Five lessons from life on the road.
“We’re all on the same journey, just different paths. And courageous vulnerability, being comfortable with discomfort, is where we learn to thrive.” — Emily King
Four years living on the road has taught Emily King of Where’s My Office Now many things, but her most powerful lessons have been the ones that resonate on a more personal level. Beyond just the day-to-day logistics and the practicality of earning a nomadic living, she has discovered a succession of personal epiphanies that keep her, and her partner Corey Smith, grounded. From healthy eating and taking care of self to the importance of slowing down and listening to your van-mate, her journey is one that has revealed more than just idyllic camp spots and memorable sunsets.
1. Slow down.
The first lesson King stresses is the importance of slowing down—an obvious metaphor while living in what they call, ‘not a slow van, but a fast house.’ But it’s more than just speed; it’s about appreciating simplicity. “When we slow down we get to experience the subtleties of our surroundings be it city or nature, even our own make up,” says King. “We become content with the simple things in life and, as a result, our needs and desires shift. All that we truly want is to live life to its fullest and give back in ways that uplift humanity and care for the Earth.”
2. Find nourishment.
Cooking well and eating organically is also incredibly important to King and Smith—who take the time to cook three meals a day in their VW van. While Smith is the everyday chef, King shares some of the responsibility, albeit with a more creative, or messy, flair. “Food is our most obvious connection to Earth. When we nourish our bodies, we have strength to adventure further,” she says. “We take the time to prepare three meals a day on our propane stovetop. The act of preparing food helps ground us on the road.”
3. Take care of self.
With good food and a slower pace, King has found the freedom to tune into her more natural and seasonal rhythm. This inward focus has allowed for personal reflection on the role she plays in her own story. “We are the creators of our lives, with every thought, word and action,” reflects King. “When we realize this and lean into nature’s cycles of creation, preservation and destruction that are also within us, we learn and grow in ways truest to us as individuals.”
4. Communicate effectively.
Eighty square feet can feel like an exceptionally small space, but it underscores the importance of communicating effectively, especially with your van-mate. “Living in a van together isn’t easy,” states King. “The more we actively listen to each other and get to the core need or desire being expressed, the happier we are. This can be very challenging, as Corey tends to be overly neat and I am overly messy. It’s important that we voice our needs and be receptive and willing to compromise. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.”
5. Create community.
Even though #VanLife might seem like an isolating endeavor, King feels it has provided the opposite, introducing Where’s My Office Now to a widespread community of like-minded folks from coast to coast. The importance of making those connections is one of the most powerful lessons King has learned on the road. “I appreciate interactions with other people more because I appreciate life more,” summarizes King. “It’s evident that in this wild world, we need each other more and more. We are like puzzle pieces, different in what we bring to the table, yet together we can create something beautiful.”