The yearning to travel and see more of the world has increased as my first three “children” near adulthood. My partner Christy’s two children from a previous relationship are younger than mine, which means we won’t be able to hit the road together for a number of years. Still, I can’t stop dreaming of something a little less ordinary. At one stage I was preoccupied reading about families who cycled around the world. My partner, however, feels strongly that #vanlife is the way to go.
Christy owns a large caravan, which is perfect for his green-build work on festival sites. He can haul it with his jeep and tools. Since our son was born we haven’t taken the caravan on weekends away or family staycations. That would require him to travel in one vehicle, while I’d have to drive our children in my seven seater. With a big, blended family there aren’t great options. Even a large caravan is too small for all of us, and the teenagers need to sleep in tents regardless of inclement weather. (This is Ireland after all).
While I understand the advantage of having a caravan (no need to tax or mechanic it, more space, a practical layout, etc.), I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable driving one myself. If I could have one thing on my wish list this Christmas, it would be my very own bespoke campervan. At first I thought I’d like a Volkswagen transporter because it’s iconic and practical. Read this excellent article on The Wayward Home and find out everything you’d like to know about the VW California Campervan here. Fortunately for me, I live in Europe where these beauties are still sold.
The Volkswagen microbuses were created in Germany in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the following decade that the first VW campers appeared on the US market. Over the years it kept evolving.
The Volkswagen camper became the camper of choice for hippies, musicians, and camping families alike.
The VW camper van was a symbol of independence, success and having fun.
In the 1960s, it became very popular among young people because it was an easy and cheap-to-maintain people carrier that was simple, but spacious. They used it for traveling to festivals or going on surfing trips.
That old VW camper van was smaller and more colorful than its competitors, so buying it was a bit of a rebellious statement.The Wayward Home
As you can see in the photos of the VW T4 above, they work well for families. I can just imagine the good times we could have on the road together! I love the idea of visiting beautiful places, biking, hiking, swimming, and making memories in the great outdoors.
As I continued researching for this post (I’m taking this manifestation business very seriously and plan to be specific about what I wish for!), I was also lured by the idea of converting an old school bus. Check out this absolute stunner! I haven’t posted an image of the kitchen but it would make any traveler envious. This couple has even created a reading nook!! I’m so happy to have discovered their inspirational blog. See more photos here of their gorgeous home on wheels. To read about how they reinvented their lives, pop over to their website Since We Woke Up: Living Life On Purpose. This couple has teenagers living with them part-time so that also interested me. Many of the stories I’ve read about #vanlife focus on couples without children. Our needs are different since we will always have at least one child traveling with us.
As much as I like the idea of having a spacious, converted school bus, I’d be back to the same dilemma as with the caravan: I’m afraid to drive a big vehicle on narrow European roads. Larger RVs are better suited to the American landscape. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best I can hope for is a medium sized van, converted to our specific needs and tastes, with an awning to create more outdoor space even when it rains. I love the look of the one below found on Pinterest. I would also like a small wood burning stove installed so we could travel comfortably during the cooler months of the year.
While it’s fun fantasizing about my dream campervan and the nomadic adventures that await, there are other things to consider. How would we earn money to sustain ourselves? How would we avoid living a superficial life, pursuing one pleasure after another? Would we travel for short stints or go for the long haul? There are lots of details to work out over the coming years.
I’d like to start with weekend getaways and explore areas not too far from home. If I manage to buy a campervan this year, I’d like to take a ferry to the continent and explore for a few weeks this summer. While my teenagers are still living with me, we could ease into this new lifestyle. Eventually I’d like to travel for 6 months to a year, although backpacking might be the way to go if we travel further afield. I gave Christy the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts last Father’s Day, which has plenty of tips for people like us.
One thing I know for certain is that I don’t want to fall into the trap that some find themselves in. Since I enjoy blogging and social media, I’d feel inclined to share my experiences on the road. However, I wouldn’t want that to become my central focus or main source of income even if the opportunity did present itself. Reading the New Yorker’s #Vanlife, The Bohemian Social-Media Movement was a real eye opener for me. It seems many are attracted to the freedom #Vanlife provides, but somewhere along the way some Instagram celebrities and microinfluencers become trapped by their success. Their posts become about product placement and creating content that viewers will like regardless of the authenticity. No longer are photos of the sunset or images of beauty at the heart of the experience; the moment captured has more to do with selling something… an emotion (primarily desire), a product, a fantasy of a life one wishes to live.
Ideally, it would be great if we could incorporate traveling with sharing our skill sets. Maybe that will mean we focus on festivals where Christy can continue designing and building installations. I can offer bodywork or teach dance workshops. I’m not sure about all of the details, and according to the Law of Intention and Desire that we’re working with this month, I don’t have to figure everything out. Once I’ve focused my energy, the universe will conspire to help me, says Deepak Chopra. While my dream may not be fulfilled within the next year, I don’t mind. I’m happy with my life as it is and will wait patiently until the next phase arrives in its own time.
Does the idea of #Vanlife appeal to you too or do you love the comforts of home? If you have a campervan how did you choose one? Did you convert it yourself or buy a factory made RV? I’d love to hear from others, especially those consumed with wanderlust.
This post was inspired by the prompt for Day 8: If money was no object, is there anything you would purchase that would help you fulfill a dream next year? What would it be and how would it change your life? To participate or find out more information about #Manifest20 click here.
Feature Photo Credit: Dino Reichmuth