Top Mistakes I Made Starting Out in #VanLife

Oct. 23, 2019

Okay everyone some of you might be interested in my exploits up until now. On October 1, I left my home of 1 year in Orlando, FL, my senior apartments to start my #NomadLife at the age of 62 …now 63.

The first thing I did was to check in on my two daughters. Kids even adult children will tell you they are okay, but you need to physically go to their cities and check in on them.

Once I found out they were okay, it was time for me to enjoy my new #FullTimeNomadLife. I celebrated my 63rd birthday on Oct. 6 and had my 45th class reunion on Oct. 5.

After buying my vehicle, a new 2019 Dodge Ram Promaster 3500 in Atlanta, my 2nd city, the only thing I could think about was #Her (aka “My Bed).

I did not want to try to do a #TemporaryBuild until the bed was in it so 3 days after purchasing the van, I left Atlanta to retrieve my bed out of storage in Orlando, Fl. Yes… back again in Florida.

Because I had left in the middle of the day, I did not make it there until midnight. I was so tired when I arrived that after knocking on the door of the two guys who put my bed in storage, I went in the van and passed out on 3 feet of clothes in the middle of the van.

I did not sleep well that night because all I could think about was #Her (aka “My Bed’). I had been without her for three weeks. The next day the two guys and I went to retrieve the bed out of storage and the ‘gates of heaven’ opened up to me as I watched them load her up.

By then I was so tired, I drove around to a cool spot under the shade at the apartment complex and went and laid on the bed, but it was too hot to sleep.

It was cool in Atlanta and cool where I was heading – Houston, but it was still hot in Florida, but with nice nights. So eventually, I got up and started folding up clothes – putting them in piles or in places under the bed. However, I did not have any containers yet, but still I was able to see my van floor for the first time since buying it so that made me feel pretty good.

Then I told myself after seeing my progress that this thing called #VanLife could really work, but I was still so very, very tired. That night I had the best night sleep of my life. After 3 weeks of #NomadLife, I was united with #Her (aka “My Bed”). It was like a match ‘made in heaven.’

I know you guys are going to say from the picture that she is too big (Queen 58 by 76) to have in a van and that she is taking up too much space, but that is the reason I bought the Ram Dodge 3500 Promaster in the first place and sleep is very important for my #NewLifestyle, #VanLife. We will discuss further when I am rested.

I got up the next day after one of the best night’s sleep of my life and headed out to Houston, TX, my new #HomeState. After 11 hours, I stopped about 20 miles from Lake Charles, LA and stayed at my #FirstTruckStop as a #Nomad, Love’s, but it had a #Pilot/FlyingJ — across the street so I heard trucks all night and early morning, so next time I will rethink about using truck stops especially when I need to rest.

When I got to Lake Charles, LA it was cold, unlike Florida, so I was digging in bags of clothing to double up what I was wearing, but it worked out well because I rather it be cold than hot so I was okay.

I got up and drove for 2 and a half more hours and landed in Houston so the #Starship had landed. Without knowing it I had actually gave my NEW VAN a name #StarShip.

Some of the #Mistakes I made by waiting to have my bed in the van was not buying the following:

A Piss Container: I had a container that looked exactly like my #AlkalineWater so I ended up pissing in a new half bottle of Alkaline water. Don’t do that especially if it is your last bottle of water in the van. I should have had more water with me.

A Painter’s Bucket: has the painter’s bucket that you can buy for $5. Then they have the pipe foam that goes around the top or you can buy the $11 camper’s toilet seat from Walmart . So for a small fee you can be all set to use the bathroom right in your own vehicle along with of course buying some 4 gallon garbage bags. Just double up the bags after use and throw in any public waste garbage can the next day.

A Basin to Wash Up: I should have had some type of container and extra water to wash up. A good sponge or birdbath could have kept me cool in Florida and fresh in colder weather. During my travels, I had been stopping and using the sinks in bathrooms to do a sponge or birdbath. Even though I could have taken a bath at the truck stop for $8 to $10, I was just too tired. Once I landed in my new city, my goal was to find a LA Fitness and also think about joining Planet Fitness as a backup. I could not believe that I went 7 days without a shower. Now before #VanLife, I took 3 tub baths a day so I had to get used to this new lifestyle. 

Small Battery Pack: This only cost about $20 at Walmart and does a wonderful job with charging your phone and tablet. As a matter of fact, I eventually bought two of them after waking up several times with my phone completely on zero. 

An Inverter/Power Box: Inverters come in different sizes. You can pay only $40 for a small inverter to plug things in such as phones, tablets, and computers. You can work on your computer in your car seat while you pick up free Wi-FI FREE from McDonalds, Starbucks, Pandora Bread, Target, Libraries, Lowe’s and other businesses. You can also buy the bigger inverter for around $100, $200 or $400 to run your refrigerator, blender, steamer, etc.  Make sure it is a Pure Sine Wave Inverter, otherwise, you are taking a chance on it messing up your computer. I ended up buying the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500 (Cost $499), which I got on sale for $399, and it works great. 

A Light: It is a great idea to get some type of LED lights that won’t be plugged into anything and one that you can pop on and off. I ended up using a candle and the flashlight on my phone to see inside the van after it turned dark so I was fumbling around in the dark for several days — until I found my flashlight in my bags. I finally went into the camper’s section in Walmart and they had several options for lights that you did not have to plug in.

Containers: I should have bought these from the beginning so I could have started sorting things out right away instead of waiting on my bed to be put in my van.

I had thrown so much out and gave so much away when leaving Orlando the first time — that I regretted this decision because some of those things would have fitted nicely in my #TemporaryBuild such as my exercise mat, a fan, lights, etc. — so I should have put them in storage with my bed instead.

That first month of #Van or #RVLife is going to be extremely important so don’t make rash decisions. If you have a place that you can go to and do a slow #TemporaryVanBuild then, by all means, do that.

I will discuss other mistakes I made in later videos. I hope you enjoyed my exploits and I just wanted to give you guys a laugh. I am loving this life – #Nomadism101, #SimpleLifeRVing. Make sure you follow me on

Read These Articles:

What You Need to Know Before Starting #VanLife

How To Successfully Live in a Car or Van

The Truth About the RV Industry – What You Need To Know About Camping World  –

Cathy Harris is a #VanDweller living ‘The Good Life.’ Her blog website is She is also an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Advice Columnist at, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Business and Love Coach and Self-Publishing Expert and the author of 26 non-fiction books at Her books cover topics such as family and community empowerment, health, youth and adult entrepreneurship, writing/publishing, workplace discrimination, whistleblowing, government, law enforcement, domestic and international traveling, politics, media, beauty, car buying and selling for women, aging/retirement – just to name a few. She offers seminars, workshops, and consultations at