#vanlife – The journey begins

Changing a daydream / reoccurring thought into a reality can be pretty daunting.  It’s easy to such visions in the realm of make-believe.  That way you’ll never be disappointed, right?  I will admit that although I’ve lived out many of my dreams, there have been a few that I was always just that little bit too afraid to bring into reality.  One of those was deciding to get myself a camper.

It was probably the guts of 2 years spent looking at different options.  What seemed such a difficult choice at the beginning was, in hindsight, a no brainer.  To live in a small space is quite challenging over long periods.  So the choice of a larger van with a high roof was, in the end, the deciding factor.  I think if I was going to run around only for a few days, maybe weeks, at at time I would have opted for something like a VW transporter, or a California (as much as the Mitsubishi Delica was a tempting thought they are just too rare in Europe for servicing).  To live in it I need quite a bit of storage, preferably in the form of a garage under the bed.

So, as the photo suggests, went looking for a longish wheelbase panel van.  For the longest time I thought of doing it myself, a notion that required me to believe I had the skill sets for the undertaking or even the idea that I could if I tried.  Conceding that I may not be able to do it myself I finally went looking online for options.  If you haven’t tried looking online and have ideas of finding Instagram/Pintrest recognisable conversions then don’t expect to be inundated with a vast array of beautifully crafted homes.  So I lowered my expectations and figured I could find something I could adapt.  Get at least the basic layout already there and then change it myself.  Even that was a challenge.  The Mercedes Sprinter I traveled to see in Scotland was a bust, with what would appear to be a mystery engine issue… with a high price tag and an owner denying there was an issue and thus inflexible in his price I went looking once more.  With momentum apparently on my side (even though I’d put the same search into google for days) I stumbled across what appeared to be a beautifully converted Ford Transit in a configuration that really suited me.  So a spontaneous flight down to Nottingham to meet the owner, a student that had converted it in his summer.

I would love to say that I went into the purchase with a cool objective head and clear eyes.  There were certainly a few issues that needed to be dealt with and clearly on the cheap.  Regardless I jumped in.  I just decided to go for it.  I’d figure out the seemingly minor issues later.  So there I was!  Driving my new van back to Ireland!  Only the third vehicle I’ve ever owned.

Back in Ireland I’m ready to get stuck into the minor fixes and get myself on the road as quickly as possible.  Alas… all I can say is that it was a good job I peeled back some of the facades… in fact I ended up stripping out the entire van and refurbishing it (the subject for an entire string of posts) in order for it to be both functional, practical, and safe.

By the time I got it on the road many lessons were learned, friendships were pushed to the limits, and I felt like I wanted rid of the bloody thing as it had eaten up so much time, effort, emotion, and cash.

Unfortunately by the time I managed to get everything ready I was due to head off to Canada for 6 months to play in the mountains!  More on that too, as I’ve been busy getting into all that rather than spending time on my laptop 😛

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