After renting a van and touring through Japan Keri and Steve caught the van life virus. So they decided to buy a Fiat Ducato and took the year off to hit the road!
Key Data Fiat Ducato:
Car Manufacturer: Fiat Modell: Ducato Year of construction: 2009 How many Seat: 2 How many kilometers: 100,000k Cylinder carpacity: 6 Top speed: 180Km so far Motor fuel: diesel Insurance: CPP
Can you tell me a bit about you and how did you end up living this lifestyle?
We have been teachers at a boarding school in The Czech Republic for the last four years. We love traveling and skiing/snowboarding. One year we took a three-week road trip in Japan.
We rented a small basic Toyota “camper” van. It was a basic van that had a small mattress pad over the seats and some curtains. We drove it from Tokyo up to Hokkaido in the north.
We spent 3 weeks driving around scoring the best powder in the world, bathing in the onsen’s and sleeping in our little van. Side note: it’s was the dead of winter and got down to -20 C some nights.
We were hooked. After that we set out educating ourselves about the van life and what we wanted. Saved for a few years, finished our contracts and took the year (or more) off to hit the road!
Why exactly did you choose this model and not a smaller or bigger one?
We choose the Fiat Ducato because of a few basic reasons:
Availability of parts
Steve can stand
Where there any barriers while purchasing the vehicle?
No we have a great relationship with our builder aka friend Felix. He is Czech and helped us buy our Fiat Ducato.
Did you work anything on your vehicle yourself or did you get a carpenter?
So Felix is The Godfather of our best friend in Czech, Z! Steve met him when he joined a local basketball club. He has designed and built 15 plus vans that he drives all over and then sells in Germany.
He was happy to meet all of our needs at a great price. We stopped in every few days during the 3-month build to take pictures and chat.
Do you miss more space or are you happy as it is?
We are very happy with the van and how it turned out. We always get that questions on Instagram and honestly the only small thing we would change is hanging the fan over the bed more centered so one person isn’t cold while the other is hot.
But really that is not a big deal.
How long did you worked on your campervan before you started your trip?
Once we had the keys in hand we still had a little less than 2 months on our contacts. We decided to move out of our apartment and live in the Fiat Ducato full time while still working at our school.
Imagine what the kids thought of their teachers living in a van in town. This was a small Czech town called Karlovy Vary, so we didn’t exactly blend in!
Tell me like 2-3 Things that you really love about traveling with a camper.
1. freedom- we can come and go as we please. We don’t have to pack and unpack. We don’t have to rely on public transport. We love it and think it’s the best way to travel!
2. Home Base- being on the road can be hard if you are tired or sick. Or just fed up with people and need some alone time. That’s what we love about the van. It’s our own little happy place!
3. Saving Money- it’s crazy to crunch the numbers and realize how much money you can save. Between hotels, trains and food. We cook basically every meal and really don’t go out to eat anymore. It’s hard to eat healthy on the road and that’s huge for us!
Which countries did you travel to with your Fiat Ducato? Which one was your Favorite by now?
Italy is our go to. We love the people and the food! It has the mountains, the oceans, and the history. Not to mention the people are welcoming. Oh and the FOOD!
Where there any countries, where you had problems or where you didn’t get treated well because of your camper-lifestyle?
Everyone has been very welcoming to our lifestyle. Even some people who wouldn’t prefer this life are interested in the van and what we are doing!
France was a pain with all the height restrictions in parking lots because we are 2.4M but it didn’t really stop us from finding amazing spots!
What was the longest Road at one piece you drove with your vehicle?
Ravenna to Pescara in Italy. We decided we had enough of the north and went full steam south. It was mostly expressway and they have the auto grill. If you don’t know it’s the best rest stop we have ever been to.
A few espressos will keep you going. Great veggie paninis, good restrooms and even found one with a free shower!
Do you sometimes meet other vanlifers?
Yea we tend to meet other vanlifers at the park4night spots. It’s a great app that will never do you wrong. We haven’t been going to the tourists spots during the high summer months.
Now it’s November and most spots are empty.
Are there any things that really annoy you about traveling/living with/in a van?
All honesty the benefits outway the downfalls. That being said we do miss fixed plumbing. The toilet hunt and shower game is a struggle but is worth it. We have a toilet for emergencies and a shower in the back.
We prefer doing some 007 missions sneaking into nice restaurants and showering at the beach or public pools. Our shower is ok but very cold! The winter will begin a new challenge, but we welcome the adventure!
Not everything is perfect, what would you change about your Fiat Ducato?
We could have added the back up camera and better sound system but that is a luxury.
As a guy and kind of a joke I always say how fun and cool it would be if I had a huge engine and turbo to blow the doors off all those jerks that think a van can’t go fast. Would be a waste of fuel though!
How is it to travel with your dog?
Karmen is a champ and is happy as long as she is with us all day every day. We used to take her to school everyday, and she would chill in Keri’s math class or hike with Steve and the kids!
Europe is great too because we can basically bring her everywhere. We did think about her in the build and included the fan for the summer and the heater for the winter. She loves the van and thinks we live outside now.
Do you work online while traveling?
We have looked into some possibilities, but we decided to enjoy our year off. We worked hard to save for the past 2 years and want to enjoy it. We still have our summer jobs at a camp in Switzerland.
Putting the wheels in motion to start our own business as well so who knows!!
What will your next destinations be?
We are very excited to move to the road less traveled!!! We are both huge winter sports fanatics, so we will be spending all winter exploring new zones.
We have been to France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and even Japan to ski and ride.