Neola and Nev wanted to ditch the office, live a life less ordinary and see the world – vanlife in their Mercedes 508D campervan seemed the perfect answer!
Quick Facts about the Mercedes 508D camper:
car manufacturer: Mercedes-Benz
year of construction: 1979
how many seats: 3
complete weight of vehicle: 5,000kg max, about 4,000kg
how many kilometers: 185,000km
cylinder carpacity: 3800cc
output of the motor: 80hp
consumption at 100km: 15 L/100km
driving license classify: UK Class C1/Class 2
top speed: 100kph (down hill)
motor fuel: Diesel
costs of repair per year: £200-300 estimated
vehicle taxes: £255
Tell me a bit about you and tell me, what made you want to start vanlife?
In 2013, we cycled 2,500 miles around Europe on our push bikes and loved it! Ever since that 3 month trip, we’ve been working hard to create a lifestyle that would allow us to travel more.
We wanted to ditch the office, live a life less ordinary and see the world – vanlife seemed the perfect answer!
Why did you choose this camper-modell and not a smaller or bigger one?
Nev has always owned and driven old cars, so buying a new van for our new home was never a consideration. We saw these old Mercedes 508D online and fell in love immediately.
The medium wheelbase 508D is a good compromise between having something big enough to live in full time with plenty of room to stand up and dance, whilst still not being a huge truck!
So, if this Mercedes 508D is not your vehicle, what camper-model would you choose too if you could and why?
We love our Mercedes 508D, so we’re not sure what we would choose instead… maybe something that can do more than 100kph!
Did you work anything on your vehicle yourself or did you get a carpenter?
All the work was carried out by us. When we bought Roland (our van) he was a total wreck, rust everywhere and really awful inside.
Nev learned how to weld and then had to weld every single panel on the van, including the roof, to make him solid again.
We then made the interior ourselves, including installing an IKEA kitchen and designing and building an electric drop down bed at the front! Nev made the roof rack, too!
It was a HUGE project, but so rewarding to finally be living and travelling in something we put so much love and energy into creating.
If you could rebuild your Mercedes 508D, what would you change and why?
We would make the rear seating area a bit more cosy, but that’s it really! We spent so long on the van restoration that when we got around to making the interior, we rushed the design of the seating area a little
– it wasn’t until we started living in the van that we realised it’s not the comfiest sofa. Not good for snuggling! But we’ll change that one day!
How long did you work on your Mercedes 508D before you started your trip and what was the hardest part?
We bought Roland in 2015, but most work started mid 2017 and took about 1 year of solid work. Every single day we were not at work, we worked on the van, which was tough going at times!
The roof gutter was so rusted, we had to cut it off, and welding the entire roof back on during winter was probably the hardest part of the whole van build! Many cold, dark nights were spent in Nev’s unit!
What do your friends and family say about your vanlife-choice?
They usually say (with pity): “You can come stay at our house and have a shower if you like?!’… But our house is always with us!
It’s certainly not a lifestyle for everyone, but our family and friends are pretty understanding – they can see we are happy and they’ve all been supportive of us.
Which countries did you travel to with your Mercedes 508D? Which one was your favorite by now?
So far, our absolute favourite has to be the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, specifically the Isles of Harris and Lewis. The place was stunning, completely unlike anywhere else we’ve seen and totally deserted.
Not to mention there was an incredible heat wave while we were there – we were so lucky to see it in such good weather!
We’ve seen some really jaw dropping places, but we’ve yet to see anywhere that felt as special as the Outer Hebrides!
What was the most beautiful road you have driven with your campervan?
Probably the Picos mountain range in Northern Spain. The huge drops and switchback hairpins make a challenging drive in a van with no power steering and drum brakes! Worth it for the views, though.
Some people prefer campsites for the night, others love free camping somewhere in the middle of nowhere. What do you prefer and why?
We always wild camp if we can, only using campsites when we want to visit a city and need to leave the van somewhere secure. We live full-time in the van, so if we stayed at campsites regularly, it would get expensive!
Plus, for us, it’s a much better experience to wild camp away from civilisation – it definitely feels like more of an adventure that way!
What is the hardest part about living in a campervan?
Finding good internet connection and enough electricity from the sun in winter!
What is the best part?
The freedom we have to experience new places, the flexibility to live life on our own terms and always having our home with us at the same time.
How do you fund your travels? Do you also work online?
Yes, we both work online. Neola is an online strength coach for Pole Dancers and Nev is a graphic designer and video editor.
How much money do you spend in a month?
Too much, mostly on diesel! I’d estimate about 1600 Euros a month.
There are more and more people who want to experience vanlife. What is the most important thing you would wanna tell them before they start?
Don’t breathe in when you’re emptying the toilet.
How long do you plan on living in a van? Do you have a long term plan?
For as long as we can! We don’t really have a plan! It will depend a lot on what happens with BREXIT, but we hope to spend summers in the UK and then winters travelling Europe for some winter sun.
We’d love to venture a little further afield, too – one day! Check our Instagram for more content.