Living in a Camper Van

Side of a building in Calgary, Alberta


Living is challenging. Having a family is challenging.  Travelling is challenging.  You can see where I am going with this.  Living in a camper van with a family is challenging.


Before we left, I read blogs about families who live and breed while living on the road.  I thought, ‘yes we can do this!’ It’s just three of us plus a dog, it will be easy!   I even reached out to a highly recognizable photographer who lives with her husband and child in a camper van, who said “Steph, you will love life on the road!”

The truth is – I did not love life on the road, especially in the evening.

Living in a Camper Van somewhere in Manitoba

En Route, driving two vehicles from Manitoba to Montana. Ardill, Saskatchewan. Population 2.


Living in a camper van was hardest (for me) in the evening.  This was the time when we would have to find a place to stop for the night.  We were ‘free style’ living -as Ike would put it.  We rarely had a destination, and therefor it was hard to plan a stopping time or a stopping place.  This made finding a spot for the night difficult and  stressful.  I struggled with this feeling of inadequacy  most evenings as my brain would go into over drive.  Were we homeless?  Aren’t we too old for this? Will we be safe? Will this ever end?  Seriously, what are we doing this for?



camper van living gavin on camper

The reason why. Waterton National Parks, Alberta.

Nights Are Long

When the nightly process began, a certain thing needed to be addressed.  Our van did not have a bathroom, so ‘going’ outside was the only option.  Whether it be in campground or anywhere.   For that reason, we avoided the ever infamous walmart parking lot for sleeping.  Helpful Hint:  Walmarts are super popular among van dwellers.


Our quietest spots were found on dead end roads and service roads.  There were a few nights I was worried about wildfires while we were travelling through B.C, but for the most part this was the best option.  I would rather pee in the cold with a bear then pee in a walmart parking lot.

Just us, somewhere



We had some interesting times in campgrounds.  Technically, we weren’t camping – we were living in our camper van.  Two totally different but similar things.  Campgrounds represented to us, civilization.  Families, bringing a ton of a shit for a weekend getaway.  Friends, meeting up for a week of drinking and hiking.

camper van living in canada at a campground


We loved and we loathed campgrounds.Campgrounds gave us bathrooms and ‘friends’ for Gavin to play with.  They also gave us very little privacy, they were expensive, and our dog always had to be on a leash.  That being said, we were always grateful to pull up to a campground that did not have the ‘campsite full’ sign.

I couldn’t write about our nights living in a campervan without giving a shout out to  We found ourselves looking at this almost every night.  We found tons of free campsites on this site, but so did everyone else.  What I mean by this, is that most of the places we found were easily ‘findable’ but also pretty busy.  Sometimes, we would get lucky and get a good night sleep, but most of these places were at rest stops along the highway.   Rest stops were great because they generally had nice views and bathrooms, however semi trucks coming and going all night were often unpleasant.

A great view from one of our nights at a travel center.


Check out my last post here.  Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments!

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