Updated: Sep 5, 2021
On the 17th of August 2021, I officially took up residence in my '95 Hymer B564 motorhome.
It is my intention to head to Wales in the next few weeks to go and look at properties there with the hope of purchasing a 'base' house to which I can return should I need to get off the road or just need a break from travelling.
Below are some of the things I've learned in my first 17 days living in the van.
1. Loneliness can be a real issue. Whilst I'm very happy in my own company, and as an HSP/empath, often require alone time just to deal with the overwhelm of social gatherings, I am also a very social person. I know right, quite the dilemma? The first week of my vanlife experience I attended a South African ex-pat festival in Derby and then had an old friend from South Africa join me for a few days, so loneliness was not an issue. However, for the past week, I have been on my ace, with my dog and it can get lonely. So if you are the type who gets bored easily in your own company, this is certainly something to think about if you are thinking about long term solo travel.
2. We really do have shit weather in England! Without exaggeration, I think it has been 8 days since I last saw blue skies! As I'm hoping to spend periods of time off-grid this presents a problem as my solar panels obviously perform best when there is direct sunlight. While they are performing under cloudy conditions, the performance is not great. As a result, after 17 days off-grid I have had to switch to electric hook-up for a few days to charge everything up again. As a result of this, I will be adding a second solar panel to the van and also upgrading my charge controller panel to a higher AMP one.
3. People on campsites aren't necessarily friendly. I've been on a campsite for a week now as I test out the van fully, purchase any items upgraded and get them fitted (for example the solar panel etc). I'm of the type that I will smile and greet anyone I pass. But I have discovered that the vast majority of people I greet on this particular campsite (near Cambridge) are not open to being greeted with a smile. Perhaps I need to live up to my name and be more Grumpy when greeting people 🤔
4. Pets can take a while to settle down. I have an elderly Staffordshire terrier (11.5yo) who during his life hasn't travelled much. For the first week or so, bodily functions were rare and far between. For the first 2 days, in fact, he did not have any bodily movements and drank and ate very little. I'm happy to report that after the initial week he is now back to normal with several number 1's and 2's daily. So if you are travelling with an older pet, who hasn't spend much time away from the home, then do expect to have some initial days where they are a little unsettled. But don't panic, they will go when they absolutely need to. My advice if you have such a pet is to make a big fuss when they do go. I give my dog a treat if he does both a number 1 and 2 on a walk so that it reinforces to him that it is okay to wee and/or poo whilst on a lead.
5. Living space can take some getting used to. As a previous homeowner, it has been a challenge adapting to living in a van with limited space. I have downscaled my material belongings significantly since selling my house to make this adventure a reality however over the past couple of weeks I've downscaled even further. For some reason, I had packed 4 glasses, 4 wine glasses (I don't even drink wine!), several plates etc. I'm travelling solo so what the hell was I thinking?! So I now only have 2 of each should I have company. If I have more than 1 visitor, then they will be informed to bring their own glasses/cups/cutlery 😊
6. Amazon deliver anywhere! As much as I dislike the overpackaging that is common with Amazon orders if you are undertaking long term travelling, they really are useful as they will deliver anywhere that has a physical address. I have had a few orders delivered to 3 of the campsites I've been at over the past couple of weeks. Do be aware though that Prime deliveries, whilst assured to typically be the next day (depending on the time of order) can be any time of the day or night! So ensure you are booked onto a site for at least a couple of nights and order your item on the day of arrival to ensure it arrives before you need to move on.
7. Parking isn't simple. Whether you own a long wheel base van or a 6m motorhome, you are going to find parking to be far trickier than parking a regular car. Derr, I hear some of you say. But it's important to bear this in mind. There are not many parking areas that cater for LWB vans and/or motorhomes so it's likely you are going to park a little out of the way to where you want to be. My solution to this was to purchase an e-bike so that I can cycle to the points of interest I'd like to see whilst be able to park the MH where able. Parking in towns/cities is likely to be near impossible.
8, Laundry. Obviously, you are going to need to do clothing and bedding washing from time to time. There are several options for laundrettes these days. Besides the ones you will find in towns and cities, some services and garages now also have washing machines. In addition, many larger campsites have a laundry room. Of course, as with everything in life, it's not free so be sure to have change with you!
So that's it for now. Be sure to check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I will be addressing some of these items in further detail 😊
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