Hippie Man in a Campervan
September 2, 2019
“For a moment we all stood motionless in awe. The air was unusually still for a mountaintop, but soon the intense chilled breath of Mt. Aconcagua in the South American Andes was slowly turning our way. We silently stared at the majestic sight before us. It was the highest mountain in the Andes, and it seemed that we could almost touch the surreal snow-covered summit that shimmered in the sunlight before us. Then the cool breeze touched our faces with sweetness, like a gentle sacred message being delivered specifically to our small group.”
LEE CARROLL IN THE BOOK: THE GAIA EFFECT-KRYON MONIKA MURANYI.
The world is a beautiful place and full of wonders, its natural beauty ready for exploring. How wonderful it is to be near to nature, near to a forest or a lake, a mountain or a beach. I have always had the wanderlust and have travelled extensively.
Travelling often means a flight on a plane to get me to my destination, or sometimes a train ride, a voyage on a boat or a bus trip; reaching my destination is sometimes a relief (especially when flying) but I have to admit I am one of those strange people who enjoy the journey just as much as the destination.
So, what a wonderful thing it would be to have your home with you when you travel, to stop off where ever you want and put on the kettle while admiring the view. Imagine carrying your home on your back like some multicoloured fast moving tortoise.
1000’s of people are living this dream all over the world.
What am I referring to?
All over the world people of a similar mindset and outlook on life are living in a van, motorhome or campervan full time, like a band of colourful nomadic new age gypsy’s. Constantly on the move, exploring our beautiful country, meeting new people, trying out new things and having adventures.
This is full time campervan living.
“Living in a van is a bit like camping. You can access all sorts of beautiful places whilst living close to nature and having no ties to one fixed location. But it’s a lot more comfortable than camping. You have everything with you.
You have your books, music, gas and electricity. You can be warm and dry and have proper cooked meals. Everything you need. And you can drive away any time you like.
You have the comfort of a house and the benefits of no house. But you do have a home, and the world is your garden.”
HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
I posted recently about my long term goal of living on a canal boat on the beautiful waterways of this country. Close to the wildlife, the water, to nature and to the extraordinary people that live on the canals as part of the canal boat community.
I will never let go of that dream. But canal boats range in cost from about £14000 to £140,000 and cost a lot to maintain, let alone the taxes, licences and insurance and mooring costs.
I recently came into some money and my first reaction was to start on the boat buying ladder. You see in order for me to buy a canal boat, I would first have to make a lot of sacrifices, cut costs massively, leave my flat and live somewhere a fraction of the price in order to save the money needed for the canal boat.
My first instinct after receiving the windfall pay out was to buy a small cruiser (boat) to live on. Many canal boat owners do this in order to buy a better boat later.
After going to see a number of boats I realised that for the money I had I would get a run down second hand cruiser the size of a bath tub (slight exaggeration). Winter is coming, my health is not great (I have just recovered from a chest infection), I would feel claustrophobic and unhappy; it was a step too far. And all this for the top of my budget at around £8000 for a 25ft cruiser.
Another thing I have considered over the years as an alternative to a small boat, is a campervan. This would also allow me to cut costs and save up for my canal boat.
Recently at Whirl-y Fayre I got talking to campervan owners, both long term live aboard’s and those who use them for recreation; I was totally won over to the merits of this idea.
This sort of life is totally for me, the open road, the nomadic, hippie existence, the freedom of the lifestyle.
For a start, a second hand motorhome cost on average £2000 to £3000 from places like Facebook Marketplace. They are warmer and have more room and better facilities than a small cruising boat.
I am convinced this is the answer.
I have decided after a lot of research to move in this direction and have now signed up to a driving school in Hampton. Yes, you heard me right. Because you see, the first problem is, I have never driven, I cannot drive. I have always wanted to but have never got around to it. I now have my provisional licence and lessons start in two weeks.
So, lets explore this subject in more detail. Lets take a look at the phenomenon of long term live aboard campervan life.
First, lets look at why some choose this life:
If you are like me, you have never conformed to regular life; you are a free soul. For many working a 9 to 5 office job, paying a mortgage and settling down in suburbia just isn’t for them.
Some of us strive for freedom, the freedom to travel, to have the potential to wake up by a beautiful German lake or on top of a Moroccan mountain. To eat breakfast overlooking the Scottish Highlands or meeting friends at a hippie housing collective in Wales. All this just by jumping in our campervan and driving.
Our home on wheels gives us the freedom to visit friends anywhere in the country, to attend festivals and gatherings; the freedom of the road matches our mindset.
Mike Hudson on life before becoming a full time campervan nomad:
“Over winter I’d drive to work in the dark, sit in the office with no windows all day and drive myself home in the dark. This is what many people do, but thinking about it now, it seems crazy. When I look back at photos of myself from the last year of that job, I don’t look healthy. My face is pale and my eyes are like dark grey circles.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
Now lets look at the merits of this lifestyle:
Certainly it costs a lot less than renting a flat; your outgoings are a fraction of what they would be, now that you are not paying for council tax, bills and all the other materialistic things you would normally surround yourself with.
Of course this takes sacrifice, to live this life you need to downsize massively, live a simpler life; which to me sounds wonderful.
“LIVE FOR LESS; House living costs take up a considerable amount of most people’s earnings. A van bypasses all of that and lets you save the extra money per month which can help you get out of debt, save up, start a business or just buy yourself some time. In this way a van can give you a huge leg up. But it’s not just rent. A van can save you a lot of money on hostels and hotels when travelling.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
There are, of course, some expenses. Your vehicle’s up-keep, camping site fees (if you fancy having some mains electricity, hot water and WiFi). Petrol and car insurance etc but this is tiny compared to the cost of renting a property.
Another reason for living full time in a campervan is that they can be much more roomy than, say, a small cruiser boat. The good ones have a toilet (A cassette toilet needs emptying at camping sites), a shower room, a fridge, oven, stove, sink, heating, bed or beds, a table and chairs and often an awning to provide more space outside of the vehicle. It really is like a mini home on wheels.
I think you need to have a bit of the gypsy in you to live this lifestyle but it does have its plus sides.
No postal address; you would need to set up a post office account somewhere to pick up you mail (or you could use a relatives address or a friend). Finding a GP when you are on the move; there are ways around this; use a relative or friends address.
Emptying full to the brim toilets (if you can find somewhere to empty it). Parking can also be a tricky business. You are not legally allowed to just park on the street and sleep. Van dwellers I have spoken to say country lanes are OK if you are out of site (this is much easier and more accepted in Europe). Many farms will let you stop on their land as long as you ask first. Use Facebook to find local hippie communes and camps and ask if you can stop there for a few nights and of course camping sites are relatively cheap to park up at and they often have good facilities; just get yourself a good AA camping site guide.
“TRAVEL: Travelling in a van is not like normal travelling where you go from point to point, checking in at hostels or hotels on the way, sticking very much to the travel grid. Having a van gives you access to everywhere and allows you to see places you probably wouldn’t see otherwise. You experience all the things in between and get a taste of the whole country. And because you have your home on your back, you can pull up in some amazing spot and live there without being bound by check-in times.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
But how do you pay your way if you are on the move?
There are many ways you can pay for such a life. A couple I spoke to at Whirl-y Fayre worked for an events company (festivals, fayres and horticultural events) working the bars and stewarding. This tends to be more of a summer thing but anyone who does bar work knows there is always bar work to be had somewhere (even in winter) that will pay your way.
Bloggers do OK as long as they have the readers. Advertising payments can keep you comfortably on top of things as long as you can live cheaply.
Other kinds of internet based work is good just as long as your employer is happy for you to work from home (or van).
Or, as I am planning to do, you could anchor yourself to a specific area at first and work somewhere for three or four days a week. Then you can travel on the other days.
Although this can initially limit your ability to travel extensively at first, you still have the freedom to develop you own projects (in my case, my street market/online hippie clothes and jewellery store, my art and my writing) which over time, once successful, can replace the job that ties you to that specific area (always the practical one Stephen) and you still have the freedom and low cost of living in a campervan.
It makes me smile to think of a life travelling around the UK and Europe in a hippiefied campervan. Working in local pubs, at festivals and possibly even fruit picking on farms; whilst keeping up my blog, making my art and writing my next book. Visiting friends around the country and staying at hippie coop’s and communes. Enjoying great festivals all over Europe. All the time building up my own projects and business, so, eventually I have total freedom and hippie happiness; eventually saving up enough to buy that canal boat.
“TAKE A STEP BACK: We’re constantly being told what to do and how to live, how to look and what to buy. It makers life stressful. Being able to take a step back and distance yourself from all of this can be invaluable opportunity, and a van lets you do it.”
“FESTIVALS: Having a van is a nice way to do festivals. It’s difficult to go back to a cold, damp tent after having the luxury of a van with full living facilities. Just being able to get up in the morning and make a coffee without getting dressed to queue at a stall makes it worth it.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
Mike Hudson on why some of us look at the world differently:
“I know that if I’m bored I’m doing something wrong. I have too many interests to be bored and there’s no time to waste. I can’t spend the best part of my life wishing my days away. I’d sit at my desk and I’d feel adrenaline bubble up from my stomach. Nothing about it felt right.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
Express yourself, your campervan will come with all the facilities you need (if not you can install them) but it needs a bit of work to make it truly yours; its all about individuality. Make your home your palace with decorations and upholstery; pimp it up and hippiefy your world.
Mike Hudson on making the decision to move into his van:
“I could only ignore the big questions for so long: What am I doing? And why am I doing it? What is a ‘good’ job anyway? I want a good life not a ‘good’ job. Are my expectations too high? Maybe I’m spoilt. Maybe I’m an alien.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
“ESCAPE THE WINTER:
“I don’t know about you but I become like a zombie during the winter, in those three months of darkness. Apart from affecting the regulation of melatonin in the brain, it also makes us deficient in vitamin D, which is not cool. But with a van you can go south for the winter and be a ‘snowbird’. This has changed everything for me. I’m so much better and happier when the sky is bright. It’s probably why thousands of other people in Europe and the US also do this”. HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
Hrm, 6 weeks in Goa and the rest of the winter travelling in my campervan around the South of France, Spain and Portugal; that’s a really hard decision to make. I suppose I could do it…of course I could do it!!!!!!
Travelling like this can also help you test out where you might want to live in the future or even places you want to return to for longer periods.
Mike Hudson on following his dreams:
“It bugged me that I didn’t seem to know anyone doing what they really wanted in life. It was like everyone was just trying to get on with it.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
Mike Hudson on following his dreams:
“I don’t want to be the one thing for the rest of my life. I don’t want to pick something from life’s set-menu and be labelled as one single job title forever. I want to be loads of things. I want my life to be full of chapters, not blurred memories of a nine-to-five routine. And I don’t want the chapters to be rungs on a career ladder. I want to make my own ladder, putting the rungs in as I go along. And I don’t want the ladder to go in a straight line.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
Mike Hudson on taking the leap of faith:
“Some people would ask what I was escaping from. They’d talk in this careful tone of voice like they were trying to work out what was wrong with me. No one just quits a good job like that. To these people it was like I’d made the decision to quit actual life. They didn’t get it, and I couldn’t expect them to.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
“I was escaping, but not from anything major. It was just from stupid, non-important things that didn’t help me in any kind of positive way. But these things seemed to completely surround me. It got me down. I needed to know there was more to life. I was sick of the same stuff. The same small talk, the same routine, the news, ‘reality TV, conversations about new kitchens, tiling the bathroom and new cars. I needed to know that life could go deeper than what to me felt like nothing more than meaningless noise and distraction.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
“But I was mainly on a mission to find new things – new people, places, perspectives. I wanted to create my own path and collect stories, memories and experiences, improvising in my own way as I went along. And what would happen if I kept going down that path? I needed to find out. I didn’t care about salary. I wanted to live by my own definition of success. And I wanted to learn as much as I could in the process.” HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON
Seems to me that living full time in a campervan is a good life and a potentially mind expanding experience. You might not want to do it forever (although some do) but it would certainly be a memorable part of your life and one that could help you save up for your dreams while living an incredible nomadic lifestyle.
And once you are ready for your next chapter (for me my canal boat) you know you will take with you some amazing memories.
The book I have quoted from is an excellent guide for anyone wanting to take up the campervan life: HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON – Bluedog Books
I hope this has helped you to think about whether this life is for you. Its certainly something I am strongly looking in to and it matches with my future plans and my free spirit. Lets finish with one last quote:
“But back to the warning. After months, or years, on the road, things that you used to enjoy back in your old life might not do it for you anymore. The things you used to think were exciting may no longer be exciting. And worst of all, the people you used to find interesting may not be so interesting anymore. Warning over.”
HOW TO LIVE IN A VAN AND TRAVEL-MIKE HUDSON – Bluedog Books