We have had old vans for many years driving them to festivals and vacations, always dreaming of this never ending roadtrip. When all of sudden the stars lined up perfectly and it all came together; We both quit our jobs, and here we are. Driving through France, Spain and Portugal since April. Living and Loving the Vanlife in Europe.
We drive an orange VW LT28 from 1980. It has been running without any problems for the last 8500 kilometers. A few tires and a splash of oil every now and then, that's it. Real VW quality :)
Yeah, the money, how do you do that? In our case, we both had a pretty good job in Holland. We decided to quit our jobs and go for it in October 2015. It all started with an article I read on Facebook about this lady traveling the world full time by renting out her place through AirBnB. So I checked the site of AirBnB and before I knew it I had made a page for our house. To our surprise, we received a booking for the next week! We've been renting out our house ever since. Even when we were still in Holland preparing and working. This meant that we started living in our van on the weekends in Holland already. Which was great for learning what we still missed in the van or wanted to change.
This income from renting out our house is not enough to live off unfortunately but it does cover all the monthly bills. Plus we saved some extra travel money this way between October 2015 and April 2016, when we hit the road.
Also we made a financial plan in October 2015. I looked into our spending of three random months in the previous year and it was clear where we could save a lot of money. We started living very sober, no eating out (which we loved a bit too much), grocery shopping once a week at a budget store, lowering phone bills, shopping around for cheaper electric and insurance and all those things you don't have to think about when you have a good income. Plus we sold our car. That is mainly how we saved up a very decent travel budget for about half a year before we left.
As far as I can tell there are different ways to get by on the road. If you have a career in graphic design, webdesign or any job you can do online, that is awesome! You can easily work on the road.
We decided to save up before we went because we only have seven months on the road (april untill november). We would love to travel for longer periods of time but due to family circumstances we stick to the seven months this year.
If we would be able to travel without an end date I think we would go for Wooffing, working for food and a place to park. We've come across many surf camps where you can work like that. This is something we might get into on our next trip. It's an easy way to get work and the locations we've seen so far are really great! Lots of nice people on the best beaches.
Budgets on the road:
I must say, we underestimated the costs a bit. I thought that living in a van would actually be cheaper than living at home. But off course you still have to eat and gasoline is very very expensive. We spend about the same, maybe a little bit less, on the road as we did living on a budget at home. Apart from monthly costs at home of course which are covered through renting out our house.
We try to park for free as much as we can. We still do our grocery shopping once a week and cook nice meals in the van. We like to have a drink at a bar but limit those to save money. We almost never eat out.
But... there are ways we could live a lot cheaper if we really wanted to. For instance;
Once every one or two weeks we go to a campground to wash some stuff, build a nice camp and have a decent shower. This is a bit of luxury you could easily skip.
Next week we are going to a festival in the centre of Spain that lasts for a week. We will bring our own food and drinks but the tickets weren't very cheap.
Last week Josine had her birthday which we celebrated, a lot. Hahaha!
In June we took the ferry to Ibiza which was crazy expensive! And Ibiza itself is more expensive than Spain offcourse, but so special!
The biggest moneypit is gasoline though. We could save money by not driving around so much.
But we really like to have all these more expensive things in our roadtrip so thats where we spend a bit more. We are luxourious ladies. Hahaha!
We are now in the second half of our trip and the money is getting a bit tight. So last week I sold my guitar and we are now trying to sell one of the surfboards. When we were in Valdebaqueros we forgot to get cash and didn't want to go out again to get some. So I made a wood drawing to sell and sold a guitar (yes, another guitar. I had two guitars in the van, now I have none). Josine made some polaroid pictures of people to sell. That's also a way to make some pocket money.
Where to park?
We try to avoid paying for a sleeping spot as much we can. But how do you find the right spot? We cheat a bit in this department. I have an app on my phone with all the legal camper places in Europe. It is a Dutch app called Camperplaats, but I'm sure every country has one. It has lists of payed camper places but also the free ones. It also works offline so no need for internet. We use this a lot actually, especially when we make longer drives. Be prepared to park next to your grandpa in a big white rv though. We call them Plastic Fantastics ;)
We also get good tips of fellow vanpeople when we meet them. Those places are always the best spots where you can meet other vanlifers and surfers.
I also use the offline app maps.me a lot to scout possible spots before we go there. This was very helpful on Ibiza where there were no free legal sites around.
At the moment we are in the north of Spain. Here it's a lot harder to find free spots. But the coast is beautiful and great for surfing, which I'm still trying to learn. In a few days we go to the Lost Theory Festival close to Salamanca. After the festival we plan to cross over to Portugal. In Portugal you can park anywhere you want without any problems. So we will check out the west coast in the next few weeks.
Favourite places so far:
Our favourite places so far are free places of course.
Ibiza has many places you can park easily without a problem. We were asked to leave by the Guardia Civil only once. And very kindly for that matter. We were making some coffee on our stove outside. If you stay out of sight and don't put a chair or table out, you'll be fine. We've stayed in the back of parking lots, on a cliff and even did some All Inclusive Resort crashing. That's a whole other story though. Hahaha!
There is a field close to Tarifa, in the south of Spain, that's a legal loophole. There are many vans on this beautiful site by the beach. Mainly kitesurfers. People actually live here in their van.
That's also where we got the tip for a place in the south of Portugal, Barranco. A beach at the end of a 4 kilometer dirtroad with loads of vans. (I'll include a picture of this site) A place you dream of but think can't really exist. Well it does!
Last week in France we stayed on a parking lot in Le Porge for a week. It was next to the beach with a few bars but nothing further. Very nice place with a few cool vans to check out.
Tips & tricks:
-Make sure your van has a fridge, so you buy lots of food and save grocery money. A small freezer is a bonus for keeping food longer periods of time. (Ours runs on gas which is awesome because we don't need the solarpanel for it. That's a pain in the ass to install, a fridge on solar. Always too little solar or battery and too much fridge)
-A solarpanel is great if you want to park somewhere longer than a few days. Plus you never have to pay for electricity ever again. A must have if you like free camping.
-Get your gasoline in small towns instead of the highway. Saves you a lot of gas money. And avoid Peage as much you can.
-If you have space left in your van (yeah right) bring some stuff you can sell on the road. Or if you are creative in any way, bring the things you need to make stuff you can sell.
-Spend a lot of weekends in your van before you go. So you can find out what you want to change or add to the van.
-If you have a smartphone, get some offline apps like Camperplaats and Maps.me
They can be very helpfull.
You can follow our trip on a map if you want more locations and pictures: https://www.polarsteps.com/LotvandePutte Or follow us on