Having previously lived in Rotterdam and worked full-time, the idea of vanlife started to take on a deeper meaning. It began to feel like more than just a temporary escape during summer vacations. After 2.5 months on the road, thoroughly captivated by the beauty of Italy, Greece and Turkey, a thought began to germinate in our minds. Why confine ourselves to a mere 5 months?
I’m Wies, a designer with a love for creativity and entrepreneurship. Alongside my boyfriend and our adventurous cat Muji, we are exploring Turkey’s stunning landscapes and the Balkan countries. Vanlife has become much more than just an experiment for me — it has become a transformative and fulfilling way of life. Here, I’ll share my personal journey, the lessons I’ve learned, and the joys of living on the road.
How It Started
In February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, we took the leap and bought our van. Our initial intention was to try something different for our summer holidays. The excitement of building our own mobile home was infectious, and when the lockdown hit, we found ourselves fortunate to have ample time to dedicate to the project. What we thought would be a simple modification turned into a four-month endeavour as our designer and architect minds couldn’t resist improving every aspect of our van. In a way, the pandemic provided us with an unexpected opportunity to delve into the vanlife lifestyle.
From Holidays to Living in the Van
I have had a sustainable start-up for 5 years now. The work I do began mostly offline. Since this year we made quite a big change in our strategy, which also gave us space to take another look at how we wanted to work. In this way, my job became more remote-friendly and the concept of an extended journey became a real possibility. The timing aligned perfectly, and we decided to go on a sabbatical with our van for 5 months and move to Copenhagen afterwards.
With perfect timing and the recently granted freedom, we found ourselves considering an extension to this journey. No longer constrained by a fixed end date, we chose to elongate our trip. By embracing this flexibility, we can now travel at a slower pace, indulging in the true essence of each destination and enjoying the beauty and uniqueness of our surroundings.
Since this trip, I have experienced a bigger sense of happiness and relaxation. This unconventional way of living suits me perfectly and allows me the space to prioritize self-care and personal growth. The stresses and challenges that once concerned me have faded away, leading to improved well-being. Even a persistent knee injury that had bothered me for over two years disappeared suddenly. It’s amazing how shedding stress and embracing new experiences can work wonders for the body, and mind.
Creating Structure and a Daily Routine
During our initial months on the road, I approached vanlife with the same tempo as a typical vacation, eagerly hopping from place to place. However, I realized that this wasn’t sustainable long-term. We decided to add a bit more structure and routine to it, that prioritizes “me-time” in the mornings, allowing us to engage in hobbies, exercise, or simply reading a book. This balance ensures that we can fully embrace work, relaxation, and explore our ever-changing surroundings.
Pros and Cons of Vanlife
The greatest advantage of vanlife is the fact that I feel so much happier. I have the freedom to do everything I like while feeling at home in our self-designed tiny home on wheels. However, the biggest challenge is being physically distant from friends and family. Maintaining connections and making regular phone calls can be harder than you think.
Designing Our Dream on Wheels
What I love most about our van is that it is made primarily from second-hand materials and furniture. As designer and architect, we revelled in the process of creating a unique living space by blending recycled elements with carefully selected items. Incorporating familiar objects from our previous home adds functionality and ensures that our van feels like a cosy and stylish home.
Advice for Aspiring Vanlifers
If vanlife calls to you, my advice is simple: Just go for it! Take that leap of faith and embrace the possibilities that await you. Start small and gradually build your dream on wheels, step by step. You don’t need an extravagant or expensive van to experience the joy and freedom of this lifestyle. Simplicity can often bring greater happiness much sooner.
I invite you to join our growing vanlife community through Vanlife Atlas, our community-based travel planner for vanlifers providing all the things you need to know about van life in different countries in one single place. We just launched a Beta version of that, but we are working hard to add info and features every week. Visit our website to explore valuable resources and share your own related experiences by filling in the form. Together, let’s build an Atlas for the Vanlife community!
Wishing you safe travels and a fulfilling adventure!
Find Them Here
If you enjoyed reading this post, then you may be interested in checking our blog pages. We have covered a range of topics about Van Life, Van Build, Van Travel, and our Van Buddies, where we share our experiences from living in a campervan for the past two years. You can follow us on Instagram or Facebook to stay up to date with our latest posts and to take a closer look into our daily lives.