Dating in Two Vans

Lyn and Conor are some of my favorite people. They are so positive, loving and give so much of themselves whenever you’re around them. When I met up with them in Carbondale a few months back, I took a tour of both of their vans. I thought it was really interesting that they had two rigs and I wanted to know more about dating and living in separate spaces. So, what’s it like dating in two vans? Lyn has all the answers.

A little bit about me before I dive into questions about living in a separate van than my boyfriend.

Hi! My name is Lyn. I’m a full-time artist and have been living in a vehicle on the road for about three years. I say “vehicle” because I’m on my third one. First I moved into a 2003 Ford camper van. After driving solo cross country for nine months, it broke down (for the last time) and I had to ditch it for parts. Already adapted to life on the road, I hopped in my car from high school—a Toyota Yaris—and started road tripping again. I was traveling in the Yaris for about a year and a half until I saved up enough to put a down payment on a used 2004 Ford Ecocline. That’s what I’m in now.

So backing up to when I was in the Yaris. In May of 2017, I was traveling through Colorado making my way to the west coast when I met my now boyfriend, Conor. He had a history of living in vans, but was currently using the back of his skate shop as a temporary home base. So when we first started dating, neither of us had vans. We both had interest in getting another, but had other priorities at the time (i.e. he was paying of his shop and I spent two months traveling in New Zealand spending most my money).

In July of 2017, a few months into us dating, Conor bought a 2017 Promaster in Idaho. We drove it from Idaho back down to Colorado together. But this was his van; not mine. We were both very logical and straight forward about knowing it was too soon for us to make plans of moving into one van together since we had only been dating for roughly two months.

So I still ‘lived’ in my Yaris, but spent most nights crashing in his van.

By December that year, I knew I wanted to buy my own again. So I found one in Arizona, flew out to check it out, bought it and drove it back to Colorado where Conor resided.

For the next four months, I slowly built it out. Simple bed frame, kitchen counter, shelf/cabinets and a faux wood floor. Conor worked on his van while I worked on mine. We both had different ideas for how we wanted our builds to go so it was nice to not have to compromise.

It all just depends on what we’re doing. Not one day is ever the same.

If we are camping, we park on BLM land.

Why not consolidate vehicles?

We weren’t dating very long when we both got our rigs to live in. Also, our vans are our get-around vehicles. We have different schedules. If we lived in one van, when one of us went to work, the other wouldn’t have a vehicle. Or, we would have to get an extra car, which seems unnecessary.

I like to go on road trips a little more often than Conor, so I take my van for weeks at a time while he stays in town with his. Having our own spaces allows us to keep our individuality. We have our own stuff, decorations and organization styles. I think it helps keep unnecessary stress off of our relationship by having control over our own space since they are such small spaces. We both really enjoy that aspect.

When you road trip do you caravan or carpool? Which van do you take?

When we road trip, we only take one van. That seems the most logical, since each van is equipped properly to live in. We just have to transfer some stuff over to the other to consolidate for a trip. Each van has its pros and cons, so we weigh those against each other to see which one would be more practical for a particular trip.

Which van is better? 

Both of our vans have perks and struggles. Conor’s van is better on gas mileage. It has a built-in fan and battery/inverter, but no windows, so its stealthier. It doesn’t have a kitchen area to cook in very easily (i.e.  no stove or dishes) so I always have to bring all my kitchen equipment over to his van. It has a low ceiling, so we can’t stand up fully in it.

My van has a tall ceiling, so we can both stand up straight. It also has a kitchen and a lot of storage to fit surfboards, bikes, skateboards and rock climbing gear. It has heavy duty tires and higher clearance for rough terrain. But It’s rear wheel drive and a gas guzzler. It has a lot of windows, which are great for camping but not great for being stealth. And it doesn’t have a built-in fan. (We use his fan to circulate farts out mostly.)

Do you sleep together or separate?

Do you ask your friends who live in separate apartments if they sleep together? It seems pretty obvious to me that yes we sleep in the same van. We decide, depending on where we are, based on whose van is closer or we flip a coin. 

What’s the best part of your situation?

My favorite part of having two vans is that we both have our own personal space. I love how homey my van feels because of the way I designed and decorated it. I have scarves and tapestries hanging, christmas lights and fake plants to give it a nature feel.

Conor’s van is a lot more minimal and sleek. It has wooden walls with a wooden bench and some hooks for coats. That’s really it. It doesn’t have any art or decorations. I like to make my space have color and creativity, because it sparks creativity. He likes the opposite. So it’s really nice that we don’t have to compromise on that. 

Do you ever park so the doors line up so you can have a mega van?

This is a very common question, which I find hilarious. We have accidentally done this once when we were parked doing laundry at a laundry mat. But my doors swing open and his doors slide, so we can’t really make a tunnel unless we parked on top of each other which… one would want to do that.

Do you guys split gas costs between the vans?

Yes, but only when we are road tripping farther than 30 min from the town we live in. We Venmo each other for everything. 

Which one do you hang out in more?

Honestly, it varies quite a bit. Sometimes we notice we’ve been in Conor’s van more than mine, and then vice versa. I think overall it’s pretty even. 

What’s the shower/bathroom situation?

Bathrooms are everywhere. Gas stations, coffee shops, Walmarts, Targets, Lowe’s, Safeways, City Markets, campsites. If we are stealth camping and have to pee, Conor normally pees outside and I pee in cup and dump it out.

The art studio we rent has a bathroom and so does Conor’s tattoo shop, so if we really really need one, those are the two places in town we can go. I have showered in friends’ houses, houses when I’m house-sitting, recreation centers, gas stations, in rivers and with baby wipes.

Thank you for following along with Conor and me! This summer will mark three years living in a vehicle. Yeeehaw!

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Produced & edited by Kathleen Morton.
Written and photos courtesy of Lyn Sweet.