How do vectors apply in real life?
By real life you mean your life? GPS uses vectors.
Vectors are used 24/7 to derive results in engineering and science. Fluid mechanics, static,, Electrical Engineering
Some natural phenomena require the use of vectors to describe them in a meaningful way.
Some quantities require the concept of a vector to capture a meaningful description of them for manipulation in equations that attempt to describe natural phenomena.
For example, it is not sufficient to know that gravity exerts a force of attraction on a body to work out how it might be affected by the force. It is also necessary to know the direction in which the force is attempting to move the body. As more than one number is needed to capture the information, it is not surprising that vectors consist of a carefully ordered (because the position of the number carries information about what it is measuring) set of numbers. For a force acting on a body whose motion is confined to a plane, two numbers are needed to give a 2-vector. Three numbers would be required for a vector describing a force acting on a body whose motion is simultaneously through three dimensions.