The Inevitable Van Life Breakdown

Eventually Your Van Will Breakdown…

At some point in your van life adventure, something is going to go horribly, horribly wrong. When it does, you’re going to need a backup plan.

As you know, van life is very different from the life you’re used to living right now. I mean, I don’t have a shower, I can’t stand up in my living space, and I only own a spork for eating. But I can take my home all over the world.

free camping in the badlands
No gross neighbors here!

Have you stepped out your front door into the badlands? No? People pay millions for that type of real estate.

I didn’t even do anything special, I just drove there and parked.

While you have to put up with that jerk neighbor that barfs over their balcony railing onto your new grill, I can just drive away and find new neighbors.

But with that freedom, comes the realization that when tragedy strikes, we are basically homeless.

Our van has been a monster, and I say that with nothing but love in my heart. It’s sturdy, strong, and very heavy duty. I can’t believe how lucky we have been with this model. While nothing major has happened, we did have one small incident in the past involving our fuel pump.

free camping angels rest new mexico
Best Van EVER!

When we were purchasing our Econoline, the guy told us that there was a small leak in the fuel pump. I brought it to several different mechanics to try and fix the issue, but they could never find a leak. I did what any normal person would do, and completely put it out of my head.

We drove for six months with no issues whatsoever and eventually decided it was ok to go on our massive United States road trip. We went from Oregon, through Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, then up through Canada where we popped down through Niagra Falls into New York. After that, we drove all the way south to Florida, before heading west again.

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We eventually spent a wonderful birthday weekend in a hotel in New Orleans, complete with way too much alcohol and shenanigans.

getting drunk in new orleans
If someone passes you a drink called a “hand grenade” run!

I hopped back into the driver’s seat the next morning with a raging headache only to find that once I got onto the highway I couldn’t accelerate. It would just completely die out for 30 seconds, then come raging back to life. Thank God we weren’t in Monday morning rush hour traffic!

I managed to get us on to a side street and we started immediately calling mechanics. Since it was Sunday, our only option was a  Pep Boys.

After about an hour, they finally diagnosed it as a faulty fuel pump and were able to fix it, but it was going to take several hours.

Now, we REALLY lucked out here. Had “hours” been “days” we would have been screwed, stuck in an unfamiliar city with nowhere to go. Sure, we could have secured a hotel for the night, but hotels can be expensive, and if you aren’t budgeting for it, might be out of the question.

When all was said and done, we were back on the road again 8 hours later, and $400 dollars poorer.

The moral of the story is, van life can be great and can save you a ton of money, but you should always keep an emergency fund stored away, and have great insurance. You never know what could happen and being unprepared is the worst feeling in the world.

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