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How 4 Full-Time Van Life Couples Make It Work on the Road

Ahh, l’amour. Going on endless adventures with your #1 person sounds like a dream come true. Just the two of you and the open road. What more could you need?

Well for starters, some personal space, alone time, the need to stay organized in a tiny home, the ability to not get on each other’s nerves, and most importantly, good communication!

Does that sound like a tall order? Take it from these van life couples who have been living in a van together full-time.

These couples get candid about what it’s like to share such a small space with their SO, the unique challenges, the amazing experiences, and how they make it work. Let’s dive in!

Meet the Couples

Let’s get to know the van life couples who are living van life full time and making it work.

Brandon and Sarah

Brandon and Sarah started dating in December of 2016 and decided to take on van life in September of 2019.  They were together 3 years before jumping into the nomad community and got married a year and a half later in April of 2021!

They have a Ram Promaster 3500 extended with a high roof that they have been living and traveling in for 3.5 years! Follow their adventures at Living in Advance or on Instagram @livinginadvance.

Living In Advance Picture

Yuko and Eric

Yuko and Eric met in Tokyo and had been together about 3 years before they jumped into van life. Before they became van lifers Yuko was living and working in Tokyo and Eric was traveling between Shanghai and Tokyo for work.

They travel in a 2018 Ford Transit high-top van, which they bought new and spent 8 months converting into a livable camper. The pandemic extended their van life timeline considerably, and they just crossed the 4 year mark. They are currently in our final month of traveling the Pan-America travel from Canada to Argentina and will be back in the USA in July.

Follow their journey at Asobo Life or on Instagram, @asobolife.


Jake and Emily

Jake and Emily started dating in February 2016, and started van life full time in July 2019. They’ve been part of the vanlife community for about 4 years in their 2010 Ford E350 Extended with a fiberglass high-top.

You can find Jake and Emily at Two Roaming Souls or on social media @tworoamingsouls.


Colby and Eric

Colby and Eric were together 1.5 years before beginning the buildout of their first van.  They believe if you can survive a van build as a couple… you can survive anything! They have a self converted 2022 Ford Transit AWD camper van and have been living in it for about 8 months. This is their second self converted rig and they truly feel like they have built their “forever” home this time around!

Check out Colby and Eric at Engineers Who Vanlife or on social media @engineerswhovanlife.


What initially drove you (pun intended) to pursue van life?

Colby and Eric

We spent all of our free time outside of work on various mountain adventures (ultrarunning, skiing, etc) so the idea of living at the base of the mountain with just what you needed to survive and enjoy adventure was incredibly desirable for us.

Jake and Emily


We moved to Denver a few years out of college, got a nice apartment, started buying furniture and creating a traditional life for ourselves. But we found ourselves traveling to the mountains EVERY weekend for skiing, camping, hiking, etc. Naturally, we always hated having to come back to our 9-5 every Monday.

So we thought “what if we do the complete opposite of living a ‘normal’ life and build out a campervan?”

Yuko and Eric

Eric realized that it was becoming popular for people with no prior construction experience to piece together their own tiny home on wheels. He also discovered that some people were overlanding from the US & Canada all the way down to Argentina in their DIY vans! Those two things – building your own tiny home and traveling with it internationally – were enough of a push for us to quit our jobs and travel.

Brandon and Sarah


I (Sarah) was backpacking the Jordan Trail when I decided that I was tired of paying for rent AND traveling.  I wanted to combine the two so I decided to start looking up vans. I found an old 1970s Chevy van on Facebook Marketplace that definitely needed some TLC and sent it to Brandon saying, “I want to live in this.”

What are the unique challenges faced by van life couples that solo van lifers don't face?

Yuko and Eric


Dealing with limited living space. Most of the time it isn’t a problem, but some days you just desire to have a bit more personal space. Also, when traveling with a significant other, you always have to plan together and compromise to be on the same page.

Jake and Emily

We often pick up seasonal jobs for extra income. But it’s hard to work two jobs at different physical locations, especially when you share one vehicle. We did successfully do this in Sedona, AZ one winter, but we got lucky that our jobs were walking distance from each other.

Colby and Eric


Almost every decision needs to be made together, or at least, with the other in mind. You can’t just take off and do errands, or explore, because your car is your home that you both live in. You have to work through every small, and large decision, together.

What are the perks of doing van life as a couple vs solo?

Jake and Emily


The biggest perk of being a van life couple is that tasks and chores can be split. Whether it be driving, cooking, emptying the toilet, finding a campsite, planning your trips, etc. It would be much more exhausting having to do each of those chores by yourself each day. And van life comes with lots of uncertainty, where to park, where to go, etc. But somehow having someone to share that uncertainty with makes it feel less aimless.

Brandon and Sarah


There are SO many perks to traveling as a couple! Of course traveling with your best friend and seeing the world together is #1 and a no brainer (I truly wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else) but I do have to admit…splitting chores is rad too (aka Brandon dumping the toilet haha!)

How do you manage living in a small space as a couple?

Colby and Eric


We don’t feel like the physical space is the limiter for us, it’s being together 24/7 that can be tricky. One thing that works well for us is to do adventure separately. Trail running is really special to us both so we tend to do our runs separately and at different times so we get not only the running time alone, but also the time that the other person is running.

Brandon and Sarah

The ONLY time we ever feel cramped is when we’re in a big city.  It’s only ever for a few days if we’re running errands and we have a great system for it but I think that’s the only time we can feel a little overwhelmed or lacking personal space. When we’re out camping in the forest, desert or beach we don’t hang out in the van unless we’re sleeping, eating or hiding from bird sized mosquitoes hanging around camp.

How do you take a breather if you feel like you need it?

Jake and Emily


We have a whole outdoor set up with an outdoor mat, awning, and a bug net. This allows us to extend our living space to the great outdoors to make it feel much bigger. I’d say when we need a breather we just go for a walk/hike, or find something to do in town.

Yuko and Eric

I’d estimate that 10% of the time we feel that our van is too small for two. Usually when it gets to that point, one of us will just stay outside or take a solo walk into town.

How do you split up chores? Do you have designated chores?

Brandon and Sarah

We typically stick to the same chores, although we don’t hesitate to pick up the slack when needed.  If I’m not feeling well or he’s had a long day we are both more than happy to take over and do what we can to help each other out. Brandon does more of the dirty work like dumping the toilet, trash as well as doing dishes while I do more of the cleaning, cooking, dog care and organization.

Jake and Emily

Jake does most of the driving and empties the grey tank because it can get pretty heavy. But Emily is usually the navigator, makes more meals, empties the toilet, so the chores end up being pretty equal. If ever we feel that something is unfair, we just remind ourselves that solo van lifers have to do ALL the chores themself. So even if it’s not a perfect split, we still benefit from having a partner.

How do you handle different work schedules?

Yuko and Eric

We don’t really have set work schedules. If Yuko gets a project from a client, we’ll usually just pull over and spend time at a campsite for a few days. If it’s a big project with a tight deadline, Yuko gets the right to use the entire table for her computer and paperwork. Eric doesn’t work, aside from the occasional blog work, so he’s usually in charge of making coffee or tea for Yuko and doing anything he can to reduce her stress.

Colby and Eric


Our work schedules do not differ so there is no trouble there, but we both take Zoom video calls frequently, so we take careful planning and awareness of the others schedule to either try to be out of the van, or stagger meetings when possible.  We also both invested in high quality noise cancelling headphones that make a huge difference.

How do you maintain a healthy relationship when you're together nearly 24/7?

Brandon and Sarah


This one is a hard one and something we still are figuring out.  One thing that really helps us decipher between quality time and daily grind is making sure we designate a few hours of US time and put down our phones!  It’s so easy to want to check emails or messages when my work brain is struggling to turn off.  We absolutely love to play games and mountain bike for some really solid quality time.

Jake and Emily

If we want to spice things up, we might get all dressed up and go on a date which can make it a little more special. And backpacking trips are another version of quality time, since we are away from the distractions of everyday life and just enjoy each other’s company surrounded by nature.

Yuko and Eric


I think after 4 years on the road, it gets hard to set aside ‘quality time’. While we don’t have any explicit rules for quality time or daily grind, we do like to spend time at cafes when we can. It’s usually during these moments we can sort of relax and forget for a moment that we’re traveling and can simply enjoy sitting across the table from one another.

Colby and Eric

Our biggest tip with this one is to bookend the work days by putting all our equipment fully away and getting outside before and after work. And, to put in the effort for quality time.  When you spend 24/7 together it is very easy to get comfortable with the daily grind and forget about “dating”.

Any other words of wisdom for van life couples looking to make the leap to full time van life?

Jake and Emily

Stay in tune with your mental health. Vanlife can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially if you are always on the move. So we often will just find a “home base” for a week or more just to settling into an area that we are comfortable and create a routine. It will be natural to get “burnout” from van life, but we think it is simply one of the best things that has ever happened to us! We love the freedom and the ability to check out so many amazing places around the world.

Brandon and Sarah


Honestly, if you’re debating on whether to make the jump to nomad living and you’re waiting for the perfect time… let me tell you…you will be waiting a long time.  I don’t think there is ever a “perfect” time.  There’s always something mentally in the way but sometimes you have to make that leap even if it’s uncomfortable.  You figure it out as you go.  It may be rocky and rough at first but just keep holding on.  It truly only gets better.

Colby and Eric


1. Rent a camper van and go on a 2 week van life trip to see how it goes. 

2. Be extremely clear with each other up front about what living in a van looks like for both of you, and how you want to travel so you are on the same page.  

3. If you are going to DIY your conversion, define your building roles up front. It can get tough if you both are trying to “lead” to van build (take it from us!)

Yuko and Eric


Make sure your finances are in order before making the leap to van life. Decide whether you will be traveling strictly off savings or if you plan to make money while on the road. If it’s the latter, try to get your online income stream going before quitting your job and setting off with your van. Making money online is tough and can take a year or two before it finally starts to pay for your travels.

Is Van Life for Every Couple?

Just as solo van life is not for every person, not every couple will love being a van life couple. There will certainly be new challenges, and living in small space with your significant other can feel overwhelming. But any successful relationship takes relationship work.

In the long run, if you can be open with each other, prioritize communication and get on the same page about your dreams and goals, living in a van and adventuring around the world with your partner can be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever have.

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