A Day in the Life of a Camper Van Traveler with AsoboLife

Published on March 8th, 2022

In this post, we want to share a typical day for us as we travel throughout the US in our camper van. We’ll take you through our morning routines, what we do when we visit a National Park, and how we plan where to sleep.

We should mention that the day we describe below isn’t something we do seven days a week. That would be exhausting! But it’s a typical day when we’re ready to go on an adventure.

On other days, we’re simply driving along interstate highways, lazily lounging at campsites, or even parked up at an Airbnb when visiting a city. But some of our most memorable days are when we’re outside exploring America’s National Park scene and we want to describe a typical park day for us below.

Morning: All About Routine

In the morning hours, van life is all about following a strict routine. For us, this routine helps us complete the greatest number of things in the least amount of time.

We travel with a cat; her name is Maya. And if you have a cat, you’ll know that their internal clocks are frustratingly accurate. By 5am, Maya is literally walking all over us and on our heads to wake us up. At this time, we open our sliding door and let her out by herself and that buys us an extra hour of sleep. But we leave the sliding door open so she can come back when she wants.

(Yep! We allow our cat to roam outside without supervision. Learn more about that here in our other blog post on RVshare)

By 6am, Maya comes back to wake us up, again, for breakfast. We then wake up, feed her, and pack away our bed.

Once our bed is put away, it’s time to eat. Depending on how much time we have, breakfast can either be a quick bowl of cereal or something fancier, like pancakes and eggs. But one part of breakfast that always remains consistent is grinding our own beans and sharing a cup of coffee. 

After breakfast, we’ll usually split up the cleaning duties. One of us will clean the dishes from breakfast while the other sweeps the floor, cleans the kitty litter, and shakes out our rugs. It’s amazing how much dust collects inside our van each day, so we’ve become vigilant about keeping our tiny home as clean and organized as possible.

After cleaning, we’ll pack up the van and drive over to our activity of the day. A normal departure time from the campsite for us is about 8-9am.

woman using a broom to sweep up an rv

Late Morning – Early Afternoon: Adventure Time!

One of our favorite activities when touring the US is visiting the national parks. And the first thing we always do is stop by each park’s visitor center. Here we can get information about recommended hikes, viewpoints, and other places of interest.

After speaking with a park ranger, we’ll usually decide on one long hike, or two short ones. And just before we leave the visitor center, we’ll stop by the gift shop to pick up a souvenir sticker and postcards for family and friends.

Next, we’ll drive off to the trail head. But before setting off to hike, we’ll make a pack lunch so that we can eat during the hike. With lunch ready, we’re finally ready to get going.

We usually don’t take our cat on hikes with us. And in National Parks, it’s forbidden to bring pets onto the trails anyway. So before hiking, we’ll prepare the inside of the van so that our cat can be as comfortable as possible while she waits for our return. This includes setting out food and water, opening our windows, and running a fan to keep the interior cool.

Depending on when we get back from the hike, we’ll either try to fit in a second hike in a different part of the park or simply drive around visiting roadside viewpoints and other places of interest.

couple standing together in a national park

Late Afternoon: Searching for a Campsite

By late afternoon, we’re ready to start looking for a place to camp. Unfortunately, we’re terrible at planning ahead and it’s unlikely that there are any available campsites inside the National Park.

Luckily, National Parks are usually surrounded by National Forest or BLM land, both of which offer plentiful options for dispersed camping. To find free camp spots, we like to use the iOverlander app.

If we can’t find a suitable spot to camp in the wilderness, we’ll usually fall back on driving to a Walmart, a highway truck stop, or a rest area. All of these offer decent overnight options, but without the photogenic views you could have when camped out in nature.

Parking overnight at Walmart supercenters is convenient because we can also do some grocery shopping to restock on supplies. But we prefer staying at truck stops, like Pilot & Flying J, because we can pay a small fee to use the shower facilities at the convenience store. 

Our goal is to arrive at our overnight spot before sunset. We find that driving at night is both harder and more stressful.

Check out our other post if you’re interested to learn how to camp for free with your RV.

Evening: Time to Wind Down

By 6-7pm, we’re preparing dinner. And what we eat for dinner really depends on how much energy we have left after a full day of being outside.

If we still have energy, we’ll spend more time preparing our meal and do a stir-fry or salad. But if we find we’re running on fumes, we’ll take out our trusty Instant-Pot pressure cooker, throw all the ingredients inside, add a can of diced tomatoes, press the “On” button, and wait.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, we can’t recommend getting one enough. It’s been a lifesaver for us when we just don’t want to spend extensive time and energy to cook.

After dinner and cleaning the dishes, we’ll convert our dinette area back into a bed and hang out until it’s time to sleep. This usually involves a combination of reading, playing with Maya, and planning our activities for the next day.

And finally, when the time approaches 10pm, we’ll put away our books and doze off to sleep. If the weather is warm, Maya usually sleeps up front on the dashboard. But if it’s chilly outside, she usually opts to sleep in-between us for warmth.

One of the best aspects of traveling in a camper is that no two days are alike. And we’re always outside seeing new sights and taking part in new activities. And a side benefit to all this is that we’ve never slept better in our entire lives other than right now, during van life. We almost always sleep deeply…right up until 5am, when Maya starts the day all over again by waking us up.

man reading a book in an rv

How To Contact Us

For more campervan living tips, check out our blog: www.asobolife.com.

We also love getting mail! For any questions or comments, please send us an email at [email protected]. Or for more on our current Pan-American road trip to Argentina visit us on Instagram: @asobolife.

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