6 months on the road to freedom.

Vanlife v Work. An interim report.

As a long term plan vanlife isn’t for everyone. In fact it’s probably not even suitable for a lot of people who own and regularly use a van now.

But if you can hack it then I can’t think of a better way to love the life you live.

Like most apparently simple things, it takes a lot of work.

Here’s my look at the practical side of six months on the road. It’s written to help you consider the merits of vanlife, and what to plan for, as well as give a little insight to our new world. After six months we’re no experts, but we’ve learned a lot.

We answer plenty of questions and we’ll welcome yours.

Minty’s Our Travels diary.

Here we go.

180+ days on the road.

Like life, the road adventure evolves.

It starts off super exciting.

You’re both grinning wildly.

The van eats the miles.

Your crazy food combinations taste great.

That weird pub where everyone stares at you becomes the stuff of legends as the story is retold over coming weeks.

The occasional (if you’re lucky) bad night with howling winds and rain is just another experience.

What started as an adventure will become your life, and to optimise the experience you must be open to its lessons.

By that token your life becomes an adventure and what could be better than that?

Watch it unfold. Celebrate its twists and turns.

It can’t all be good. We’d learn nothing if it was. I’m writing this at our deepest low so far, yet we’re still convinced of our deep good fortune.

It’s not a holiday. A holiday is a short break from whatever real life is for you, whether it’s from work, home life, caring or study.

In fact you may well take a holiday from van life. Stay in a house for a bit.

Purpose.

This is your life – and like any other life it, it’s best lived deliberately and with purpose.

That is a hell of a lot harder to put into practise than it is to write.

The Cornish Wanderer’s loose purpose is to travel, learn, and share the experience, which I have distilled to Wander in wonder.

That learning isn’t just about the places we visit, it’s also about us living together, efficiently, in a very small space, with little of the familiar stuff of life around us. That’s probably the hardest part!

Create your own luck.

We had the massively good fortune to be born in a rich, progressive country. And no matter how much I whinge about the parlous state of current affairs, Britain remains an amazing place in my eyes. In fact travel has improved my view of home.

The good fortune of our birthplace becomes all the more evident when touring any country that was under Communist rule.

Most of our other lucky breaks we created ourselves.

We worked hard for years, ridiculously so for the decade from 2007. That was when I was made redundant from The Co-operative Bank. We now look back on that as our big break, although it didn’t seem so at the time.

Have a plan.

Knowing what you want makes getting it a whole lot easier.

It’s a boring thing to be told when you’re young, but having a life plan is one of the most important things you can do, alongside finding the right partner, (or getting out early if you didn’t get that right first time).

Our plan included goals such as:

  • Live back in Cornwall by 2015.
  • Have no (real) debt by then so that income became less important.
  • Manage our work lives to allow more travel. We didn’t plan to retire early, just to work in different ways from 10 hour days 5 or 6 days a week.

To achieve that we took big risks, at times carrying frightening levels of debt, and we were often working every waking hour. Most of the time it was fun, but I don’t have the energy to go back to it now!

Archavon. Home. St Just.

Can you afford to travel long term?

How much do you actually need to live on?

How much is enough?

Most of us don’t know, we just know we want more than we have!

The number for us was a lot smaller than we expected.

Now that we’re on the road that figure is smaller again – yet we live well.

Our money man, former colleague and financial adviser Chris Bromiley, helped us work out how to create the income we needed.

The plan accelerated from that point onwards.

If you own your own home then chances are you can travel long term. The rent it can earn should cover at least half of your expenses. That applies for us even living in Cornwall where rents are low.

If you’re really brave sell the house, after all you won’t want such a big one after a couple of years of van life!

The Van.

Hey, what’s with all this serious stuff? Isn’t this supposed to be a story about van life?

Yes. You’re right. But hopefully it’s about a new life too, and to make it as much fun as possible takes some serious thinking.

I’ve written about choosing your van before. Here’s a link to how we chose the van. And an update post on the subject – link.

Six months in and we still love ArchieVan and we wouldn’t have done much differently.

I must reiterate three points:

  • If you can get all you want out of a van, or a motorhome, that’s under 6m long then do. We’re accustomed to ArchieVan’s size, but he’d certainly be easier in towns and on small roads if he was shorter.
  • Power is more important than you might think. We cruise gently, never in a hurry, never driving fast. Even so I’m grateful of ArchieVan’s 163 bhp and wish he had more. It makes for an easier, and often more economical, drive.
  • Do have a toilet on board. Think hard about whether you need a shower. I suggest that you don’t.

The van is generally holding up well.

We’ve had a few electrical glitches, with lights failing and we’ve replaced the electric step with a simple plastic one – why did we have such a flash thing in the first place?

The furniture is well designed and made, and after much use we’re now accustomed to the catches, and can even remember where most things are stashed.

The swivel seat is brilliant when we use it, but it’s also cumbersome – find something simple if you can.

Swivel! Ace, but cumbersome.

A simple more efficient life?

Water.

If there’s one thing we take for granted at home it’s running water.

Travelling in a van makes you aware of everything you own, everything you use.

There was a report recently that stated the average Brit uses 140 litres of water a day, for Americans the number is a whole lot higher.

It’s just a number isn’t it?

Well no. It’s frightening!

In a van you have to carry all your water. A full water tank weighs about as much as me, and then there’s your drinking water too (some people use the tank water for everything, but I’m not keen on that idea).

Seeing it, and filling up, makes you seriously aware of how much you use.

We reckon we’re using around 15 litres a day between us. When we’re on a camp site and showering daily that jumps to about 70 litres each.

Imagine carrying that from the well.

Electricity.

So far as the grid is concerned we don’t use any!

There’s a 150w solar panel on the roof that charges the leisure battery, and driving charges it as well.

The lighting, fridge and pumps are all electric, plus there are always gadgets on charge.

In the winter on static days you have to watch the battery levels and I’ll consider an extra solar panel next year.

Solar PV on the roof.

Gas.

We have a 14 litre LPG tank that’s used for cooking, water heating and space heating. During the summer when we didn’t need any space heating the tank lasted for a couple of months, even though we cook every day. I’m sure winter will see that usage increase, lots, but still I expect the tank will last a few weeks. LPG ranges between 50p and 90p a litre, varying massively by country.

Diesel.

This is where our eco credentials and halo slip rather.

ArchieVan likes to sip at the diesel.

Driven gently, and over 15,000 miles, the overall average has been 31 mpg.

That’s not great, although we are doing fewer miles than our combined car mileage when we were both working. This trip has just tipped over 11,000 miles  and I hope to stay under 20,000 for the first 12 months, then maybe less next year.

Food buying.

We probably eat the same amount, although I suspect it’s a bit less.

What’s definitely true is that we buy less. Nothing is wasted, in part helped by having little storage space and so you plan better and only buy for the next couple of days.

Breakfast for one.

Space.

The biggest issue of them all!

This is the other thing we take for granted in our homes, and we always we think we don’t have enough.

We’re living full time in a space that’s probably smaller than your bedroom.

I have stored a small amount of stuff at my mum’s. It’s in a space that’s less than 2m square. Everything else that we own is within 7m of us. I love that and yet I still have more than I need and I edit what I have every now and then.

But I do need my brogues and tweed jacket and I promise I will wear them!

If you can hack it, getting rid of stuff is liberating. Not replacing it saves you a fortune.

Big, but not that big.

All we need.

ArchieVan carries all the clothes we think we need for year round travel. Layering is a whole lot more efficient than too many single purpose garments.

We have enough food and water on board for five days, although we tend to shop more often for fresh.

We only keep a few books on board. Travel guides still are much better than online research. If you’d seen how many books I used to own you’d understand that was hard. We exchange books whenever we get the opportunity.

We have two full sized bikes (Brompton style folding bikes would have saved space but cost a lot). Bikes are liberating, especially in the Scandi countries where cycling is a joy. They’re worth the space they take. Failing that I’d consider a scooter.

Bedding takes up a silly amount of space, but it makes for a comfortable sleep. Sleeping bags are an alternative that we started out with, but moved on from.

And that’s about it.

So what on earth did we fill the house with?

Oh, and headphones, two sets. They’re vital!

There’s room for two bikes on board.

Relationships.

Space leads neatly onto the thing it affects most.

Your relationship.

Even close couples are unlikely to have spent time in such proximity as a van forces upon you.

Your most intimate moments of personal hygiene will be carried out just feet from your partner.

What joy!

We had the good fortune to set off in the hottest and driest summer Europe has ever seen. That meant we could spend a lot of time outside. Before her series of accidents Polly Dog and I walked for a couple of hours each day too.

You have to have the strength of mind to step out and breathe when things get tense!

For us vanlife started to work best after four months or so.

Partly because by then I’d overcome the depression that had previously plagued me. I believe it was strongly linked to letting go of everything that had driven me forward, the striving to get to where I wanted to be. My god I’ve achieved what I wanted – that’s not what you’d expect to send you down!

And partly because our little team had become a well oiled machine.

But four months? That’s enough to finish some relationships, and if you’re in doubt, living in a confined space will soon help you find your answers.

Harmony takes time (as do time lapse selfies).

Sharing duties.

Creating that well oiled machine is a lot about sharing duties, or having roles. Ours aren’t fixed, but there are certainly jobs that one of us does better, or more willingly.

We both cook, but Amanda almost always does breakfast.

While I walk the dog Amanda remakes the space from sleeping to living, she cleans through the van too.

The van needs cleaning every day – it doesn’t take long, but you notice on day two if you haven’t swept through.

ArchieVan has a solid floor and knowing how much grit we sweep out each day makes me wonder how people with carpeted floors cope.

The toilet.

Oh the dreaded subject of the toilet! For the uninitiated – vans have an onboard toilet that collects the waste, your waste, in a removable tank referred to as “the cassette”. A splash of a fluid such as Elsan keeps odours down as well as helping break down what’s inside. You’ll need to empty it depending on how often you use it, and at least every five days.

From the outset we decided we were only going to pee in ours. While that makes for interesting mornings sometimes, it also means there’s more capacity, and less likelihood of pong.

Once you get it right emptying the cassette into designated drains is easy, but getting it wrong, especially if you make full use of it, can be an experience! I usually empty the cassette, but Minty has done the deed too.

Driving and navigating.

I drive. Minty does the maps. It was one of those learning points. We can both do both jobs, but the tension is less this way around. My more laid back approach best suits taking the wheel. Especially as that approach extends to my style of giving directions and Minty likes to know exactly what’s what.

Deciding where to go. Even this is an important process. For us the general direction is a subject of discussion, the specifics generally rest with Minty as she researches as we’re motoring.

Deciding where to stay is an important point so I’ll give it a heading.

Deciding where to stay.

Usually where to stay is easy. Minty uses the Park4Night app, or Search For Sites website for research, or we simply come across someplace that looks right.

When it’s less easy is when that place you’d decided on doesn’t feel right. If one of you isn’t happy you must move on.

Last night I pulled into a layby for a rest and to cook dinner. I didn’t intend to stay, but was too tired to carry on. Although this morning everything is great, during the night I slept in my clothes so that I could move on at a moment’s notice. That’s not ideal, but now and again it’s OK.

So are we sometimes scared? Well, nervous certainly. But isn’t that a good thing? Don’t you have to be now and then? Letting your guard down completely is foolish. Pushing yourself is part of the adventure.

I read last night that in Romania you’re more likely to see a bear than anywhere else in Europe. Polly’s late pee was a quick one!

Why are there more bears? Because its dictator, Ceausescu, brought in a law that stated only he was allowed to hunt them, so for decades they were effectively protected.

Safety in numbers (although can create van envy!).

That picture is relevant too – there’s a great van community. I don’t do the waving thing, but folk generally come for a little chat, to share recommendations, or to offer help.

Health.

Even having a cold in the van is rubbish. For both of you.

We’re more health conscious on the road than we were previously, especially when it comes to hygiene, and that makes for a better living environment too.

Food:

Our diet is pretty good. Lots of fresh, very little meat. Generally van cooked.

Oh yes, meat. It makes me laugh how in so many countries supposedly vegetarian meals all contain small amounts of meat, usually bacon bits. Of course it wouldn’t be funny if you’re a full on vegetarian.

I have always snacked when driving, so to avoid crisps and other junk we have a big bowl of fruit, and a bag of nuts that we both munch en route.

The snack basket – in wicker!

Drink.

Drink is a challenge.

There’s a strong drinking culture to vanlife. After a long hot drive the reward of a cold beer is immense, but that can easily lead to a long evening of drinking.

I think we’re over that and we have a few dry days each week. It was a conscious effort to do so. At the moment I’m on my own and I’m stopping in some less obvious places. I’m only drinking tea. That way I can drive on if I need to.

It’s a shame. I love the taste and sideways knock of strong beer or spirits.

I’ve got my hands full!

Washing.

I mentioned that we haven’t used the van’s shower.

We’ve really rather clean nonetheless.

We have a good old fashioned flannel scrub every morning. Some days it makes you shiver, but it wakes you up too.

The luxury of a freezing shower. Denmark.

Clothes washing.

Well for a start you wash clothes because they are dirty, not because you’ve worn them once. That immediately reduces the load. We tend to do a hand wash on a regular basis, but also many bigger campsites have washing machines.

We’ve stayed in a couple of apartments in big cities and the second criterion is that there’s a washing machine (the first is that Polly is welcomed).

Scrubber.

Hairdressing!

Minty wanted this included.

I’ve cut her hair twice on the trip so far. I don’t like hair all symmetrical so I went to town on hers, and it was fun.

I usually shave my head weekly, but I stopped doing that on my birthday and intent to last until Christmas until I do it again. I’m not a pretty sight under the hat.

Shopping.

Being able to flick up Amazon is another thing we’ve taken for granted.

When you can’t the best solution is to decide that you don’t actually need the thing you’re considering.

A part for the van (a replacement for a faulty light) meant planning ahead to get the address of the mother of the only person we knew from a particular country (Mylo Cornwall, hang your head in shame).

We have had a parcel sent out from Becky, Minty’s sister (thank you), but other than that we have muddled along and soon forgot why we wanted particular things.

Many countries have wonderful food markets that lead us to eat new things. But others seem to have no shops other than small supermarkets and the occasional modern shopping centre.

Post.

Life used to get us with so much post.

There’s a lot less these days. We moved as many things as were possible onto email, and my lovely sister receives the rest via a redirect.

There are services that will receive you mail and scan everything, emailing you copies. It doesn’t cost much, but you probably don’t need it.

TV.

Many vans have one, ArchieVan doesn’t.

Minty likes to watch a few things on her iPad and that takes up a whole lot less space and power. It’s one of the occasions when headphones are precious.

Language.

I’m writing this from Romania. It’s the first time in ten countries that I’ve had a clue what’s going on. It’s a Latin based language, and often sounds Italian. With a reasonable command of French and Spanish or Italian you’ll be able to make out most signs, even if you can’t read a paragraph.

A great thing about being a native English speaker. Wherever you go people watch TV, and like it or not the majority, if not the best, TV comes from the US, and it’s in a recognisable version of English. And so even if people haven’t learnt English at school, they’ll have enough words for your needs simply from watching TV.

That does leave me frustrated. I want to learn a little at least wherever I go.  Google translate is handy for that.

And if all else fails, Google’s voice translation is close to brilliant.

Money.

Money used to be difficult and expensive when travelling. It’s not any more.

We use Starling and Revolut app based banking, both are free to use and commission free on spending and withdrawals, although limits are low.

In Scandi and Baltic countries cash is rarely seen, not in Bulgaria I have a pocket full (and it’s worth bugger all!).

Come on First Direct, I’d much rather use you if you weren’t so expensive!

 

Working as you travel.

That dreadful buzz term of Digital Nomad! It makes me gag, but it’s a great concept. If you’re in the creative industries then there’s the possibility to work anywhere that has a good data signal right?

To a certain extent, yes.

A simple life takes more time. It costs you a lot less if you cook everything yourself, and from fresh or dry ingredients, but it takes time. Because we use mostly fresh we shop more frequently, that too takes time.

Simply finding the place where you’re going to stay takes time too.

Traveling, and writing, on my own while looking after the dog and getting enough exercise often takes my whole day. When we’re together we both have more time as duties are shared, but we’re rarely casting around for things to do.

What I’m coming to is that working from the van is possible, but it’s only practicable if you can deliver with considerably less hours than you’d spend in an office. Having said that I think half of your time is wasted in an office purely by being there.

So do I work now? Yes, but I have the luxury of picking and choosing. I do the work I love. And I turn the rest away. I am a very lucky man!

Slow down.

Although I only know a few of our readers I feel confident that most of you are already planning to do too much.

You’re probably used to bombing around in your car. Regularly knocking off a couple of hundred miles.

Your vanlife, should you take up the challenge, shouldn’t be like that.

A couple of hours of driving, several days a week is ample. And what’s the hurry? You might see more, but from the van window isn’t as good as from strolling around.

For me that principal was reinforced by my five weeks in and around Poprad, Slovakia, as Polly developed a first name relationship with her new favourite vets.

At first I was frustrated to be held in one tight area, but in the end I loved it and often didn’t move the van, I just took new and wonderful trails.

 

Is Vanlife for you?

We did a couple of trial runs, hiring vans and staying fairly local. We loved it but I can’t say it was a realistic trial run.

I recommend the expense of hiring, or better still, borrowing, a van and taking a longer break, several weeks if that’s possible. If you get bad weather then it’s more useful as a trial too, although it’ll be disappointing at the time.

This life is immensely rewarding.

It’s so good you have to stop and remind yourself frequently how lucky you are, how different it is from when you had real jobs.

This week has been particularly mad, but during it I’ve experienced three utterly different countries and their cultures. I’ve climbed mountains, bathed in thermal spas, ate goulash at a roadside diner, been scared sleeping in a layby, had a bellowing deer right outside the van, and seen folk whose daily transport is their ox cart. I could have spent a year absorbing just this bit, and I hope to go back through it all, much more slowly.

We borrowed The Moog (thanks Dom). Great to live in, a pig to drive!

Reality bites.

There are difficult times. We have experienced that in buckets these last six weeks. Amanda is now in Yorkshire, but to get her there only took an hour’s drive to an airport, and a wallet full of cash.

I hope to meet her next week in Greece, how good is that?

Friends come and see us. Airbnb and the like mean finding a place for a few nights is easy and not too expensive.

If you think you’d like to give it a try then I urge you to do so.

Ask us anything, we’ll help if we can.

Read other blogs too. I’ve popped links to a couple of good ones at the bottom of the page.

I’ve enjoyed writing this too. It has helped remind me again of what we’re doing and why, and how much we enjoy it.

 

 

Our favourite vanlife blogs:

Our Bumble.

Our Tour.

Motoroaming.

48 Replies to “6 months on the road to freedom.”

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed by me and R – who are with you in spirit!

    Love from Tregiffian x

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Thank you both, and we’re delighted to have you on board!

  2. An intersting 1/2 term report boy. I,m sat at work. Finish in 20 mins and it’s pissing down. Your leading a very different life and I’m very happy for you all. It appears to be fullfilling.

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Come and join us somewhere.
      We’ll get an Airbnb for a weekend.
      Thank you!
      KC

  3. A very interesting and informative article Kelvin that J would have loved. Seeing Minty and Rab tomorrow before she joins you in Greece.

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Thank you Rick.
      And I hope you join us in Greece too.
      They’re all written for J now!
      KC

  4. This has been a great read, little Bro; I imagine an honest reflection of a six month adventure. And what an adventure it has been.
    Now it’s time to savour the beginning of the next phase. Watch out Mediterraneans – here they come!

  5. Great read Kelvin one day we might do this, had a taster in America and loved it.

    Take care
    Pablo

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Thanks Pabs. Great to get your comments, and yes, if you can cope with the space issues then the life is a damn good one.
      Hope to see you before we’re too old to party!
      KC

  6. Excellent read, thanks for sharing your experience with us 🙂

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Yay!
      You’re welcome and thank you for taking the time to have a look.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  7. Keep on keeping on! Love from Lancs! Adrian Gavin + Caesar xxx

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Hurrah for the Lancs lads! Thank you all. KC

  8. Loved reading this Kelvin. If I can get off this hamster wheel one day I may just do the same… keep on writing.
    J

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      JP. Delighted you could read it, thank you! KC

  9. Thank you Kelvin really inspiring and interesting. My friend is considering this and will love to read your story. It does sound something to consider for me too 🙂

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Hi Paul

      Thanks for taking the time to read our post. Do share it wherever you like.

      This life is definitely different. At times it’s better than I could ever imagine.

      If you have any questions at any time just pop over an email. I’ll be pleased to make suggestions.

      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  10. Brilliant article! Such positivity about the whole experience of freedom and culture, all rolled into one! I must get husband to read this, as he always needs a lot of persuading to be adventurous, and he’s younger than me! He blames it on to his 6’4.5” height! Our m/h sits on the drive way too much. Thanks for this well-written informative guide to happiness! Trish, from Ludgvan, Cornwall.

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Thank you Trish.
      Ludgvan? We sing (well, growl and mumble) in the White Hart from time to time.
      Your hubby has an inch and a half on me, we designed the van so that Amanda has a short side and I have long.
      Go for it. You live in a stunning place, but there’s so much more out there too.
      If you sign up on the website http://www.thecornishwanderer.co.uk you’ll get my weekly missive.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  11. An excellent report KC! Thank you for your honesty and useful insights! Massive respect to both of you ( &Polly Dog) for rising to the vanlife challenge ! Xx

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Hurrah! Thanks Claire.
      There’s a weekly missive, usually on a Saturday. You can sign up for it on the site.
      I’d love to help you plan whatever van life you go for, let me know and I hope I can throw in a good suggestion.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  12. Craig Wishart says: Reply

    Nice. Myself and my wife are a year or two from doing what you’re doing. We can’t wait. Interesting read, we go weekend’s and week in ours (Crafter) but haven’t given too much consideration yet to long-long term so thanks for the words.

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Thanks Craig.
      I’ll drop you a longer email.
      The Crafter rocks!
      And long term is a completely different experience.
      Best wishes. Kelvin. And thanks for hopping aboard.

  13. Very interesting read . Thankyou . We have been traveling in our motor home since 2007 . Visited alot of countrys but alot more to go . Just lv reading about other peoples travels & experiences. Our motto better to say we have done that than wished we had . Safe &happy travels .

  14. Thanks for a great read. Saving up for a van and looking forward to join the roads.

  15. Sorry, corrected email

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Hi Ray
      I heard so many people say that it was the best thing they’d done.
      And now I’ll say the same.
      It doesn’t have to be flash, just reliable.
      Good luck and thank you for taking the time to comment.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  16. I don’t know what to add that someone hasn’t already said… just wanted you to know I took the time to read your piece all the way through and it was so worthwhile. An amazing odyssey in progress big man – take care of all of you.

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      I’m so please to hear from you. Thank you. Cheers. KC

  17. Brilliant read, thanks. Been going off on my own for a few days to a week at a time in uk, for the last 4 years. (Single woman), but trying to pluck up courage to travel into Europe over to Family in Vienna. Not sure if that would be sensible though. I read your advice with much interest.
    Heidi. 🙂

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Heidi – thanks for your note. Perhaps start with Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They’re the cleanest, safest and most van friendly places to travel. Make sure you research your emission permits, you certainly need one for Germany.
      Ask anything, we’re pleased to be able to help.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  18. Plan to do the same but going to use the van to 50/50 commute between AirBnbs and Camping Grounds/Wild Camp to break up the experience. Love the blog keep it going. Probably will follow in your footsteps as if you are on point.

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Chris

      Thanks for your comment, always appreciated.

      It is good to break things up a bit. We budgeted for Airbnb type accommodation in cities to ease pressure on parking, have a proper rest, and get some washing done! I use a campsite most weeks, in part to empty the loo and fill the water tank.

      You can sign up on the website and get the posts emailed each week – I think it’s easy.

      Good luck and ask anything you’d like to know.

      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  19. Superb article. This is our 5th trip in our motorhome, so we sort of go on auto pilot and just do what we do. Your article has reminded us of some of the great reasons we travel. Love the last bit on slowing down…our first year we nearly killed ourselves driving to see everything at once!

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      J&C I’m delighted to get your comment. I hope you don’t mind me referring to your blog, I love it.
      Turkey could well be en route next year, in the mean time I’m busy keeping the hoards of dogs away from Polly in Romania.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  20. What a brilliant piece, thank you for sharing. We too are full timing and all of this rings so very true to our way of living and doing things. I was nodding and smiling along as I read :)) We sold up, jacked it all in and started our new way of living in March. We’ve never regretted a single moment of it and we had NEVER done anything like it before! Camped in a tent for weekends or so over the years but never in a van/Moho. We hadn’t even driven anything this big. We planned to “cut our teeth” in the UK, and although we seriously overestimated how long it would take for us to settle in to things I’m so thankful we did. In July I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had my op in September and immediately after being discharged returned to our home on wheels to recover. Much to the surprise of others. We had offers of traditional accommodation but this is our home and this is were I needed to be. We’re now back on the road, plans fast being made to hit Europe in January. We’re so so ready now. I wish you safe and happy onward travels and hope that you meet up with your wingman as planned. Go, wander in wonder, and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you on the open road. I will give you a wave 😉

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Lesley
      For no particular reason I saved your note to read last.
      I was right to do so. What an inspiration – thank you!
      We have lost friends and Amanda’s mum recently and it doesn’t half focus the mind. I love change, I always have, and now a single day can leave me (almost) lost for words.
      We have enjoyed everywhere we’ve been. Probably the weakest countries were the Baltic States, although the history makes up for what the landscape lacks.
      I wish you the very best and hope you stay in touch.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  21. Sounds like you’ve settled into vanlife rather well! On our 3 month trip round Europe we adopted the opposite toilet strategy to you. We used the cassette only for number twos (paper went in a bag not the bowl) as we found it was the number ones that filled up the cassette quickly due to the volume, and it’s easier doing number ones in the bushes!

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      It’s such a lovely subject that so rarely gets raised when in a house!
      Thanks for the comment and taking the time to read the article.
      Good luck for the next trip – you can’t stop now.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  22. Steve Rushton says: Reply

    Blimey – it seems a lifetime since I last saw you (do you even remember me?). A great read Kelvin – not something I have any inclination to do, but I admire you for taking it on and I’m pleased you love it. I look forward to hearing more of your travels. To get my wife on a trip like this would be more expensive as it would require hot and cold running water and good toilet facilities :-). Keep trucking 😉

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Blimey, great to hear from you Steven, and thanks for taking the time to say hello.
      I am very fortunate to have a low maintenance co-driver!
      This life is so different to all that my marketing days promoted, perhaps that’s why I love it so much.
      You’re based near Wakefield aren’t you? That’s where Amanda grew up and her dad’s still there.
      Hope life’s treating you well.
      Best from Romania. KC

  23. Hi Kelvin, what a superb adventure. And such an honest appraisal. Well done to you both. I had forgotenhow much I liked your style of writing. I am here in NZ, on a glorious but cold wet day. Having delivered kids to said care/education centers, i am at home supposed to be catching up on work when I somehow spotted this and just kept reading. It’s not often I get to take these timeout moments – what with work, a 2 and 5yo, dog, cat, house and bills – but it has been a little escape that reminded me of our RV travels in the US. Plus the closest I can get to Van Life, at least for a while is living it though your words. Until I convince Fraser to get one that is 🙂 Plus the hoarder in my shakes nervously at the though of parting with my worldly bits of whatever. Hope you are both well. Take care *Mel

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Mel – I’m dead chuffed to hear from you. Our first follower from New Zealand! Ace.
      Thanks for taking the time to write.
      Well, there’s room for a cat in tehvan with us, but I’m not sure fitting two children in as well would be good. “We’re goina need a bigger van!”
      I hope life’s treating you well and best wishes form the latest stop – the story will be there on Saturday some time. KC

  24. Another wonderful piece sir. I am glad that you, Minty and Polly are enjoying the high-points and coming through the low ones. It reads as if all the planning has been good preparation and nothing has really caught you off-guard. One question though (which i couldn’t see above) …. how are you dealing with a right hand drive with most of the time being on the continent?? Should anyone looking to follow in your tyre tracks consider getting a lefty from the continent to customise??
    Keep on touch …. and if you’re turning down any interesting work feel free to point them in my direction…!

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Good points Sir, I shall cease this time wasting sun worship and get an addendum penned for the next post.

  25. Julie Hutchison says: Reply

    Hi Kelvin, a good many years since I last saw you in Edinburgh with SL! I enjoyed reading your post very much, in a travelling frame of mind en route between Ed and London on the train. Sending you best wishes for continued interesting travels.

    1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Julie
      Great hear from you. Thanks for your message.
      Yes, life is very different, still a challenge, but in the most positive way.
      Best wishes. Kelvin.

  26. Well what a great read your blog is…….it kept me up well past my bedtime last night! I love your style of writing and look forward to following your travels☺

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