Living in a campervan is a dream for a lot of people, but what to do when you also have to work? Well, you take your job with you! This is what I’ve been doing and in this post I’m sharing how it’s actually going and what you need to look out for when you plan to make a living on the road.
First, meet my van Henry! It’s a Peugeot Boxer in L1H1 (that’s the smallest size, perfect to also get around in the city) and I bought it new from Camperia.
Henry comes with solar panels on the roof, heating, a 20l water tank, a gas cooker, a bed, a Kildwick toilet, everything I need. He’s perfect! I loved decorating him too, and of course got all the van life essentials, like macramé curtains, fairy lights, and a dream catcher (I couldn’t help myself). It’s sooo cute and comfy!
But to make traveling in a van and work, well, work, there are a few things to consider. If traveling and working in a campervan is your dream as well, here’s what to look out for:
#1 Get your van outfitted with solar panels (and have a backup)
I have 2 solar panels with 200w total on my roof and so far they’ve been working great. Hopefully they will also have enough power when it’s cloudy or raining. So far I’ve been incredibly lucky with the weather but for less perfect conditions I decided to also get a powerbank so I can charge my MacBook and iPhone when I don’t have any other options. This is a small but mighty device, easy to travel with, and it’s great for emergencies. I got this one from Amazon.de.
#2 Plan how to go online
The one thing I need to work (besides my MacBook) is internet. Thankfully data roaming around Europe is free, but there are some restrictions and most long-term travelers still get a local sim card with data when they travel to a new country. This is the cheapest option in most cases, but I decided to get an unlimited data plan with my German provider instead so I don’t have to worry about buying and registering local sim cards.
In Sweden, reception is pretty good, but it’s been far from perfect – especially in more remote places. I’m expecting it will get more challenging the further north I travel. It’s an insanely big country, with a lot of wilderness so I don’t expect to have great reception everywhere – though it would be nice. So I have to plan around this, which brings me to my next point.
#3 Plan your week ahead
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love to be organized. I know that if I want to be productive while traveling, I need to do a bit of planning, and I need a routine. At the moment, my plan is to spend 3 to 4 days of the week working. I don’t plan to put in 8 hour days, but maybe 4 to 6 hours of focused work time in the morning.
I have an amazing assistant and I don’t have any big projects planned for the time I’m traveling, but there are still emails, live calls with my students, website clients, this podcast, a few smaller projects I want to get done, and more. I love what I do, I actually couldn’t imagine not working for a longer period of time.
So I plan to stay for a few days each week at a place where I have internet and drive for just a few hours every other day, and then I have some free days to drive for longer, or go hiking or explore the wilderness. This means I probably have to stay at a few more camping grounds than I would like to. For example, last night I stayed at the most remote, beautiful spot next to a lake, it was a parking place and free, but I had nearly no reception.
I also have my dog Luna with me so I have to plan my days around little Lunita as well. Thankfully she’s been adapting to van life like a fish to water. I really love having her with me, it’s so much nicer than traveling alone.
#4 Make sure you and your belongings are safe
Safety is definitely an important thing to consider when you’re living and working in a van.
The van is insured, and I also have roadside assistance. I also got additional health insurance for traveling.
I try to keep an eye on my belongings and obviously always lock the van when I’m not in it. But I’m not overly afraid of someone trying to break in as this could also happen in my apartment, right?
There’s a much higher chance that I would have a roadside accident – and that actually nearly happened. On my second day in Sweden, I nearly had a collision with a monster elk, which was galloping across the street, right in front of me. I missed him by just a millisecond, but that could have been fatal. I’m driving extra carefully now and way within the speed limits.
Accidents can happen all the time, even when you never leave your home town. It made me think about how quickly it could all be over – just one second and pouf, it’s all gone. I’m so grateful that I did this, that I made my dream of living in a campervan come true, and didn’t delay it all to sometime in the future.
It’s great to have plans, but you also need to live your life, fully. If you have big dreams, I want you to think about how you can make them a reality – how can you manifest them. For example, when I knew I wanted my own camper van, I bought my first piece of equipment for it. It was a portable barbecue grill, which funnily enough I didn’t even end up bringing on this trip, but, I bought it for my future campervan. I imagined what my van would look like and where I would travel.
I’ve also worked really hard to build my business up in a way that would allow me to have this flexibility and location independence. Having this freedom is what drives me and makes it all worthwhile. It’s also why I love online courses so much! I don’t have any coaching clients and I only take on a few website design projects a year, because I want to be able to make my own schedule.
For me, it’s not enough to be able to work from anywhere. I also want to be the boss of my hours. I wouldn’t want to travel in a van and have a remote full-time job, putting in 8 hours a day 5 days a week even if this job would pay insanely well, because that’s not the lifestyle and freedom I’m craving.
At the same time, I’m also ambitious, and I know that to reach more and grow my business, it will be easier if I stay in one place for longer. So, I still have my apartment in Hamburg for now, and when I’m back I’m going to work on all the big projects I already have planned for later this year.