20 Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Moving into a Campervan

After living in a campervan for 3-plus months, we are huge advocates of van life, and can say it has been one of the greatest adventures of our marriage thus far.

But we also know that living in a tiny home is not always as pretty as the pictures with the #vanlife hashtag make it look.

A couple years ago, we shared why we think traveling overseas made our relationship stronger. And I’ve gotta say, I thought this whole living in a van thing would be a cake walk after traveling around the world together. But it opened up a whole lot of untapped conversations and revealed pieces of our personalities that had apparently been hibernating until the day we moved into a 6-by-13-foot home on wheels.

There are struggles and challenges completely unique to small living.

But the good news is that a lot of the problems you may encounter along the road are avoidable if you talk them out before you hop in that newly converted van or rigged out RV.

Whether you’re traveling with a spouse or a friend, there are some questions you should ask and boundaries you should put in place to make sure your campervan experience is a positive one.

1. What’s your most annoying habit?

Lay it out there so your partner isn’t simultaneously surprised and horrified when you crack every bone in your body before laying your head on your pillow. Remember, noises in a tiny home are a lot more dramatic than when you have an entire house to swallow up the sound.

And you’d probably want to know if your travel companion hums the theme song of “Jeopardy” at each red light before hopping in an RV with them for a month. Get it out there so there are no awkward surprises on the road.

2. What is your budget?

This is a topic that can be a bit uncomfortable to talk about, but you must address it before you even start planning your trip. Whether you’re traveling with your spouse with whom you share money, or you’re road tripping with a friend and you’ll pay for most things separately, it’s good to hash out your budget expectations.

If you’d like to have a few splurges every once in awhile – say, on a hotel room or a fancy meal or an occasional tour – but your partner is expecting to pinch pennies, you have two very different trips in mind. You may need to make some compromises for both of you to be happy.

We’re a huge fan of Trail Wallet to track expenses, and we have written too many articles to count on how we budget for trips. Check out our budget-related articles here!

3. What 3 songs are a must on your road trip playlist?

Making a road trip playlist is an essential part of planning. That’s not my opinion. It’s fact.

In all seriousness though, you’ll have to compromise when it comes to music (and pretty much everything else), since you’re sharing one very small space. Best-case scenario, you have the same taste in music and can rock together all day. Worst case, you split radio time 50/50 and bear with your companion’s affection for Kenny Rogers when you’d rather be listening to, well... just about anything else.


Like this list so far? We also made a list of 11 Questions to Ask a Friend Before Traveling Together.

4. Early mornings or sleep in?

This will change depending on what you have planned for the day, but it’s good to have some sort of agreement about sleep schedules since you may be sharing a bed, after all. 

5. Do you have any experience with fixing cars?

Know how to change a flat? What would you do if your engine overheats? It’s a huge plus if one of you has some experience working with cars.

With all the time you’ll be spending on the road, there is a good chance you may encounter some sort of issue with your vehicle. You can cross your fingers and knock on wood all you want, but it’s good to be prepared. YouTube videos are awesome, and having someone in mind to call when you need car advice is a good idea. (Thank you, Dad!)

6. What luxury do you need to have on the road?

For me, it’s coffee each morning. I consider it more of a necessity than a luxury, so I was sure to create a spot for a teakettle and my favorite French press. Ben’s luxury of choice (in addition to coffee) is a growler that he fills with local beer any time he has the chance.

Okay, I partake in drinking the beer too.

And a luxury we both utilize is the wonderful (and simultaneously obnoxious) world of the Internet. We work on this blog along the road, I have a few freelance gigs, and Ben makes money teaching English to children in China via video chat. So when we first had this grand idea of living on the road, we were sure to figure out how we could bring Internet on the road with us.  

Talk about what road "luxuries" you are going to need to design your space or time around:

  • Daily showers?
  • A working refrigerator?
  • The tools to cook gourmet meals?
  • Internet?
  • Space for your furry travel companion? (Bringing a dog – or cat, for that matter – on the road is totally doable if you plan it out right.)
  • Yoga every morning?

The beautiful thing is that each of these things are possible to incorporate in your campervan or RV if it is a big enough priority in your life.

7. What’s your stance on ermmm… passing gas in a small space?

Yep, you’ll hafta go there. If you’re not on that level with your partner yet, prepare to get there quickly. Or your trip will get real weird.

8. How many days are you willing to go without showering?

This is a legit issue you’ll have to address. When we tell people we’ve been living on the road for 3 months, the very first question 90 percent of people ask is, "How often do you shower?" (And they usually ask it with the same face you make after sucking on a sour lemon.) People seem to be quite concerned with this subject.

We’ll be the first to tell you that we don’t shower every day. It is possible to find showers just about anywhere on your van-life journey, but it’ll take time and effort. We’re okay going a few days on end (4 is typically our max) without showering in order to not have to deal with the time or hassle. It allows us to have more adventures and live more freely.

Make sure you’re on the same page with your partner about this one. If you’re alright going a few days shower-free but your partner is expecting to lather up each morning, you might run into an issue along the road. Come to an agreement on how many days is your max before you need to find a shower. That way you’ll both feel comfortable without feeling like you’re wasting precious adventuring time.

Still wondering where can you shower on the road? Check out our guide to showering in a campervan here.

9. How many hours are you willing to drive in one day?

If you want to pack in as much as possible, but your travel buddy would rather not be on the road more than a couple hours a day, you’ll run into some disagreements.

Figure out these logistics ahead of time and decide if one of you will be the primary driver (thanks Ben!), or if you’ll split driving time equally. Laying out your expectations ahead of time will prevent arguments along the road.

10. Do you prefer to move fast and see everything, or take it slow?

In addition to discussing how many hours you’re comfortable driving, talk about how you’d like to spend your time. If you want a glimpse into the van life, check out our Day in the Life Video on Campervan Living.

If you only have a week, are you going to be GO-GO-GO with every moment planned in order to optimize your short time? Or will you leave some unplanned time that you can plan as you go? Talk about your expectations and how fast you want to travel.

If you’re moving into an RV or campervan for an undetermined amount of time, how long do you plan to stay in each place? If you get bored after a few days in one location but your partner becomes exhausted at the mere thought of moving around frequently, you’ll have to make some compromises. 

11. What is your favorite way to stay active?

I hate to break it to you, but road trips are not very good for your waistline. (Article coming soon on how we stayed fit and healthy during our 3-month road trip, so look out for that!)

Talk about how important it is for you to stay fit on the road, and discuss your favorite ways to get your heart pumping.

Perhaps you’ll seek out hikes and walk whenever possible. Your partner may want to get visitor passes to gyms in the big cities you visit, while you try to do yoga whenever you have a spot to lay out your mat. Or maybe you’ll download an app like Aaptiv and do daily workouts together along on the road.

Brainstorm different ways you’ll try to stay active and discuss how much you want to hold each other accountable. Often times, one partner will be more committed to these goals than the other, so make sure you know where the other stands on staying fit.

12. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

The answer to this question may help determine where your road trip takes you. If you don’t handle heat well, don’t go to Utah in the summer months. (We can tell you from experience.) And if cold weather just ain’t your thang, Minnesota in January is not a great choice. Again, we speak from experience.

In addition to helping you plan your route, discussing this question can help you prepare for the road. I don’t handle heat well, so we bought a couple chargeable fans that work even without electricity. If you get goosebumps even in a light breeze, you may need to pack accordingly and make sure your campervan or RV is suitable for cold weather.

13. Are you a neat freak?

When you’re living in an ultra-tight space, it can get cluttered fast. And a small mess is magnified when you’re driving it around with you in a campervan.

Talking about what types of messes get on your nerves ahead of time will help you avoid drama on the road. Perhaps your partner is all chill as long as the bed is made, and you need the floor to be vacuumed before you can go to sleep. Talk it out before a pile of dirty dishes causes a totally avoidable tiff.  

14. When we have no phone service and our music selection is overplayed, what will you do to keep me entertained?

Do you have an arsenal of time-consuming riddles or would you rather spend the downtime playing cards? Share your favorite ways to pass the time, and you may be surprised by how entertaining your husband is when there are endless hours and a long road ahead. (Ben is quite the riddle-master, in case you’re wondering.)

15. What is your favorite way to spend “alone time”?

When you’re living in a campervan you are spending nearly every moment with your partner – driving, eating, sleeping – everything. You even need to tell your partner every time you need to use the bathroom so they can pull over.

It can be pretty full-on, so you’ll want to have some time set aside that’s just for you. Maybe reading is your escape, you need some time with headphones in, or you journal to process emotions.Discuss your favorite "me time" activities so your travel buddy doesn't freak out when you disappear on a solo walk.

16. What’s the best way to handle an argument?

It will happen. No matter how much you like your friend/spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/parent/sibling/{enter appropriate relationship here}, you will get into a few tiffs on the road.

You’ll be spending 100 percent of your time together, cooped up in a small space and sometimes without much other human interaction.

And it’s not like one of you can just drive off for a while to cool off. When you get into an argument while living and traveling in a tiny space, it can blow up fast because there’s nowhere to escape to.

Before even setting off on the road together, chat about what sets you off.

For me, it’s hunger.

For Ben, it’s when we’re lost.

And on top of that, talk about how your partner should approach an argument. Do you need time to cool off? Do you need to talk it out right away?

Knowing the best way to approach the inevitable arguments is a must before you even turn the key in ignition.

17. What’s your favorite road trip snack?

Are you a trail mix, fresh fruit, beef jerky, veggies and hummus kind of person? Or are you a Doritos, Mountain Dew, gummy worms and chocolate covered everything kind of person? A little of each? Talk it out with your travel buddy and settle on some staples you can share as well as some goodies you might just have to yourself.

If there’s anything you can’t stand the smell of, have dietary restrictions on, or just don’t want the temptation around, lay it out there. A good road trip buddy will be respectful of this.

18. What meal do you have mastered?

And while we’re on the topic of food, let’s keep going. It’s one of my favorite topics, after all!

What meals have you mastered? What foods do you enjoy most?

When you’re traveling with a partner, you’ll likely be eating the same food. It’s just too much of a hassle to cook two different meals all the time.

In addition to talking about what foods you can cook, list out anything you dislike and any dietary restrictions you may have. Can't handle spicy? Any allergies? Love or hate cilantro? Foods you try to avoid?

My heart goes out to anyone traveling with a picky eater, or to any picky eaters road-tripping with someone who just doesn’t understand your selective taste buds. It can be tricky coming to a happy medium, but it’s better done ahead of time than telling your partner you’re gluten-free after they prepare a pasta dinner.

19. Are you claustrophobic? Get carsick easily? Can’t sleep unless it’s completely dark and quiet?

You might want to ask yourself these before deciding to move into a campervan in the first place. But even if you are a tad bit wary of small spaces or get nauseous on windy roads, you can make van life work. You just want your partner to be aware of any concerns you may have so you don’t suddenly burst into tears and leave them wondering what the heck they did.

20. What would bring you comfort after a long day on the road?

After a long day of travel, how do you recharge? Do you like to talk about the day and rehash everything that happened, or do you prefer quiet time with a book or Kindle? Does tea bring you comfort after a long day, or is a cold beer your chill out beverage of choice?

Figuring out how each of you decompress will help make your evenings more enjoyable and will help you understand why your partner isn’t as chatty as usual.


Want to know more about #vanlife?! Check out our series of articles on campervaning and how to make your own campervan. 


Are you planning a campervan adventure or do you dream of buying an RV? What struggles or challenges will you have with your partner? Or perhaps you’re doing the tiny living alone, which presents its own set of challenges. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!