Lessons Learned From Two Weeks of Living and Working in a Van

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Boondocking south of Sedona. Shot with DJI Spark.

I just finished two weeks of living and working in a van. Backstory here and documented here on instagram.

The West is Beautiful

You know this. But do you really, really know this?

One of my favorite movie scenes is about the difference between book knowledge and experience.

“I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistene Chapel.”

(Spoiler, the Sistene Chapel doesn’t really smell like anything. But I had to go there to find that out.)

Here’s just some random state park filled with sand dunes. I decided to turn into this park on a whim.

Then, of course, there’s the Grand Canyon.

Boondocking is crazy easy

Boondocking is free camping out in nature, i.e. the boondocks.

As a city boy, I was confused. Where do you find these places? Are the roads passable? Will I run into roaming meth addicts?

Turns out there is an entire scene of interesting travelers who are camping on BLM land. Usually you have the option of camping near them, meeting them, and sharing travel tips.

Everything about the experience is easy. Sites like freecampsites.net help you find areas to camp, the dirt roads are drivable, the campsites are blatantly obvious. And on top of that, I’ve had consistently good internet as measured by whether I can hold a video chat.

Hotspot data is metered differently than cell data

I’m on a Verizon unlimited plan.

But, it turns out that using my phone as a hotspot comes out of a different meter. I have 15GB of hotspot data and after that my hotspot data rates get cut all the way down to 600kbs. That’s not fast and I did end up hitting my cap.

So, I’m making two adjustments.

The first is that I’m doing more of my video calls from my phone to avoid draining the hotspot data.

The second is that I’m just going to pony up and pay extra for extra hotspot data. It’s $35 per extra 5GB, which means I’ll be paying an extra $70-$105 per month.

I just consider that the cost of doing business from the boondocks. All things considered, working from the van has been easy.

I’d rather drive during the day.

At first I thought I’d save all my driving for nighttime so that I could have day light hours for hiking or biking adventures.

But… the driving is so… the scale is just really impressive.

I recorded my drive from Sedona to Flagstaff. This might seem like a boring video, but I actually watched a lot of similar videos to plan my trip.

The trick is not to watch them start to finish, but rather to jump around in them until you have a feel for the area.

VanKeto is the best way to eat.

I’ve mostly been in or near ketosis this trip. That means I cut the carbs in my diet enough that my body shifted over to mostly burning fat.

You can track this with a Keto meter which tracks the level of ketones in your blood via a small pin prick. If you’re above 0.5 mmol/L then you are in light ketosis and if you are above 1.0 then you are in optimal ketosis.

I use a KetoMojo device ($59) with test strips costing about $1 each.

I had a big plate of nachos last night (high carbs) and woke up today at 0.9. That’s a good indication that the rest of my trip has been pretty disciplined.

The keys, for me, to get into ketosis were:

  • Give it time. It took about two months of trying before my body adapted and I figured out what it took.
  • Drop carbs. I’m usually at about 50g/day. I don’t do too much else on the macros. I don’t restrict protein for instance. And this amount of carbs means I can still have blueberries in my protein shake.
  • Fast. I’m not religious, but I do try to stick to a 16:8 fast, where I’m eating just within an 8 hour window.
  • Exercise. This depletes my glucose stores, forcing my body to switch over to fat for energy.

Staying in Ketosis in a van (#VanKeto) seems like the easiest and most practical way to eat.

First, the meals are easy and filling:

Second, most of the exercise I’m doing lends itself to fat as an energy source. For example, I backpacked the Grand Canyon in deep ketosis.

The Grand Canyon.

Yeah, it’s cool.

Written by

Human potential busy body. Founded @coachdotme, @bttrHumans, @bttrMarketing. Helped @medium @calm. Current work focus: Habit Coach Certification.

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