Haha … oh boy. For all you Myers-Briggs fans out there, Caroline and I are both INFJ’s. The ‘I’, as you may know, stands for introvert. We love to hang out and be social but in classic introvert nature, we require a good bit of time to recharge our batteries. This surprises a lot of people but … it’s who we are. Van life however makes getting this quiet time difficult. I mean, a lot of days we are only about 12 inches apart. We figure there’s got to be some other people out there who struggle to get the space they need so we came up with this post. Van Life: How to Get Alone Time on the Road.
Talk about it.
If you already know your partner’s personality and their needs and wants for alone time, you’ve got a jump on things. If you have no idea what they require in order to feel good, ask them! Not everyone has the same needs in this department and in fact some people recharge by being around others. Regardless, everyone needs a little bit of time alone.
Build it into your day.
Planning for this sounds boring, doesn’t it? But when you’re on the road and your van is also your house, sometimes it means you have to schedule it in order for it to happen. Trust us, it’s worth it. Could be as simple as one of you working at a coffee shop while the other one runs and then switching.
Take breaks BEFORE you need them.
We’ve had to learn this one the hard way. Seems like things are going awesome until they’re not. And then we’ll end up in an argument over something dumb. Once the dust settles, we’ll often look back and realize oh wow we haven’t spent a second apart from each other in a really long time.
Earplugs + Earbuds.
At least two pairs. Headphones work too. It’s a pretty overt signal that you’re going into your own world and allows you to create a barrier, even if it’s thin, between yourself and the world. We can both get lost in a podcast and music but we sometimes want to listen to different things. Or nothing at all. When you’re stuck in your vehicle for long stretches and can’t get actual space, put your earbuds in and get lost in your own world.
Have a signal.
A signal that you need some alone time could be as easy as one you make with your hands. No, not your middle finger haha. Maybe the peace sign. Or something you put on the dash. Anything will work as long as you and your partner know what it means. And then you respect it. Try not to take it personally when the other person uses it and hopefully they’ll do the same.
Choose your own adventure.
How awesome is it when someone you love shares things with you? It’s cool, right? Well when you’re traveling together and you’re seeing the same things, you don’t always get the chance to come back and tell stories to each other. Unless, however, you split up for a bit and do your own thing. Take the spur in the trail, go in opposite directions, drop one person off somewhere and agree to meet up at a certain time … the options are almost endless and it’ll maybe even make you miss them, if only just a little. Plus when you see them, you each have new stuff to share with the other.
Do meals differently.
One person sits under a tree, another person sits up against the back bumper and voila, personal time. We also sometimes just read while sharing a meal. If you want to kick up the adventure just a little, go to different restaurants in a new place and eat alone.
Coexist in silence.
You can be together but also separate at the same time. This is something that thankfully comes to us pretty easily. Almost from the beginning we could spend large chucks of time lost in our own thoughts while in the presence of the other but we realize not everyone is made this way. Some people like to fill the space with lots of talk. There’s nothing wrong with that unless your partner needs more quiet. We think it’s something that can be learned and can only get better with practice.
Van Life: How to Get Alone Time On the Road Recap
Getting alone time is one of the best ways to make sure you keep your relationship running strong. It’s also one of the best ways to avoid some of the most common road trip mistakes. At least we think so. It’s still a work in progress for us. We’re figuring it out as we go. What tips and tricks or advice do you have to share with us? We’d love to hear about it! Please leave your comments below!