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How We Prepare for the Holidays on the Road

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Traditionally, our holidays were filled with lots of family, food, traveling and just overall madness. Though, spending the holidays with our families is what’s comforting to us, we decided this year we would spend it just us three.

This is the first year we will be spending the holidays in our tiny home on wheels thousands of miles away from our families. It’s very important to us that no matter where we are in the world, our holidays are set aside as special days of the year that we share the traditions we were brought up with and are dear to our hearts.

Especially having a little one, we want her to understand the importance of the holiday season and why do the things we do. We’re not talking about gifts here; we’re talking about family traditions.

Though our holidays look a little different this year, we wanted to keep the spirit alive and do as much as we could with what we have. Though, we really miss our families, understanding our situation and the sacrifices we are making to live this lifestyle make the Holidays much easier to enjoy.

This year our Thanksgiving was renamed “Vansgiving” and though we still gave thanks and talked about what we are grateful for, our Vansgiving was a much tinier version of what we are used to. It was a little tricky because we wanted to make all of the foods we normally would have in the past.

Our favorites like Turkey, baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, casseroles and home baked pies but our limited space played a big role in our menu this year. We enjoy cooking and try to make homemade meals for the holidays. Not having a big refrigerator in the van makes things a little tricky because we don’t have much space to store food. A big change alongside the space issue this year is we don’t have an oven, so we were unable to make a whole turkey.

It’s cool because Jake found some delicious turkey tenderloins he pan-seared and then finished off in our stovetop Omnia oven. Jake whipped up a delicious meal that consisted of mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, a salad, an appetizer we picked up from Trader Joe’s and a pecan pie for dessert.

It was honestly pretty lovely for a meal made in a van and considering the conditions we were under. We were hoping to have a nice picnic on the beach, but it ended up raining so hard we actually needed to evacuate the area we were in because it started flooding.

Oh, the unglamorous things about van life no one shares about. We did end up finding higher ground that we called home for the evening and were able to make our dinner. We watched movies, snuggled in our custom size mattress and ate all of our food.

We didn’t have fancy Thanksgiving plates or decorations, just a simple evening with lots of food for the three of us. It was a successful Vansgiving for sure. Even if you live in a van and live a minimal lifestyle, you can still have a holiday mindset and make your holiday dreams come true.

Traditionally, right after Thanksgiving we like to decorate for Christmas. We spent a lot of time thinking of how we could decorate the van and make it feel cozy and Christmas-y without making our already tiny space feel cramped. We found a tiny tree we put lights on that we could put on our counter, we have stockings and a few other little decorations.

It’s our minimal Christmas and we’re perfectly content with it. We plan on doing all of the same things we would normally like visit Santa, leave cookies out and wear Christmas pj’s to bed.

Christmas Eve for us consists of a fish only menu like the Italian tradition of the feast of seven fishes. We probably won’t have seven fishes this year because it’s just us three, but we will in fact, have fish. On Christmas eve we like to watch a movie and have hot cocoa.

Those things will all stay the same. The biggest change this year is not having an address for our families to send gifts to. We’ve been lucky enough in the past to find friends we’ve connected with on Instagram who would let us get a package or two to their home so that’s probably what we will have to do again.

There’s no stopping the grandmas from sending gifts! As far as gift giving goes among us three, we do not center our holiday around gifts. Though, they’re fun and exciting, we live a minimalist lifestyle and have a tiny home - so big elaborate gifts and lots of “stuff” just isn’t authentic to us and how we choose to live.

Luna normally gets the most and her gifts consist of a mixture of things she needs and a few things she wants. We like to choose gifts that are educational and that she will get a lot of use out of. When it comes to gifting to one another, we pick a couple of things we think our partner would enjoy. Sometimes it’s something cool but most of the time it’s things we need like socks, clothing or shoes.

We don’t have much space to store things we don’t need or won’t use on a regular basis so it’s silly for us to buy those things. That’s kind of the beauty of this lifestyle, we choose to spend our money on necessities and experiences rather than on things we will hardly use.

The beauty about this lifestyle is we don’t have to be tied down to any one location. Our backyard can change when we want it too. Being able to pick up and drive from surf to snow and have all the amenities of one’s home right with us is priceless. If we want a white Christmas we can drive north, if we want a warm sunny beach Christmas we stay south. Having a home on wheels really is the coolest thing.

We know this holiday day season will be the complete opposite of anything we are used to but there is just something about living van life that makes every day exciting and unique in its own ways. We understand we are sacrificing what’s comfortable and familiar to us to live a life many dream about. We know it’s not always going to be easy and we have to get creative with how we execute our plans, but it’s all so worth it.

As the new year approaches, we are spending a lot of time reflecting on our last year on the road (on our comfy custom mattress of course) and writing new goals we’d like to accomplish in the new year. Our ever-changing back yard keeps things feeling fresh and keeps our creative wheels turning. We have many exciting things in the works to make 2020 another great year of van life living as a family of three on the road.

One thing that makes van life doable for our family is the mattresses we had custom made for our tiny space. When you don’t have a lot of space, the cozying-up space you do have is integral to feeling like your van is home. Wondering more about custom mattresses for van beds? Check out Custom Mattress Factory’s process for creating super-comfy bespoke beds for vans, RVs, boats, and more.


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