In this last week, we have met more people (beyond the “meeting” necessary to buy petrol or food or museum tickets etc) than we have in the previous four months travelling in our van. We’ve had the pleasure of taking friends with us, meeting a few British couples also living in van conversions, and even some new lovely Portugese friends. In France we were lucky enough to make friends with a kind family who helped us through the van breaking down, but they were the only people we properly conversed with throughout our 2 months in France…We have put it down to the cold winter – no one in their right minds leaves in November to live in a van, apart from us…
But when I was mentally preparing to live in a van last year, it didn’t even cross my mind that we might struggle to meet other people. Maybe it was silly of me, but I was thinking about wild showers, shitting against a tree and being cramped in a bed with Ross. I mean, those things still were not easy to adjust to but at least I saw them coming…
We have technically interacted with hundreds of people since leaving England, but they have all been people working at places we’ve been to – it’s not an environment for making friends. Throw the language barrier into the mix (which can only be broken with a lot of effort and Google translate), and making friends becomes almost impossible.
I guess living in a van with a serious budget does not help. Most of our evenings are spent in remote locations, cleaning or cooking and watching TV shows on my laptop. We don’t go out for food or drinks really (though we did in Madrid and Lisbon on 2 occasions). The fact is that living in a van is pretty solitary, even if you are in a couple.
Despite many people asking me, I am not “sick” of Ross’ company yet, or vice versa (he’s assured me), but we definitely started craving additional human company over the Winter. We became aware that together we were becoming pretty feral. Phone calls home were the extent of our real-voice communications to people other than each other.
In a way, the loneliness was also a positive experience. I’ve always believed myself to be a sociable person and thought I’d head back into depression without people to be around. But I proved to myself that I can be by myself, or just with Ross, and still be ok and happy.
Time away from others gives you a lot of time to think as well. I think about the future, how I live, self improvements. Everything basically, and I think it sometimes drives Ross mad because I share them all with him! But it is nice to have those quiet moments to fill with your own thoughts and ideas.
I do think that things will continue to change as the weather gets warmer though! More and more vanlifers and travellers will venture out and now we’ve started making more friends, I can’t wait to meet even more people.
As the countries we travel through change, so do the people! As much as I love my fellow Brits (well, most of them), the goal is to meet many more international friends! We’ve met wonderful French and Portugese friends already, so I am crossing my fingers that we find more like them – kind, friendly and interested in Victor the Van!
One thing that has definitely helped is social media. I don’t know where I would be without chatting to friends on Facebook or catching up with their activities on Instagram. The latter is also great for interacting with new people. We love making new friends and following other like minded people online so if you love travelling or live in a van then we’d love to connect (and maybe even meet up one day)! If you’ve travelled alone or lived somewhere remote, do you have any advice for making friends?