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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Guide to Roadtrip Survival

In the last post I wrote of how living in a van really sucks. There are some easy fixes to these problems though, they might not come often. If thinking about living the van life one day, you should think about taking some of these things into consideration besides drinking enough beers to forget that, yes, you actually live in this thing.

Problem 1: Not Showering.
Solution: Baby wipe bathes or using friend's showers.
I really would rather take a shower than the latter when I can but sometimes, friends aren't home since, you know they have lives or maybe they're just sick of seeing your ugly mug. A simple solution, is to use baby wipes. My favorite, yes my favorite baby wipe, are Action Wipes. You only need one for your entire body and they stay wet throughout the cleaning since they are all individually wrapped. Just make sure to go in the correct order and maybe clean that face of yours first.


When you do have the opportunity for a shower at a friend's place, as a suggestion, bring a gift. Alcohol is always a good one or simple snacks. I mean you are using their water that they pay for. Don't be a total mooch.

Problem 2: Cold mornings.
Solution: Get dressed the night before with what you want to wear the next day.
I normally wore my base layers to sleep and slept with my snowpants inside the sleeping bag. So next morning all I had to do was throw on some pants and I was all good to go.

Also, firing up a cup of tea (sorry not a coffee drinker) helps warm you up quickly even in negative temperatures. Finally, making a bag of oatmeal is really easy and convenient. Just pour hot water into the bag, mix, eat and enjoy a hot breakfast in seriously 25 seconds. No mess, no problems.

Problem 3: Keeping electronics charged.
Solution: Solar power.
As someone who lives in what he drives, I didn't want to run my battery dry ever. Even when charging small devices like GoPros, cellphone, or iPod, I relied on external batteries. More specifically I used Goal Zero's portable Sherpa 50 and the very portable Switch 8. Before leaving to go hike I would set the solar panel on top of the roof of the van and leave the batteries in the car. By the time I got back, they both would be fully charged.


Problem 4: Dirty Laundry.
Solution: Funk repellent material or Tide Go Packets
 This season I wore lots of what people would call "dirty clothes". I would wear a different base every other day so they could air out for a full 24 hours. What helped keep my Terramar Bases fresh though was the technology they use in them. They call it TXO and it basically, "combines carbon with embedded Nano Minerals. The carbon attracts the microbes and fungi which produce odors and the Nano Minerals inhibits their growth." You can see the full explanation here, with a video, because we as a society are obviously visual learners. All you got to know is that it works, until you hit about 20 days. Then I don't care what you wear, you smell.

Photo by Logan Julian
The other solution is to buy the Tide Go Packets. I got the idea from my mom, who used in them in Europe. They work pretty well, but requires your clothes to dry overnight, which in a van that sits in the winter cold, takes a long time, or doesn't happen.

Problem 5: Wet Gear.
Solution: A clothesline that runs from one side to the other on the inside.
This was a shot in the dark idea I had and it worked great! I was pretty stoked on the idea and now have two running in the back. Before I hang any gear on the line though I will put really wet/bad gear outside for a bit and let it dry in the sun and/or wind.

Two clotheslines for drying anything and everything.
Problem 6: Wet Boots.
Solution: Same thing as what I said above.
I would normally let them sit outside and dry out then hang them. Every morning was different though and sometimes they wouldn't be fully dry. The next day while driving up the canyon I would open the boot up and place them over the heater, catching the hot air inside the boot. After 5 minutes, one liner would be done.

Problem 7: Bad smelling feet.
Solution: Dryer Sheets, the strongest ones you can find.
After every day's tour, I'd throw a dryer sheet in each boot and presto, no smell.

Problem 8: Eating a proper diet.
Solution: Meat, side, veggie.
I'm not a nutritionist nor a person who really cares of what goes in my body. My diet is the same it's been since I was a kid and my energy levels haven't changed. The only reason I do care, a little bit, is because I want to stay illness free. So I stuck to what I, and my body, knows. Whenever my mom cooked for us when I was younger I realized we always had a meat, side (usually some potato) and veggie. So that's what I did for every meal, even in the van. Sometimes those were entirely wrapped in a burrito but I still got the usual dietary needs that my body has adjusted to over the years.

Problem 9: Bland food.
Solution: Grab all of the hot sauce packets from Taco Bell. Free and makes everything taste, well, a little better.

Problem 10: Inside lights don't work.
Solution: Strap headlamps facing backwards to the back of the driver and passenger seats.

Problem 11: Smelly van.
Solution: Roll down the windows, drive 80mph and pray to God no one you are trying to impress enters in the next 15 minutes.

Problem 12: Hating life.
Solution: Go snowboarding.

I realize these tips are reaching out to a very specific, targeted group of people. How many [aspiring] van-dwelling people can be out there anyway? But I know these are some tips I have learned throughout my days of travel in the van that can also be applied to a normal weekend of travel.

If anyone reading this has any other questions or concerns of how I did something while living in this situation, feel free to drop a comment, hit me up on Twitter or the Gram. I'm pretty good at getting back to you.


  1. Wait, I think I missed something-- are you DONE living in the van??

    1. I haven't decided yet. I am moving, possibly if I get a call back for this job, to Jackson. If I go there I'd probably move in to a house for the time being. I'm pretty burned out on it honestly. Winter takes a toll on you mentally.

  2. Want to work at Telluride and be my roommate this winter if Jackson doesn't work out?

    1. Ah Telluride, I would love to but I think Jackson is working pretty well for me. If things change I'll let you know and you let me know if you ever make it up yonder.

  3. This article hits the nail on the head. I love it!



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