Overlooking our campsite in Monterrey
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How to Become More Self Sufficient

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Traveling in a van over the last three years we have spent a huge amount of time by ourselves. When we went into lockdown at the start of 2020 in Australia, our lives didn’t really change materially. We had naturally learned how to become more self sufficient.

So much of our regular day-to-day life in the van could be applied to our new situation living in lockdown. Hunkered down at home spending days and weeks alone with just each other, nothing really changed for us. We both work remotely and are used to spending time with just the two of us and it took us a moment to realize that everything we have been doing for the last few years has been in preparation for self-isolation.

Having a beer overlooking the Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert
Self-isolating since 2018

Given that over 2020 and 2021 so many other people started living some version of a more isolated and contained lifestyle, we decided to share our top tips for becoming more self-sufficient. Whether you are exploring remote destinations in your van or practicing social distancing from your inner-city apartment, here are our top tips from the road on how to be self-sufficient. Hopefully, these tips can help you survive and even flourish when you find yourself isolated.

Take Up a New Fitness Routine

Don’t fall into despair because your gym or organized sports team is out of reach or has shut down. One thing we realized pretty early on in our travels was that the need for gym memberships, protein powders, and weekly spin classes is greatly overstated by a hundred billion dollar fitness industry.

The list of ways you can practice fitness from your own home is extensive. Calisthenics, yoga, pilates, dancing are all great choices for staying fit by yourself. I have even seen people bouldering around their own homes or installing pull up bars or hangboards in vans.

There are hundreds of apps, websites and Youtube channels to get you started. What’s more, right now, there are many fitness instructors and trainers that are currently out of work that would love to lead you through a routine over the internet.

The key to maintaining our fitness routine is consistency. We nominate a time each day we are going to fit in some exercise. Then, we stick to it, even if we don’t feel like it. Lacing up your trainers is half the battle but once that’s done it’s hard to turn back.

Take up a Hobby

This is the perfect time to put into practice the hobby you’ve been dreaming of (as long as that hobby doesn’t involve going outside).

Better yet, take up one of these hobbies that will keep you self-sufficient for longer.

Brewing Your Own Beer

As pubs and restaurants across the world are forced to shut, one sobering thought has surely crossed everyone’s mind. ‘What if bottle-os (liquor stores) are next on the chopping block?’

Besides keeping the boredom at bay, this hobby can ensure your beer supply is not in jeopardy.

Hanging a Herb Garden

Not everyone has the space for a full-size garden, but everyone can at least make sure they are self-sufficient when it comes to flavour. A hanging herb garden can fit in the tiniest van or studio apartment. It will brighten up your living space and elevate your cooking game.

Start a Blog, Podcast, or Vlog

Besides giving your creativity and energy an outlet and developing a new skill, this is also a possibility to make some money on the side. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you research and learn about how to get started and be successful in your new medium first and not after you begin the process. This will save a lot of time, effort and tears….trust us.

Start Cooking

Cooking overlooking the Atacama Desert

Restaurants are being forced to close down around the world to prevent people from transmitting coronavirus. Thankfully learning to cook for yourself is not difficult and there are heaps of resources out there.

The benefits of home cooking are numerous. Cooking healthy and nutritious food will contribute to your resistance to illness as well as your mood. Planning meals to cook is a great way to lower wastage which will increase self-sufficiency. Additionally, as access to entertainment and activities becomes restricted, cooking is a good way to pass the time on our own or with family.

Looking After Your Mind

Isolation is, of course, a significant threat to mental well-being. Luckily there is a number of things you can do to support your mental health throughout isolation and remain more self-sufficient.

Journaling

Keeping a journal is such an easy and important exercise to help keep your mental wellbeing in check, especially in stressful times like these. Now that you are going to be spending a lot more time with yourself, it is time to keep yourself emotionally accountable.

Ideas for journaling include:

  • Monitoring your emotional state at the start and end of each day.
  • Recording challenges for yourself each day; such as practicing gratitude, controlling negative emotions or scheduling time for meditation.
  • Planning your day, including work time, exercise time, self-improvement time, and time to kick back and do something fun and social.

Read More

Reading about how to become more self sufficient

Set a challenge to increase your reading. This will help avoid falling into a routine of watching too much television or engaging with too much negative media.

Learn a Language

Isolating from work, social engagements, and other activities that happen outside of the home, you will surely find yourself with the necessary time (just twenty minutes a day) it takes to learn a language. Plenty of free resources are available to help learn a language. One way to begin is to download the Duolingo language learning app.

Schedule Your Day

Without a regular routine and external motivation of the workplace, it can be hard to get into a productive pattern from your own home.

Start the day by writing out a schedule for your day. Include work tasks but also schedule other important personal tasks for the day including exercise, self-improvement tasks, and time to relax.

Maintaining Your Relationships

Being self-sufficient also means taking care of your relationships

Cut off from most of the people in your life but contact with your significant other or family increased to 100%? Yep, that sounds like our everyday and both scenarios present challenges.

Stay Connected With Friends and Family

Without regular real-world contact with friends, extended family, colleagues, teammates, and day-to-day acquaintances, it can seem like your world has shrunk a little bit. Make sure you take the extra steps needed to maintain your real-world relationships while you are self-isolating. Luckily there are plenty of tools to stay connected. Set some time aside each week to get in touch with your friends and family.

Being Self Suffecient With a Partner

Living together in a van means that Kelli and I are rarely more than a few meters apart. This can put a strain on any relationship. Luckily there is a range of strategies you can adopt to reduce the pressure when living in close quarters.

  • Schedule time apart – Taking time apart to do your own thing is important. Even if you are doing your own thing in the same room.
  • Journaling – As mentioned above a journal can be a powerful tool. Write down what’s bothering you and try to separate grievances with your partner from your personal issues.
  • Socialise with other people – Right now that might mean getting online to chat with family and friends. Don’t let your partner be your only social outlet.
  • Date night – When you spend all your time with someone, setting aside time for date night might seem redundant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Make sure your partner is more than a colleague or roommate by setting aside time to be a couple.
  • Beware co-dependency – Just because you spend all your time together, don’t slip into a pattern of relying on each other for all your emotional maintenance.
  • Avoid getting hangry – Find yourself cranky with your partner? We’ve come to find that nine times out of ten, we are just hungry and a snack can help resolve a lot of silly arguments.

Gear to Be More Self-Reliant at Home

These seven simple products that can promote self-sufficiency and allow you to isolate yourself for longer, whether you are headed for a remote camping destination in the van or locked down in your own home.

Herb Garden

Not everyone has the space for a full-size garden, but everyone can at least make sure they are self-sufficient when it comes to flavor. A hanging herb garden can fit in the tiniest van or studio apartment. It will brighten up your living space and elevate your cooking game.

Campfire Grill

Whether you have run out of gas for the cooker or just feel like doing something in the great outdoors. What could be more self-reliant than cooking over the campfire? First, you need a campfire grill. This simple grill with a stand makes campfire cooking easy.

Home Brew Kit

As pubs and restaurants across the world are forced to shut, one sobering thought has surely crossed everyone’s mind. ‘What if bottle-os (liquor stores) are next on the chopping block?’

Besides keeping the boredom at bay, this hobby can ensure your beer supply is not in jeopardy.

Sewing Kit

Basic sewing, the ability to make small repairs or alterations, is a skill everyone should know. What better time to learn this essential self-sufficient skill than when you are at home practicing social distancing. A simple hand sewing kit is affordable and much cheaper than throwing out clothes every time they need mending.

Solar Generator

Not everyone has the roof space on their van or house to mount permanent solar paneling, but that doesn’t mean everyone can’t benefit from solar technology. As solar technology develops and the price of solar continues to tumble solar power is now more accessible than ever before.

A good place to start, if you can’t mount your own panels (for example if you rent or live in an apartment) is a solar generator. A solar generator can help keep lights, phones, and laptops powered during an outage. The energy generated is clean, quiet and doesn’t cost anything is fuel.

Hair Dressing Scissors and Clippers

Whether you are traveling through a country where you don’t speak the language very well or the hairdressers and barbers have been forced to shut down due to pandemics, it never hurts to have a plan B. A set of clippers and hair cutting scissors can help keep you neater between visits to the salon.

Fishing Gear

What better way to be self-reliant than to hunt your own food. If you’ve got access to a water source, fishing is a good way to increase your self-sufficiency and while away an afternoon whether you are camping in the wilderness or self-isolating. A compact fishing rod and some basic tackle is a great place to start.

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What do you think of our list? Do you have any other ideas for products to help you be more self-reliant? Let us know in the comments below!

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What do you think of our tips on how to become more self-sufficient? Did we leave anything out? How do you stay self-sufficient when you are isolated on the road or in your home? Let us know below!

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Thinking it’s time to hit the road and take up the van life to escape all this craziness? Check out our beginner’s guide to over landing and van life.

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