Hello Anna Lisa!
For the people who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about the story behind you.
I am Anna Lisa from Germany, currently living in Aachen. I love to live a life based on a connection to nature and freedom and traveling in the van can give you that off the grid feeling. I studied History and Philosophy at University, so during my studies it was easy to find enough free time to travel around with my Van Morton. It is my second Van, I owned half of one previous to this one but Morton is my first very own Van. We built the interior our self and are mostly satisfied with the result; but there are always some little things you want to improve.
How was your life before van life and how is it now?
I live a few month of the year in the Van since 2005 and it changed my life a lot. I am more adventurous and while getting to know a lot of Europe you always get to know yourself better during traveling. You meet a lot of different people and vanlife creates a very open mindset.
What does the van life mean to you and why did you choose this lifestyle over your previous life?
It means freedom. To go where you want to go at that exact moment, follow your inner compass and just live. I chose it because I want to keep exploring and did not want to get stuck in the comfort zone of a seemingly safe lifestyle. Another big factor is being close to nature which is absolutely amazing when you are on the road.
What do you miss the most when you are on the road?
I am a cinephile and have a cool little home cinema so I miss the visuals & the sound the most when we are on the road.
How did you realize that it was possible live in that way against the common life path? Was it difficult to take the plunge?
It was easy so far because the society accepts you to be adventurous during your time of education and study but yeah, at the moment I am in a time of transformation so we will see how it works out in the future.
Is it worth it?
How do you afford it?
My grandmother gave me some money on my 25th Birthday and I worked part time at the University so I was able to buy the Van and convert it, but it was not soooo expensive as people sometimes imagine and the way of traveling is one of the cheapest I think.
Tell us a little bit about your van, what is the story behind it?
I was so sad after I lost my first Van during a break-up and traveled one year only with my back-pack. But after a while I missed the vanlife so much that I bought a new one. Morton is a VW Bulli T3 and almost an Oldtimer that was previously owned by a mechanic, which is a good thing. I bought him and had help from my boyfriend while turning him into our partial little home. We added a new roof so that you can stand up while cooking and are very happy about it.
How would you describe a normal day in your life now?
A day on the road always depends on your surroundings a day in Norway, Sweden, Ireland or Poland is very different to the Vanlife in the South of Europe. We have breakfast and then explore the Nature or go climbing or swimming. We learned that it is more relaxed when you don’t change your spot every day. I always have the urge to see more but now we take our time. Cooking, reading & the hunt for a shower is always a part of the day too.
What are the best moments you have lived in this adventure?
For me the best moments are when you have a wonderful spot way up in the North in solitude, preferably at a lake and gathered wood to build a campfire, had a swim in the lake and you are living the dream just very close to nature.
What are the worst moments you have had to face?
When it is very hot in the Van during summer and you don’t have air condition and there is not a tree in sight. Or when you are really tired after a long day of driving or climbing and you can’t find any good spot to sleep.
How long have you been living on the road?
Since 2005 a few months every year.
What’s next? Short term, mid term, long term.
Not sure at the moment. Transformational times, but the Van is always a big part.
PRACTICAL STUFF. How do you deal with the next things? Can you give us a couple of tips?
Pack light. Keep it clean. (Both easier said than done). I guess that is the mystery behind a clean Van. When tidy the tiny space can be very comfy J !
Eat on the road. Stay healthy.
When on the road we try to eat as healthy as at home. Muesli is a very healthy & easy start of the day. We cook every day, eat a lot of vegetables, eat fresh fruits, pasta and salad. Sometimes you miss the oven but besides that you can eat very healthy while living in the Van. When the weather is nice we have an additional gaz cooker and I love to cook outside. We climb a lot while traveling and I play with the hula hoops and do yoga.
Shower and hygiene on the road.
Shower and Hygiene is sometimes tricky but you will always find a way. We have a solar shower and use beach showers if possible and in the North there are many lakes. Sometimes when it is cold I miss my hairdryer but you can live without it 😉 ~ but I always have it with me in the van.
Find a good place to spend the night.
We use the WOMO books which can be a great help and besides that you get a feeling for where to find the perfect sleeping spots after a bit of experience. But there will always be nights when you should give up the search for the perfect spot and take an “ok” one. And after a while you have your favorite spots where you keep coming back to and you know other people who you can ask in advance.
Relationships with family and friends.
We always keep contact & it is easy with whatsapp and email etc. We also visit a lot of friends along the road. But sometimes in the North we try not to use communications for 3 weeks to really feel the solitude.
Most important and useful things you can’t live without on the road.
Tools are very important (In Tools we Trust), for little or big things that need to be fixed on the Van while on the road. GPS. It is fun to get lost sometimes but I still use the GPS to find some exact location of a sleeping spot. The Crash pad which transforms into a little sofa in front of the Van. The little Giraffe looking out the window J, books and Hula Hoops!
Travel routine, how much time do you spend in the same place?
Depends on the place in Sweden or Norway we stay longer in one place, in the South we spend less time in one place. That is the wonderful thing about a van, just go with the flow.
What are your favorite and most van friendly places you have been?
I think all places we visited in Europe were friendly but still there are countries in which it is way easier to camp in your Van. Ireland, England, Scotland, Sweden and Norway are wonderful relaxed countries, there is a lot of space and you always find a magnificent spot to spend the night. France is very van friendly even though more people are living there. The Coastline of Italy, Montenegro or Croatia I did find a bit more difficult, but still you can find wonderful places there & the people are friendly but it is just not that easy as up in the North.
Where do you look for van life ideas, resources, inspiration, help?
I read blogs, write and read in mechanic forums for VW-buses & for lifestyle & tour inspiration I follow a lot of cool & inspiring people on Instagram.
What advice would you give to the people who are doubting to give this huge step?
Go for it but if you do it together make really sure you are both enjoying it.
Where can we follow you and learn more from you?
At the moment there is just my Instagram account instagram.com/annalisa.vanlife. But for the upcoming travels I plan on having the blog up too.