Adventure Van Travels – What We’ve Learned From a Month On the Road

It’s been a month since we left Cincinnati in Bessie, Our Adventure Van. And what a month it has been! So far we have visited 4 State Parks, 3 National Monuments and 10 National Parks. We’ve hiked amazing trails, seen a crazy amount of wildlife, camped in beautiful sites, endured triple digit heat and shivered in freezing rain, laughed, cried and fought with each other. It’s a trip we will never forget and exactly how all road trips should be. And living in our chevy express adventure van has been awesome! That being said, we have learned a few things that I want to share with you. adventure van

Four Things We’ve Learned From a Month in Our Adventure Van

  1. Be adaptable – I’m not particularly rigid in my daily life, but I still have had to loosen up considerably while living in our camper van. Here’s a couple of examples- when the skies opened up in Yellowstone and cold rain poured down, we decided to end our exploring early. We set up a tarp, cooked a simple meal under it and all crawled into bed to read for the rest of the night as soon as dinner was done. It ended up being a super fun and relaxing night! And when we arrived in Las Vegas and found out that the city has strict rules about what counts as a camper van and Bessie didn’t make the cut, we no longer could stay at the campground we had booked. So we headed to a hotel, ordered pizza and ended up really enjoying a night of air condition in the heat of Vegas. Over our month on the road, I’ve definitely learned to be better at going with the flow and being adaptable. adventure van
  2. Break the Rules (Sometimes) – I am a rule follower by nature, but I’ve learned over this month that sometimes rules need to be broken and it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. I’m not talking about safety rules like speeding, getting close to wildlife or wearing seat belts. I’m talking about the kind of rules that make no sense. So when our plans in Yosemite changed and we decided we wanted to do a day hike to Cloud’s Rest instead of an overnight backpacking hike to Waterwheel Falls, we no longer had a place to sleep and we ended up stealth camping in the overnight backpacking parking area since our car was supposed to be parked there while backpacking under the permit I had previously payed for. Not gonna lie, I was thankful for the curtains we put up that hid us inside because I did see several citations given out early the next morning and the kids did hear a knock on the window by a ranger in the early hours of the morning when I was out on a walk. But they were tucked inside safe and sound and we had a convenient place to camp for the night in a space I had already payed for. I really don’t understand what the rules against car sleeping are for, since everyone I saw doing it was clearly just hoping to get an early start on the trail and beat the insane traffic in the morning. So I made the decision to break this one. adventure van
  3. Be Easy On Each Other – Living in Bessie is fantastic, but I’d be lying if I did not admit that it does present some challenges. Same with cramming in backpacking tents together. We are literally on top of each other with no amount of personal space and tempers definitely flare. In fact, I ended up not even summiting Cloud’s Rest in Yosemite yesterday because I was so fed up with Sophie and Naomi badgering each other that I turned around and stalked back to the trail head two thirds of the way up. Which was, of course, stupid, and I am so mad at myself for missing it. But we talked it out afterwards and made up. Not forgiving each other simply doesn’t work within such a small space and we promised to all be easier on each other. adventure van
  4. The World is a Very Big and Very Small Place –  The diversity of scenery and landscapes we’ve seen during the month is mind boggling. From jaw dropping snowy mountain passes in the Sierra Nevada to the blistering beauty of canyon country, the world offers a never ending amount of diversity. There is simply no way to experience everything because it is just too big. At the same time, the world is very small which we learned from the crazy story I am going to tell you. Let me fill you in on the back story. A few years ago, when backpacking in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, we met a family out on the trail that we had tons in common with – 4 kids (including a set of boy/girl twins the same age as Maya and Garrett, mom was a nurse, they loved backpacking and also had a goal of visiting all of our National Parks.) We spent several days hiking with them and really enjoyed their company. But since we live in different cities, we lost touch after our trip ended. Fast forward to a few days ago when backpacking on the Rae Lakes Loop Trail in California’s Kings Canyon National Park and we came upon the SAME FAMILY on the trail! We were hiking opposite directions so couldn’t spend a ton of time together but did chat for almost an hour. It was fantastic to see them and catch up. What are the chances that we would run into them years later and thousands of miles away? Total coincidence and totally mind boggling to realize how small the world is. adventure van

I am sure I will be learning a whole lot more over the next month and a half road tripping in our adventure van. So far I feel blessed beyond measure to be experiencing this adventure with my girls. It’s hard to believe an entire month has already passed. We’re in Yosemite now and it’s crazy crowded and also crazy beautiful. I will be posting what we are up to here over the next several days. And Dave and Garrett are flying in tomorrow, which is so freaking wonderful.

As Always, Happy Travels!

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Written By

I love to plan family travel adventures with our four kids. Encouraging time in nature, National Parks travel, backpacking and hiking are my passions and I love to write about them.

4 Comments

  • I can’t imagine how hard it can be to share such a small space with everybody everyday! But I still think you are living a dream! At least of mine anyway. Thank you so much for sharing this trip. I didn’t know about the campervan restrictions. I actually camp in my car and can be pretty stealthy. I dream of a campervan to make this a little easier so I’m soaking up your experience!

    • It’s definitely been interesting to be so close to each other all of the time! I really like to camp in both my regular car and now, the van. It makes it so simple to sleep and go. Thanks for the comment, JJ!

  • Just caught up on alllll your posts. Thanks for writing up all those stops! What fun!!! You and your family are so blessed!

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