The Hardest Bits About UK Van Life

Living in a van in wet and windy Blighty

Written by Rose & Seb @vincentvanlife

Our rent is almost up, we’ve cleared out most of our worldly possessions, and we’re ready to kick off van life in the UK. We spend so little time in our old terraced house now that it’s basically a storage facility until we kick off our off grid living adventure on October 10th.

Because it was quite a big step, we wanted to move into the van sooner rather than later so that we can get to grips with where things should go and all of the niggly bits that you can’t sort until you’re a full time digital nomad. So for the past two weeks we’ve been sleeping, cooking, eating and living in Vincent (our van, you should be on first name terms with him by now) with all of the van life essentials we could ever need.

Here’s a list of the things that we’ve come up against on our build and from our van life so far.

1. Rain, rain….and more rain.

The sound of rain hitting the roof of the van is amazing. Contrary to what everyone thinks it’s really therapeutic. It isn’t therapeutic, however, when its coming into your van through your side door. The slow dripping is like something from a nightmare, and its pretty annoying when your slippers get wet. Although we love the rain, we’d rather listen to our best road trip songs instead, especially when you find out you haven’t sealed something right and you start getting little drips on your head at night… not cool.

Vincentvanlife - Rain rain rain

Britain is wet, and that will never change. So instead of burying our heads in the sand, we tackled the problem head on. This drip stop from Fiamma channels the water away from our door perfectly, and only cost around £12. You can grab one from ebay on next day delivery. Then all you need is a Rose and some sealant, and you’re pretty much sorted (Rose sold separately).

2. Building on a terrace street

On the odd chance that the sun does come out, you’ve got to get out and learn how to build a camper as much as possible and as quickly as possible too. We did our build whilst living on a terrace street, which meant that we were often holding up traffic whilst cutting bits out of the roof, or waking up the neighbours dog every time we turned on our jigsaw. If you’re new to this, we suggest taking a peak at our e-book, this will take you through stepd by step and help your convert your camper into a home on wheels. Our e-book which you can buy here is £9.99 so it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and it will most likely save you one instead!

Vincentvanlife - Street UrchinIt’s hard when you don’t have a garage or a drive, especially when all of your tools are spilling onto the pavement. But on the plus side we’ve made some life long friends in our neighbours. (I’m not going to mention the ones that complained, you know who you are… Margaret!)

3. Cold Mornings

There’s no central heating anymore, so it’s pretty chilly when you get out of the warm cocoon that you’ve created under the covers. Providing you haven’t got wet slippers (see point 1) then you’re gonna need them to keep your feet toasty. We quite enjoy hanging up our indoor hammock which we picked up for £8 and wrapping up inside of it like a sausage roll, this allows Rose to work on the bed while I go into hibernation.

Vincentvanlife - Coal Fire

Luckily for us we decided to fit a log burner into our van too. Nothing takes the chill away like a nice open fire, and it makes pretty good tea and toast too!

4. Runnin’ on empty (and I don’t mean diesel)

It’s hard to make youself want to build when you’re completely spent of all energy. In hindsight a bed should have been the last thing we put in the van, as it became far too easy to have a little lie down in the middle of the day.

Vincentvanlife - BedBuilding is tough, especially as british summer usually means extra rain, and you’ve got to push on to get the job done. No rain, no gain (or something like that).

5. Finding a spot for the night

York doesn’t have many Italian piazzas or dusy American scenescapes to park up next to. It’s mostly terraced houses and a big church. Finding the right spots for serene van life takes time, and theres lots of things to consider like ‘where will we get the best sun for the solar panels’, and, ‘how quickly can we sprint to Aldi if we run out of cake’. We’ve since found our perfect park-up’s, but we don’t want to share them ‘cos they’re ours. Understood?

Vincentvanlife - Park up

6. Constantly losing at board games

Ok, so we’ve run out of hard things to talk about, but thats a good thing! Everything else is going swimmingly. Yes emptying a toilet or lugging water bottles around can be tough, but its worth it for the simple and relaxed lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves.

Vincentvanlife - Board game
Rose beating Seb at The Witches…..again!

We’ve got more time to spend with each other, less clutter and things that we don’t need to be happy, and more importantly, a lovely home that we can take with us wherever we go.

Thinking of starting your own build? Follow Rose and Seb @vincentvanlife for more helpful hints and tips.

How to Build a Camper E-Book


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