Vanlife Died – The reality of when your van life collapses & what I’ve learned

written by beaniesandbikinis March 31, 2017
vanlife died New Zealand Queenstown
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Yes, you got it right. My vanlife died. It was a dark morning when I finished work, it was my birthday actually. I got blessed with the worst birthday gift ever. My engine blew up and my vanlife died. In that split second, I was homeless, vehicle-less and therefore soul-less. It might sound like I’m exaggerating, but in reality, when your entire world is held within a couple walls of steel and it collapses, you become lost. I grabbed a couple outfits, my tooth brush and some needed items and I quickly found myself on the floor of my friends bedroom. Waking up with tears in my eyes on my birthday morning can only vaguely explain the sadness I was feeling. I had plans to go out with friends for my birthday, and those plans were quickly cancelled when I couldn’t even bring myself off the hard floor I’d been sleeping on.

van life my cool campervan nz vanlife vanlife died New Zealand Queenstown

For the next week the sadness got worse, because all the mechanics in Queenstown are so ungrateful to have business. Treating me disposable, not wanting to help, and leaving me very confused with where to go from here. I decided to have my van shipped to a mechanic an hour out of town, a mechanic that is actually a nice human being that will help. His verdict was, the engine has blown up and needs to be replaced. To be honest, the cost of living in Queenstown is insanely expensive, $1000 per month for a little bedroom in a house. I decided that fixing my van is always a cheaper option because I don’t have to pay rent. As the mechanic was on the lookout for a new engine, I patiently waited on the couches of my friends houses, with only a bag to my name.

Traveling in Asia only consists of having a bag as well, but in this case, my bag was half packed since I was in a rush as the tow truck came to pick up my dead vanlife. I barely had what I needed by any means. Needless to say, it was a very tough time for me. It has now been over 3 weeks without my van, and I’d say I’m dealing with it pretty well. Looking back, I was getting too comfortable with the van life, always expecting it to be there waiting for me at all times with everything I needed. But isn’t that what we all want, a reliable vehicle?

vanlife died New Zealand Queenstown

Since my van is 30 years old this year, I realise that some parts are hard to come by – even though there are so many Nissan Caravans roaming New Zealand. I don’t have time to wait for a vanlife to die so I can steal it’s engine, so back to the drawing board we go. The current status is the mechanic is ripping the engine apart to find the problem and repair it. The key to anything in life, I feel, is to go with the flow, accept and always always stay positive. I know I’ll be going on a whole New Zealand road trip again in May and my van will be awesome and fixed! Until then, I’ll be focusing on other things, especially meditating and learning more about photography. Stay busy, stay happy right?

vanlife died New Zealand Queenstown
van life my cool campervan nz vanlifevanlife died New Zealand Queenstown

What I've learned since my van died

  1. Never get too comfortable with your surroundings, they could collapse at any second. That being said, don’t live the same day everyday thinking you’ve got time. I used to just sit in my van days on end because I just felt comfortable and happy in it. I should have been getting out a lot more and doing adventures.
  2. Be open and adaptable to change. Need to swiftly change your environment for any reason? Keep an open mind and heart and know that this is happening for a reason, to teach you something perhaps?
  3. Stay positive. Always. This is probably the hardest thing for me, I subtley enjoy basking in the pond of my own misery sometimes. It seems easier to stay in the pond of sadness than to turn that frown upside down and look on the bright side. Life is really just a game, and I’m slowly learning how to rewire my brain to see the good in every situation.
vanlife died van life my cool campervan nz vanlifeNew Zealand Queenstown

Well, this has been the extent of my life lately. I’ve been on loads of adventures with friends, learned so much more about photography and have gotten out of my comfort zone in many ways. Staying positive and looking forward to my road trip in May. I can’t wait to revive my dead van life, so send some positive vibes with the van mechanic gods out there everyone!

vanlife died New Zealand Queenstown

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6 comments

Michael Faust April 1, 2017 at 12:33 am

Best wishes to you.Hooe you have your van back soon.I really enjoy your pics.Happy Adventuring

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beaniesandbikinis April 1, 2017 at 9:07 am

Thank you! <3

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Alex Garcia April 29, 2017 at 11:57 am

This is so great. I’m amazed you can do this solo for as long as you have. I just picked up a van, have driven 3000+ miles so far. I’m a social being so struggle a bit with the isolation. Any tips on meeting similar minded people ?

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beaniesandbikinis April 29, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Amazing! Where in the world are you? I highly suggest Tinder. And staying at hostels every now and again. You really get to meet so many people. I’m always at cafes, wandering in the park and just putting myself out there to make new friends! Cheers to the vanlife! It’s seriously amazing.

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Alex Garcia May 3, 2017 at 2:39 am

Thank you! I’m in the US right now traveling the Eastern Coast at the moment. Great tips – I will get on those things. Thank you for the inspiration. My page is IG @alivecubed my page doesn’t have your reach but I would love to feature you if that’s ok?

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beaniesandbikinis May 4, 2017 at 9:01 pm

Amazing, I can’t wait to explore US. Of course! Love your page it’s great!

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