Ever wondered what it’s like to live full-time in a van? Van life is a minimalistic lifestyle that includes living in a converted van or motor vehicle. Those who are looking to live on the road full-time, or seasonally, may do so to travel more, spend less on housing, or live minimally.
Team Injinji Athletes Skye Stoury (@skyestoury) and Denise Bourassa (@tinydbo) are outdoor athletes who have each spent time living on the road, either full-time or seasonally. Join us as we delve into their stories, exploring their unique experiences on the road and the challenges that come with living in a van.
How long have you been living in a van? What inspired you to choose van life?
Skye: We've had our van since October 2019, but only used it for weekend trips and road trips until fully moving into it in 2023. After saving up for several years, I quit my full-time job in January of 2023, and my fiancé and I moved into our van full-time. I love the freedom that living in a van has given me. It was so nice to travel and get to stay in places as long as we wanted. Though I do plan on moving back into an apartment this year, I would love to continue full-time van life as long as possible.
Denise: I spent this past summer living in my van. Airbnb'ing my place both allowed me to bring down my payment on my van as well as gave me the opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of van life. My husband and I look forward to van life'ing at some point to determine where we want our forever home to be!
What has been your favorite part (so far) about your nomadic lifestyle?
Skye: It's been perfect as a climber to be able to travel to all my favorite climbing destinations at the right time of year. It's also been so much fun to get to see new places and travel on a budget. We mostly camp in dispersed areas that are free. We have only paid for camping when we have to, so we have had huge savings instead of living in a town.
Denise: How little one needs! Truly, you can have a house full of so much "stuff,” but move into a van and you realize how little you really need. That along with having the ability to stop anywhere in your travels to explore new trails!
Are there any unexpected challenges that come with living in a van?
Skye: We didn't have any this year; we've lived in our van for many vacations so we really knew what to expect when we moved into the van full-time. We don't have a toilet, so I thought that would be an issue, but in the US, there are plenty of pit toilets and gas stations/rest stops. I did have to get used to showering less and showering outside, but now that's just a part of life.
Denise: Getting ill while in the van is a challenge that comes to mind! My bed is about four feet from the floor, and I do not have a toilet in my van! On one occasion I found myself unable to get back into bed, blacking out and staying on the floor. I may have had to use my cat litter box as it was a dire emergency!!
For some, van life often means limited access to traditional training facilities. How do you stay disciplined in your workout routine?
Skye: I don't! Before van life, I did workouts at a climbing gym, but because we were taking a year off work, we did not keep any kind of gym membership. I have not done any actual training for a year, but I've spent every day outside. Climbing outside, hiking, and trail running almost every day was its own kind of training. It's not the same as training in a gym, but it feels so much better, and I think I'm in better shape than I was before.
Denise: For me, van life actually gets me to the gym more consistently. When I am in town, I will hit the gym first thing in the morning, take care of business, and get a workout in. I also keep a yoga mat in the van, which allows me to get some outside yoga / stretching in pre or post-run.
If you had to cook the same meal every day in your van, what would it be?
Skye: Probably salad if I had to choose one. Cooking the same meal every day sounds awful, and we do have several easy meals that work well in the van, but we really try to mix things up as much as possible. I get so sick of eating the same thing even a couple of weeks in a row. But staple meals that are regulars on the menu are stir fry or ramen with veggies and tofu, pasta, or impossible burgers. My favorite breakfast is a scramble of hashbrowns, veggie sausage, cheese, and an egg.
Denise: My all-time favorite van meal is a hearty kale salad with salmon. Literally, I could eat this every day! But for me, cooking is fun and I will cook anything from fajitas to sushi!
Where’s the coolest or most interesting place you’ve visited in your van?
Skye: We've done so much that it's really hard to pick one. This past year we drove and stayed all over the Western US, going as far east as Wyoming and Colorado. Some highlights would have to be being in Banff for larch season this fall, climbing in Yosemite in both the spring and fall, bouldering in Bishop, CA, and spending a month road tripping around Colorado.
Denise: There are still sooo many places to go and see, but I would have to say the coolest to date is taking the van to crew and pace at Hardrock 100.
What’s your go-to pair of Injinji socks to wear while traveling?
Denise: You name the injinji sock and I have worn it while traveling! My Injinji toesocks are perfect for any occasion!
If you have considered van life, let these athletes’ experiences serve as a reminder of the opportunities that come with it. Grab a pair of Injinji socks and have fun exploring!