So today I wanted to talk about something that I think is uniquely challenging for a woman traveling alone in a sprinter van… dating!
So I’ve lived in my van with a full-time partner, alone, and for short periods with other people.
And I have to say that living with two people full time in a van… is pretty difficult.
I do think it can be done, I know lots of people who do it really well, but I think it forces you and your partner to talk about things you wouldn’t otherwise confront because of the close proximity and space.
You both have to be really on top of your space management, and if you weren’t super close before then you are going to get SUPER close really quickly.
There is a huge difference between negotiating an already established relationship into a van, and meeting someone on the road and starting a relationship.
Meeting someone on the road and starting to date is REALLY different because it forces a really intimate relationship almost immediately.
In my experience most people you meet on the road become almost instant roommates. You cook together, you sleep in close proximity, they are the first people you see when you wake up and the last people you see before you head to bed, it can be a lot to get used to. Add on top of that a romantic relationship and it can be really challenging.
And it’s not just logistically challenging, although there is that. My van is only 5’ 11” tall, so anyone taller than that has a difficult time physically existing in the space. And the bed is only 5’9” wide, so sleeping next to someone taller than 5’10” is also a challenge.
But besides the obvious space limitations, in my experience it’s always a bit awkward to have that first “romantic encounter” with someone when you are a part of such a tight knit community. Everyone around you is living in their tents or their cars or other vans and you are all cooking together, everyone knows everyones business all the time.
Also I think it is worth mentioning that, at least in the rock climbing community, I’m usually one of 4 or 5 other girls in a group of close to 20-30 guys. And the other girls are usually the girlfriends of some of the guys. Not always! I have met a lot of badass single ladies on my trips, but the gender numbers are super skewed to mostly men and very few women.
So when you are probably one of 2 or 3 other single women in a sea of men, the prospect of dating or hooking up with someone is pretty daunting.
However, I think it can be done. I’ve done it for sure. And some of the things I’ve learned is you need to be pretty secure in your boundaries. If you are going to be spending a lot of time with this person, you need to be able to have some ‘you’ time. Because you can easily spend every waking moment with someone and get way overwhelmed.
And, obviously, you don’t get to shower every day! So you need to up your baby wipe game, and put up with a little bit more stank than is typically found in modern society. Honestly though, you can time your showers and visits to town accordingly.
When I meet people who don’t live in their vans, in other words they have houses, there are a few different challenges I have to navigate. First of all we almost always stay at his place, because he has a shower and a bathroom and a kitchen and a full sized bed. Which can be nice, but I get annoyed with having to move my stuff out of my van all the time in order to spend time with someone.
And I think its worth being conscious of your effect on someone else’s space. You don’t want to be taking advantage of someone because they have a shower or washer and dryer. And you don’t want to make someone feel like they are just a place for you to get clean.
Finally, there’s the distance. I travel a lot. I drive seasonally to different crags depending on the weather. Anyone that I date has to be ok with me being gone this much. So safe to say everything in my life right now has been pretty casual.
That’s pretty much everything I can think of as far as dating goes… if you have any specific vanlife dating questions let me know, I’ll do my best to answer them.