5 Tips for Living in a Caravan

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We have been living in a 16ft caravan for almost two years now – think we qualify as “seasoned”.  We’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years about what is really important for surviving in a small, poorly insulated space and what you can get by without.  The following (in no particular order) are some tips for anyone who wants to brave roughing it for extended periods:

1. Crocs

Crocs may be “the universal symbol of a man who has given up hope” but they are a source of great comfort for us caravan dwellers.

When you’re in and out constantly because you have to wash dishes outside, shower outside, chase the bull out away from the front step in the middle of the night or chase the chooks out of the garden, you need footwear that is:

  • easy to get on and off
  • waterproof
  • expendable

Crocs (or cheap rip-off Crocs from Target as we’ve got) are especially handy when you have vindictive chooks who shit in your shoes if you leave them locked up for too long.

Blanche looking mad

2.  Being materialistic will make you miserable

Clothes, food and things for preparing and eating food should be your priority – if it’s not going to keep you warm or fill your stomach it’s probably far from essential.

Broccoli ferment

Cluttering your limited storage space with stuff you don’t need will lead to intense frustration when you go to search for something you do need (usually accompanied by a bump on the head or a stubbed toe trying to get into the back of cramped spaces) and usually results in a general sense of chaos or lack of control.  If you’ve chosen to live in a caravan you’ve probably relinquished a healthy amount of control over your life and worldly possessions – taking it a step further could land you in the looney bin.

Aside from the issue limited storage space, the inability to control indoor conditions and the fact that you’re likely living in an easily accessible rodent shangri la means you shouldn’t get too attached to any of your belongings because they will no doubt be ruined shortly.

3.  A hot shower

Never underestimate the ability of a hot shower to make you feel better and less like a dirty hobo.  We only installed a shower about a six weeks ago and we are still going on about it – prior to that we either bathed under the hose (usually with a bunch of cows staring at us, very unnerving) or had a 5 min walk uphill to get to a shower.

When someone is in the shower now, there is usually a shout of “I LOVE this shower sooooo much.”  Washing off the layer of filth is all the luxury you need to feel like a king.

4. Get a decent computer with long battery life

Living in a caravan doesn’t mean you have to be a Luddite.  When the weather is horrible,  when your solar power has run out at 5pm so you can’t even use the lights to read, when the chooks seem determined to break your spirit, when you’d actually really rather not be living in a caravan, a computer you can play a couple of movies on will provide you with the escapism you need.

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Don’t skimp on the battery life, there is nothing worse than having the computer shut down 10 minutes before then end of a movie, leaving you with the double frustration of reality and not knowing how the movie ends.

5.  Celebrate the small victories

Already wearing all the clothes you own and are under four doonas but you’re still cold? 43oC inside and you’re lying in a jacuzzi of your own sweat vapour?  It’s times like these you have to learn to force yourself to find the good in the situation for the sake of your own sanity.  It’s not easy; we have had more days than we can count where one of us has flopped on the bed and thrown a flailing-limb tantrum like a toddler, declaring: “I hate it here!”

The truth is no matter how bad some days feel, for us, living in a caravan beats the hell out of living in a shoebox apartment in the middle of the city and it’s getting us closer to where we really want to be in life.

Crocs