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VANLIFE | Living 250 days in a motorhome (our experience)

We previously gave you a glimpse into our daily life on-the-road in our 100 days blog, when we were on the road for 100 days. Now that we've been on the road for 250 days, it's time for a VANLIFE update!

How do we cope with eating, drinking, washing, working and shitting? What has changed since then and what about our mind-set? This is how we experienced 250 days of VANLIFE.

Also read: What is VANLIFE? † Why is it so popular and is it for you?


The ultimate tour of North America

This article is part of a large one-year tour the United States en Canada in 2022, with a Dutch 4×4 camper that we shipped ourselves… It is a bucket list worthy and a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.

The ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada | Wereldreizigers.nl
The ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada | Wereldreizigers.nl

We wrote almost 100 articles about this ultimate tour. Below is a handy overview in 5 expandable categories.

1. Preparation
2. Highlights & Itineraries
3. Cities & places of interest (AZ)
4. National Parks & Monuments (AZ)
5. Plan your vacation to America here

Our travel statistics

  • Driven kilometers: 31.000
  • Hours on the road: 645
  • Average speed: 40 kilometers per hour
  • Most expensive diesel: 2,39 euros per liter in Canada
  • Cheapest diesel: 1,13 euros per liter in Texas, USA
  • Number of states in America: 29 (+ Washington D.C.)
  • Number of provinces in Canada: 2
  • Number of cities: 342
  • Number of sights: 742

Home is (still) where we park it

And that has proven very often wild camping, especially in the USA. On the coast and even on the beach we found beautiful places. For example, Chris (I was in the Netherlands for a short time) had the most beautiful views on Highway 1, the west coast of america. Fortunately, we also found some variety through campsites in Canada, a few nights in accommodations, at people's homes and made another new discovery!

Wild camping on the west coast of America. Hwy 1 | 250 days OF LIFE
Wild camping off Highway 1 | 250 days OF LIFE

wild camping

On some beaches it is allowed to drive onto the beach and in Texas also to spend the night there. That's how we got up Boca Chica Beach (Location here ), the southernmost tip of Texas, next to the SpaceX complex and the new Starship, the space rocket for missions to Mars that is being worked on there. After a few days we unfortunately had to leave the place. The beach was cleared as SpaceX began testing the rocket.

Camping on the beach | 250 days OF LIFE
Camping on the beach | 250 days OF LIFE

Fortunately there was still enough beach left and a few days later we got up father island (Location here ) On Mustang Island (Location here ). However, the humidity ruined things. This sometimes rose to 100% at night, so that spending the night on the beach was suddenly no longer so pleasant. By morning everything was clammy. So serious, in fact, that the walls of the camper were wet. People wondered how we would survive Texas without air conditioning. The heat was not the problem…

Camping sites

Canada gave us the opportunity to enjoy a campsite with facilities more often. The private campsites in Canada are also reasonably affordable and that was very nice. We miss that now that we're back in the States, but oh well miss more of Canada...

By affordable we mean approximately between 20 and 35 EUR. Right when we entered Canada via carway, we accidentally came across a beautiful, spacious, green campsite with all facilities.

A campsite in Canada | 250 days OF LIFE
A campsite in Canada | 250 days OF LIFE

Although at the National parks Wild camping is strictly prohibited in Canada, but they always provide so-called 'overflow' campsites. You can use this if the regular campsites are full. Since we were there in the summer period, this was often the case. We could always go to an 'overflow' campsite. That is cheaper, but you don't always have all the facilities.

A Campground in America | 250 days OF LIFE
A Campground in America | 250 days OF LIFE

During the route we drove with my parents, along the Highlights of the West, we have only used campsites. However, I had already booked this far in advance and sometimes we paid the main price for this.

Hotels, motels and Airbnb

We have stayed in few accommodations. I would have liked to see that differently, because I like a bit of variety. It was overpriced pretty much everywhere with exceptions of three times…

When we got in Canada we took a little break from our motorhome when we got to the big city Calgary went. We thought it would be fun to create the feeling of one city ​​trip, so we booked a tiny house through Airbnb in town.

Las Vegas Hotels | 250 days OF LIFE
Las Vegas Hotels | 250 days OF LIFE

When my parents visited us, we had the chance to rent a suite for four people in a luxury hotel. Of course I didn't let this opportunity pass. It was also a nice way to visit Sin-City.

I kept hope and regularly checked the websites of Airbnb and Booking.com to the prices of the hotels in our area. To my surprise, the prices for accommodations in the state of Texas are suddenly a lot lower on average! We stayed all night in a run-down motel port isabella for only 50 USD.

At the people's house

In some places we found old or new friends who offered us their driveway or garden.

When we car problems we were looking for an address to send car parts to. Chris asked through a Facebook group called Dutchies in Canada for help and then got in touch with Kim. Of course we were allowed to send the parts to her. She was in the middle of a move, but we were still welcome. Even to stay on her acreage for a few days, including two sweet dogs!

Crazy Frodo on Kim's Acreage in Canada | Living and working in a motorhome for 250 days
Crazy Frodo on Kim's Acreage in Canada

We also got to stay in the driveway of an old friend of Chris for a few days. Chris was friends with Maarten when they were about 17 years old. Several years ago he is permanently in Canada, op Vancouver Island, going to live. When we knew that Vancouver Island was on the agenda, we sent him a message. We didn't know exactly when we would be there, but no doubt we would meet!

Chris got some advice from Patrick through the Facebook group Overlanding USA about what to do in Texas. We met him and told him that we would like to stay on a real Texas ranch someday. Coincidentally, he had to babysit his sister's ranch that very weekend. He had grown up there himself. He contacted his sister to ask if we could stay at the ranch with our RV. And so it happened.

Staying on a Ranch | 250 days OF LIFE
Staying on a Ranch | 250 days OF LIFE

You can find more about our stay with and experiences with these people in the chapter social contacts and locals.

The new discovery

Thanks to Ilse and her blog about housesitting, we have become familiar with it. Via the website trustedhousesitters.com people (all over the world) are looking for someone to take care of their house and pets. If you are looking for a housesit, you pay an amount to be able to respond to the people who are looking for someone.

At first we doubted whether it would be worth the amount. We first did some research on the availability of housesits in the Austin, Texas area. Around the Thanksgiving period, many people turned out to be one house sitter to search. After we signed up and on some websites had responded, we had three different video conversations. All three wanted to invite us to the sit, so in the end we were the ones to choose!

Walking the dogs | 250 days OF LIFE
Walking the dogs | 250 days OF LIFE

The second weekend of November we were able to spend a weekend in Krista's house and look after Sebastian (5 year old rescue bulldog), Hippo (1 year old bulldog) and Oliver (the cross-eyed cat). That was a success! It was nice for us to use a house for a while, to stay in a city and also to play and cuddle with the animals a lot.

Working with Oliver
Working with Oliver

We are now working on our second sit. We care for two dogs and a large house in a suburb of Austin. If only we had discovered this sooner!

Also read: Itinerary 1 year America and Canada | The ultimate overland route

Nutrition

What you don't want to get used to is that everything is quite expensive in the United States, including groceries. I wrote about this in a blog about the setbacks. We hear that prices in the Netherlands have also risen, but in my opinion that is not yet as serious as in here.

We therefore continue to pay attention to the prices in the supermarket. We don't eat out much. We cook a lot on our gas stove with one burner and those are often easy meals. When we stay in a house, we like to cook a little more elaborately.

We look forward to paying 'normal' prices again or at least not having to be so alert to the prices when shopping.

work

In the 100 days blog, I told you that we work in the camper or nice outside, at a picnic table for example. Since Canada we have added a new option to this, which is working in the library!

Due to a lack of good internet in Canada it was more or less out of necessity, but we soon discovered that we also found a pleasant temperature and a quiet place to work in a library.

We have seen several libraries inside. Sometimes very spacious and with a classic look. Sometimes a poorly maintained small space, but always with WiFi. A small disadvantage that we have encountered with libraries in the city is that sometimes homeless people who do not smell fresh use them.

Travel with the weather

The planning has always been to travel with the weather. Camping and life in the camper with cold temperatures and precipitation are not pleasant.

When we arrived in March New York, it was still freezing cold. When we got the RV picked up in Baltimore, we drove south as fast as we could. We were soon in Georgia, where it was 30 °C degrees.

Drive to the heat
Drive to the heat

Since then, we've had pretty much sunny and warm weather on our route, with the exception of three rainy days in the state of Arkansas. So it was spring and summer.

Setting Sun | 250 days OF LIFE
Setting Sun | 250 days OF LIFE

After the roadtrip with my parents and now that winter is approaching, we quickly drove south again. We found temperatures of 30 °C again in Texas. Until suddenly a large cold front introduced the whole of America to winter. It's been cold and rainy for a week now, which doesn't make camping comfortable.

Not only is camping less comfortable, we will also have to make more effort to generate sufficient power. If the sun shines during the day, we generate more than enough. If not, we will at least have to start the car to recharge the batteries.

The plan to travel with the weather has worked out well until recently, actually the entire trip, but unfortunately not now...

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Social contacts

Interested Canadians

In Canada we were often approached by older people, who in one way or another have a connection with the Netherlands. A somewhat older gentleman spoke to us in poor Dutch and told us that he had moved from the Netherlands to Canada at the age of 9. A number of other men know the city of Nijmegen because they walked the Four Days Marches just after the war. These conversations are always very nice and welcoming.

Interested Americans

We've noticed that Americans generally have a lot of interest in us, but how they express it varies greatly from state to state. In Florida and in Texas, I think we are most addressed. There was even a moment in Florida when we got tired of talking. In the north, people were a little more reserved. Yet we actually got to talking everywhere, which is very pleasant during the trip.

premises

We attach great importance to contact with locals. During a trip like this it is very welcome and of course also very interesting to see how people live on this side of the earth. We were very lucky to meet these people.

Stay on an acreage

We enjoyed the acreage life with Kim (whom I mentioned earlier). There were pleasant evenings with Kim, her husband Jakko, the dogs and sometimes a campfire. We also rolled up our sleeves a few times and helped them clean up the stable, remove barbed wire and do some pruning.

The Acreage in Canada | 250 days OF LIFE
The Acreage in Canada | 250 days OF LIFE

Vancouver Islanders

When we stayed at Maarten's driveway, we were able to work fine from here and explore part of Vancouver Island. Maarten and his roommate gave us tips for this and we experienced things that we otherwise would not have had. We also had two pleasant evenings for dinner with Maarten and reminisced about old memories. Isn't that worth gold?

Belgian in Texas

While standing on a beach in Texas, Josh approached us. He said he was born in Belgium. It was then called Josh. He left for the US in adulthood and lived in Chicago for a long time. He has lived in Texas for a long time now and really feels at home there.

As we were finishing our conversation he said he and his wife are coming to pick us up at 18.00pm to take us out to dinner. That evening we sat at one Texas Mesquite BBQ restaurant. What hospitality!

A so-called political rally was held in the restaurant for the upcoming elections (November 8). It was from a republican party and we have been amazed and our ears are flapping. When the rally started, people prayed for God and 'our president Donald J. Trump'. Those present clearly believed that the presidential elections had been stolen.

Chris was also allowed to go to the office of the local republican party to receive a t-shirt. The T-shirt in question is too extreme to share here, but the painting hanging there speaks volumes.

In the Republican office, Jesus watches over Donald J. Trump (the painting)

Even more hospitality

Chris connected online with Patrick, who lives in Texas. He had extensive advice for us when we asked about this. When we were in Texas he invited us for pizza. After the pizza, some beers and a nice conversation, the best man also had gifts for us! He gave us beer from a Texas brewery, Texas Bourbon, and firewood for a campfire on the beach.

When we stayed at Patrick's sister's Ranch, Patrick and his son Rain gave us an extensive tour. He told about the land and the animals. In addition, and that cannot be missed on a ranch, he taught us something about weapons. It is heartwarming that people welcome you without expecting anything in return!

Chris, Rain and Patrick at the Texas Ranch
Chris, Rain and Patrick at the Texas Ranch

Conclusion

We have had so many great experiences and the trip probably has a few more in store for us. We have become accustomed to life in the camper, but the desire for 'normal' is growing.

We hope to find normal life somewhat now that we can look after a house with pets. From there we will work on new plans. What do we do? I can already reveal that we believe that we have seen and experienced enough of the United States. Maybe we're a bit done with it too...

VANLIFE | 250 days living in a camper
VANLIFE | 250 days living in a camper

That means a new destination is coming. That could be done with the camper, but actually I can say (Chris maybe a little less) that I am also done with the camper life for now. Are we going to ship the camper back? Or are we going to sell the camper with pain in our hearts? And what are we going to do then?

To be continued…


Plan your vacation to America here


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Malou

From an early age 👶 I have been fascinated by distant travels and other cultures. Seen many a country 🗺️, but certainly not ready yet! At this age (31) I often think about how to organize my life further. When I travel, I quickly let go of that and I can fully enjoy the here and now 🧘.
At home 🏠 I have a job in childcare, but at the moment I have a year off to go on an adventure with my husband Chris and the camper 🚐 in the US 🇺🇸 and Canada 🇨🇦

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