'I went on a van-life holiday with a brand new boyfriend. Here's how it really went.'

Hot tip – a quick way to know if you’re really compatible with your partner, is to book a trip together.

Preferably one that involves not showering for three days, forced close proximity together and shared domestic duties, like living in a van. Which is exactly what I have just done.

At the time of my trip, I had known my now boyfriend for approximately 6 weeks.

To be honest, he was more or less a stranger, as we had only spent a total of seven days together in Eastern Europe. The rest of our relationship consisted of late-night calls, voice memos between flights, and selfies in idyllic locations while I was still gallivanting around Europe.

After returning home, I had quickly fallen into what could only be described as a serious bout of “post-holiday blues”. So, the idea of spending two weeks on the road with a handsome man sounded great. Flights were booked, a route was chosen and within a week of coming home (still delirious with jetlag), Sam was on my doorstep and we were ready to embark on a road trip. 

And, here is how it really went. 

Watch: The day Jessica, Stephen, and Hunter moved out of their home to move into their van. Post continues after video.

Video via Youtube Flying The Nest.

Spending two weeks in a van meant I had to (quickly) let go of presenting myself as my “very best self”. I wasn’t trying to be mysterious, hot, or aloof. In fact, living in a van made it near impossible. Instead, I wore minimal makeup (or none), showered irregularly, wore the same black jumper on repeat, and rocked hair that resembled a birdnest. 


Yes, there were some rather repugnant smells, intimacy that I would rather have embarked on post-shower, and a closeness that was formed by someone seeing you looking like pure crap all the time… and yet, the attraction was still alive and kicking. We quickly developed a strong sense of comfort and familiarity with each other – one that even surpassed the comfort levels I felt with a guy I had dated for over a year. 

In order to avoid driving each other crazy during the trip, we had to establish good communication habits right away. On the road I was often happy, but there were times when I was frustrated with the weather, hangry, exhausted, had fallen into a slump and needed time to gather my emotions. I knew I had to communicate how I was feeling, immediately, or unnecessary tension would have occurred. 

Before our trip, Sam had only seen a small glimpse into the person I am – a cheerful, positive, clean human being. However, during the trip, he witnessed an unfiltered version of me, which meant he got to see an array of my emotions. Lucky him. 

Expressing my emotions to Sam helped us avoid any confusion or misunderstandings that may have arisen due to bouts of quietness where I would usually ignore all the problems. Thankfully, these positive communication habits have continued, even after the trip. Now, if either of us senses that the other is feeling slightly off, we are quick to address it. 

I’m undoubtedly an extrovert, but I recharge alone. I put it down to the fact that I am an only child. Typically, all I need is 20 minutes to read or to go for a quick walk with headphones in. 

Living in very close proximity to each other at all times in the van, meant there were moments when we needed to cash in a solo sesh. Communicating this need meant we both got to enjoy moments to ourselves. Space is necessary, in all relationships. It is even more necessary when you find yourself cooped up in a small van during two consecutive days of bad weather. 


Listen to this episode of Fill My Cup. Post continues after podcast.

Although two weeks on the road may not seem like a lot, spending hours driving every day with minimal phone service, and only a bottle of Shiraz and a few board games to pass the time in the afternoons – it is likely you will become well-acquainted with your companion. Trust me. 

Sharing domestic duties, spending uninterrupted quality time together, as well as troubleshooting unexpected issues (this will happen, especially if you have poor navigation skills), allowed me to determine if we were genuinely compatible. 

In a typical dating situation, I would only see the other person a few times a week. The rest of the time would be spent hopelessly decoding text messages, only for the relationship to go absolutely nowhere. Two weeks in a van, enjoying the beautiful sights that make up the Great Ocean Road, truly, solidified our relationship.

There is a Bill Murray quote that says, “If you have someone you think is the one, take them and travel around the world. And, when you land at JFK and you're still in love with that person, get married.” 

In my experience, there is definitely some truth to that statement… I just wouldn’t recommend rushing into the married part.  

But, if you're seeking the ultimate test of compatibility, I highly suggest a trip in a van.

Image: Supplied. 

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