Van lifers, Dan and Kenz from @vanziehartlieb, are sharing some tips on how to combat the potential loneliness of the open road.
From our experience and through speaking with others who are living this lifestyle (full and part-time), we have come to understand that a nomadic way of life can either provoke relationships a-plenty or can result in immense loneliness.
To us, from the very beginning, a nomadic way of life meant building meaningful and long-lasting relationships with people of all walks of life. Within the first few months of our travels, this was not our reality. We spent a lot of time together, alone but together. We were seeing vans and RVs everywhere but not experiencing the interactions we had expected. Over a cup of coffee and tea one morning we talked about this and discussed why this could be and asked ourselves: “Do we look desperate to meet people?” and “Do we stink (literally)?”
Don’t be that smelly guy: 5 Best Portable Shower Set-Ups for Van Life
We eventually came to a mutual understanding: we had set expectations. Our life, to this point, led us to this very moment because we did not have expectations. We followed a simple equation in our lives: doing what we love and following our hearts. It sounds like a joke because of its simplicity but it is such a beautiful truth.
So, we released the expectations of meeting people after a few months and the floodgates of loving relationships were opened; a broken valve we could not fix. We are so fortunate to have met so many loving people from such diverse backgrounds, all looking to simply live and love life.
We understand that people of varying backgrounds may approach their social interactions differently. But we wanted to provide an outline of what worked best for us to unleash our inner-socialite, to find a glimpse of comfort through the discomfort this van life lifestyle provokes.
This is the easiest way to start stepping into that social self that we all have inside. Do not hope or expect to meet people.
As we said, once we just started living and following our interests, we began to meet people with whom we have built long-lasting, meaningful relationships. Forget about meeting people and just enjoy your life. People flock to those who are simply living life as their authentic selves. They tend to avoid those who are hungry and thirsty for engagement.
Want a great way to meet other people with similar interests? Van Life Meetups: Are They Worth It?
Step Outside of your Comfort Zone
If you see a group of people doing something you would like to be doing, go over! Say hello! Introduce yourself!
We learned this the hard way. As we watched a group of van lifers listening to music, enjoying a beverage, and playing SpikeBall on the beach in Key West, Florida – we sat and wished they would invite us to join. Since then, we have decided to be proactive and step into our social self, approaching those we wish to surround ourselves with. This has led to relationships-a-plenty, especially given the welcoming nature of the van life, nomadic community.
Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover
Most of the people we have met throughout our travels do not look like our friends back home. They do not act like our friends back home. They do not think like our friends back home. AND THAT’S THE POINT! Again, releasing expectations of the people you USED to surround yourself with will open your mind to meeting new and beautiful people.
We’ve sat around fires and told stories with strangers from all ages, races, countries, professional backgrounds, etc., for hours. The majority of the time, by the end of the night, they become family. Not every relationship is built to last a lifetime; however, every interaction does shape the person you are today and ultimately become tomorrow.
Put simply by Dr. Seuss:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”
Not everyone is going to love you, and that’s fine! There are many people and plenty of opportunities waiting for you in your future. Those who do love you will be there for the authentic you.
Have you met amazing new friends during your van life adventure?