My name is Amy, and I first fell in love with van life on an epic road trip around New Zealand. My parents, especially my Dad, have always told me stories of their adventures in a van, including their honeymoon exploring the Rockies in Canada and a month-long trip around New Zealand for Dad’s 50th. My trip around New Zealand was the first time I had really experienced van life, and it was one that changed everything! Since then, I have embarked on a month-long trip around South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, before wanting to come back to the UK and save for my own van to explore UK and Europe in.
Due to budget constraints and the fact that I wanted to be able to drive and park it easily, I opted for a short wheelbase van. I knew that this would mean I wouldn’t be able to stand up [without a pop-up tent], or that the layout options would be restricted, but that was fine. My first van is a starting block on this new journey – I’m sure I will fall in love with the lifestyle so much that I’ll want to upgrade soon!
I used a company called Lusso Campers, based in Leeds, to help me with my build. They were incredible at seeing my vision [especially with the wood features, colours, and little extras like the table so I can sit and work at] come to life. My van comes with a fridge, 12V power, running water, and two hob gas cooker. It also has two extra seats which roll out into a double bed, plus two seats in the front which now swivel round to add a seating area in the back. There is ample storage with lots of little cupboards and drawers, and the lighting is fantastic. I even have a reading spotlight and a flat-screen TV!
Together with the cost of the van and all the conversion, it cost me approx £15,000. And then I’ve spent a bit more kitting it out with little extras like a must-have velcro sun visor mirror [to make myself look presentable in the mornings!], a coffee machine [for the much needed morning pick me up], and a Bluetooth music adaptor [so I can play my favourite tunes on the road].
The van is new to me, so I have lots of adventures on the bucket list. First stops will be at surf spots in the UK, for example, Polzeath in Cornwall is where I spent many holidays growing up so I can’t wait to go back there. Then I want to go and explore Europe! Dream destination has to be the Dolomites, so I’m hoping to get there before the winter.
Van life gives you so much freedom. I love that I can pack everything I need into the van, and off I go, exploring the unknown. I also love how simple life is in the van. Because you don’t have much space, you realise that you don’t actually need many things to be happy in life. I also love how it forces me to step away from technology, and just enjoy being out in nature and seeing what our beautiful world has to offer. There is also a wonderful community of vanlife lovers, and everybody is welcoming and friendly.