Sue Perkin’s Big American Road Trip
Have you seen Sue Perkin’s Big American Road Trip yet? Well, we came across it last night during a channel flicking frenzy. So, with tea and chocolate in hand ,we sat down for the entertainment to begin. To be honest, it wasn’t quite what we expected!
It’s fair to say we were waiting for plenty of eye wateringly tempting scenery. Maybe some shot’s of Sue Perkin’s driving off in a sporty convertible whilst nibbling a piece of bake-off cake.
Vanlife without Instagram
What the viewers got was a little more interesting, especially for us motorhome folk. That’s because “The Big American Road Trip” involves a lot of #vanlife.
Not only that, but it’s refreshingly honest and so familiar to what really goes on in those vanlife travels. Best of all, there’s no hiding behind an Instagram image – hooray! At last, someone laying bare what vanlife is really like on primetime TV and it’s not always pleasant viewing!
For us, it’s no revelation, because it’s what we’ve been seeing and talking about for years. Often feeling like we’re alone in doing so! No doubt, it will come as a bit of a surprise to many would be vanlifer’s out there. So, tune in to Channel 4 to see for yourselves!
Self-Build Campervan – Sue Perkin’s Big American Road Trip
So, Sue’s mode of transport comes in the shape of a self-build campervan. It actually looks rather lovely, with a panelled ceiling and cosy fixed bed. But – it doesn’t have a toilet or shower!
This is quite amusing to Sue, who looks frantically for the campervan loo, before realising it’s missing. Then there’s the kitchen sink which acts as bathroom sink too. As she opens the tap, the water run’s out really quickly, before it’s soon a trickle. Then, as for a kitchen stove, there’s not one of these either.
So, cooking or boiling any water, has to be done on a small tin camping gas ring. The singed pan precariously balances on the top, resembling a health & safety risk. It’s the tiny kind of stove, like you take in a backpack up a mountain, certainly not what you’d expect in a campervan!
As for brushing her teeth, we notice she’s using water from a plastic bottle to swill out the residue. Gosh, this is great – another real life, on the road moment that passes the Instagram scene by.
It’s not long before Sue hit’s the road on the Big American Road Trip ,winding through the California wilderness. As impressive drone shots capture the scenery, it’s time for her first overnight stop and a meet up with some full-time vanlifer’s.
Living and Working The Vanlife
The first eager couple Sue meets, have lived the Vanlife for about year. So, no doubt they are still in Honeymoon mode.
Most of the time is spent talking outside the van about how they make a living. Unusually, it’s from Burlesque shows of all things, along with remote working from the van. The home on wheels is typically vanlife – self-built, basic and small, but so far they love the life they’ve chosen.
Next comes a single lady who’s been living in her tiny campervan for 6 years. She makes a living from Youtube, filming her life on the road to a large audience of subscribers.
Her van is really basic and quite messy to say the least, but once again she says she loves living the vanlife. At least, she’s honest and admits it took a lot of getting used to.
Toilet Time Vanlife Style
Once again, there’s an absence of loo on board. So guess what? Yes, the vanlifer leads Sue off into the wilderness with a tiny red spade to dig a “poo hole”!
Hallelujah, finally there’s reality – a vanlife YouTuber digging in the dirt before squatting to do her business in nature! Wow! We can’t believe this is actually being admitted on prime time TV!
We love this programme! It’s showing to millions what we’ve been seeing out on our travels for the last few years. It’s exciting, refreshing and honest, but also quite comical too.
As for Sue, I’m not sure she’s totally convinced about digging a poo hole, as the camera’s leave the vanlifer squatting in relative solitude.
To be honest, we know Vanlife campervans in the USA often lack a loo. We thought this was because America has lots of public loos. Do they? We’re now really unsure!
Of course in Europe, public loos are quite rare in many countries. So when we see members of the vanlife community sneaking into nature with their toilet roll, it’s not really any surprise. After all, what are they supposed to do if they buy a Campervan without one?
A Strong Smell Of Urine
In the last few years, a strong smell of urine often fills the air at wild camping spots and many Aires. For us, it’s the one big annoyance, so seeing people poo in nature in the States was quite a reality moment.
Over in Australia and New Zealand, we have spent a lot of time travelling by van. In New Zealand, especially, locals are really hot up about toilet habits of people in small campervans. They used to tell us how people poo anywhere and because they don’t like using the drop toilets provided in many rural locations, they’ll poo next to it or in the bushes near it!
Blimey – people have no shame!
This Summer, we saw occupants peeing behind our van and of course in a whole range of other locations. However, this is the first time we’ve seen someone pulling their pants down and pooing in full view of everyone. Yes, people – this is what vanlife has come to – full blown turds on tarmac!
Basically, nothing surprises us any more, but it’s good to see an American using a shovel, be it just for the camera or not, we’ll never know.
Filling up The Water – Sue Perkin’s Big American Road Trip
Now it’s time for Sue to be shown how to fill up the fresh water containers. Yes this is like many self-build campervans that we’ve seen and they don’t have a fixed tank.
Instead they have one or two removable water containers under the kitchen sink.
So, out comes a blue water container and off goes Sue to the nearest water supply on foot. She then carries a heavy container of water back to the van. Crikey, this is enough to put anyone off – it all looks like such hard work.
As for showering, there’s a trick of the trade – a deep plastic tub and hand-held shower placed in the middle of the van floor. For these van lifers, there’s no luxury of a separate shower room or 12V pump or hot water from a boiler for that matter.
Meeting A Vanlife Hero
As Sue leaves the setting of a trailer park, she heads into the real desert-like wilderness to meet an all American vanlife hero.
This guy has lived the vanlife for years, ever since separating from his Wife, when buying and living in a van was the only option left for him.
He went on to become a Youtube vanlife celebrity and has a huge following to his channel and real-life community. Sue meets him in the isolated American plains, where the vast expanse of land seems to go on forever.
Nowadays, he’s living in a new van – a converted Ambulance and he loves it. I have to say there’s no really expensive or ultra swish campervans yet on this show, quite the opposite – Million Dollar Motorhomes move over!
Whilst getting to meet the vanlife living Americans, another all time reality favourite is shown to the TV masses, this time involving the portable shower.
It’s washing the hair day – using a hand pump portable shower bag and not much water! This is all done in the great outdoors, as the water soaks away into the dry desert-like conditions where a hair-dryer isn’t needed under blazing sun.
Again, it’s a scene we’ve seen many times in Europe and of course New Zealand. Yes, showering outdoors behind the back doors as soap suds and feet give the game away beneath the van. That’s for those with a little modesty, of course there are other’s who shower in full view of the neighbours!
I love the way that Sue takes all important vanlife Instagram poses to heart. The viewers see her trying a variety of well known positions to snap that perfect vanlife shot. How about the pose on the back bed shot or even the all important one by the sliding door, favourite nibble in hand – healthy option of course – no fry up here!
Last but not least it has to be a picture of the van in that dream-like overnight parking spot. How we’re all drooling at the thought of parking beside the ocean, just us and the crashing waves for company.
When Sue asks about those exotic parking locations to the vanlife people on the show, even they admit it’s not often they get these Insta perfect parking spots. Well, there’s a revelation – this is America after all! Goodness, if they can’t park in super scenic places every night in a country that size, then there’s no hope for us mere mortals here in the small countries of Europe.
Then again, we know that all too well!
A Big Thank YOU
So, here’s a big thank you to Sue Perkin’s and The Big American Road Trip for showing how living the vanlife isn’t quite as many would like us believe.
The only disappointment with the show is that it hasn’t shown more of the actual scenery and attractions but maybe the next episode will reveal a bit more.
In the meantime, we’re quite happy to see just how the Vanlife community compares to here in Europe and so far it looks very much like for like!