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Survive Vanlife with Your Partner

Surviving Campervan Travel with Your Partner

So, you and your partner have your dream van and exciting plans to travel to amazing places together. You’ll get plenty of well intentioned advice and practicalities to survive vanlife with your partner, such as what to take and where to go (not least from envious family and friends!).

But what about the intangible issues, such as living with your partner 24/7 in a cozy and intimate space. Will you endure or enjoy each other’s company beyond the usual routine of home life?

Here are some practical tips on how to survive campervan travel life with your nearest and dearest.

vansage couple in van survive vanlife with your partner
Image courtesy of Tao Heftiba

Make a dry run

If you’re new to vanlife and are planning a lengthy trip, it’s a good idea to do a dry run first. Most first-time campers find that the problems they expect to encounter in a campervan never materialize, but other issues crop up and need to be dealt with before leaving home.

You don’t have to go far from home but you should pack, eat, travel and live just as you would on a longer campervan trip.

Start with a weekend away, then perhaps a longer RV trip. You may need to fine tune and adapt, but now is the best time to change your packing and plans if necessary.

Include some cooking, eating in, showering, sleeping and communicating, just as if you were far from home. A dummy run is also a good time for both partners to try driving a fully laden campervan. It’s not as easy as your think!

For a total dry run, you might consider renting a Sprinter camper van before making the leap to building or purchasing a van. 

Packing: What to take, what to leave behind

Think carefully about the essentials you pack for your campervan trips. There’s not a lot of closet space, so layers of clothing and multipurpose footwear will earn their place while designer “duds” and expensive items need to be left behind.

Consider investing in an e-reader and download some books before setting off. Personal MP3 players are a good idea, along with gadgets for providing communications and entertainment even when you’re off-grid.

Puzzle books, needlework, artist’s supplies, travel games and a journal can all add quality and pleasure to your free time.

Think about multipurpose cookware, plates, bowls, a chopping board and silverware. A short practice run will help you work out what’s essential and what’s not.

campervan kitchen vansage survive vanlife with your partner
Image courtesy of Bryna Blum

Control clutter

Clutter is the #1 enemy of life on the road in a compact campervan. Over time, it can become stress-inducing.

Try to create the illusion of space in your rolling mini-home by having a home for everything and making sure it lives there. Strive to maintain open, uncluttered space.

It takes discipline but you’ll be surprised at how orderliness helps maintain sanity when living in a compact space.

Respect private space

Whether you’re in a relatively new relationship or have been with your travel partner forever, respecting each other’s moods and private space is essential.

One of the most powerful tools to survive vanlife with your partner is to get in the habit of taking a 10-minute walk alone during a rest stop, or even plan a day doing different things if you have diverging interests.

If nothing else, you’ll have more to talk about in the evening!

Relationship management

Be prepared for things to get tough on the road, particularly if you encounter minor disasters, ill health, or if things just don’t go to plan.

Stand back and take a look at the big picture.

  • Would you really rather be home/work, like everyone else?
  • You might feel your partner is being unreasonable, but would it be so bad to give in or find a compromise?
  • Take a minute to focus on what first attracted you to your partner and find some good characteristics to appreciate.
  • Recall some of the highlights of your campervan travel adventure so far, and what you are looking forward to next. It’s worth sticking at it!
  • After a blow-up, swallow your pride and make a peace-offering, whether it’s a cup of coffee or a hug.
  • Remember, “It takes two to make a quarrel but only one to end it” so make up and move on. The world, and your dreams, are just around the corner!
vansage couple on bridge survive vanlife with your partner
Image courtesy of Shea Rouda


  • 24/7/365 will take some effort to get accustomed to.
  • Practice makes perfect: Take a dry run in the van for a few days.
  • Packing can be tricky. Get your essentials down for successful vanlife survival with your partner.
  • Keep your campervan clean and clutter-free for lower stress living space.
  • Tools for surviving a fight
  • Consider where you really want to be, now.
  • Seek compromise to survive vanlife with your partner.
  • Focus on what you love about your partner.
  • Whenever possible, take the adult position and end the quarrel.

Thanks for reading!

Please take a minute to leave a comment, ask a question, or share your stories of how you survive vanlife with your partner.


Vansage.com contributor Gillian Birch is a British freelance travel writer and published author.

She has traveled all over the world with her husband, a Master Mariner, and uses her personal journals and memories to write in detail about her many experiences worldwide.

Gillian on Twitter, on Facebook, and her website is here.
vansage author image Gillian Birch

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