We’ll be completely honest with you… when we started this journey back in 2018, we had no idea what full-time van life would truly be like.
Almost 3-years on, we have experienced the highs, the lows & everything in-between.
We have gone from travelling every day to slowing right down (looking at you pandemic), we’ve built our online business & have even got married along the way.
If there’s one thing we can say for sure, it’s that recent times have made us even more grateful for our lifestyle & for the freedom it brings.
From how it all started to the lessons we have learned along the way, this is our full-time van life story…
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Updated by The Wilder Route on 11th May 2021
Full∼Time Van Life… How It All Started
Back at the start of 2018, after a year of backpacking together we returned to our home country of the UK with the feeling of adventures in our souls.
We had come back to ‘reality’ so to speak but instantly knew that we wanted to live our lives a little differently.
After getting engaged on that year-long trip, atop of a mountain above Lake Louise in Alberta Canada, we knew that we wanted our life together to be filled with adventure & we both longed to deepen our connection to the natural world.
With our blog (then called Destination Addict) already growing & having just launched our digital marketing business The Green Thread, we were in a position, by the July of that year to take our work with us wherever we went – that’s when the conversation of full-time van life came up & we were both super keen!
Deciding To Purchase & Live In Our Motorhome
Buying a van to live in full-time ticked all of the boxes for us as, as well as providing us a ‘home on wheels’ it would give us somewhere to both work & adventure from,
After much consideration, we decided upon a motorhome as opposed to doing a conversion. There were a few reasons for this, but mainly time, space & facilities were what made us opt for a motorhome.
In July of 2018, we took the plunge & purchased our Bessacarr E560.
After putting it to poll with our followers on Instagram, we named our van Barnaby & have to say after almost three years of living in him full-time, we hold not one ounce of regret in taking this leap.
Van Life Adventures
Making adventure part of our every day was perhaps the biggest reason for us choosing a life on the road.
Travelling in our van has taken us to so many remote & beautiful locations, spots that, did we not have our van, we simply would not have experienced in the same way.
Added to this, waking up, most mornings we are surrounded by nature, often with a different view. On the road, we can choose to stop & soak it all in, as often or even as little as we like to. This gives us not only a huge sense of freedom but lots of flexibility too.
How Full∼Time Van Life Has Shaped Our Day∼To∼Day
To say our day-to-day has changed drastically would be a massive understatement.
A lot of the tasks & commitments that would fill up our days before we started our full-time van life journey have disappeared completely, making a lot of aspects of our life far more simplistic & less ‘busy.’
That being said, the basics such as cooking, showering & going to the loo, are all things that take a lot more planning. Emptying the waste, the water, making sure we have enough gas to cook as well as the added challenge of working on the road are some of the things that we have had to get used to.
All-in-all compared to when we first met, back in 2015, it’s safe to say that our life priorities have changed immensely.
Building A Business From Our Motorhome
Working from remote locations, being surrounded by nature, is incredible. For us to do that successfully though, requires a lot of planning, discipline & balance.
Ultimately we want to continue growing our business in a way that fits our lifestyle but we have learned that doing so comes with a lot of give & take. We wanted to mention this here in this post as it can seem from the outside looking in that all we do is travel around & visit beautiful places – whilst that is true we have worked & continue to work hard to make this our reality – if you’d like to learn more about working remotely check out our post on how to become a digital nomad.
Did you know that part of our online business is our organic & sustainable clothing range Nature Threads? Inspired by nature & designed by us. If you haven’t already, you can check it out here.
Getting Married On The Road
You may have figured out by now that we don’t like do things in halves so in June of 2019, less than a year after moving in our motorhome full-time, we met up with our closest loved ones to get married on the stunning shores of Lake Garda in Italy.
Planning a wedding is often seen as one of the most stressful experiences one can have, but planning a wedding whilst we were on the road, those closest to us thought we were crazy!
What we did for our big day, however, despite all the ‘you should be doings’ was work to ensure it was exactly how we wanted it to be & that it reflected us both perfectly.
As we kept most of our plans for the day a secret from our guests, including our close family & were praised afterward for how we managed to organise such an amazing day whilst we being on the road.
For us, this just shows that van life is just that, it’s part of our life & is the way we choose to be. We could have easily got caught up in other people’s expectations around the time of our marriage but instead, we opted to do exactly what we are doing now… to live exactly as we choose.
Our Italian wedding was captured by the incredible Sara Lancini, a wedding photographer who is based in Lake Garda, more of her stunning work can be found here.
Living, Working & Travelling As A Van Dwelling Couple
How do you live in a van? Work together? Travel together? Do everything… as a couple?
These are all questions that are asked a lot & in a nutshell, the answer to them all is communication & boundaries.
Now, the boundaries thing may seem a little harsh, but for us, it’s about living with the love & respect that allows us both the space we need.
Living in a van together is completely different from when we travel in other ways, we are in really close quarters & a lot of the time are in rural or remote locations meaning we only have each other for company. Ensuring that we communicate well & can recognise when one of us may need five minutes of me-time is what keeps our relationship alive.
Want to learn more about van life as a couple? Here are our top 14 tips.
The Biggest Lessons We Have Learned
Full-time van life has been one big lesson for us – a lesson that has been brought on not only by travelling around & experiencing new things but by building this life, together. Here are the biggest lessons we have learned (so far)…
1. It’s Important To Take A Break
Anyone who has travelled knows how exhausting it can be & full-time travelling is no exception to that rule. Being so adventurous we often find it difficult to take a day to do nothing but equally, we have learned that it is essential to take time to relax & recharge.
2. We Can’t Always See Everything
Taking a break also means not putting too much pressure on ourselves to see & do everything. Our spirit to explore means that we have tended, in the past, to cram too much in. We know now that if we slow down & pick a few places to visit at a slower pace, it turns out to be a much more rewarding experience all-round.
3. Being Spontaneous Is Amazing But Planning Is Key
Now, we are both pretty ‘go with the flow’ type of people who like to take things as they come, but that spontaneity can mean that we do end up missing sights that we would like to have seen. In this sense, we have found that planning is key, whilst still leaving room for some spontaneity helps us to achieve a balance.
4. Our Mental Health & Wellbeing Is The Most Important Thing
Exhaustion & burnout have kicked in so many times for us whilst trying to find our feet with this lifestyle. After almost three years of full-time van life, we now understand when enough is enough & when we need to stop & take a break. Making time to just BE is as important as climbing a mountain or swimming in the ocean.
5. Some People Aren’t Going To Understand Us Living Alternatively
But that doesn’t matter.
At the start of our journey, we found ourselves explaining what we were doing, when we were doing it & why we were doing it – a lot. Especially to some of those who are closest to us. What we have gained from this is an understanding that some people will only ever see things from their perspective & that is more than ok, with this knowledge we now know exactly where we are willing to spend our energy.
6. It’s OK To Change Our Minds
Society seems to have this weird way of making us feel like we either need to have it all figured out or, we have to have a plan & stick to it. Well, what we’ve come to know is that we are perfectly ok with ‘winging’ it & taking things as they come. Changing our minds doesn’t mean that we don’t know what we are doing, it simply means a different path has opened up that we are ready & willing to explore.
7. Less Stuff Makes Life More Simple
Looking back at how much stuff we both owned before we sold it all & moved into our tiny home on wheels, quite honestly makes us feel a little sick. We didn’t, of course, need it all – we are sooooo much happier & more appreciative, living as we do. In a consumer-driven society, it can be easy to fall into the trap of gaining happiness through owning stuff but the route to true happiness is through the Self & not things.
8. Our Biggest Barrier Is Often Ourselves
The ways in which we have both grown personally, since moving into our van full-time, are incredible. In part, this is because we have learned to get out of our own damn way & let that growth come. As adults, we are a mixture of our conditioning & all of those things we think we already ‘know’ but we have learned, that when we drop all of that & let go of the ego, beautiful things can & have happened.
9. Your People Will Stick Around
It is said that your new life may cost you your old one & in many ways, this is true. Not, however, with those who truly love you & have your best interests at heart, those are your people & trust us when we say… they’ll stick with you through thick & thin. A lot of pressure has come with us deciding to live life for ourselves, we just keep reminding ourselves that love & support should not come from what we choose to do it should come from living in our truth & being our true authentic selves.
Full-Time Van Life During Recent Times
We have written all about where our van life journey has taken us during the pandemic. As with most people, these unusual times for us, have meant taking things one step at a time & remaining open & accepting of what is. With our online business to think about too, this has not always been easy.
Counting our blessings, however, that we are still living in our van full-time, our online business is still alive & well &, we have our health & happiness is something that we do regularly.
For the time being, we have ourselves a base on the north coast of Cornwall, with some trips in the van planned throughout this year & we are so excited to get back on the road again!
What Van Life In The Future Holds For Us
Honestly, all we know right now is that we are happy sticking to the wilder route.
We love this life we have created for ourselves, it has challenged us both & helped us to grow in so many ways. It’s because of & not despite those challenges that we have succeeded in making our life together so different from what it would have been like if we had chosen a ‘safer route.’
We’re not sure what the future will bring but what we do know is that this it’s our journey to hold & it sure feels like we are on a good path.
Kelly & Adam x
Thinking of starting van life yourself? Check out this post where we answer all of your questions on full-time van living.
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