- When people learn I spent four years living in a van, many ask how it affected my personal life.
- Sex in a van is pretty much the same as it is outside of a van, but there’s much less headroom.
- Van-life relationships can be both tough and rewarding. The key is to establish clear boundaries.
Love, sex, and relationships can be messy, regardless of your living situation. Things can get especially tricky when you live in van, like I chose to do for four years.
Here are my answers to some of the most common questions people ask me about how living on the road affected my sex and love life, along with the lessons I learned from the relationships around me.
Is sex different in such a small space?
Sex in a van is just like sex anywhere else, but with less headroom.
Most vans have a bed platform at the rear of the vehicle, and headroom can vary from a reasonable 5 feet to a very cozy 2 feet.
What did you learn from having sex in a van?
These are some of the most important things I learned about having an active sex life on the road.
- Baby wipes are your friend for keeping things clean.
- Sexual health and maintenance are still important, so always pee after sex to reduce the chance of getting a urinary tract infection. Your pee jar should be close by.
- Some positions, like Cowgirl, are less feasible, unless you have a lot of headroom or decide to take things to the floor.
- Position yourself and your partner longways in the van to reduce rocking and shaking. Vehicles shake more if you rock them side to side rather than front to back.
- Be safe when you do the deed and stick to forest service land or camping areas. At the very least, get some heavy-duty curtains.
What’s it like living in such close quarters with your partner?
Living in a van with someone is really fun. It’s great to have your adventure partner with you to share road trip music and admire starry skies, but living in a small space and managing road trip logistics together can also be really hard.
The most common relationship model I see is two people living together in the same van. It often works well because many people in this situation decided to move out of a house or apartment and into a van together.
When you’re in a relationship on the road, you deal with every tiny, uncomfortable detail right away. There’s nowhere for either of you to go, so you have to figure out conflicts immediately. Additionally, you are always, and I mean always, cleaning up after one another.
For some people, this dynamic ends a relationship pretty quickly. For others, it helps reinforce the reasons they work well together.
How does the relationship change when two people live in different vans?
If you’re single and traveling around, chances are you’ll run into someone else who’s single and traveling around. When this happens, it’s only natural that you two might decide to travel to the same places together for a while.
Finding parking for two vans at campsites, in friends’ driveways, and in lots is much more challenging than finding a spot for one van.
Two vans can sometimes feel exceptionally unwieldy for traveling. I’ve also found that you end up spending most of your time in whichever van has the bigger bed.
What’s it like to date someone who lives in a house when you live in a van?
You meet a lot of cool people when you travel in a van, and a lot of those people have houses.
My best advice is to try not to move into their driveway right away. When you’re living on the road, you can get used to a communal way of life, sharing campsites and dinner with nearby strangers. But remember: That isn’t how most people feel about their space. So, don’t be a mooch.
I’ve found it best not to treat your partner’s home as a place to check off your to-do list, or else you’ll kill the romance. Most people won’t feel great about you coming into town just to sleep in their driveway, use their shower, do laundry, and then leave.
What about when you live in a house and your partner lives on the road?
If you happen to be on the other end of this dynamic, where you, a person living in a house, meet a special someone who lives a nomadic lifestyle, be comfortable setting boundaries.
It can feel challenging to set boundaries with your partner, especially when they have trouble finding other places to park, but it’s important to honor your needs. You’re paying the rent or mortgage to live in your house, and they’re not.