Family Vanlife - How To Stay Sane

Disclosure: This blog post contains an affiliate link to Trusted Housesitters, which means we receive a commission if you click the link and join the site. Clicking this link won’t cost you any extra money. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!

How to stay sane as a fulltime travelling family

It’s now been almost a year since we started our family vanlife adventure, and we’ve learnt a lot along the way. One thing that’s becoming clear is that there are certain stressful points, usually when we are in transition. For us, transition moments are usually going from vanlife into a housesit, and then returning to the Baby Bus after a few weeks housesitting.

These times of transition are tricky for all us us in different ways. They are often overwhelming, and can cause us all to lose the plot. The most positive thing is that we have recognised that these transitions are challenging. As a result, we’re able to make plans for how to best weather them as a family, and (in theory) be more gentle on ourselves.

Our ‘Escape Plan’ aka what we do if it all goes tits up

Nick and I got to discussing what was on our If It All Goes Tits Up Plan. As well as myself and Nick, there are our two girls who are nearly 6 and nearly 2 years old at the time of writing. I see now that it’s essential for us to have a variety of ideas of how to rescue ourselves if we start to fall apart.

So here’s our list of how we intend to stay sane:

  • Find a lake/sea/stream to entertain our kids. Water (or sand) is a guaranteed win for the girls occupying themselves for a decent amount of time, which gives us parents time to talk/headspace.
  • Go to a campsite for a few days. A campsite just gives us all a bit more space, there’s usually a playground, food provided, maybe even a swimming pool. We can all feel a bit more like we’re on holiday (we both work so this lifestyle is not like a holiday for us!).
  • Get takeaway pizza for dinner. It just lifts our spirits.
  • Have a day out. A day out can bring us back together as a family and provide a good distraction.
  • Book into an Airbnb. If all else fails, book an Airbnb for more space and hot running water.

What do we mean by it all going tits up?

After discussing this recently on our Instagram account, someone asked us “what kind of tits up are we talking here?” Great question! What does it look like for our family when it all goes tits up?

  • At least one person bursts into tears.
  • Someone starts a conversation about how much they hate living in a van. More of us join in listing off everything we hate about what we’re doing.
  • We all take turns in screaming at each other, usually over something insignificant.
  • The littlest gets even crankier because her family have gone crazy.
  • And it often ends in someone accidentally hurting themselves (or someone else) because they’re mad.

So my recommendation to anyone else thinking about or embarking on vanlife as a family is this – make yourself a list of things to lift your spirits when the going gets tough. And learn to recognise the times when you all get overwhelmed and stressed, so you can plan for them.

You can check out this post on our Instagram for a few more great suggestions from fellow van families.