Our official Social Media welcome to #vanlife came from part.time.nomad in response to this photo on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/BQ_s1vPgNtf/?taken-by=bgnout&hl=en
Whether it was in reference to my anecdote of the task taking twice as long or just the fact that we have a van, either way, we're beginning our own adventure and learning the lessons of the road.
Here's the top five things we've learned:
1) Keep it Simple:
If given a choice of doing a task the hard way or the easy way, pick the easy one. There's no reason to make a task more difficult or frustrating. Yes, you will come across your own unique challenges, but keep it simple and you'll keep the project a hobby instead creating work. We learned this lesson while making templates for the walls. It was such a simple task and we made it the most difficult. Here's a nugget of wisdom on converting a van, ANY VAN: If you're making templates for the walls, use cardboard. Sounds
simple, right? Yes, keep your build simple, especially if this is your
first van build or building isn't you're full-time job. Heed our advice: Cardboard for templates, not paper. You will thank me later.
2) Take Tea Breaks:
While living abroad, I learned that tea is more than just a drink. The Chinese taught me the ceremony of the leaf. The English taught me that work breaks always included a cup of tea, a biscuit and a chat with a colleague. For van builds, tea breaks are not about ceremonies or communion, it's about taking a break, relaxing and putting your tasks into perspective. Building a tiny house on wheels is hard work, mentally and physically. So drink tea, rest, and rejuvenate. We took tea breaks along the way. Usually when we were making something easy really difficult. We made a cup of tea, thought about the problem, and watched Youtube videos about van builds. Youtube has been our virtual Bible. There are a ton experienced people on the Internet. Seek their advice with a cup of tea in hand.
3) Be Humble:
Everything takes longer than anticipated. If you think the job will be easy, well that's usually the task that is
the biggest challenge. Be humble. Mistakes will happen. It won't be perfect. Enjoy the process. Learn as you build. Aristotle said, "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." Remember you're making and designing your OWN adventure mobile. How cool!
4) Have a Plan:
A van build out is just like any other life project. We approached this build like we do most task in life. First, it starts with a dream. Then we create a google spreadsheet. Yes, we are nerds, we communicate a lot by spreadsheets. While we are two novice van builders, we take comfort in plans and To-Do Lists. A plan puts any daunting task into perspective. Next, we put the tasks on the calendar, so each day we know where to start instead of looking at the empty shell and asking, "Where do we begin?" When making a plan include a goal for completion. We bought the van because of our next scheduled trip, six weeks from the purchase date, we are driving to Arizona to ride motorcycles through the Joshua Tree Desert. The van won't be completed, but it will be usable. We're highly motivated. To recap: Make a plan. Make it happen.
5) Create a Mantra:
All you need is a few simple words to keep you motivated. Remember Dory? The fish? She has one, "Just keep swimming." Repeating something positive in your head will keep you swimming through the build. Our Manta: Get it done. This has been our mantra in our marriage, and it serves us during the build too. We love project managing, so when we get the opportunity to tackle any new task, we "Get It Done."
When approaching your van build, approach it like your life, but better because it is #vanlife.