For this post, I sat down with Mike and, together, we discussed six months of life lived out of a self-converted Hyundai H200 campervan, exploring Europe. Here are some of Mike’s thoughts about the conversion process, the places we visited, and the inspiration behind the trip:
1. Tell me a little about yourself! Where are you from and what are some of your interests?
Well, I grew up in Southern California, but did lots of traveling when I was younger. I went to school for filmmaking, and am interested in photography, travel, sustainability, free energy, etc.
2. Why living in a van? What inspired you?
Our great van adventure was a way for us to explore Europe on a budget. There are hundreds of fantastic blogs from fellow travellers doing the same thing. Travelling in a campervan is a great way to keep costs low, and also drive to exciting and wild places.
3. Tell me about the van! Were there any specific requirements for the van you ended up purchasing?
Our van is a Hyundai, diesel, automatic, and, also, left hand drive. After searching for some weeks, we finally were able to import the van from the Netherlands. It was important that we were able to have a bed in the back, as well as a place to cook.
4. What was the van conversion process like? Were there any obstacles you had to overcome?
Converting the van was quite a process. From the repairs, to insulating, to building the couch/bed, it was a great experience. The sink unit was a challenge, but ultimately we found the correct size water tanks, and were able to finally finish the sink unit.
5. What was your route map like? Why? Were there any places you were particularly excited to visit?
Our route took us from Scotland to Morocco, from Morocco to Greece, and from Greece to Norway. We saw all of Europe. Morocco, Norway and Greece were all places I had not been to yet, so I was pretty excited to visit.
6. What was living in a van like? Run me through a typical day!
Living in the van was normally enjoyable. We would wake up from a great nights sleep, (our bed was made from real mattresses). We would then cook up some yummy breakfast, prepare the van to drive, and head off to some new place. After a lunch in the van, and some hours of driving, we would find a great place to camp for the night (normally with a breathtaking view of nature). At the end of the day, we would make some dinner, play some scrabble, make our bed, and fall asleep.
7. How did you find living with another person in such a small space?
Living in such a small space with another person can be tough, but we managed to find ways to make it work.
8. Do you have a favourite place you’ve visited?
9. If you had to choose only one photograph from the trip, which would it be, and why?
We shot tens of thousands of photos during our Europe adventure, maybe someday I will go through them all and pick out my favourites, for now we have a few thousand favourites: Flickr Favourites
10. Did you add anything to the van, or make any changes, whilst on the road?
During the Europe trip we added a small storage unit so we had some place to put various kitchen things, as well as store some fresh fruit.
11. Tell me about some of the interesting people you met whilst you were travelling.
We met lots of interesting people. I enjoyed visiting the ecovillages we went to. One in Italy, Giardina Della Gioia, one in Greece, Free & Real, one in Romania, Aurora Community…to name a few. There we met people trying to create sustainable ways of living. For me it was really inspiring.
12. If you were to buy another van and start from scratch, what is something you would do differently?
For a new van I would probably add solar panels. We had a leisure battery which got charged when we drove via a split charger, but if we didn’t drive for a few days, we would use up all the power we had. By adding solar panels we could have kept our leisure battery fully charged.
13. What is some advice you could offer up to anyone planning something similar?
Advice? Do research. Read other people’s blogs about how they did it. And also create your bed with real mattresses. It makes a big difference.
Next up, I’ll answer the same questions, and look out for part three of our European route map series!