Looking back to our first few months on the road, stepping into digital nomad life and living in a van full time has been an amazing adventure, a massive learning curve and big eye-opener for both of us. Returning home from travelling for a full year and living with parents we were looking for something to call home. Discussing between us a few different options, then came along the idea of living in a van full time. After purchasing a tiny house on wheels and choosing campervan life and freedom, we are now looking back on it and feeling so glad that we did it. It has fitted perfectly with our digital nomad lifestyle and making adventure a part our everyday life. On that note here is a round up of our first few months of van life in the UK.
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Van Life UK
As some of you may be aware I (Adam) as well as travel blogging work festivals and live events in the UK. Every September brings Festival No.6 at Portmeirion North Wales, although taking a break next year (2019) the festival incorporates the spectacular village, woods, castle, estuary and stunning surrounding area with music, culture, food and drink to create a festival like no other. Our first stop was here stetting up camp at Portmeirion for a month, me working on the build and break of the festival and Kelly building our online business from our new home and mobile office.
Staying on site at Portmeirion, having the village to ourselves at night and being able to walk down in the mornings to watch sunrise over the estuary was special. Festival No.6 was a massive success again this year and was a great end to the summer.
Derbyshire & The Roaches
Next stop was a trip over to Derbyshire which both of us were really excited for. We both couldn’t wait to do one of the most popular hikes in this area – The Roaches.
Using the Park4night app we pin-pointed a pub called The Winking Man which is situated right next to the Roaches. The pub allows you to park for the night (with electricity hook up an extra) in exchange for you eating and drinking in the pub. This is a regular trend in the UK with hundreds of pubs around the country offering this service.
After a lovely pub meal and stop over at the Winking Man Pub we set out to the Roaches driving a couple of km’s down the road to the abundance of lay-by parking near Hen-Cloud and the Roaches walks. Both easily accessible hikes and highly recommended with great views. Derbyshire is such a great place to travel in the a camper or motorhome, with campsites aplenty, rolling hills, beautiful countryside and places to stop. Our first week of moving van life in the UK and we were loving it!
As well as the Roaches hike we visited Bakewell famous for its tarts but equally for its quintessentially British feel. The beautiful Goyt Valley was also a chosen stop of ours, where we parked up next to a lake with views that certainly did not disappoint.
A great recommendation from a friend to help with van life in the UK was Britstops a list of free stops for campervans and motorhomes in the UK. A one time purchase (£28.00 + 3.50 p&p) gives you over 900 locations around the UK such as farm shops, pubs, brewerys, vineyards to name but a few venues.
After really settling into van life in the UK it was time to decide on our next place to explore. South Wales was the clear favourite as some of you may know we have spent a lot of time in North Wales and were just so eager to explore more of the beautiful Welsh coastline and inland areas. First stop on the way to South Wales was, you guessed it, Snowdonia to do one of our favourite things in North Wales, hiking.
After spending the night in the awe-inspiring Snowdonia National Park we found an amazing spot using Park4night at a church car park right near Penbryn Beach. Where it was £1 a night (donation for the upkeep of the car park and church). Penbryn also has a National trust car park closer to the beach with a cafe called the Plwmp Tart. We spent our days in the cafe working and evenings wandering along the beautiful beach and watching gorgeous sunsets.
Within walking distance from the church car park or Penbryn Beach is the coastal village of Tresaith. This beach is something extra special as it boasts the only waterfall in Wales which empties into the sea! From Penbryn Beach the waterfall is about a 6km looped walk.
Next on the list was a place called Mwnt, a little further down the coast past Aberporth. A small and quiet beach with an offer of a small walk of about a km past the church up to Foel Y Mwnt peak. The National Trust car park is located right next to the beach and is the perfect place for a brew stop and wander down to the beach.
Enjoying the Welsh coastline a little too much and needing to get to Bristol to see family in a few days we decided to head onto Tenby then onto the Breacons Beacons. These two places were the highest on our UK van life list to visit. We reached the pretty town of Tenby early evening and were greeted by this view…
Watching the sun go down and having a wander round this lovely seaside town we had found another great pub stop to stay for the night a little further along the coast. The New Inn pub in Amroth was a great place to stop, right on the seafront and with a gorgeous drive along the coast to get there.
One place we were both super excited about was the Breacon Beacons and it didn’t disappoint. Setting off in the morning and finding the perfect spot to spend the day and night right the heart of the national park was definitely something special. The area with bike and walking trails offered plenty of options for exploring, we decided to go for a walk down to the nearby reservoir through the beautiful woodland area. Setting up for the night and watching the sun go down with nothing but miles of untouched Welsh terrain and mountains around us was an amazing experience.
Living in a Van Full Time
Looking back on our first few months of van life in the UK and starting life as true digital nomads has been nothing short of amazing. Learning how to optimise everything in the van from water usage to electricity. Getting into our flow of living in a camper off-grid. To literally down sizing and getting rid of pretty much 80 percent of the clothes and possessions we owned – not going to lie it feels great!
Up until now these have been the best apps to find places to parkand campsites both in the UK and in Europe. Campercontact and Park4night.com contain great location and parking information including services, supermarkets, laundry nearby as well as advisories on size, height, terrain and even photos to view before you get there. We would highly recommend either of these apps.
After a few months of van life in the UK we are now in Europe. We have explored the north and west coast of France, the city of Bayeux including the World War II graves and The Bayeux Tapestry. We are currently adventuring in Spain and have passed through Basque country eating Pintxos and visiting Bilbao. We manage to do all of this exploring whilst working, meaning than van life really does give us the perfect balance between the two!
Our online business continues to grow alongside Destination Addict with an abundance of ideas and plans for the future all coming together. We are proud that we have achieved all of this whilst still being able to live our life to the full adventuring in our tiny house on wheels.
If you have any questions for us regarding anything in this post or about van life we would be happy to answer! Just leave a comment below…
Adam & Kelly x