Around 4 weeks ago I arrived home from Spain to the UK after working a season abroad. The van I have been working on for the last 18 months has been sadly missed and had been parked up on my Nan’s driveway while I was away. So, I got back, no flat, no place to stay, no job, nothing! I had my savings, and some of my possessions still that I had put in storage, but pretty much, I had no where to go!
I decided, you know what, I don’t want to start all the stress of looking for a place to live, all that bollocks of buying furniture again. I plan to leave the UK in the van for a long European tour starting in January/February 2016 where I will no doubt take the van onward to Spain where I intend to work the summer season again.
This is as good time as any, I decided now is the perfect time to make my full time move to a #VanDweller!
As I approached the street where my van had been parked up all summer, I was just hoping it was still in good condition, that no one had tried to break in or owt. The van was just like how I left it, apart from it being covered in shit, nothing a good wash won’t sort! So, I said my hello’s to the family, got my stuff in the van, and set off!
As I started to drive, I began to think to myself. What the hell am I doing? I did not know where I was going, I had no plans, I just hit the road not knowing where I would end up. I could easily get a hotel for a few weeks, get my head down at a friend house, or back to my Mum’s place, but when I was driving around, it hit me…
Its hard to describe, but the feeling you get when you actually drive not knowing where you are going, you get the biggest sense of freedom, it was so intense, it is truly amazing! I was literally the captain of my own ship! I could go where the hell I wanted. If I did not like it, simple, move on! I was loving this.
So, I will be honest, the first few weeks was hard. I had no bed, no cooking facilities, no toilet, no curtains, just the furniture units I had built that made the back of the van half resemble a camper van. Thinking back now, personally I think that I moved in just at the right time. I had to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag for the first few night and god was it cold and uncomfortable. I draped make-shift curtains over the front windows out of some old grey bed sheets to dim the light and stop prying eyes looking in.
It was even worse when it came to parking! I did not no where to park up. If I parked up outside say for instance on a residential street, will somebody see me? What will they think? Will they call the police? What if I park up on a car park? Then I started thinking ‘well, the van will be all alone, with no eyes watching over me’ so that’s a good thing, but what if thieves think its a work van with tools in, they might try to break in? With me inside it!
After a few days, I finally got my curtains and bed in, and was this a relief! The curtains are thermal insulated blackout ones that stop ALL the light coming in and out. This gave me a bit more confidence as now from the outside the van appears that dark, it does not look like any curtains are up. Also, I installed the rock and roll bed so now I get a lot more comfy nights sleep and I also purchased a winter blanket till I sort out the heating.
So right now, move on 4 weeks. Gas is in, bed installed, curtains up and working as they should. The gas is running piped to the stoves so I can cook and also use them to keep me warm as I am using them as a make shift heater. (Yes I know it can be dangerous, but I have my door and windows slightly open to allow fresh air in the van and I shut the gas off from the bottle before I go to sleep!)
As I am writing this to you, I am parked up on Blackpool promenade, listening to the cars driving passed driving down the illuminations, children with there parents laughing, walking on by, unbeknownst to anyone, that there is someone living in that white van they just passed!
It is incredible, as weeks go on, it just gets better and better! You learn more and more, how to survive, like how to keep clean (gyms and marinas all have free showers!) till I install the shower. Need a piss, just pull up, no problem, anything else, I am always near a toilet! WiFi, just park up near a McDonald’s, they always have a strong FREE WiFi connection but I find most town centers offer free WiFi now too!
I am not saying this choice is for everybody, yes there are some sacrifices you have to make, a nice big kitchen would be nice, to chill in a nice hot soaking bath would be heaven, but you learn to adapt, and the sense of freedom beats all the negatives hands down!
I hope to continue this on a permanent basis, to travel the whole of Europe. I can actually see my self comfortably doing this for a long time. I am saving a lot of money on not having to pay out on rent, council tax, bills etc! I also have got my old job back which involves me traveling the U.K. doing sales in the van!
So for anyone thinking of doing this, just do it! Don’t be afraid, its incredible!
P.S. Girls love the idea, and they will happily come back to the van!