Lloyd & Emily from the U.K decided to turn a LDV Convoy named “Flora” into a very cozy home on wheels to explore Europe.
- car manufacturer: LDV
- model: Convoy
- year of construction: 2004
- how many seats: Originally 17, now 2
- complete weight of vehicle: 2.5 tonnes
- how many kilometers: 370149 kms
- cylinder carpacity: 2.5l Ford
- output of the motor: 98PHP (she wont get you there fast but she will get you there)
- driving license classify: Motorhome
- top speed: 80 mph if you are going down a very steep hill
- motor fuel: diesel
- price: £3500
- costs of repair per year: So far 0
- insurance: £400
We are Lloyd and Emily, and we’re both from the UK. After studying we both found ourselves working corporate style jobs like so many others our ages. However we were finding that we had become increasingly frustrated living a 9-5 life, trapped by what we and many others feel is a live to work lifestyle, living towards the next day at work rather than living to enjoy life now. We chose Vanlife so that we could explore the world now, while we were fit and healthy.
When we saw Flora, it was love at first sight. She is so unlike almost any other van out there, she is pretty in her own unique way. And, she is yellow, the happiest colour ever!
There were some practical reasons as well though, for her age and price she had really, really low miles compared to anything else we could find. She had just 17,000 miles, and for the same price a sprinter vans all had 200,000 miles. As well as that, being an older van the mechanics of it are really simple compared to modern vans so any problems should be much cheaper and easier to fix! (We hope)
But the main reason is definitely the colour!
If we could have any van, it would have to be a really old mercades van like our friends Farzan and Julie from Project Merikai have. Or fromourvantagepoint who have a 612D they are really tall which would be great for Lloyd and they look so cool.
And we met a couple who have one in Spain and they told us how they are known as the million mile vans as they just keep going, and going. And who wouldn’t want a van that looks great and could last for a million miles, thinking of all the places you could go to and see!
There were times during the conversion that we wished we had hired a carpenter to convert the van. But we did everything ourselves, from the electrics, gas, water and the wood working we did it all. And when we started we had zero DIY experience so it was a massive learning curve!
I think the hardest part of the conversion had to be the electrics, there was a lot to learn, from how much solar power we would need to what size the wires needed to be and all of the bits that come from that like battery sizes and wiring it all up etc.
The best part of the conversion had to be watching something we were building change over time and seeing other peoples faces when they saw it too. I remember Emily’s mums face when she saw its transform from looking like a disco ball inside (thanks to the foil insulation barrier) to all the wood being on the walls and the window frames.
We spent a little longer converting the van than we originally thought. We had full time jobs and were trying to convert the van on the street in front of our house after work. So in total in took around 8 months. We were still working on the van the morning we left for the channel tunnel, in fact we have had to make a few changes and work on the van while we have been traveling so it is certainly a work in progress!
We have been so fortunate, our family and friends have been so supportive of our new lifestyle. Of course they think we are a little crazy living in such a small space with no shower or toilet, but they see how happy we are traveling and that makes them happy too. We even have a waiting list of friends and family who want to take the van from us if we stop!
So far, we have travelled to France, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland. Our plans are always changing but we think we are going to head to Italy soon and move towards northern Europe into Norway as summer gets closer as it can get really hot in the van. Then in December we need to go home to MOT our van, and then we think we will go to Morocco in the winter!
We’ve been on the road now for nearly 4 months and have plans to travel for a year. However as we get more work on the road we hope to stretch it out at lot longer than a year. We live in the van full time and can live off grid for 6 days at a time before needing to get water. We haven’t slept a night out of the van since we started!
We love camping in the middle of nowhere free camping. There is nothing better than parking up for a night right on the beach, up in the mountains or beside a stunning lake. You feel a deeper connection with nature than being on a campsite that is paved in concrete, or where you will hear the camper van next to you running their generator in the morning. Wild camping is wild, you will usually be alone and you will almost always be somewhere incredibly beautiful.
We almost always get asked how we shower. We wash in a few different ways from boiling the kettle and washing from the sink with a flannel, to washing in the sea (Very common) or washing when we are by lakes. But, we always use eco friendly soap!
Cooking is a big part of vanlife for us. We have loads of pots and pans and cook just about anything we normally cooked at home with our gas hob. We do miss having an oven thou, and we would seriously consider fitting one in if we ever changed the lay out in the van.
We are completely free to go where we want, when we want. We are connected to nature and are outdoors almost all of the time. We get to hike and climb mountains, cycle around cities and towns or get to surf everyday. But, our favourite thing about living in a van though is the other people who live vanlife. We’re part of a massive, community who are all so kind and generous and that makes it the best experience (we know it sounds cheesy but it is true) We have had so many vanlife magic moments, like the time @motoroaming gave us a great kitchen gadget called a spiraliser, or when @thesaltyroamers who never having met us, invited us to a pizza party in Portugal and have become great friends since, or a party we had in the van with three other groups of vanlifers, they are all memorable moments we will take with us through life.
Each month is different but we have found we spend a lot less now than when we started, and we budgeted £500 this month and actually spent less! So it is really cheap for us and that includes everything from gas, food to any thing else.
Slow down. We covered 2000 miles in our first month and it flew by so fast as a result. It can be really hard to adjust from working and always feeling a pressure to rush but in vanlife you can take a breath and really appreciate what you are doing, and you will get so much more from the experiences when you slow down.
Also, if you see someone else living vanlife, go say Hi. You will meet so many incredible and amazing people if you take a second to say hello and ask how they are. And who knows you might make a friend for life.
We have been really fortunate, we have met some incredible, incredible people on the road, and from all different walks of life. From retirees, to surfers to people who are on a gap year before they finish their doctorate at university to musicians and designers. And we have stayed in touch with a lot of them and hope to meet up with a few of them again along our journeys.
We aim to stay on the road for this year until we need to go back to the UK to carry out our MOT or checks on the van. Travelling through Italy and up into Estonia into Finland over to Norway and then down into Germany and the surrounding areas. Once we get the van checked in december we want to head back south into Morocco for a few months and then maybe over to Greece to explore the South east of Europe! And after that who knows….