I have been traveling extensively over the past few months.
A personal goal of mine, even before the COVID times, was to travel more, which for obvious reasons didn’t happen. But now that it is possible again, I have fully leaned into it.
I have never felt compelled to live the boring 9-5 life with a house and garden. My issue is this: I haven’t yet come across my way of living – The one that feels right enough for me to settle. Which is why I experiment and try different options.
I tried living and working out of a camper van for a few weeks in December and January. The TL;DR is: Way too much work to be enjoying the lifestyle and not worth the hassle for me.
Pick up the bus. Work a few days, take a few days off over Christmas. Get around and see if this life is for me with a rental. Return it and if I had liked it, set the tracks for full-on van life.
In the off-season the car was way cheaper and I’d also get to experience less than optimal weather conditions, which is a plus when considering this for a permanent lifestyle.
And oh boy, did I get some “non-optimal” weather: On the day of arrival it started snowing and the first few nights were down to -16°C.
It was mid-December when I picked up the car in a suburb of Munich and went straight grocery shopping and filling up the water tank.
This was an outlook on the time to come: I’d have to put in lots of effort to keep the car habitable every day. Filling up the water, disposing of the waste water, disposing of the toilet tank, filling up liquid gas for heating and cooking, filling up gasoline for driving, getting external power, keeping the vehicle free of ice. Changing location either for a different location or to drive and replenish the car battery. The work just never stops.
Work-wise, apart from rare connectivity issues1, everything worked out. Armed with different SIM cards for all 3 of the German mobile providers and free McDonalds and IKEA WIFI from the parking lots as a backup, just in case, it better had to work out.
In hindsight my Apple Silicon work notebook tore through the available power and I’m glad I didn’t have an Intel one. As I woke up more than once to a depleted car battery because the MacBook was slow-charging overnight. I eventually solved this by buying a cheap USB-C PD lighter adapter that was powerful enough to top up the MacBook within my lunch break.
Key take-away: I’m glad my employer and colleagues are cool and give me the freedom to try such things out2.
During the trip you start to learn to get by and become resourceful. For instance, when the fresh water pump stopped working mid trip, I bought bottled water for drinking and making coffee, and started showering in public pools3 and gas stations.
I travelled with my AeroPress Go and my hand-crank burr grinder and tried locally roasted coffees in the places I was staying. Same goes for local beers, which my route through the black forrest has lots of!
Shady rental company
After the fact, there were issues with the rental company4. Nothing major but also not something you want your vacation to end with.