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As European borders begin to open up again post-lockdown and the world begins to peek tentatively out of it’s doorways, there is certainly a growing sense of hope. After many months of future uncertainty, we now have the first opportunities of travel freedom returning to us.
Thankfully, just in time for the summer season!
With many flight companies out of action and varying international restrictions still in place, easy globe-trotting may not be available quite yet - but that doesn’t mean we can’t still explore and venture our way across Europe!
In recent years, ‘van life’ has become quite the social media star. With many eco-conscious travellers opting to take to the roads rather than the skies the movement has become a phenomenon that has caught the attention (and the inspiration) of many dedicated travellers.
The beauty of van life is its flexibility - you are free to make the journey your own!
Thinking it’s too far a leap from your sofa? Van life is actually far easier than you might have expected, and you don’t need to invest in your own vehicle. There are numerous hire options available along with a wealth of online guidance to support you.
Here are 7 reasons why ‘van life’ could be your best travel option this coming summer:
1. Enjoy flight-less freedom. When you take your trip on to the road, you remove the restrictions of flight based travel options. Want to change route? Go ahead. Curious about a new area? Change your itinerary en route, or scrap it altogether to allow organic adventure to occur. Not only that, but your ethical conscience will rest far more easily each night in the knowledge your carbon footprint is greatly lessened.
2. Keep it original. Break away from the beach brigade in favour of a more original form of travel. There are a multitude of small van-home hire companies who supply bespoke designed vehicles that are ready to go. From single person VW’s to full length motorhomes in a variety of modern or classic styles, the choice really is yours. Plus - just think of the photogenic potential here!
3. Challenge yourself to try something new. If you’re used to package holidays and company organised itineraries, then this could be the perfect time for you to break away from your comfort zone. Van life is a slow paced mode of travel that provides a wealth of self-discovery opportunities. Embrace the moment and enjoy the many joys that van life might offer you that a hotel itinerary cannot.
4. You don’t need any specialist knowledge. Depending on the van you hire to travel in, the chore list will be slightly different. Primarily, you will only need to empty and refill the water tanks, dump the waste unit (much easier and cleaner than you’ll have imagined) and ensure your fuel and water levels are topped up like any other vehicle. Besides the ability to unscrew a tank topper lid, you really won’t need any further capabilities other than a strong sense of adventure!
5. Enjoy the many benefits of travel tech. Wandering freely is one thing - getting lost and stressed is quite another! Make use of easy to use apps such as Park4Night (search recommendations for local and legal park up spots) Magic Seaweed (when surf boards fit on the roof of a van, you’ll want to know the local wave forecast) and Yelp (for foodie finds) to make your travel experience all the more enjoyable.
6. Safety comes first. We have faced an extremely intense - and worrying - period of time recently with the presence of the recent pandemic crisis. The time for concern is not quite over despite the lessening of restrictions in recent weeks. If you’re still mindful of social distancing, then van life could be an ideal option for you as it will offer the capacity for quarantining when necessary along with a perfect excuse to socially distance without causing potential discomfort between you and other accommodation users.
7. It’s simpler than might you think. Van life is actually one of the easiest ways to travel across Europe. Many European countries, such as Spain and Portugal, are actually even more friendly to van travellers than the UK might be - with the parking opportunities to match! Gently rolling through Europe and parking up each evening at a spot with a view is nothing less than magical. As you sit in the doorway of your van watching the sun go down with a plate of local produce on your lap, you might never want to venture home again.
When it comes to travel, it can be tempting to be drawn in by the glittering ocean images and cityscapes we see online. Bearing in mind the limitation and the overwhelm we have all fought our way through in recent months, it could be exactly the right time for you to adjust your future focus. What do you really want from your travel ventures, beyond what you have been told to expect?
Van life is one of the most nourishing forms of travel that exists for the reasons listed above as well as numerous others. The experience of freedom is often what we are seeking when we book a holiday break. When you travel Europe on wheels you are cultivating opportunities to experience freedom in a whole manner of ways, and introducing new experiences to yourself in ways you might never have otherwise.
There has never been a better time to embrace the many gifts that van life can offer. Don’t forget that this is one of the most autonomous modes of travel and that if you feel unsure at any stage, you are welcome to change route or alter your plans. You are the captain of your road-based ship, and Europe is waiting for you!
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