Not surprisingly, the tips and tricks for living healthy on the road are close to, if not exactly the same, as those for living a healthy life in general. Despite the blinding fact that you're living in a significantly smaller space with fewer amenities, you begin to realize the ways of life are remarkably similar for each once you get accustomed to the change.
My name is Amanda and I am a full-time van-living gal in my Ford Transit, Leif. Having lived on the road for a few months now and loving every second of it, I feel qualified to offer advice I've gained from my own experience.
Here are 8 ways I maintain all aspects of my health, from mental to physical, while living on the road and in my tiny home on wheels.
1. Get Outside and Active
The best part of van life? Everything lies within steps beyond your door. Spending time outdoors never feels more convenient than when you can park at a trailhead or at your local park. It's difficult to make excuses for not getting outdoors and exploring in nature when your home is just seconds from the forest, mountains, lakes, and everything in between.
Van life was designed for those who long to wander, so it only makes sense to break free from the comfort of your home on wheels and wander the trails far and wide.
2. Cook from Home
I've seen van lifers that lie all along the spectrum on this topic. From those who can afford to eat most of their meals in cafes and local restaurants to those, like me, who prepare 99% of their meals in their very own tiny kitchen. I am not afraid to admit that I am very stingy when it comes to the things I spend my hard-earned money on, and paying for food I could easily make myself for much cheaper just doesn't make the cut.
Not only does preparing meals in the van save a nice chunk of change, but it's become a labor of comfort. When it's time to eat, I light a candle, turn on music or a podcast, and carefully prepare my meal with intention. Frankly, comfort that sweet is just not something I am willing to sacrifice for the convenience of a meal prepared by another.
3. Stretch Often
As much as I love living in a tiny space with everything I need in arm's reach, I can't deny the fact that it does get a bit cramped! Regardless of whether or not I have just endured a long drive or have am staying put in a nice spot, I always make it a point to stretch my limbs.
The act of stretching is not only for the sake of comfort, but out of respect for my body. In fact, stretching was really not a part of my daily routine until I moved into a significantly smaller space. Upon moving into the van, I felt compelled to stretch my body simply to engage in some form of movement in my tiny space.
4. Sleep It Out
We all know how crucial sleep is for our all around wellbeing; our body's need for sleep doesn't waver because our environment suddenly changes. Sleep touches all aspects of our health from our mindset to even the quality of our nutrition.
As someone who is a relatively active person, from trail running to climbing to lifting weights, I know my body needs ample time to rest and recover. Just as anybody else living in a house or apartment, van-dwelling humans need sleep too.
5. Explore Nearby Gyms and Fitness Classes
With limited space comes the need to be creative in the ways we get our movement in and also practice good hygiene! Gyms are how many van lifers go about physical fitness conveniently and the access to showers is essential. Not having an indoor shower means I heavily rely on gyms to take showers and get ready each morning to be a functioning human!
If you're traveling, it's important to choose a gym that you can have access to all across the country. If you plan on staying put, then you can invest in a local gym and pour into your community!
Another tip if you're traveling and don't want to invest in a monthly membership, you can call around to the gyms in your area to ask if any offer free trial memberships or daily passes. I once found a small family-owned gym in Greeneville, TN that gave me access to the facility and showers for just $7. That's a steal in my book, sold.
6. Treat Yourself In Moderation
Just like any other human being, it's important to be mindful of the foods you consume and the indulgences you allow yourself. While moving into a van does save you loads by freeing you from a mortgage or rent, that isn't an excuse to turn around and splurge by going out to eat everyday or ordering takeout every night because you don't feel like cooking in your tiny space.
With everything else in life, there is a balance to be sought. Save your money for future adventures and experiences instead of convenient fast food! I like to treat myself to a nice morning coffee date every now and then where I can work in the bustling coffee shop atmosphere I love so much.
As you can tell, living a healthy and balanced life on the road is really no different from one in a bigger space with convenient amenities a step away. Does it take a little more preparation to find those sleep spots and gym showers? Sure. Does it take patience and a bit of adjusting to living in a less than 40 sq. ft. space? Absolutely! But for those who long to live life a little bit out of the ordinary, it is all the more worth the extra effort.