Van Life Profiles: Joan
- Age: 25
- Vehicle type: Volkswagen Crafter
- Miles: 100.000
- Time spent in van: About 1 Year
- Birthplace: Germany
- Average monthly expenses: 600-1000
- Go-to van meal: Spaghetti with Sauce
- Favorite parking spot: A secluded space near traintracks somewhere in Karlsruhe, Germany
What were you doing before living in a van?
I was finishing my secondary education in preparation for my future higher education. In that time I bought my van, Captn, and started to convert it, step by step, which took me about two years.
Why did you get started in Van Life?
I still remember that very moment. I first considered living in a mobile home in 2015, while I was on a bike ride with my family. That’s when I saw a little radio tower on a small hill. I imagined how nice it would be to wake up on that hill with a view of the surrounding nature. Two years later I bought my Van.
What’s the best feature about your van?
Now this might sound cheesy, but I honestly think the best feature are the wheels. It’s the one thing I love most about my new life. With Captn I can choose where I want to wake up every day.
How do you make money?
I was working for many years and still have some money saved up. I do however work in between travelling. Nevertheless, I think I haven’t been on the road long enough to give a good answer.
What are some challenges you face on the road?
Vandwelling brings along many challenges. Some are little things like "Where do I shower, where do I sleep tonight", but something I consider a bigger challenge is solitude. Vandwelling has the tendency to isolate you from people, if you’re not careful. I love spending some time with mostly my thoughts, but for me at least it was important to motivate myself and meet new people as often as I can.
What has surprised you most about this lifestyle?
How fast I acclimated to the new lifestyle. While living as a Vandweller makes you appreciate the comforts of a house, you also quickly learn to live with the reduced utilities. After 3-4 days I started to develop different "routines" for everything.
It’s raining and you’re stuck in your van for a full day. What do you do?
Depends. Rainy days are always a good opportunity to watch a movie, or work on some projects that you might have laying around. Learning an instrument, cleaning Catpn, drawing something, reading a book. Maybe just lay in bed for a few hours and listen to the sounds of rain on the roof. I love rainy days!
Do you have any tips, tricks or hacks for van life?
Sure! The best one I got so far: Wanna take a shower? Put holes in the cap of a bottle and fill the bottle with water. If you put the bottle with water out into the sun for a few hours or inside your bed at night you can even enjoy a warm shower. You won’t believe how little water you’ll use with this method. Only two, to three liters!
What is the most essential item in your vehicle?
I do not think I have a "most essential item". When you live this minimalistic lifestyle you just reduce what you use in everyday life. This way almost everything I have in my Van plays a vital role. At least I can’t think of anything that I would describe as most vital. My Moka pot coffee maybe?
If you had a magic wand and could do anything, how would you improve your vehicle?
I would have liked to have more seats to carry more people. I have the drivers seat plus two passengers. I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about ways to keep this lifestyle for the next few years. One way would be to upgrade to a truck, and I would make sure to buy something with more seats.
What is the worst thing about van life?
Having to watch your vehicle all the time. Depending on where I’m spending my time the risk of someone robbing the van might be bigger than I feel comfortable with. While I was in Greece this year, I heard of break-ins in two spots I stood before. This can lead to you not being able to leave your van alone for an extended period of time. I also stay away from big cities if possible. Last year I got my tires slashed in Munich, Germany. I guess that’s just part of Vandwelling and with good insurance you can at least limit the possible monetary loss.
What is the most rewarding thing about Van Life?
Endless possibilities. I’m not bound to any place (usually) and I’m free to explore whatever I can and want. Visiting friends all over Europe is easier than ever and spontaneous adventures are easy to have.
What advice would you give to someone starting or thinking about starting Van Life?
When I first thought about living on wheels I was overwhelmed by the necessary money and all the difficult work I would have to invest. This is however not completely true! Cheap and simple builds can be bought and converted for a low amount money. I think everyone, no matter how skilled they are, can build at least some basic variety of an inhabitable vehicle. And one thing is certain: Practice will improve every skillset.
Follow Joan on his van life jounrey on his Instagram