In 2015 Alice left uni and we were both 23, by which point we had the whole world ahead of us with no idea what to do with ourselves. Having been on short road trips in our car, we knew they felt like the beginning of something that we wanted more of. We are explorers and that’s what we wanted to do. But how to make it realistically long term was the question…?
the Van Life Community on Instagram
In 2016 Alice started to follow van lifers on Instagram. The community was thriving with incredible people on journeys in their unique and beautiful self-converted vans, posting idealistic pictures of their journey from self-build to life on the road.
It seemed far fetched at first but we saw something in these people that we had too… an open mind and determination! And there we decided we could make this adventure our own, we would buy ourselves a plain white van and do EXACTLY what we wanted to it with a small budget yet no compromise, while making it our full time home.
I recommend to any potential van lifers - get on Instagram, follow #vanlife. You'll be welcomed into a friendly and giving community and from here you'll see what others do and find out more about what you want.
Subscribing to Van Life Blogs
We started to get practical and follow van life blogs who offered articles and videos on how to build various aspects of your van, it was really handy especially with video tutorials for when we started out in our van particularly when it came to simple things like insulation.
I quickly found everyone had their own way of doing the same thing, which was confusing but also liberating in a sense, it made me realise that while I could gain influence from others ideas and I would ultimately do things "my" way.
Everyone absorbs information differently, I find articles the best way for me but videos might work better for you. Subscribe to several van life blogs, most of them offer valuable free content and are keen to help others like we are.
Discovering The “Camp Quirky” festival
In early 2018, we had our van, we still had much to do before we left our home for the open road in August. We hadn’t met any real van lifers up until that point and started to worry about some of the things such as gas and electrics that I hadn't yet found confidence with! Then Alice found the Quirky Campers.
Quirky Campers are a UK based community of van lifers who rent out their self-converted camper vans for hire and were already BIG influencers in the van life community.
The first big “Camp Quirky” festival for the public was due to happen in April 2018 in Northamptonshire, featuring van lifers showcasing their vans, workshops, discussions and entertainment too! So, even though we were nervous to meet real human van lifers, we went!
We took our van and our notebooks to workshops ready to absorb as much information so possible, including how to install your own solar panels, choosing your fridge, using gas etc. We also spoke to a number of van lifers about what they did and had tours around their vans. There was a big discussion at the end of the day on full time van living with some experienced van lifers that we found unexpectedly useful.
We took so much knowledge away from this weekend I dare say we may not have made it to Europe in time for August, but the most valuable things we took away though were confidence and inspiration. I particularly lacked confidence on the build with things like installing solar panels where I had no knowledge but going to these workshops and meeting others who did the same gave me the courage to continue our build.
next festival May 2019
For anyone considering the open road whether converting their own van or not, go to their next festival in May 2019. Even without the useful workshops, discussions on van living and seeing some of the most incredible self-converted vans out there… it’s a great gig with good entertainment and incredible people.
Also, I recommend hiring one of their vans for a week or two. It’s cheap and you’ll learn a lot from it. We didn’t do it because we discovered them late on in our build otherwise we would have, but it’s a good way to test the waters on van living and figuring out what you want from it.
Check out their site at https://www.quirkycampers.co.uk/
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