NAME THE MAKE, MODEL AND YEAR OF YOUR HOME.
2005 VW Transporter T5 T30 1.9TDI SWB.
I brought her for £5k in May 2015 & spent 150hrs+ on weekends over the next few months working on her to meet the large amount of legal requirements (which also snowballed the cost) to transform her from a panel van to a motorhome. Hence the Votel (Vehicle + Hotel) was born.
MONTHS LIVING MOBILE: 6
Wed 22 July 2015 - set sail, or let the wheels roll should we say, embarking on the traveller's life, exploring every corner in every country of every continent around the world in my Votel.
WHERE ARE YOU CURRENTLY LIVING?
My first stop was a sunrise at Stonehenge, UK, then partying in Paris, to D-Day in Normandy, to Châteaux hunting in Tours, France.
Running up Andorra's highest summit, Coma Pedrosa (2,942m), to festival loving in Montpellier, to laughing at the super yachts in Monaco, to delivering myself to the most famous French postman Ferdinand Cheval's Le Palais Idéal.
Getting soaked under the Geneva Water Fountain, Switzerland, to meeting the Grim Reaper on Liechtenstein's highest summit Vorder Grauspitz (2,599m) & finding a unexploded, active 20yr old mortar, to sleeping the night above the clouds at Luca V Bivacco on the Julian Apls, Italy.
Boat parties at Dimension Festival in Croatia, to 13.5hrs fell running over Slovenia's highest summit Triglav (2,864m), other summits & the Seven Lake Valley, Slovenia.
Drinking my way through Oktoberfest, to sporting my sock trainers & "we love short shorts" while completing Germany's snow filled highest summit Zugspitze (2,999m), to entering 'Darkrooms' in techno clubs in the 'new Berlin' that is Leipzig, Germany.
Snapping photographs of the best collection of street art I've ever seen in one city that is the bullseye of Poland that is Lodz, to drinking homemade Plum Brandy naked on Poland's highest summit Rysy (2,499m).
Getting lost in the finger rocks of Adršpach-Teplice Rocks, Czech Republic, to dreaming of fairytales at the Blue Church & Bojince Castle, Slovakia, to drinking my way through the ruins of Budapest, Hungary.
Countless showers in the waterfalls of Croatia, to going off the beaten track to the world's largest underground military airbase, to getting naked on Croatia's highest summit Dinara (1,913m).
Snow ploughing through Serbia, to an ice blasted beard and face on Serbia's highest summit Midzor (2,169m), to bating around in the cathedral sized cave with 35k others species of bats, to getting a selfie of Chipul lui Decebal that is the tallest rock structure in Europe.
Running 'near God' of Bulgaria's highest summit Musala (2,925m) & the 7 lakes, to going outter space at the abandoned UFO, to joining Mario & Luigi down the pipes of Sofia, Bulgaria.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU WENT MOBILE AND WHY DID YOU MAKE THE CHANGE?
I was a former Corporal in the British Royal Marine Commandos for 9yrs.
On Tue 10 Aug 2010 after declining several invitiations from a very good friend in the Royal Navy, I finally said yes to a trip to New York via 1 night in Amsterdam. He had just gotten out of a relationship after his partner ended things suddenly so wanted to get out of the country to clear his head. My ex partner had also left me 2weeks prior. We shared many similarities - both spent close to 3yrs in relationships that had ended suddenly, same age, same rank / position, worked on the same ship. So off we went to NY - & what turned out to be beginning of waking up my travel bug. The travel bug that grew larger, stronger & more hungry as I then utilised every possible holiday off work I had each year to travel. This lead to me constantly having the thought process about 'what would be the best means of travel'. Originally this lead to the idea of a motorbike, however soon the endless benefits of a Van / Motorhome became the clear winner; so the Votel dream was born.
WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE TO MOVE INTO YOUR MOBILE HOME?
I found the transition & process moving into the votel very easily. Knowing from the outset what my vehicle of choice was a VW transporter, to constantly envisioning every piece of the conversion of my then VW panel van to becoming a legal motorhome. I also found it very easy, due to my previous career in the Marines, to live full time out of a confined space that I would from then on be my 'home'.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK AND LIVING IN A SMALL SPACE?
I have had the luxury of travelling full time without having to work at all since leaving the Marines. However I manage serval social media networking sites to share my travels which is like job in itself but one I enjoy & have a dear passion for.
I enjoy this so much as not only am I keeping my friends & family up to date with everything I am doing, but it has naturally turned me into travel advisor for them as well as providing inspiration for others.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES ON AND OFF THE ROAD?
Apart from the obvious partying, festivals, meeting new people & generally being a social butterfly / social cat. I am currently climbing all the highest summits in Europe & then beyond. Currently I've completed 13, with my biggest being Zugspitze, Germany (2,999m), while my latest being Bulgaria's Musala meaning 'Near God' (2,925m).
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE GO-TO ITEMS IN YOUR TINY HOME?
1. Gym kit (Dumbbells & TRX, gloves & pumping Chicago House, Disco & Deep Techno tunes).
2. Climbing gear.
3. Customised memory foam Rock & Roll bed, fold away table & swivel front seats. As they can easily go from rear seats, to work / dinner table, to swivelling my front seats around & turning my Votel into a party bus, to making a simple single bed for quick city sleeps to a full king sized bed to sleep like a baby in luxury.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT LIVING SMALL?
Freedom! No bills like mortgage / rent, water rates, electric, solicitors, stamp fees, council tax. While the only gas bill I have is fuel I use it to get to new places, locations & making incredible memories. Basically I go where I want when I want without anyone to answer to. Be one with nature.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING?
Breakdowns, border controls, visas, toll fees with rules that constantly change per country, while also getting the votel broken into, & then realised the new quiet of the road area we choose to get some cold, noisy few hours sleep till the morning to sort everything out, turned out in the morning to be a prostitutes working area.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO FUTURE HOMEOWNERS WHO WANT TO LIVE SMALL OR HIT THE ROAD?
You will never regret it, the benefits are un-measurable. As Nike's famous slogan says 'Just Do It'.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU? ANY NEWS YOU WANT TO SHARE?
Carrying on through Europe to complete it by Sep 2016, having a little break in South Africa before then tackling either South America, US, & Canada or more likely first Kazakhstan, Russia & Mongolia while of course carrying on doing all the highest summits of each country.
HOW MANY OF YOU ARE LIVING THERE?
I mainly travel Han Solo. I did have a NZ friend that travelled 3 countries for 3wks with me which was amazing. I have also had friends fly over to see me in cities, and had Bla Bla Car passengers.
However finances, families, & jobs are amongst the many reasons, excuses or commitments I hear from people unfortunately even though they are envious of this type of lifestyle. However there are thousands of people who overcome overcome these reasons to live the way I do.
WHERE DO YOU SHOWER?
I visioned & designed a very simple external shower system that Is very effective that then got customised built.
Consisting of 1 welded rod to the roof rack where I then slot a pipe over that which has a hook on the other end holding my solar shower bag to it. While I have 2 long heavy-duty draw runners welded to my roof rack with a metal rod joining them together forming a letter 'U'. This creates a shower curtain rail that when its not safely stored away, easily pulls out to then attach a shower curtain to; unless you decide as I do now & then to not use a curtain at all & just be one with nature.
HOW DO YOU GET INTERNET?
I discovered every McDonalds has free Wifi throughout Europe. At first I would buy a coffee to use it (never food due to the only time ever I've had food poisoning was in 2009 from a McDonalds that lead to me spraying rainbow vomit everywhere while on a date with my ex, so I've never eaten McDonalds again).
However nowadays I have more neck than E.T's pullover / more neck than a giraffe so I now just go in & sit straight down & steal the wifi without buying anything & to date have never had any trouble / grief from doing this.
WHERE DO YOU RECEIVE MAIL?
This would be very rare, however if any of my friends were flying over to see me then I get them to bring it with them; or get mail addressed to a foreign friend's address as I am very fortunate to have friends literally in most corners of every country.
DO YOU PLAN TO GO BACK TO YOUR PREVIOUS WAY OF LIVING?
The honest answer....starts with 'N' and ends with 'O'.
I don't envision or want to live any other lifestyle now as nothing compares to the pure freedom of basically living of the grid / radar.
WHO ARE YOU INSPIRED BY?
Literally every single person that shares the same passion to travel, hunger for adventure, lust to explore, the will to not live by societies rules.
HOW OTHERS REACTED
Envies, jealous, scared of not being able to imagine doing it themselves, proud of me for as they say 'living my life to the fullest'.
The reaction from others however that I only enjoy is seeing, hearing or finding out about, is when it inspires them.
"The world is too big to live a life in one place" Lord Matthew Paul Disney
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