Mimmi, Andrej and their dog recently went full time tiny living in their Toyota Hiace 4×4 and want to explore the world – but especially their home country sweden.
Quick facts Toyota Hiace 4×4:
car manufacturer: Toyota
model: Hiace 4×4
year of construction: 2009
how many seats: 3
complete weight of vehicle: 2600 kg (will be a bit more with our new build)
how many kilometers: 310000
consumption at 100km: about 9l/100km
driving license classify: B
motor fuel: Diesel
Hello you – before we talk about the Toyota Hiace 4×4 – tell us a bit about you, the drivers, first
We are Mimmi, 33 and Andrej, 34 and our home base is in Sweden where we live in our van and in a caravan with our dog Alma.
What drew you to travel and live in a van?
After our summer travel through Sweden we realized that we want to travel more, feel more free and experience different things. So shortly after our summer vacation we quit our apartment and Andrejs full-time job. Mimmi already works remotely since a few years.
What kind of van do you own and why did you choose it?
Toyota Hiace 4×4 van LWB. I (Mimmi) got the van before I met Andrej. I had a tiny campervan (Citroen Berlingo) and wanted a bigger one because I was going to live in it full-time with my dog Alma. I got the chance to buy a van from the place where my dad works, because they got a new one. I thought it would be the perfect size for me at the time, since it’s not too big, but still much bigger than the little van I had before. The 4×4 was a nice bonus!
Is the interior made by yourself or did you hire a carpenter?
It’s built by ourselves with a lot of help from family. We have had much help with the building part of it, but we have done much of the planning and been in charge of all the decisions regarding the layout. The van has been rebuilt and the interior has been changed a couple of times. Last time the interior was rebuilt to fit Andrejs length. The bed used to be 160 cm long, haha. On our Youtube Channel (FollowMimmi) we have a Van Build-series for those who are interested in seeing some of our van conversion.
How long did you work on your Toyota Hiace 4×4 until it was finished and ready to travel with?
When the van was first converted it took about 2-3 months, then I (Mimmi) lived in the van full-time for 6 months before I met Andrej. After the first build it’s been rebuilt a few more times.
Tell us your 3 most important camping gadgets of all time!
Andrej immediately says his foldable saw that he uses to get firewood. The saw will come in handy even more now that we are installing a tiny wood burning stove in our van.
Portable shower. We had a solar shower bag, but now upgraded to a USB-rechargeable shower with a pump.
We also really like our portable gas stove that we use for cooking. It doesn’t take too much space and it’s been serving us good.
We’re also happy that we have a toilet in the van. It’s very useful, especially at night or when we are parked at places where there are other people and no public bathroom.
How do you earn money while traveling in your Toyota Hiace 4×4?
Mimmi works remotely with customer service via laptop and internet connection. We also work on growing our Instagram and Youtube channel. Andrej works with photo and video which involves shooting and editing, mostly for our social media accounts.
Which countries have you seen already with your Toyota Hiace 4×4?
Mimmi has traveled from Sweden to Spain (through Germany and France) in 2019. As a couple we have traveled in Sweden. We traveled through Sweden this summer and visited the very north. We are about to head south towards Portugal over the winter.
How long are you on the road already and do you live in your vehicle full time?
After we moved out of the apartment we moved into a caravan that will be our home base in Sweden. We are currently upgrading some things in the van which will make it possible for us to travel and live in the van full-time. We are currently living in the caravan since the end of October 2020 and are now full-time “tiny living”.
Some people prefer campsites for the night, others love free camping somewhere in the middle of nowhere. What do you prefer and why?
We prefer free camping all the time. Most of the time we like to find beautiful places in nature, but of course we sometimes stay at a rest stop or “boring parking lot”.
How do you shower? And what kind of kitchen do you have in your Toyota Hiace 4×4?
We use a portable shower. We have a solar shower that heats up in the sun, but we recently also got a shower with a pump. When we use our rechargeable shower we just heat up some water and use a foldable bucket for the shower water.
For cooking we have a gas stove that uses small one-time-use gas bottles.
What makes travelling and living in a van such a great experience?
Cliché but true – The freedom! We really like the freedom of choosing where to stay, having the possibility to be closer to nature and discover the places you normally wouldn’t have found if you weren’t traveling in a van.
Nothing is perfect – what´s the down side of vanlife?
Some comforts that are easy to take for granted in an apartment. Like unlimited electricity, hot water and a toilet. We think it’s pretty easy to get used to the simpler lifestyle, but of course it’s nice with a long hot full body shower once in a while. The fuel prices can be a downside as well, especially in Sweden.
What tips would you give new vanlifers?
Just try it! Dare to go outside your comfort zone and spread your wings!
Also, it doesn’t always need to be perfect and dreamy. When I (Mimmi) was a new vanlifer I got stressed about finding the perfect places and was afraid of parking alone. After I took a break from the pressure and stayed at a boring but safe parking for a few nights I felt much better and was ready for more adventures again.
Do you sometimes make new friends on the road/meet other vanlifers?
Yes! We have met some people randomly on parkups or met up with people from Instagram or Facebook groups.
What are your future plans when it comes to traveling/living in your van?
We recently went full-time tiny living after giving up our apartment. We do have a caravan as a home base in Sweden, but except for that we plan to live in the van full-time and travel Europe. The plan in the nearest future is to travel to Portugal for the winter and head back to Sweden for the summer. We would love to travel more in Sweden and hopefully Finland during summer. Later we dream of exploring Iceland and the Canary Islands with our home on wheels!