We didn’t do everything exactly as we’d like. In fact, I can guarantee without a trial run (or three), there will be something within the first night of your van life that you’d like to change. For better or for worse, some things are stuck the way they are. These are some of our favorite quick fixes we found along the way.
1. Giant bolster pillow for bedding
Can you spot the bedding in this photo? If the answer was yes, I will take that to mean you are a Jedi and/or can predict the future. If the answer was no, and you aren’t just trying to flatter us, this blanket hack might be for you! [Hint: it’s underneath the wool blanket in the back right.] We got the idea from my parents who own a T@b trailer that they keep up at some land they own in the Bay Area. Rather than fold their sheets and comforter up every night and stack them on a shelf somewhere, they roll it up like a taquito, place it in the back of their seating area and treat it like a bolster pillow. Similarly, we purchased a giant bolster cover from Target and when it’s time to pack up, we cram our entire bedding inside it like a stuff sack. It makes making and breaking down our bed a breeze.
2. Amazon mosquito nets
Stressed about ridiculously overpriced mosquito netting? Look no further. It’s not perfect, but this guy gets the job done. Note: we had to place the velcro onto the rubber seal around the doors to maximize the distance stretched.
3. Hardware locks on shelves
We installed magnets and thought with a few positive vibes the shelves would keep themselves shut… This turned out to be a poor use of our mental energy as within fifteen minutes of our departure, our IKEA drawer flew out with such force the entire mechanism came crashing onto our van floor. Enter emergency hardware store run #13. We weren’t too concerned about the aesthetics of the locks but as it turned out, we kinda like ’em. We installed a sliding latch on all of the upper cabinets and currently have one on our kitchen cabinets though are hoping to upgrade it for something bulkier in the near future.
4. Middle seat storage cube
We built our bed with the intention of sleeping diagonally… It worked for about two nights until we unceremoniously confessed we hadn’t really gotten a wink’s worth of shut-eye and something needed to be done immediately. Later that day we ran back to Target (really it’s just the closest department store that fit our needs) and purchased a storage cube very similar to this one. We go back and forth between keeping it up in between the driver and passenger seats or below our dining table. When placed in between the sink and cabinets with the addition of one of our denim throw pillows and a quilted blanket, it extends the length of our bed perfectly so all of Luke’s 6’2″ frame fits parallel to the van. Like the title says, it’s a hack job.
5. Giant Ziplock bags for clothes
This is pretty self-explanatory and definitely works better for me than for Luke. We each have our own closets- his is underneath the bench on the passenger’s side and mine is on the driver’s side. I can roll my clothes up into near toilet paper roll size tubes and thus have organized my closet using 2-gallon Ziplocks- one for pants, shorts, dresses etc. Getting ready in the van is never going to be quick and easy but I know what’s in each bag so when I need a t-shirt, I just grab the whole bag and give Luke some more time and space to get ready.
6. Insta Stories as home movies
I don’t really know if this falls into the same categories as the above but it’s something we’ve discovered along the way to fill the gap of a real video recorder. I post a lot of Insta Stories- way more than the average Instagram user. I believe in capturing memories and the importance of revisiting meaningful moments of our lives. At the end of all this I fully intend to take a ginormous flash drive of photos to a CVS and print hundreds of 5×7 images to be taped into a scrapbook of sorts but even with that, nothing can replace a moving image. At the end of every day around 10pm or so, I download my Insta story. With each story you can drag and drop them into your favorite movie editing software and before you know it, there’s a huge chunk of your trip documented and ready to be viewed.
Let us know what hacks have worked for you!