After reading about the death of Jamie’s van from @thevanwithoutaplan that we had been enjoying seeing popping up on our Instagram feed we wanted to get in touch with him to see what his experience of vanlife was and whether the hardships were worth it as he embarks on a new conversion.
Who are you?
I’m Jamie, aka The Van Without a Plan, 3 years ago I bought a beat up old LDV Convoy for £700 and converted it into a home on wheels
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Leeds, Yorkshire, in the UK
What type of van do you have?
At the moment I am sadly vanless (like a turtle without a shell) but my old van was a W-reg LDV Convoy which I bought as a standard panel van
How long have you had it?
It lasted me almost 3 years
What do you call your van?
Lots of unpublishable names/words depending on where/when it broke down on me
What is it that drew you to travelling in your van?
I think it would be fair to say that I’d got a bit bored of the standard 9-5, renting a house and never imagining being able to buy one. I wanted to spend time in the outdoors, and to travel, bit was on a very tight budget
What’s the best thing about living/travelling in your van?
I love the mountains and being in nature in general, this was something that I became far more aware of after setting off in the van, and so the fact that I could actually live comfortably in the mountains, forests, beaches etc with all of my home comforts was a pretty big deal
What’s the hardest part about living/travelling in your van?
My van had no toilet or shower. It wasn’t the end of the world, and there are plenty of ways round it, but it was far from ideal
What would you be doing if it weren’t for vanlife?
Right now I’m working as a climbing/mountaineering instructor, using that as my method to keep doing a bit of travelling and spending time outdoors, and saving like mad to buy my next van!
What’s your favourite feature of your van?
It’s a toss up between my wood burning stove, which really transforms a van into a comfortable cosy space, and the hundred and one intimate details like the cupboard handles that my Dad carved for me, the decorations that friends made/bought me, the gimmicky storage solutions that I designed, which all make it unique to any other space in the world
What was the biggest surprise about vanlife?
The fact that it freed me up to say yes to a lot of things. Not having conventional commitments made it easier to just go with the flow when good opportunities presented themselves and made it equally as easy to change my mind and do something totally different if/when I wanted a change. It’s very cliche, but the freedom is, in itself, far more empowering than I’d ever imagined
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about getting a van of their own?
I’d actually tell people to give it a long hard think. There are lots of positives to “vanlife” but it’s certainly not for everyone. There are many sacrifices which are easy to forget about when you see posts on social media of beautiful park-ups and hammocks and scenery etc, but it’s definitely hard work most days. That said, once you’ve made up your mind that it’s a lifestyle that would suit you, just go for it and don’t look back!