Some of you haven’t actually seen our van and had quite a few practical questions, so here is a small introduction.
We basically bought an empty VW Crafter and had it custom-built to our needs. Cocoon Vans turned our plans and my PowerPoint presentations – hahaha – into reality.
It’s not easy, as it’s basically a tiny home on wheels, and we did want a bit of comfort (yes, those teenage years of sleeping on the floor in some dodgy hostel are definitely over). And as we tend to spend more time in colder countries, it was important to us to also feel cozy inside the van.
Creating our van was a bit of a work of art. First, nothing is straight in a VW Crafter van (it is curved on the walls, on the roof, and front to back). So, all the cupboards are custom-made to fit those curves. They had to be super sturdy as we are often on very bumpy roads. The distribution of the weight is very important and for us, it was crucial not to go over 3,5t.
We helped a little bit with the initial build (insulation, painting, and supervising :-)) but would have had no chance of doing it ourselves, especially given we were both working full-time. If we had even tried, we would have “maybe” finished the van and probably would have had to sell it as we would have split up by then!
What’s In The Van?
We have all the comfort we wanted:
- a small fridge
- a double gas stove
- a fixed table for eating, one for prepping food, one fold-out extra table
- two seats (one fixed, a rotating driver’s seat)
- almost enough cupboards
- a fixed double bed in the back
- hot and cold (filtered/drinkable) water
- a compost toilet that separates the waste
- a heater for when it’s cold (we even tested it in -20 degrees), also for hot water
- a simple outdoor shower at the back (only used when we have privacy)
- a roof basket for extras (paddle boards etc)
On top of all that, we are totally off-grid. We have 350 kW solar with a large Lithium battery to store the electricity. It charges from the solar, or from driving and we rarely get below 75%! Our solar panels are so great they even charge as the sun is setting, or under a tree or when it’s cloudy. Sure, not 100% as well as when it’s sunny, but it always amazes us that we still get some charge as the sun sets.
We have never had to plug in to get electricity (we can) and probably never will. We love it!
For the rest, life is very much like home (without having to go into work). But, everything is a little more time-consuming and sometimes quite challenging.
- we need to cook (sometimes we eat out, but not often)
- do the laundry
- keep the van tidy (as it’s messy in no time, especially at the beach)
- empty our grey water (from the dishes and brushing your teeth etc)
- empty our compost toilet (even though we try do our business in nature)
- take out the rubbish
- go food shopping etc.
What About Water?
We also need to fill up with water which is probably the most challenging part. But now we are starting to figure out where to get water and it’s a lot easier. In Greece that often means roadside springs or taps on the walls of churches.
It has also made us become very sparing with our water. It’s ridiculous really, how much water we all use on a daily bases. Just brush your teeth, or wash your hands and catch all the water in a tub! Then you will see what I mean.
We even read you use 100 Litres per shower. That is how much we can carry in van – TOTAL! We use that over 4 days for everything.
And we are all starting to understand how scarce water is becoming – even in Switzerland
So, why not try to use less. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers.
A Van Is A Van, By Any Other Name
Why is our van called the Bungee Van?
Well, first of all, you need a name for your van. Or that’s how it goes in the #Vanlife world.
For months and months, we couldn’t come up with anything! Then it was all of a sudden pretty clear while we were working on the van, just before we left for our trip.
We have put up so many bungee cords (elastic cords) inside our van to help store things under cupboards and shelves. In the end, it was kinda getting ridiculous!
So, we called it the Bungee Van.
We did have another idea: In German, they are called Gummiseile and Ash first thought we should call it the “Gummibus”. I told him that was maybe not such a good idea as Gummi also means condom in German!
Rounding Things Up
So that‘s it really. No one really talks about the daily routine because it‘s not really Instagrammable, but it does take up a big part of our day.
Talking about Instagram. We really now see what it‘s all about. As we are often in very scenic spots, sometimes girls pop up out of nowhere, all dressed up in flowy dresses, large sunhats and sunglasses and posing in the most ridiculous positions. Then possibly change outfits or props which were very conveniently carried by the boyfriend/husband who kindly lugged everything to the top of the mountain or that beautiful spot on the sea. Actually, you rarely see a girl carrying anything, anywhere. I‘m all for equality but it has to go both ways, I think.