial leashes that keep us contained in a state of paycheck to paycheck. There is no freedom in burdens that keep you from traveling. There is no life when you are standing still.
I know in writing to a mass audience you need to cast a wide net to attract as many people as you can. In this post, though I have not garnered many new followers, I will be discriminating against a certain type of traveler. JC calls them ‘Rich kids with poor dreams.’ I’m sure you all have seen the type with amazingly glamorous photos, pristine vans with upgraded parts and the best of everything stuffed inside. Folks that are in the position they are in because they already had the money and so making the leap was as simple as the swipe of a card. People that talk about the struggles and problems of living in a van but push pause on their van-narrative so they can spend the weekend in Martha’s Vineyard or Malibu.
In our prepping for Vanlife we got feedback from one such individual. Our question to them was, “What happens when one of you get sick? You’ve been doing this for a while but we never see anything posted about that.” The response, in a nutshell, “We never get sick, so, good luck.” And that was that.
Well, let me tell you what they wouldn’t – You will get sick and it’s gonna suck.
We transitioned from house sitting to family vacation road trip and then to stealth parking because we hadn’t taken any time to scope out the local forestry / BLM parking areas. The stress of that took it’s toll on my health.
Too much was up in the air. There was too much uncertainty. Where are we going to park now? Did I stop drinking water early enough so I don’t have to get up and keep peeing in the container at the front of the van? Let me tell you, after one use that thing smells horrible when you open it up. I apologize for the frankness of all this but this is what Vanlife entails. Using the bathroom is a pretty constant thought if you are doing any kind of street parking.
On the day I became sick we woke up at 5AM and made our way to the gym. JC worked out and I spent the time in the bathroom knowing that I was not in good shape moving forward. The gym bathroom in the morning makes for an ok reprieve because gyms typically clean their facilities late at night after peak hours. So, if you are shy or nervous about using public toilets, get your schedule to be consistent with the morning.
I ended up with food poisoning from the night before. When we got to work I was drinking one part water and 5 parts Pepto for my problems. I was in and out of the bathroom all day. I could feel my level of stress rising inside – what is going to happen tonight when we are out of work and I am still dealing with this? Well, as in the title of this post, the answer was the motel. Bend is a tourist town but our motels are all really shabby looking, expensive, and almost always booked.
I looked for AirBnb which was a cheaper option, but there was nothing last minute. We ended up in a motel that night and the next. I called in sick the next day and I lay in bed all day letting my body heal the way only proper rest can. That was 160 dollars out of the budget. We are planning for sick times to happen but if you are just starting out put aside some money for some initial bumps and bruises. Our goal is to get away from street parking and just park out in nature, but we didn’t plan enough in advance.
We are boomerang Vanlifers. No matter what we do we have to come back to the center of town five days a week. But, with a little bit better planning, and some more experience, we are going to make it one hell of a game.
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