Welcome to Scandinavia, the home to the world’s largest population of Arctic reindeer herders, more lakes than you can shake a stick at, and of course the Vikings! You don’t need to run for the hills today though, because it’s not the sword wielding Lothbrok’s that we’re reporting on. We’re here to look into travelling around the amazing world of Van Life Scandinavia!
Our next vandweller that you’re about to meet as part of our Van Life Global series is @myscandinaviansaga. Carolien is a solo female vanlifer who’s travelling around Norway, Denmark and Sweeden. From snowy mountain tops to ice cold ravines, Carolien has already seen so much of this wonderful region that we thought we’d ask her a few questions to help you get the best out experience out of some of Europe’s most beautiful countries. Take it away Carolien!
Van Life Scandinavia – A Travellers Guide To Living The Vanlife
“Scandinavia is so big with lots of beautiful nature to get lost in”
I discovered Van Life Australia where it actually just happened. In June 2016, I decided to take a break from my life in Amsterdam after my 7 and a half year relationship coming to an end and quitting my CFO job in Amsterdam, and I set out to Australia. I was thinking about doing a backpacking trip around the world but wanted to start in Australia as my brother and his family had emigrated there a year earlier and I really wanted to see them. Before I knew it I had bought my first van – a colourful 1984 Mazda E2000 hippie-van called Wombi (love at first sight!). At first I only had a three month visa, and I drove down the eastcoast with Wombi from Cairns to Byron Bay where my brother lived. By the time I got there my visa was about to expire, but I knew that I wasn’t done with that way of travelling and living and managed to extend my visa for a full year! Then I decided to go all around Australia.
I have been on the road for about 1 and a half months now and I’ve spent most of that time in Norway. I don’t get the feeling there is a very big vanlife community here yet, but perhaps I still have to discover it. I am in touch with a handful of other vanlifers in Scandinavia through Instagram, but I haven’t met any of them in real life yet. I guess vanlife comes in many different forms, and of course there are a lot of people exploring Van Life Scandinavia in big white campers so consequently there are a lot of facilities in terms of camping sites and places to shower and hook up for electricity etc. But I haven’t met people who are also roaming around Scandinavia as full time vanlifers. Most people I’ve met so far were on a few weeks holiday trying to see as much as possible in a limited time. There are certainly vanlifers here, but I think the numbers are much less compared to for example the US, Australia and Portugal, and Scandinavia is so big with lots of beautiful nature to get lost in, so I feel the chances of actually meeting each other are pretty slim.
“I get the feeling that people are not used to being alone anymore and perhaps scared of the idea of being alone.”
Parking up in places is not difficult at all. Around the more popular / touristy places it can be a bit harder to find places where you can park up for free, but otherwise it is very easy with so much beautiful nature and parking area’s. I find the app park4night very helpful, especially around towns, but otherwise there are so many places where you can just park up and stay for the night.
I was preparing for a lot of rain in Norway, but so far I have been amazingly lucky with the weather. I can count the rainy days on one hand and have been treated to some extremely warm summer termperatures throughout May and June. I do find it hard sometimes to find public toilets and showers whilst being off grid and away from the camp sites, and the water of the lakes in Norway has been sooo super cold with all the melting water that I hardly managed to go in, so I had to find some other shower alternatives. In Sweden on the other hand, the temperature is just perfect at the moment (early June), such a great feeling to refresh yourself in a natural lake on a warm day!
How do you find travelling compared to your previous life? You’re also a solo traveller, how do you find life on the road in Van Life Scandinavia?
“Being alone on the road works very well for me… I love to be able to do exactly what I want and when I want.”
Tell us about a a couple of of your favourite places that you’ve been to whilst on your travels through Van Life Scandinavia and why they are special to you.
The west coast of Sweden was simply amazingly pretty with all the cute coastal towns, islands, and all of the water around. It was the start of my trip and was treated on so many beautiful sunsets, which contributed a lot to my feeling of living the vanlife again and being closer to nature. It was the end of April, so still off-season, which meant I had many stunning places pretty much to myself.
And honestly, my time in Norway has been a concoction of the most beautiful places, ranging from snowy mountain tops to magnificent fjords. It’s quite hard to name my favourites places, but some of experiences that are definitely special to me are:
Preikestolen – My boyfriend joined me for two weeks in Norway and one of the things we did was a sunrise climb up to the Preikestolen (“Pulpit Rock”). We mainly decided to climb up before sunrise to escape the crowds, as it is one of Norways most touristy natural sights, but the circumstances were so perfect that it became a pretty magical experience. Just the whole adventure of starting the climb in the dark with headtorches on, and then noticing how it got lighter and lighter along the way, and then seeing the sun come up as we sat on that big plateau at the top. I always think a sunrise has something magical, but to see if from that location with such a beautiful view over the fjord and to share that with my boyfriend was just amazing and the best start of the day!
Bergen – I spent almost a week in this pretty city and absolutely loved it! I could walk endlessly through the beautiful little streets with all the cute colourful wooden houses and enjoy some tasty cappucino’s at cosy cafe’s and just soak up the atmosphere. It felt like a lively young student town and I was also there during Norway’s national holiday, which was a unique experience in itself, seeing all the women dress up in their pretty traditional dresses.
Oldevatnet – I spent a few days working from a campsite near Olden, at the Oldevatnet. It was near the pretty touristy Brikdalsbreen glacier, but where I was staying was so peaceful and beautiful! I was parked just in front of the beautiful coloured water, mountains all around, views to various glacier tongues and hearing the continuous sound of the waterfalls behind me. I had a great connection to the owner of the campsite and felt I could’ve stayed in that area for months. One early Friday evening, after finished up my workweek, I hiked up to a beautiful waterfall and as I sat there watching it all by myself, all of a sudden, two dear came running down next to / under the waterfall. Another magical moment in Van Life Scandinavia. 🙂
Instagram doesn’t always show the tough nature of Vanlife – have you had any troubles or van problems on the road?
Written by Seb @vincentvanlife
All photo’s copyright Carolien @myscandinaviansaga