Today is officially the seventh day I left home to live in my self-converted van. And I can say a lot has happened in those days. Friday last week, I was overwhelmed with anxiety and sadness. It was a day of goodbyes and leaving the familiar behind. Not knowing what my life would be like the next day. Today I still don’t know what my life will be like tomorrow. However, I no longer feel anxious because of this.
All my plans failed
Saturday morning, I woke up early in my parent’s driveway. Ready for the final goodbye and eager to start my journey. I believed it would be best to have a plan for the first few days, just to not be immediately overwhelmed with entirely empty days. The route for the first day was easy. Lunch in Esh-Sur-Sûre in Luxembourg, dinner, and a place to sleep in Strasbourg at my boyfriend’s uncle. However, the uncle had to cancel, and I ended up sleeping (and cooking dinner) next to the French highway. Strangely, this night I slept really well, giving me some trust in van life.
For day two there was also a plan. Lunch around the Bodensee in Germany, followed by a campsite, in the mountains around Innsbruck. And again, this plan was not how the day went. First, I took a wrong turn in Germany, which added around 1.5 hours to the trip to the Bodensee. Here, I found out that Innsbruck was expected to have a lot of snow, and temperatures of -6 degrees (20 Fahrenheit). Besides, the plan for the next day, passing from Austria to Italy was risky, since the forecast predicted a lot of snow in the area. Again, I had to change the plan, and I slept on the highway just after Munchen that night.
I guess you expect me to say now that after two days of having to change my plans, things finally got better and are according to plan. But no. My days still don’t go as I plan, and therefore I stopped planning them. I drive, and wherever the weather is good enough, I stay. Either to explore the area or to sleep at night.
I guess the first day I truly let go of my plan, was the first day I felt relaxed on this trip. It was in Slovenia, where I really wanted to explore the Triglav mountain. However, snow, rain, clouds, and cold prevented me to enjoy this area of the country. I decided to just keep driving till I saw some sun. The result was an extra 160 km (100 miles) but in return, I found an amazing view and a really pleasant temperature. Since this day, my journey keeps getting better.
Depending on luck?
What I did not expect before I started this trip, is that although I might feel free being on the road, I still depend on many things I can not control. The weather is one, but also people and luck have become important.
March is not a tourist season in the countries I visit. Many facilities are closed. Campsites, toilets, and cafes are actually hard to find. Things that should be open are closed, and places that seem closed turn out to be open. It is difficult to find a place to stay. I kind of just need to have faith that whenever I need a place to stay, I will find one.
Last Tuesday, my period started. Traveling with cramps, back pain, and low energy, I had a moment of doubt about this whole adventure. But then the most amazing thing happened. The owner of Camp Raca, in Sveti Juraj, Croatia, allowed me to stay on his (still closed) campsite for free. Close to the sea, in the sun, and with a toilet nearby, I was able to pass this day. I regained my energy and was ready to continue my journey. Luck was able to change my day completely.
Life in the van
Till now, I have not felt like I am missing something in my van. It is small and doesn’t have the luxuries I’m used to at home. However, I feel comfortable inside it. When I want to relax, I close my curtains and feel safe and at home.
A benefit of living in a tiny van is that I am continuously forced to be outside. I am writing this part at the beach and wrote the previous part underneath the pine trees. I start my mornings with a hike to find breakfast, and cooking a simple dinner takes about an hour every night. And I enjoy this!
Being outside is something I really missed in my life in Rotterdam. Although I always considered myself someone who loves a hot bath and the ease of the dishwasher, I do not miss any luxury so far. I actually feel richer now that I have very few, and adapting was easier than expected.
Until now, I have already seen many beautiful places. Hills, old castles, and the Alpes. Lakes, beaches, and picturesque finishing villages. Forests, waterfalls, and more impressive landscapes. I have traveled over two-thirds of the distance to Greece, but I know that this is just the beginning of my journey. Besides, I can not wait until I get to Greece, since I believe that once I don’t have a destination anymore, the real experience of this journey starts. I have proven I can let go of wanting to know what comes next, and being anxious about the unknown. But can I live with absolutely no plan other than absorbing the beauty of my surroundings? Only time can tell!