Minimalism: after living in my van for seven months, these are my thoughts about what we think we need…

Minimalism: after living in my van for seven months, these are my thoughts about what we think we need…


The newest iPhone, new clothes, shoes, hot showers and big houses. Especially in the west, we are absolutely convinced we need this. This is what makes us happy, right? After six months of living in a van, experiencing a minimalistic lifestyle, my view about what we think we need has changed. What did I think I needed, before living the vanlife in New Zealand? What did I think that made me happy?

Backpacking in New Zealand, what to bring?

September 2016: my journey began, I went to New Zealand with my backpack

In september 2016 I went to the airport with my backpack. Some clothes, a laptop, phone, powerbank, toothbrush, e-reader, sleeping bag, some money and my paspoort. That was about it. Two months later, I bought a van which I converted into a self contained home. I fabricated a bed, curtains, shelves, a ‘kitchen’ with sink and gas cookers and I bought a toilet (which I haven’t used yet). This is pretty much all I own at the moment.

Travelling in a van or work & travel New Zealand?

What we think we need… Do we make a mistake?

The delusion behind what we think we need is, ‘I want to be comfortable. Comfort makes me happy.’. We also think ‘I need new clothes because it makes me feel better about myself, people will like me more when I look like those women in the magazines. I need a good kitchen and a good bed because then I can cook and sleep better’.

My conclusion after seven months: this is bullshit. Comfort makes us numb.. sleepy.. We get bored, and we don’t even realise it. What about stuff? Your self confidence, feeling good about yourself, doesn’t depend on the beautiful clothes you wear.

So here’s my list of 7 things I thought I needed…

  • A hot shower, twice a day
    Let’s start with the obvious. I’m a little ashamed to tell you this now, but I used to belong to the top 5% shower addicts in the world. Back at home, I showered at least twice a day. Ask my mom. Even as a child I showered at least 20 minutes a day, it made my mom almost cry, and the number only increased when I went living on my own. When I did my workout around noon, I sometimes showered three times a day. I loved, and still love hot showers. In the morning, I thought I needed it to wake up. In the evening, I thought I needed it to ‘wash off the day’ or in other words, to relax. Like everyone with ADD, I’ve been a troubled sleeper my whole life, and a hot shower helped me fall asleep, so I thought.
My friend Tanja, using the portable shower

I don’t have a shower in my van (except for a portable shower) and after six months I’m convinced that we don’t need so many showers. I do still care about hygiene, and luckily I have a sink and water supply. When you travel around, there are a lot of other ways to refresh yourself. You can jump in lakes, the ocean, use public (cold) showers or go to the local swimming pool. Lately, I’ve been a huge fan of the public cold showers. I guess it’s pretty healthy, boosts the immune system. It’s the best way to wake up in the morning and I’ve been sleeping like a baby lately.

That shower doesn’t make you happy. It’s just comfort. So come on guys, save the planet, have at least one shower less a day. 🙂 (To be honest… I’m really curious how often I will shower when I’m back home)

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