Vanlife: Travelling Can’t Always be a Vacation /// Cape Hatteras, NC

Finally – we’re back on the road and back to blogging! It’s been a really busy start to the trip and I’m behind on the blogging but really looking forward to getting back to sharing our travels with you guys. This year the blog is going to be a little different. Our posts will  still include details about where we are in the world and our latest adventures but we’ll also add discussions about bigger picture travel and vanlife topics that relate to our experiences.  If you like this blog, don’t forget to subscribe, give us a thumbs-up and hit that bell so that you’ll be notified with each post. JOKING – this isn’t Youtube! But we’re so glad you’re following along with our adventures!


When we used to dream of long term travel, we dreamt of one long, extended vacation. We imagined it being just like our trips to Italy, Spain and Greece, but extended over months instead of weeks. Well, once we started travelling for longer periods, we quickly realize that travelling can’t always be a vacation.

WHY, you ask? The quick answer is that “vacationing” just isn’t a sustainable way to travel long term. Here are some of our reasons:

THE SPLURGE: Vacations are typically a splurge in every sense of the word. You spend a lot of money, treat yourself to unhealthy foods (ice cream – YUM) every day, drink like a fish, ditch the exercise routine, etc. Over a couple of weeks, these splurges are harmless but over months, they become unaffordable and unhealthy… you’ll quickly become fat and broke!

THE ESCAPE: There’s no way to escape “real life” quite like a vacation. For a couple of weeks, you leave behind your job, appointments, responsibilities and the daily admin that inevitably shapes our lives… cleaning, doing groceries, taking care of finances, etc. Unfortunately, we’ve learned that you can’t escape the mundane forever. After a few weeks on the road, these boring but necessary tasks need attention, no matter where you are in the world, and will creep back into your life. Just like at home, the house (or in this case van) needs to be cleaned, groceries need to be purchased, dishes need doing, research for upcoming travel (like border crossings – ugh) needs to be completed, etc. In other words, real life just can’t be escaped for long!

The ADVENTURE: A vacation can only be an adventure for so long. We love a good adventure and every year when we set off on an epic road trip, it’s the adventures that I’m excited about. But after adventuring and sightseeing for weeks at a time, it starts feeling less adventurous and dare I say… normal. You can get used to anything, even adventure. It’s a sad thing when you reach a point on your travels when you feel like “meh – another waterfall – whatever”. We’ve discovered that an experience only remains an adventure to the extent that it’s extraordinary and outside of your regular routine.

One of the things that we love about vanlife is that it offers an opportunity to have many mini adventures and vacations, punctuated by some routines and “normal life”. Don’t let Instagram fool you – very few people are on a permanent adventure or vacation.


Case in point – our time recently spent in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.


Our departure day – always one of my favourite days on a big road trip – was a bone-chilling, -20 degrees Celsius. I think we subconsciously choose the coldest winter days for our departures to add to the sense of adventure… “will Sally actually start?!” As quickly as possible, we loaded Sally up, turned the ignition and after a few worrisome seconds of delay, she roared to life.


We had 2 full days of roadtripping adventures – eating fast food, driving through winter storms and the inevitable late night stay in a Walmart parking lot – which is always an adventure (or at least a social experiment) in itself. After a couple of very long driving days, we arrived in Cape Hatteras, NC – one of our favourite places in the US. Cape Hatteras is known for it’s windsurfing, kite surfing, fishing, beautiful sandy beaches and seafood. Unfortunately, we weren’t there for any of that… we were there to get sh*t done!


We spent our first day in Hatteras stocking up on groceries, getting settled in our friend Elias’ beach house and desperately trying to figure out how to get the WiFi working. We had big, boring plans for our time on the coast. Marc planned to change Sally’s fuel pump, which caused Sally to start shuttering every time we got down to half a tank of gas. He also needed to mount the new solar panel – a summer project that had been neglected a little too long.


In the meantime, I had quite a bit of contract work to finish up before we could keep moving. Many hours of research and report writing. As our friend wasn’t able to join us at his beach house (poor Elias!), it really was a week of work without much play. That being said, we always try to find a balance so each day we made time to get out to do a beach walk, visit the harbour, play photographer or go for a run.


Unlike us, Walter WAS on an adventure and he’s decided that he LOVES the beach. When we get onto the sand, he turns into a little idiot, running around like a drooling fool, scaring the other dogs on the beach – just look at that face!


Our plan for 4 days of projects and work turned into 7… we always overestimate our efficiency. But, by the end of the week our work was done, Sally was better than ever and all 4 of us (yes – we include Walter and Sally as part of the family) were ready to head out on our next adventure!

7 thoughts on “Vanlife: Travelling Can’t Always be a Vacation /// Cape Hatteras, NC

  1. Have a wonderful trip, Natalie and Mark. Will follow your adventures and even your more mundane activities with envy.
    Love and kisses


    Liked by 1 person

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