The Indie Projects - Vanlife Cats & Rolling Home Conversions

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We were so excited that Bee, Theo & Ginjey Bear from ‘The Indie Projects’ wanted to share a part of their inspiring story with us from Europe. We asked them to share their beautiful van conversion with us and how they go living on the road with a cat. We have also included a couple of their you tube videos on how they make a living on the road and how Ginjey Bear enjoys road tripping too.

It all started for us in 2014: we quit our jobs, sold all our stuff, and bought a van. That’s the short version, but here we are five years later still living in a van and it’s a little surreal to still be living this lifestyle. I’m Bee, and together with my partner Theo, and our cat Ginjey Bear, we live full-time in our self-converted LWB Mercedes Sprinter van. 

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After travelling for a number of years in our VWT4 - which was the catalyst for us living this lifestyle - we moved into a 30ft narrowboat for a couple of years (whilst still travelling the UK in our van), before deciding to completely start from scratch with a panel van to build out our own home, to our exact specifications. Photos of the van conversion from a blank slate to a beautiful rolling home are below. This was a completely new challenge for us, but it was definitely worth it. After 5 solid months of building (we had to stop for a couple of months due to travelling abroad, moving out of and selling our boat) we moved into our wonderful new home. We opted to build it out to our exact ideals, after travelling in such a small van for so many years we knew exactly what we wanted:

  • fixed bed

  • oven

  • heating

  • seating area 

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Those were our ‘must-haves’, and it took a while to decide on a layout. We also incorporated our cats needs into the conversion, by building a hidden litter tray room for her, as well as an overhead cupboard above the cab where she loves to snooze

Living and travelling with our cat has been such an easy process, I was worried it would be difficult as she was such a free roamer when she lived on the boat, but after a couple of months living on our plot of land with us in Portugal she knew the van was home, so when the time came to hit the road she was content to travel wherever the van went, explore on her lead, and even have a free-roam at a super quiet place.

We get a lot of questions about travelling with a cat, after all it isn’t as common to see cats in vans as it is dogs, and these are our best tips:

  • Try to avoid feeding them about an hour before you depart, at least when you first start travelling. They will eventually get used to the motion of the van, but to begin with it will prevent them vomiting up their meal if you keep it back an hour before you leave

  • Having an enclosed litter tray really does reduce the smell of their toilet! We built her litter tray into a space below our seating area, so she has complete privacy when she goes to the toilet, but also it contains the smell and the litter itself

  • If you are going to walk your cat on a harness it’s ideal to get them used to it prior to walking them on a lead. Try hanging the harness up by their food bowls, eventually putting the harness on them at home to walk around in, then try with the lead. They more than likely will react like they’re made of jelly or cannot walk properly when the harness is first put on but eventually they’ll get used to it. I tend not to leave Ginjey Bear in her harness when she’s alone/going outside alone as it does not have a quick-release so she could get trapped if she’s unsupervised

  • I particularly like using a retractable lead when walking the cat, as it gives her some space from me and she usually forgets I’m even trailing behind her! 

  • We invested in a Weenect cat tracker before moving into the van, and it is absolutely amazing. The little device fits onto her collar, and gives me real time updates via the app of where she is. It has a feature to literally ring her, and you can also track their location over the past 24hours. I was apprehensive about it at first as it seemed so bulky around her neck, but she wasn’t phased by it at all and it’s been excellent

  • We’re in a pretty unique situation, in that our travels during 2014/2015 ended up gathering an online following, allowing us to actually make a living off of our own lives! This means that pretty much anything we do is work, but it’s also our life, so it’s a really cool situation. By sharing our journey online we have built up lifelong connections and friendships, inspired people to do the same, and created resources for people. Our passion is exploring new things, trying out alternatives and constantly pushing ourselves to experience what the world has to offer. We documented our entire van build through our YouTube channel, where we shared both the good and the bad of the entire process. It wasn’t smooth sailing 24/7, and there were an awful lot of cold, late nights, but the end result was a home that we built ourselves and hopefully answered some peoples questions as to what a van conversion entails. 
    Living in a van fits our lifestyle perfectly, having a permanent home that we can take with us is incredibly freeing, especially as we struggle to stay in the same place for long periods of time. This summer we are planning to head northwards into Scandinavia again, a place we haven’t been since 2016. Eventually we would love to ship our van over to Canada, and then from there? Who knows! Our routes are always flexible, and we go where we feel is best. 

Thanks to the Vanlife community for taking the time to read part of our story. We hope to meet more of you on our travels. Take care on your road trips, Bee, Theo & Ginjey Bear. You can follow our journey on:

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