We’ve been traveling North America in our van for the past 9 months and this week leading into Memorial Day weekend is, thankfully, the first time either one of us has been sick. Kendal and I made a solemn pledge at the beginning of this trip: if either of us got the stomach bug or some other type of flu where we needed a bathroom to take care of business we would get a hotel room. Living on the road without a bathroom in the van is tough, but we make do. Being sick and/or puking without a bathroom would be way less fun.
I’m thankful that we made it this long without getting a bug! On average, I would say we each get seriously ill about once per year, ill enough to call in to work and wallow in self-pity at home on the couch. Of course, as our home is now our 85 square foot van, we wallow in the van on the bed.
Kendal got sick first. Nothing too major, more of an inconvenience than a true illness, but being stuffed up and having constant fits of coughing, sneezing and snotting is certainly no fun. It kept her from being able to sleep soundly, which is already tough to do in the van with all the road noise, the sounds of nature and her insufferable husband restlessly getting up to pee every couple of hours.
I felt really bad for her, and I did my best to take care of her. I did all of the cooking and cleaning, did all of the driving and generally left her alone to read, nap, relax and recover. My selfish goal, it should be added, was to not catch whatever bug she had as I was a first-time eyewitness to how miserable being sick while living in a van could be. Alas, the inevitable result of spending 24 hours per day together in such close confines led the virus to maliciously attack me and Ralph, vowing to take no prisoners without a good sneeze. Ralph was able to fend off this wanna-be human virus but I was felled just a few short days after Kendal’s first cough.
Fortunately, this go-around the sickness hasn’t been terrible. Inconvenient, yes, leading to fitful rest and sleeplessness, definitely uncomfortable. Kind of like everything else that comes with living in a van full-time. However, the perks of this lifestyle continue to outweigh all of these difficulties. For example, for the duration of our sicknesses we’ve been staying in beautiful settings in the National Forests of Eastern and Southern Oregon. For all the inconveniences, at the moment at least, I wouldn’t want to be sick anywhere else than here in the woods with my wife.
By Max Paley, all rights reserved