One year of Vanlife!
Wow, how time flies! It’s been a year to the day that we moved into Rex. It doesn’t feel that long but a lot has happened in a year and we’ve learnt a few lessons along the way.
To start with, we were still working in our old careers while staying at a local campsite. We had thought that might be tough, but it wasn’t really. We enjoyed it, even if the campsite wasn’t the best and there were a few midnight visits from the police to some of our neighbours. Work was finished just before Christmas and Christmas was spent with both our families. A few days house sitting and looking after some sheep before celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends, and on the 1st of January we were off! Banbury our first stop on the way to Cannock to get some work done on Rex. From there to Stratford-upon-Avon, and then on to the West Country.
Visiting Cornwall and Devon in January and February was absolutely brilliant as it was quiet; we could get Rex almost everywhere and the beaches were all ours. The reason we stayed in the West Country was because we’re still trying to buy a property to let, to help fund our new lifestyle. Of course, such things never run smoothly or to plan. Then there was the dreaded Fiat Recall, which left us without our wheels for about 5 weeks! Luckily we could do some house-sitting in that time, but we were itching to get on the road before we had to start work.
An impulse buy of a caddy camper, and some very cold camping trips later, the day finally came and Rex was returned to us at last. April was spent in France, trying to find some sun. We didn’t do so well in the very south of France, but once we got to the west coast things were looking up. We visited some stunning places during this 4 week tour of France; historical Roman sites, Provence, La Rochelle, Brittany and Normandy, before leaving France again as our time was up.
Next of course was Canterbury! 6 Months of working as Holiday Site Assistants, and exploring Kent and some of East Sussex. Another campervan impulse buy… we can’t be trusted around transporters… and we are dub nuts at heart…
That takes us to today. We’re back on the road just over a week now. We’ve reached Spain and we’re having a brilliant time already. Today, we’re celebrating our 1 year Vanlife Anniversary with some Tapas, some drinks, and generally enjoying a really lovely day!
In the last year, we have also learnt a lot:
- Rex is really not economic on fuel. Big consideration for the budgets!
- Ventilation is a priority – never mind feeling cold, keep those windows open, even if you have the heating on.
- Plan and time water / service stops – you could run out of water, or even worse… end up with a full toilet…
- Use free wi-fi when possible to update software and apps.
- Keep the satnav up to date!
- Learn the risks to the safety of the motorhome, and get security gadgets to keep our home on wheels safe.
- Try not to travel too fast and too far, you miss too much and it costs too much (see point 1)
- if you want to park by the beach, expect plenty of sand in your van!
I’m sure there’s more but I will have to write another list when I think of them. If you have any, please post them in the comments!
Then there’s the difference of living together in such a small space, and working together as well. It teaches us about patience and communication. It forces us to be considerate of each other and to take our time to understand the other’s motivation. We’ve certainly got to know each other a lot better in the last year. Travelling with just the two (and Luna) of us also means we miss people back home; friends and family. It’s always great to see people again and catch up. But it’s also really great to build new relationships while travelling, meeting new friends and catching up with old friends far and wide. Two sides of a very shiny coin.
Travel teaches us many things as well. Although both of us had travelled quite a bit previously, experiencing different cultures while travelling slowly, by road, is a much more immersive experience. It tends to be outside of the season as well, meaning we get to see more of the authentic local culture rather than what’s put on for the tourists. Learning languages as we go, or improving the ones we already had, and learning about the issues that play in the local news. Seeing how people in other cultures use their time differently, and their different attitudes to food and drink provide at times a stark contrast to life in the UK.
On reflection, we’ve also come to suspect that we won’t just be able to go back to what we used to do. This was our back-up plan really; if we didn’t like this lifestyle for whatever reason, we could go back to doing what we used to do… Now we know that this lifestyle has changed our outlook on life and going back is not an option. So we keep moving forward. Luckily we love this lifestyle so it’s not an issue for now, but if ever we want something else, we will think of what that will be when the time comes.
For now, thank you for travelling with us. We hope you will continue to journey with us for a long time to come, and we hope that you enjoy our little stories!
Sending big love from two happy camper flip-flops, Luna and Rex!