Recently we spoke ‘Van Life For All Seasons – Living In A Motorhome Full-Time’ with Presenter & Chef Andrew Dickens at Destinations – The Holiday & Travel Show, Manchester which is part of the Caravan & Motorhome Show – we had so much fun & it’s not only an absolute honour to be able to share our story with others but it was also great to be able to share all of the practicalities around exactly how we are living in our motorhome full-time.
We talked about the ebbs & flows of van life, including experiencing all four seasons & even planning our wedding & building our business along the way!
Does full-time van life appeal to you? In this blog post you’ll find our top tips & experience of living in our campervan as well as answers to the questions that people asked us at the north of England’s largest show dedicated to finding & buying your first motorhome.
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Living In A Motorhome Full-Time – Is It Possible?
For those of you that haven’t visited our blog before, we are Kelly & Adam & we have lived in our motorhome, Barnaby for the past 18 months, working & adventuring from wherever we choose.
There were quite a few people at our talk with Andrew who already own their own motorhome or campervan who voiced to us that they would really like to spend more time on the road.
Q: What’s our secret to full-time van life?
For us two things really are key – preparation & balance. We love to be spontaneous, therefore our plans change quite a lot. At the start of our journey we really didn’t prepare for this spontaneity, sounds strange right? But hear us out, because we weren’t preparing for things to be flexible we found that everything became just too overwhelming & that’s when the balance had to kick in. For us not only living but being digital nomads & working from our motorhome means that we have a lot to juggle & we’ve found that since we’ve addeda little preparation into the mix, the balance has flowed a lot more easily.
Q: Is it difficult to be living in a motorhome all year round?
This one does tend to pop up quite a lot & we honestly believe that it is due to mindset. Motorhomes & campervans have only just really started to be seen as something that someone could possibly live in full-time. In fact the whole #vanlife thing has become quite the trend but when it comes to really committing to living permanently in a van we would say the mental approach that you take will make all the difference. Yes, it comes with challenges, somedays for us these are challenges that can make us feel a little deflated but would we swap our tiny home on wheels for anything else? Hell no!
Facebook on Wednesday, January 13, 2020
Full-Time Van Life – How It All Started For Us
Driven by a love of nature & the outdoors, after a year of travel together we chose to pack everything up, into our tiny home on wheels & commit to calling it our permanent home.
For us taking the leap into living in our motorhome full-time was a simple choice of including a lot more of what we love to do in our lives- campervan life was & still remains a way to gain more freedom & to be able to live life on our terms.
Q: The BIG ONE is how we actually set the wheels in motion?
Destination Addict was started at the beginning of our travels & within that year we had not only built an awesome community but we had also learned a ton of new skills along the way. Combining those skills with our past experience is not only what helped us to start turning our blog into a business but is also what helped us to set up a second business that continues to support us both. We didn’t plan & save for years, we didn’t even know we were going to get a van until just a few months before – what we did do is take one big leap of faith, we worked hard & we remained committed to our dream.
Living In A Motorhome Full-Time – Exactly How We Support Ourselves
We have multiple income streams, which for us brings more peace of mind & stability.As well as this site you are on right now, our adventure travel blog which will always be the key player in it all we help other creatives with setting up & running their own digital business through SoulMadic, have our own natural & sustainable clothing range Nature Threads & have a very happy client base for whom we assist with websites & social media at The Green Thread.
When we started this journey we never imagined that we would be working online full-time let alone running our own digital business.
Q: But do you earn enough money on the road?
Adam was working as a freelancer at live festivals & events in the UK before we met & continued to pick up enough money from this whilst we built our income to what it is now – enough to sustain us both & our lifestyle. We are currently working on building everything up to the next level & growing a team. Money is probably the biggest concern for anyone looking to live a location independent lifestyle but we are proof that earning a living wage doing this is possible.
Q: How much does living in a van cost?
Firstly our spending habits have changed drastically since we moved into our van. It might have something to do with having to sort through 30 years worth of belongings & pack them into a tiny space or with not feeling the need to consume so much after quite a big change in lifestyle. Either way we are happier & we are spending less so it’s a win:win. On average our costs are around £800 per month for the 2 of us including food, any campsites, activities & other things we spend on. This obviously varies from country to country but to give you a more detailed breakdown you can check out our costs for a month in France.
Staying Healthy On The Road
Staying healthy & creating a routine for us is the difference between us being happy or unhappy campers. We both have chosen ways to keep our minds & bodies well. Mine personally is yoga, meditation, journalling & painting (which I have recently taken up). Adam’s is running & listening to music. We also share a love of adventure & the outdoors including hiking, cycling. Oh & we also both love a good book.
Q: Do we have a wellness routine?
We wouldn’t say it is a set routine so to speak but we do include all of the things mentioned above in our day-to-day. It can be tricky if we are moving around a lot so we have found in that sense is vital to remain mindful of taking time to do the things that keep us well – in with that we make sure that we take regular breaks from digital including one digital detox day per week & not using our phones or any electronics for at least an hour before we wake up & go to sleep.
Q: How do we cook in our van?
Food plays an important role in keeping us healthy & we love to try new food wherever we go. Most people are pretty amazed when we tell them that we have a full-sized fridge, oven, grill & four ring hob & even a microwave – in addition to this we have a small fire pit that we cook on outside.
We loved cooking up a chickpea curry with Andrew (below) whilst chatting living in our motorhome full-time.
The Practical Side Of Living In A Motorhome Full-Time
Q: What do we do about an address?
We are both registered at our parent’s addresses for personal mail etc. & have a registered office address for anything business related.
Q: How do we keep warm?
Our motorhome is equipped with a full combi boiler, meaning it runs from both gas & electricity & when running keeps everything pretty toasty.
Two things we would highly recommend firstly to keep the heat in, in winter & sun out in summer are some insulated motorhome covers for your windows & secondly to keep your feet nice & warm (as the even with heating up the floor of a van stays considerably cooler) is a heatedblanket – we have the MaxKare Electric Heated Throw blanket.
Q: What about electricity?
Sometimes we will park up at a campsite or when not in the UK we will choose places where we can pay a small fee & plug into electricity such as an ‘Aire de Service’ in France – this will all depend really on how much work we have to do. We can keep ourselves going for around 5-7 days without recharging our batteries if we don’t have to charge laptops etc. We also have a solar panel that keeps everything topped up nicely.
Q: How do we do laundry?
As a general rule we save up enough to do a big load in a laundrette, where exactly we find these varies from country to country as in the UK for example machines are starting to pop up more & more in petrol stations, in Spain they can normally be found around the big hypermarkets.
Getting Off The Beaten Track In Our Motorhome
We are pretty intrepid & love to explore lesser known places. After spending our first few months of van life in the UK, we headed into Europe to explore off season so we could make the most of places being less crowded. One of our favourite drives was through Spain’s Bardenas Reales which is Europe’s largest desert & an absolute wonder to explore.
Q: How do we manage to stay off-grid & work?
This very much depends upon the weather or should we say sunshine to top up our solar panel that enables us to charge when we are off grid as well as getting 4G signal. Plus side is if things aren’t working out we can, & do, just move. There are some places that we have been to, where we had the feeling of being ‘off grid’ but are actually in a municipal car park plugged into electricity. At the moment we don’t have multiple solar panels or a generator but these would most definitely make off-grid working a lot easier.
Q: Do we plan a route?
Because we are in our van full-time restrictions with time etc. are not as much of an issue for us. We normally plan or map out roughly where we’d like to go & what we’d like to see but remain flexible from there. When it comes to driving to more remote places we check out the route we are going to take & make sure it’s suitable for our van.
Van Life As A Couple
Q: How do we live in a van as a couple?
This is a question that we get asked a lot. Living in a motorhome full-time is one thing but living & working as a couple from one pretty tiny space – how do we do it? In a nutshell the answer is a lot of love, balance & boundaries. If you are interested in learning more on how we do this check out our 14 Tips For Van Life As A Couple.
Living In A Motorhome Full-Time – Summed Up
So there you have it, the in’s & out’s of how we have made this lifestyle work for us. We hope you have enjoyed this post & have found it both useful & inspiring – below we’ve rounded it off with our top tips & resources, if you’ve got anything that you’d like to add yourself please feel free to do so in the comments & of course if you have any questions please add those too.
Our Top Van Life Tips…
Plan but remain flexible
When it comes to living in a motorhome full-time, flexibility really is key. Things may not always go to ‘plan’ but that’s all part of the adventure.
Embrace the seasons
Fighting the weather, or complaining about it a lot won’t make van life enjoyable. We have found that we have appreciated & embrace the seasons for what they are since we started full-time van life.
Create your own routine
Thinking of all the things you love to do & the things that are good for both your body & mind & then incorporating them into your van life routine will help you to feel both more grounded & settled.
Prepare yourself for Winter
Preparation is key for the winter months & there is a lot to think about. Check out our winter van life essentials for all of our tips & tricks on this.
Get a refillable gas bottle
This is something that we invested in early on & are so glad we did as we haven’t had to source a new bottle in every country we have been to. We got ours from Gaslow, more details can be found on their website.
Get off the beaten track
Make the most of being able to go wherever you choose, take it from us the effort to get to those lesser explored places is worth it for the views & tranquility.
Make it feel like home
Making your tiny home on wheels feel like yours & all comfy & cosy will ensure that you settle in nicely.
Try before you buy
If you are not sure if you are ready to take the plunge into full-time motorhome life why not try renting one first? Did you know that some companies will even negotiate a deal based around their need to get a campervan or motorhome back from hire locations? For example travelling to Italy to drive a campervan back to the UK for a company is an option.
Our Fav Van Life Resources
Our fav travel app & free – just download your maps on WIFI & offline you’ll be good to go – it’s user populated so has lots of hidden spots marked and works all over the world.
Details of thousands of spots to park up at in your van, around the globe. This app is user populated & includes honest pics & reviews.
Similar app to Park4Night, however with a lot less spots. Good thing with CamperContact is more details are included & they even have some locations marked for laundry & other services. We paid £5 to upgrade to the pro version which is definitely worth it.
Thanks for reading & happy van life-ing!
Kelly & Adam x
Facebook on Wednesday, January 22, 2020