Female Vanlifer Beth Shares Her Moroccan Van Life Story!
Meet Beth, a Canadian traveler and female vanlifer that is currently roaming around Europe and Africa with her boyfriend, Michael, and their van, Vinnne. Beth tells us how much money she is able to save by traveling in a van instead of backpacking, making her travels three times longer than they would have been otherwise.
Beth talks to us about going to a rave in a Moroccan dessert, waking up in new places everyday and about how she can’t live without dry shampoo (who can?!). Beth also talks of her relationship with her boyfriend Michael, about the time they’ve spent together and about how she feels she knows him so well after such a short period of time as they’ve shared this adventure together.
Read her interview full of travel, spontaneity and love below – try not to be too jealous!
Girls Off Grid Ft. Long Term Female Vanlifer
Hi Beth! Tell the Van Clan community a little bit about yourself.
My name is Beth, I’m 28 years old, from Calgary, Canada. I am currently in the north of Italy, exploring the stunning mountains and beautiful lakes along the Italian/Austrian border. I am officially unemployed, and spend my time creating content for my personal blog, wherethefisbeth.com
! I love photography, videography, and music. My most recent project was making a music video for the song my partner, Michael and I wrote called A Van Ah (it’s about living in a van!).
“If I haven’t been saving my money to quit my job and go traveling, what am I saving my money for?”
What did you do before you started living in your van and becoming a female vanlifer?
I was working as a full time computer technician in Calgary. I really loved my job, but I had reached a point where I could no longer move through the company, in a direction I wanted to go. I had savings, and thought, “if I haven’t been saving my money to quit my job and go traveling, what am I saving my money for?”
Why did you decide to get a van?
We backpacked through Europe for four months before deciding to get a van. Our first stop was Italy, then Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, and Austria. Our budget traveling through those countries was $100 CAD a day (about €65) each. That daily budget included accommodation, food, transportation, and all activity costs. We barely stayed under it, and most days, ended up going over. We realized that even though we were being such cheapskates, our savings were going to disappear sooner than we wanted them to. Both Michael and I have travelled by way of van before, so we knew it would be cheaper. We bought the van in Germany in September!
Tell me a bit about your van and how you chose it.
Vinnie! Our van is a 1997 Ford Transit. The colour is white with a delicate rust detailing… We paid €4500, and actually, the story about how we came to own it is a bit crazy. We were in Spain when we were perusing the used vehicle wesbites in Germany (we had to buy it in Germany, for that’s where we are registered). We loved this van, but we received an email from the couple selling it that there were other people coming to look at it. They said that if the couple didn’t want it, we could come look at it a few days later. I said to Michael, maybe we should tell them how serious we are? Maybe we offer to give them a deposit or something and then fly there! It’s not like we are going to fly there to see the van and decide against it, then fly somewhere else to see another one. We messaged the couple, and they accepted our offer. So, we sent them some money through PayPal, and flew to Nuremberg a few days later! Crazy? Yes.
What do you love the most about Vinnie?
We love the solar panel! It gives us the freedom to camp off-grid for days on end. We love our bed. It’s longer than a regular bed, and we have two duvets, so it gets friggin’ cozy in here! The van is tall enough for us to stand up inside, which was important to us in a full-time van. We have a cooktop inside too, so even on terribly stormy days, we can cook in warmth!
…and is there anything you’d change?
I would put camper windows in. Right now, in order to have air flow, we have to open the doors, which we don’t want to do while we are sleeping, so it can sometimes get a bit stuffy. I would love a small fridge, but our converter is not powerful enough. We have a cooler right now, but it’s often hard to get ice, and sometimes I just crave a cold beer, ya know?
Did you convert your van?
We didn’t convert our van. We have added and renovated a little bit as we’ve gone though! We found a few old palettes in the garbage, and used the wood to build a beautiful box to cover the battery, converter, and wheel wells.
How much time do you spend in your van?
I think we have spent only 20 nights or so outside of the van since we bought it in September, ten days when Michael’s parents put us up in an Airbnb with them in Porto, and ten days when my parents took us to the Canary Islands! When we plan a driving day, our max is normally only about four hours. We also make sure we never have two driving days in a row.
What does your van and your life as a female vanlifer enable you to do?
The van has enabled us to see more places than we ever thought possible. We went for our average budget of $100 a day, to $30 a day each. We drove south as the weather became cooler in the autumn, and when the weather was too cold even in the south of Portugal and Spain, we drove to Morocco! Living in the van has meant our trip can be almost three times longer than it would have otherwise been. The van has also enabled us to see all of these incredible places in a totally different way. Instead of only seeing major cities, train stations, and the inside of trains, we get to see beautiful countrysides, stunning coastlines, and wonderful little villages. We’ve been given the opportunity to know a different country than we otherwise would have.
How do you feel being a female vanlifer traveling around the world?
I am so proud of myself for living this life. Sure, having my period while we’re wild camping is definitely one of the least pleasant things I’ve had to do as a female vanlifer, but this van life is full of way more wonderful challenges too. I was recently traveling alone in the van while Michael went home for a few weeks, and yes, I was so nervous. But not because I am a woman. In fact, that never even crossed my mind. I was nervous to try navigating and driving at the same time, in Italy no less! I do feel safe, even while I’ve been traveling in the van on my own.
Who do you travel with?
I travel with my partner, Michael Quick, mountain man, and world traveler extraordinaire! Our relationship is very fresh still, especially considering we live in a van together. When we met, we lived five hours apart. When we started dating, we only saw each othe every four weeks or so, and only for a weekend at a time. Three months later, when we planned a 30 day trip together, we had yet to spend 30 days together! We left for that trip in May, 2017. So, we bought our van and moved in after dating for eight months. We have learned so much about each other in such a short amount of time, we might know things about each other that people don’t learn even after years of dating! And I have yet to learn something about him that I don’t like.
Do you think your time spent in the van and as a female vanlifer has changed you as a person, your goals and aspirations or your outlook on life?
Yes, one hundred times. Since living in a van, I truly spend my money on experiences, and not things. I have seen the importance in downsizing, in needing barely anything, and still being happy. Everything I need fits in that van; my clothes, my food, the love of my life…what more could I possibly need? My goals have become more centred on taking up as little space as possible, and living well below my means. If I was making the salary I made before coming on this trip and becoming a female vanlifer, but spending the amount of money I am spending monthly in the van, I laugh when I think of the savings account I would have. It’s a life lesson I am glad to have learned so early on in life.
“I have seen the importance in downsizing, in needing barely anything, and still being happy.”
What does your journey look like? Where have you been and where would you like to go?
Well, we have been traveling full time for a little over a year. We drove from Germany through France to the Atlantic coast, drove along the entire north coast of Spain, and along the west coast of Portugal. We spent Christmas in Malaga, Spain, and then before New Years, hopped the ferry to Morocco! There, we spent three months, surfing, exploring, and enjoying ourselves. Since begin back in Europe, we have driven along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, into Andorra, and then along the Mediterranean coast of France. We went to Oktoberfest in Munich, Carnaval in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a rave in the Moroccan desert, and the International Film Festival in Cannes, France. See? I never thought I would go to such events in such places.
“We went to Oktoberfest in Munich, Carnaval in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a rave in the Moroccan desert, and the International Film Festival in Cannes, France.”
What’s the best thing about vanlife?
The best thing, and I know this is the most used caption on #vanlife posts on Instagram, is waking up wherever we want. We sleep at trailheads, and are the first on the hike. We sleep next to rivers and lakes, and enjoy the sun. We get to have outdoor showers with our solar shower bag! We enjoy our surroundings. We enjoy cooking. We enjoy inventing recipes in the kitchen. We enjoy doing the dishes. We enjoy fixing up the van. We enjoy creating, beginning, and finishing projects. We enjoy sitting and breathing in the air from the ocean, or the mountains. We enjoy each other. We enjoy making each other laugh. We enjoy talking to each other and sharing our ideas and hopes and fears and dreams. We enjoy kissing. We enjoy being weirdos when nobody is around. Living in the van has given us the opportunity to learn how much we enjoy these things. That’s been the best part of van life and what I like most about being a female vanlifer.
What are your van essentials?
We couldn’t live in this van without our tiny, foldable barbecue, and our guitar!
What plans have you got for the future?
Sadly, the Visas we have to stay in Europe are coming to an end soon! We have family and friends to see in Canada, so we will return in August. It’s an exciting time for us, because we have never been to Canada together. Before this trip, we lived in cities five hours apart! So, now, when we go back, we don’t know where we will live or what we will do for work! The opportunities feel endless, and I am just as excited for the next chapter as I have been to continue through this one.
Where do you camp most of the time?
We mostly wild camp! We use various apps, our favourite is park4night, to find spots to sleep. The only time we stay in a campground is when we need showers or to do laundry. I believe that free camping, wild camping, should be allowed when the vehicle is self contained. I understand that cities don’t want people shitting and pissing all over their land, so because our vehicle is self contained, I believe we should be able to sleep anywhere we want!