6. Mental Health in the Van

Written by Leslie.

Gnarvana has been a project of mine for the past 4 years or so, with many ups, and even more downs. I remember reading the Covid updates back in February/March and being stubborn with the fact that I was leaving my job in a factory to begin travelling and growing a production company. 


The day I was about to hand in my notice, the country announced that schools will be shut. I decided to stay and see how things progressed. I ended up leaving for France at the end of August. When I handed in my notice, it was met with a huge amount of doubt from my co-workers, saying I'll be stuck, a second wave will come and so on. I told them I'd rather be stuck over there than in Ireland. They didn't disagree.


The Pro 


Covid dominated the year. My biggest gripe has been how all conversation revolved around it. I remember sitting in work, looking at my co-workers and thinking 'the only thing to talk about is Covid.' It was so bad that you forget about what you used to talk about. I think a lot of people probably relate to this.

We spent about 15 weeks in the van, before returning to Ireland for Christmas. Nearly every day back in Ireland had involved conversation about Covid again. This didn't happen in the van. 

In the van, we were living. At the foundation of everything, we had to make sure we had water, find a campsite, cook and clean and so on. When that stuff was covered, we were travelling. We got to see an ever-changing landscape, visit bucket list locations like the Amalfi coast, and stumble across beaches that weren't on the agenda, but managed to become highlights of our trip.

You're always going to become a product of your environment, and in our case it completely distracted us from the perpetual boredom back at home.

It is amazing, though. We were extremely lucky with our treatment abroad. We were never hassled by police, and we could drive indefinitely. Life went on, conversations were about the past, future and anything in between. It was really refreshing, and ironically, by travelling during Covid, we managed to come almost completely disconnected from it.

We always felt that we had our freedom, which has been much more restricted for residents.

Long story short, I actually feel much better than before. There's a definite feeling of satisfaction from being abroad in the van. There's motion and new things to see and do. 

The only negative impact would be an initial level of stress that accompanied life in the van. There's always a number of responsibilities to stay on top of. Being in a constantly changing environment also removes a certain amount of comfort. It's no real problem, but it was nice to be sitting in a house again, not having to worry about the little things for a few weeks.

Watch the video to see me ramble on about it below.