Welcome to Turkey, a country filled to the brim with culture, incredible food, and no similarities whatsoever to the roast bird that you eat at Christmas. Sitting slap bang between eastern Europe and western Asia, Turkish history is an amalgamation of the Roman, Persian, Byzantine, Greek and Ottoman empires. The incredible architecture throughout the land pays homage to all of these different cultures, and now the Turkish people are making way for a brand new movement – Van Life Turkey.Today we’re delving into the lives of Anniek & Mattias @welivealittle, two Dutch vanlifers who are exploring the wonderful world of Van Life Turkey. Along with their faithful pooch, Tobi, they are learning everything they can about life on the road in this amazing country. Take it away guys!
Van Life Turkey – A Travellers Guide To Living The Van Life
Hey Anniek. Tell us about yourselves, your dog and your van.
We are Anniek & Mattias (25) from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Mattias is an environmentalist and Anniek is a Human Geographer. We met five years ago and started dating three years ago, and we dreamed about travelling together from the start! We have a cat called Finn in Amsterdam, and on our travels we added a new member to our family: Tobi, a shelter dog from Greece. He is 8 months old, cute, kind of adventurous but also really scared of everything. He hates being in urban areas with others around, but when we park our van in the middle of nowhere he totally loves his life and travelling with us.
We can easily park in the middle of nowhere, because we travel to remote places ànd have a 4 wheel drive van. We love our van; he’s older than us (26), brightly yellow, very little and very cute looking. We love traveling around with this van; it ain’t perfect but it takes us everywhere we want to go. Except when it’s too steep, too muddy or too far away; we did say that it’s an old van!What made you take the plunge and become Vandwellers?
I have to say, I can’t really remember why we wanted to travel in a van. We wanted to travel not too far away so friends and family could still easily visit us on our travels. The vanlife seemed like it would bring us a lot of freedom and Mattias really wanted to build a van ourselves. Anniek had already experienced Van Life Australia before and knew how good it was to travel in a 4×4, so we searched for days for a 4×4 van and in the end we found one!
“The Turks are very friendly and welcoming people, so if you park your van near a village people will stop by and offer you food and big smiles.”
The previous owner drove the van every year to Morocco with his family, so it seemed like a good plan to do that as well. So we slowly built the inside ourselves, celebrated our van with friends and family with a “bus warming” party, got the van life essentials and then started our vanlife journey in September 2017. We’ve been traveling for 9 months and we love our van and the freedom it gives to us. It’s cheap to travel in a van; its luxurious because we have everything with us and it’s adventurous because we go to a lot of remote places. The only downside is the driving; first of all for the environment and second of all because of the driving itself.
What’s it like in Van Life Turkey?
Turkey is a very big country, and although there are a couple of other vanlifers around in Turkey we haven’t seen many people on the roads. In our two months of travelling in a van in Turkey we’ve seen three other travellers in campervans. We’ve skipped a lot of the most touristic parts, so there are probably way more vanlifers around. In Turkey, there aren’t any official parking places for a camper. Wildcamping is tolerated so we haven’t had any big troubles with that. The Turks are very friendly and welcoming people, so if you park your van near a village people will stop by and offer you food and big smiles.
“Back in the days we had to work for others, now we work for ourselves.”
How do find traveling through Van Life Turkey compared to your previous lives?
Before we left the Netherlands we had to finish our studies and build the van, plus we worked a lot to earn money for our travels. This was a hectic period, and the first couple of months we needed a break from work, pressure and hectic things. Now we are 9 months on the road and we try to “work” a little bit more by blogging and designing our tiny house. It feels good to work from another perspective. We don’t have to do anything, we see so many beautiful places. When we want to work, we can work. When we don’t have the energy or when we don’t have the inspiration we don’t have to work. Back in the day we had to work for others, now we work for ourselves. (I do miss earning a little money though). The only thing we do miss about our life back in the Netherlands compared to Van Life Turkey are our friends and family. It’s hard to make friends on the road because we don’t meet many fellow travellers and the local people we meet don’t speak our languages.
Tell us about some of your favourite places that you’ve been to on your travels.
Our favourite places are the places where there are no other people around. Wildcamping in Turkey near villages or at picnic spot can be tough with a dog, because there is so much litter around. This is one of the downsides of travelling in Turkey. We have to clean those places up before we can let Tobi roam around, otherwise he would eat it all. Our favourite places are the places where there is no litter, no people, no nothing. We want to keep those places quiet, clean and empty, so we won’t give away exacts spots! We loved travelling around the south coast, it’s a pretty touristic part but when you take a couple of dirt tracks you can find a beach all by yourselves or a quiet walking track . We also loved the mountains near the black sea. They are very pretty and remote. Cappadocia was special as well, the most visited parts are really touristic. But when you beat the crowds and have the place all by yourselves it is a wonderful landscape.
We’ve spoken to a lot of people that are worried about things happening to them on their journey. Have you had any troubles whilst on the road?
Vanlife isn’t always easy and fun. On our Instagram page @welivealittle we try to show the real vanlife. Our van broke down a couple of times, and we’ve seen about ten garages in Turkey. Most things were pretty easy and cheap to fix. It is very adventurous to go to garages in other countries. In Turkey they were very helpful, they gave us tea and some gave big discounts. All the workers in the workshop stop working for a moment and go check out the van. We never had to wait, they fixed it while we drank our tea. Nevertheless, it is very stressful because they don’t speak English or any other language we speak, so it’s hard to understand.Another trouble was about the police. We’ve been sent away or questioned by police or other officials a couple of times. They weren’t friendly and couldn’t speak English as well. So it was hard to explain to them we didn’t do any harm. Tobi, our dog, was pretty sick as well. It was hard to find a vet and the language part was very hard. However, the whole village helped us to find a vet, called him and stayed with us the whole time. The vet gave us food and drinks, even when it was Ramadan. And the best thing was that we didn’t had to pay anything for his help and the medicine.
Do you have any top tips that you would like to pass on to the Van Clan readers?
On our travels through Van Life Turkey we’ve learned that we don’t need much to be happy. The minimalistic lifestyle helps us to focus on the things that we truly want in life. By living little, we live a lot! We care about the world, the people, the animals and the environment. We want to try to reduce our ecological footprint even more. So when we get back to the Netherlands we are going to start to build a tiny house. This little house will be completely off-grid and by living there we will focus even more on plant based food, good products, minimalistic life and zero waste living. We’ve learnt that we like this slow travel lifestyle and we would love to continue traveling. But we’ll need to make some money first. Not too much, because we’ve already found out that we don’t need much!Last but not least, we’d like you to sum up your travels in three simple words.
Live a little!
Looking for the best van life gear around? Check out our product reviews here:
- iKamper EatOut – The only piece of kit for the off grid chef.
- Parrot Anafi – A affordable 4K drone for travel bloggers.
- Scrubba Washbag – Keep your clothes clean on the go.
Written by Seb @vincentvanlife
Photo copyright @welivealittle