Having spent just over 7 months living in our lovely VW T25 and driving over 15,200 miles, I thought I'd share some of the highs and lows of vanlife!
I'll start with my 5 favourite things about vanlife...
1) Scenery. Having travelled through 20 different countries, the various views have been incredible.
2) Wildlife. We saw animals and birds we didn't even realise existed in Europe!
3) People. The kindness shown to us by strangers, friends, family and acquaintances has been extraordinary. We have a lot of good karma to pay back!
4) Outdoor activities. Taking our climbing gear, paddleboards and hiking boots gave us opportunities to do most of our favourite outdoor activities for free.
5) Freedom. The freedom to do the things we love doing, to not have to go to work, to change our plans based on the weather/recommendations by others and to wild camp in some amazing places.
I'll admit though, not every moment was perfect! These were probably my 5 worst moments/things about vanlife...
1) Being woken up by three trees falling onto the van in the wind
2) Locking ourselves out of the van in the pitch black and having to take a window out to get back in
3) Falling down a very steep, snowy mountain and wondering whether I'd be able to stop before falling off the edge
4) Having a poorly tummy - the less said about this the better, but it does not mix well with vanlife!
5) Being too hot/cold. In Italy (with the outdoor temperature being 38°) we had to have the heater on full as we drove so that the engine didn't overheat... then in the Arctic we had to have the cold blower on because the engine was too chilly!
Although at the time I found it stressful when things broke on the van, I feel I can't put this in the list (and not just because I've already got to five!) Having such an old van, garages don't really stock T25 spares, so when things broke it usually meant being stuck in a place waiting for a part to be delivered. But some of the best bits of our trip have been while we've been waiting for parts because of the people we've met. Ironically, I'm now glad that the van broke near Torre de Moncorvo and Narbonne because of the amazing people we spent time with in both places.
We missed people from home, but travelling is so much easier now than it would have been in the past because of the internet. We've really appreciated hearing from family and friends, especially the regular photos and videos of our nephew (thanks Sara!)
So I think you'll be able to see that for us, the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to vanlife! It's been amazing to see how little we really need in terms of 'stuff'. Being shorter than an estate car, the van was always one of the smallest vehicles when we parked with other travellers, a number of people even said 'oh, you're in the little one'! Despite this, we had everything we needed to live for 7 months in the van. As cheesy as it sounds, it's quite liberating to live a more simple life with less 'stuff'. I hope this is something we can remember when we finish our year of travelling and return home.
We have had the most incredible time, we've pushed Amelie (the campervan) to her limit (and on occasions, a bit beyond), but I think it's fair to say she surprised us all and made it back in one piece! From the UK to the most southern part of Spain, to the Russian border, to the Arctic and then back. Not bad for a 32 year old van, eh?! And to finish on a soppy note, the best thing about vanlife for me was getting to spend so much time with my in house mechanic.
Thanks for reading about our time in Europe! Stay tuned, in a couple of weeks we'll start our next vanlife adventure... in New Zealand!