Last year in October when I was travelling around Europe, I was offered to work for my previous employer, so in January I properly started to work on the road in the UK and living in my van full time. For those who have followed my journey so far, after travelling Europe in my first camper I decided to continue to live off grid and keep my house rented out.
I will be keeping you updated about things I find on the road that makes vanlife easier and ways to save money.
When I travelled Europe I used the Park4Night App to find locations/car parks to stay in which helped a lot. However, I didn’t realise how many good spots they were in the UK too.
My job involves me to travel around the UK (mostly in the North of the country) as a support manager for a popular gym company. They saw the opportunity for me to be where I’m needed (and live in my van wasn’t an issue). My first concern was where to stay although most of the gyms do have car parks that I could stay in, the Park4Night App is good for this. One of my first locations was a new gym opening in Cardiff in the city centre and I managed to find a place using the Park4Night app just outside the city centre in a nearby park at the other side of the Cardiff castle and I simply just got on my city commute scooter through the city.
On social media (Instagram www.instagram.com/campervan.life/ I was asked about going to the toilet and getting washed in the van but this wasn’t an issue at all since I could use the showers/toilet at work in the gyms. I normally get up in the morning and go for a workout before I start work anyway and get a shower after so I’m ready for the day. I did post two Youtube videos last year in Europe about how I washed and go to the toilet while living totally off grid, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHOwkj2YtHc&t=19s
I’ve hardly come across major issues stating in the van overnight, I have seen other Campervans in car parks and clearly visible people are staying in there overnight. My concern with this is I have seen people been moved on by security or other people because it’s really visible, I had this issue in some parts of Europe. This is one of the reasons I have designed this van to be a stealth looking camper, Luton vans do look commercial anyway and two windows on the side doesn’t look too out of place and the solar panels and the skylight window on the top can’t be seen from ground level. The windows had to be installed as that’s one of the requirements to be classed as a motor caravan.
If you’re looking to work and live in a van in Scotland, it’s totally fine as you can stay/camp anywhere in Scotland, this is one of the reasons why tourists/backpackers love Scotland so much, you can pretty much park a van or pitch a tent anywhere. I’ve even parked my van in the centre of Edinburgh and it was fine.
Shopping is quite easy for me, I still use shops like Lidl and Aldi to keep the cost down. My fridge is really Eco-friendly using just 8 watts compared to my last fridge using 90 watts. Since January I’ve has no issues with power as I installed two 260 watt solar panels on the roof and two industrial 6v batteries that are connected to a 1000w inverter so I can use 240v items in my van. My fridge does keep my food fresh for days and I try to use everything and not waste anything, the fridge doesn’t have a freezer compartment but I try to eat fresher foods now anyway. The link for my fridge is https://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/household-appliances/refrigeration/fridges/liebherr-comfort-tp1720-fridge-white-10135019-pdt.html
In my last van I used to use the gas stove to boil a kettle but now I use a 600w travel kettle as it costs nothing as it uses solar power instead of LPG gas.
I cook on a two stove hob that runs on LPG gas. I have a refillable LPG Gas-It bottle which costs just £16 to fill and this normally lasts me about 7-8 months if I cook 5-8 times a week.
These LPG bottles and kits can be bought from http://www.getgas.co.uk
I still buy large bottles of water to drink and I recycle these bottles after use, they are introducing the bottle tax in the UK soon and get this back once you return the bottles back. The water I use for cooking and boiling I have a 25 litre water tank with a tap on it, and this is just from the tap. I don’t have a sink yet in the van as I use the kitchens at work a lot of the time. The same reason why I don’t have a shower in the Luton van because I get showers at the gym before or after work.
My next challenge and goal is to convert more vans into campervans and either sell them or rent them out. I have currently bought an old Ford Transit campervan that was ready for the scrap yard as it failed it’s MOT quite badly, most of the work is rust and welding problems. It’s currently in the workshop at my friend’s garage getting the £1200+ work done just to get it through the MOT. I will then be working on this conversion over the next few months when I’m back in Hull at the weekends.
I work out of Hull a lot for my job, and Monday-Friday I have spare time around working times. I have decided to buy a smaller Ford Transit Connect van to convert in my spare time at my friend’s house in Manchester. These smaller vans will have a pull out sofa/bed, electric source 240v and 12v, small cooker stove, water supply and storage, everything you’ll need to go exploring around the UK. When I stop working in the area this van will then be transported to Hull where I have rented a garage to store and continue the work if needed for future projects.
In the future, I would love to rent these type of vans out as weekend/week campers for people visiting the UK or people wanted to go away for the weekend who don’t like to stay in tents. It would also be a great idea for rainy festivals. I’m looking to launch this business late 2019….so watch this space.