Posts tagged vanlife
Every Day Vanlife
This is what life in the van really looks like most days. Shuffling one thing around to get to another thing. It gets cluttered fast but we also can tidy and clean it up swiftly as well. Vanlife is regular life just on the road.

Thanks for reading lovelies,

Strange Things about living on the road

Vanlife is super strange and I think it it making us stranger people. Different things are becoming the norms in our lives. 
Showers become a reason to stay somewhere for a day or two to have the luxury near by. We have been staying on some beaches just because they have public, cold showers. It’s a bit embarrassing to use soap and shampoo, because it’s a dead giveaway that you don’t have a proper home. You’re homeless. But it’s so nice to get free showers a few days in a row, and to not worry about going for a run and having no shower around. Yuck.
Some days are shit days. I know you won’t believe it but living on the road is still life. We do have magical days where we are on the beach all day and Vigo is a dream baby. Then we have other days when he just hates his car seat and not even the baby hammock or nursing will calm him down at night. Other days we spend 7 hours driving around Barcelona trying to get an adapter or a new gas canister because our German tank just ran out. 
Outside is our “other room”. Dom practices guitar and ukelele outside of the van when weather and neighbors permit. When baby Vigo needs to be in the baby carrier to fall asleep, one of us usually goes for a walk wearing him. I often make art outside of the van and have an outdoor studio if we are parked close to a place I can be somewhat solitary and have a bit of ground space.  
Water is a luxury. We have two twenty liter water tanks that we fill every week or so. I have been able to wash my hair with 2 cups of water. We cook multiple meals a day in the van so conserving when washing dishes is very important. And we are choosing to have this limit in resources, imagine those who are living in drought and HAVE to collect their water. 
Very close quarters. You have to be comfortable peeing in front of one another. Dom and I were talking about this the other day when he was sitting on our little camping toilet. He thinks not all couples could do this, because of how closely you live with one another. You brush teeth together, you dress together, you cook and play together most of the day. If you’re not doing it together you are usually doing it in the space with the other person. 
You loose your sense of shame. You forget to close the curtain or door and begin to pee in the toilet enjoying the view, only a few seconds into it someone walks by, sees you, and you smile and nod because that’s all you can do. Or you consciously and voluntarily look like a show off or a crazy by doing yoga on the beach in the morning, or you look like a freak recording a surrealist music video out on a windy beach all alone. Because you needed to get an upside-down close-up of the sand whisping into the water.
You find and use wifi at the strangest places. Last week in Madrid, we found ourselves standing outside of the adidas shop for 5 minutes to write a quick note to family and post a photo on Instagram. 
You question whether you are on vacation or actually changing and becoming a drifter, hobo living on the streets. We had to ask an ex-colleague we met in Madrid whether we smelled, because we wondered whether it was one of those, getting used to our own stank situations. 
We are a month into our travels through Spain and we are at a point of ultimate relaxation. Embracing this simplistic, nomadic lifestyle. 

Thanks for reading lovelies,

Vanlife with a Baby
Our first week on the road was filled with amazing views and lovely times meandering south towards the coast. We are ultimately headed to Spain. We’ll see if we ever get there.

Newborns are snoozy. We’ve been on the road now for two weeks. It’s our first longer trip with a baby. Vigo was 6 weeks old when we left Heidelberg, Germany. He has done well on the road. He finds home in the two of us, so being on the road is home for him, I suppose. We have been making several stops on his account, if he’s hungry or needing a snuggle. We can travel for a few hours at a time before he begins to squawk. He’s still at the multiple nap a day stage so we time our travel for after he’s been fed, changed and snoozing.

Tiny space, loud cry. Dom recently learned that our ears are specifically attuned to hear the frequency of a baby’s cry. Is that why they sound so loud? The toughest part about having a newborn in vanlife is when he is in an unconsolable state at night.  Sometimes he gets very worked up and then he just has to cry it out. Being in such a small space with such a loud little human is tough. Luckily there are two of us parents and we can pass him off when one of us has reached our limit. I don’t know how you single parents do it without going insane and feeling like a failure as a parent.  Dom was doing laundry at the laundromat the other day and Vigo cried in the van with me for 45 minutes straight, I cried for about 20 minutes of it along with him. But this kind of thing was happening at home too. It’s just that now it’s happening in a 8 square meter space. There is sadly no second room to escape to except the great outdoors, which sometimes is not very welcoming, like when it is raining and stormy.

Breastfeeding is so great for living on the road. I have the pleasure of breastfeeding my little babe and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve always got my boobs with me and they are all that Vigo needs in terms of sustenance. How cool is that? I don’t have to worry about bottles and formula. And as I have heard breastfed babies poop smells a lot better, so when there are dirty diapers in our trash in the van for a few days it’s no worries.

He doesn’t make special requests or require extra entertainment. We have spent most of the last week stuck in southern France. Our faithfully shitty van has broken down again, but we have been making the most of our time, heading to nearby beaches and cooking delicious meals in the parking lot at the mechanic’s. It’s somewhat embarrassing to have bought such a p.o.s. but we still love her and are willing to invest in her a bit longer. We’ll see if we get through the rest of this trip without another repair, or just leaving her here, down south. For Vigo, luckily, it makes no real difference whether we are parked at a beautiful ocean view or in the parking lot at a mechanic’s. So in this respect he’s a great travel companion when things go south, without actually heading south. ;)

Tiny babies don’t take up much space. We have a little nook at the side of our bed for Vigo, which makes night feedings easy peasy. We also have a baby hammock for him above our bed, which we rock him in sometimes during the day. His car seat fits in the seat between us in the 3er front seats when we are driving. Well, I take it back, his THINGS take up a lot of space. His stroller takes up a big portion of our under the bed storage and he has more clothes than the rest of us, but anyway, he’s tiny. He fits wonderfully in a carrier for urban and nature hikes.

Newborns don’t need many baths. We haven’t bathed yet on our trip, don't judge, but we have all been making use of the baby wipes. They keep our most sensitive areas clean and it hasn’t been hot and sweaty yet so we haven’t “needed” showers. We can't afford fancy restaurants anyways, so a bit of greasy hair and cradle cap are fine with us. Pretty soon we may go to a public pool and get a nice hot shower in. It’s about time.

Overall, I don’t think we are too crazy for bringing a newborn along on the road. Vanlife is working out with our newborn baby. He would have just as many fussy times at home as he does in the van, I think. He’s definitely not an easy going baby, he needs a lot of attention and movement, so I think the road and staying active is what he likes.

We’re two weeks in now, we’ll see whether our tune changes after the 8th week. 8 weeks my goodness! We are so grateful to have this much time on the road, what a privilege.

Thanks for reading lovelies,

Simple Van Renovation

To see what the van looked like when we bought it check out the "Before" post I posted a week or so ago. Dom and I have zero experience with car repair and almost just as little experience with carpentry/ building things. We were very happy to have bought a van that as mostly built out already.  But we were excited to learn and make additions and changes to the interior of our first car!

To start we stripped everything out of the van except the front 3 seats. 

Then we deep cleaned every surface and crevasse.  Dominik's oma (grandma) is a cleaning wizard so we summoned her enthusiasm to help us get the job done. After cleaning everything we began putting up this self adhesive insulation foam covering the entire interior of the van. 

 Then we painted the wall mount boards and the shelving white.
We sealed the storage boxes and put on nicer handles.

We then began putting in the side paneling, reinstalling the newly painted shelving and bed board. Next up was to install some floor insulation and laminate flooring.

With the help of Dom's cousin we installed a new sink.

I made some curtains for the back and side windows.

And still to come are some solar panels for the roof. 
Again, we were so happy to have a mostly finished interior and to have the freedom to alter it. It's not the best build out but it is working so well for us so far. To see our semi finished van renovation check out this post. The photos for that post were taken right after our 5 weeks of summer travels in Scandinavia. It is such a great place to live and I can't wait to spend two months in the van very soon. 

Dominik and I are traveling to Spain and Portugal with our little baby Vigo.  We can't wait!


Van Renovation: Before
We bought our Ford Transit in march 2016. Just about the time we got pregnant. We bought it from this hippy couple in Bavaria. It was super cheap. We knew it needed some motor repair, but we decided to kind of risk it and buy the van anyway. It had a very simplistic interior build which we were excited to alter and repair. It was a little bit dank in the interior but we liked the general layout and were excited to spiff it up with a few hundred euros. 

The motor problems on the other hand were a gamble. Dominik and I didn't know anything about cars really. It could have been a quick 1,000 Euro repair, or a few thousand. Let's just say it was more than just a few thousand in repairs... Oh well, luckily we had saved enough for it not to break our bank. This was the first car either of us had ever owned and we were ecstatic! It would be perfect for playing shows, transporting paintings, and traveling.

The van did feel like it hadn't been cleaned in years. We wanted to redo parts of the interior build completely. We didn't want any separators under the bed for storage because we knew we wanted as much room as possible for music equipment and art transport. We were going to redo the "kitchen." It was also a bit nasty and we didn't want many things to be permanent and limit flexibility for storage.

Our van was going to be a band-mobile and a camper. It needed to have everything to be able to live in it, but it also couldn't have too much permanent storage compartments that would limit filling it with music equipment when we were driving to shows.

The moldy sheepskins, carpet and "artwork"on the walls had to go. The found wood pieces were also a bit too rustic for our liking.

The van ended up being in the shop for over a month, because even the mechanics couldn't figure out what was malfunctioning in the motor. Naturally they found several other things that needed to be replaced as well.

But the first step for the interior rebuild was to tear everything out and clean the entire interior! More on that soon.

Thanks for reading lovelies.