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Little water, no privacy – is that what vanlife is really like?

A man and a woman are kissing in front of a sprinter

For many people, vanlife is the epitome of freedom. But what are the downsides of a life on four wheels?

Energy first.

The couple Eamon and Bec have been living permanently in the Sprinter for two years now. “After such a long time, we view the whole thing in a more realistic way”, says Eamon. “There is the issue of cleaning, for example. In the beginning, you do not realize how much cleaning is required”, Bec adds. As most vanlifers tend to spend a lot of time outdoors, tons of sand, earth and salt residues are carried into the interior of the van. The confined space there can quickly become a nightmare. “The floor should be wiped at least once a day, otherwise the sand will crunch under your feet at every step”, reveals Bec. Washing up requires lots of discipline as well. For reasons of space, the dishes should be washed several times a day, and this task simply cannot be put off till the next day. Note that the rinsing water is always cold. “In the van, the motto ‘energy first’ applies. Where electricity is not really needed, it must be saved. Using warm tap water is simply unnecessary”, explains Eamon.

A converted Sprinter from the inside, a woman drinks coffee

The limited living space requires surprisingly much cleaning effort.

I shower, therefore I am?

If you put two and two together, you will quickly understand that in terms of personal hygiene in the van you will have to make certain concessions. In other words, the conveniences of modern civilization are basically a thing of the past. The reality is that on most days we do not take a shower”, says Bec. A quick sponge bath has proven to be a good alternative. More and more vanlifers also decide to buy a solar shower. “For us, taking showers is extremely important, too. We have purchased a solar shower, but when necessary, we also become creative”, says Eamon. Being creative means walking through vanlife with open eyes. Maybe there is a friend with a permanent residence living close by? Or maybe, signing up for a membership in a nationwide gym could be your chance to take a shower whenever you feel like it?

A rudimentary shower near a beach

A refreshing shower becomes a luxury when living in a van.

Vanlife = love of one’s neighbour.

Either way – living in a van is not for people who dislike socializing. Those who do not like to interact with other people, should look again whether vanlife is really suitable for them. For even people who travel alone are usually heavily dependent on other individuals. This close cooperation is a key to success. “There have been many situations in which we had to rely on the help of third parties. Be it technical issues or bottlenecks in supply “, says Bec. But often, other people need our help, too. “Some vans simply cannot cope with extremely high or low temperatures“, explains Eamon. Good networking can be an advantage in a situation like that. “We are lucky in that our Sprinter is state-of-the-art. Thanks to the parking heater, optimal insulation and the fully functional air conditioning system, we have been able to offer shelter to quite a few friends.

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Being flexible is part of everyday life.

The willingness to leave one’s own home in case of an emergency belongs to vanlife. But it is not only in critical situations that life “on the road” requires tremendous flexibility. “Being flexible – that is part of life in the van. Actually, there are no more daily routines in our lives. We adapt to different situations as soon as they arrive”, says Bec. Thus, Eamon and Bec have long come to terms with the fact that they will quite simply have to do without certain things. You need to be pragmatic. “We have a very simple rule now: no glass, no explosive substances and no sharp objects in the Sprinter”, explains Eamon with a smile.

In the end, there is freedom.

Is your enthusiasm for vanlife dampened now? If not, there is nothing more to prevent you from living a sustainable and happy life in the van. For even if all the points listed here are real, this is a price lots of vanlifers are very willing to pay. Many of them over a period of many years. Those who are prepared to do so, are rewarded with an independent life. A life full of freedom. “Sure, sometimes it is not easy. But what kind of life is easy? We love laughing, crying, growing in our Sprinter! And let us be honest – for us, it is really extremely difficult to list even ten negative aspects”, relates Bec. However, if you had overly romantic ideas about vanlife, maybe this article has helped you to become more realistic. If your desire for a home on four wheels still persists after reading this article, then the motto is: “Get a van and set off!”

A man and a woman are running along a beach

A beach in the backyard is one of the many perks of vanlife.

A man and a woman stand in front of a Sprinter

A healthy lifestyle is the foundation for every long trip with your van.

A man and a woman lie in the back of a Sprinter and look into the sunset

Living room views: Vanlife edition.

A woman is stretching in front of a Sprinter, in the background a man is kneeling

Being comfortable around each other and new people is necessary for vanlife.

The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.

Photos: Eamon & Bec

More Links to explore: Eamon & Bec @Facebook@YouTube@Spotify – @Facebook


Regardless of what job you have to tackle – the Sprinter will make your day-to-day tasks easier. And even if those tasks are weighty ones, together, you’ll move mountains. Thanks to a host of different variants and over 600 optional features, the Sprinter can meet a wide variety of requirements.

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