Vanlife couple Philipp and Yurena are traveling full-time in their VWT3 (AKA Reinhold) through Europe with a final destination of Tenerife.
How did you discover Vanlife?
We have had our van for about 7 years and have always been with it on shorter trips and occasionally over the weekend. Then two years ago we felt the urge to travel again and we wanted to go abroad for a longer period of time. The goal was set straight away. It should be my second home Tenerife. It was clear to us that we wanted to go there and not fly. It was important to us to explore the countries on the way. Especially Spain. Of course we wanted to make the trip with our van.
Tell us about your van
Our Van Reinhold is a 36 year old VWT3. When we bought it at a reasonable price 7 years ago, we first had to renovate it. Then we started the second renovation in March of this year. Everything was expanded. Reini has got new windows, a new floor, new seat covers. It is now self-sufficient thanks to a second battery and a solar panel, and some mechanical changes have also been made. We did most of the work ourselves. We have acquired a lot of knowledge and spent several weekends with the renovation. Roughly half a year. We have invested a lot of money for this.
How long have you been on the road?
Our journey started two months ago and is expected to last a year. Of these 12 months, we want to spend 6 months in Tenerife. Where part of my family lives and where we want to rent something permanent for a while. Until then we live in the van full time.
Where has Reinhold taken you so far?
On this trip we have already toured the north coast of France. From Normandy to Bordeaux. A really beautiful and varied area with a lot of historical background. We were also in the Basque Country of Spain and made friends with the locals there, until the weather thwarted our plans. From there we drove inland and saw spectacular landscapes. From a landscape like in the wild west to an oasis with tropical waterfalls and rustic mountain villages, everything was there. Then we went to Valencia because my brother is studying there. Now we are in Andalusia and in a few days we will go by ferry to the Canary Islands.
So until now we can say that we are completely overwhelmed by Spain. We think you don’t need to travel the world anymore. A trip to Spain is enough. Each region is almost like its own country. Scenic and cultural. Sometimes we feel like in Hawaii, sometimes like in Peru or Bolivia, sometimes like in the wild west and sometimes like in the tropics. Often a completely different language is spoken besides Spanish. For example, Basque is totally alien to us. It has nothing to do with Spanish at all and it is more like an Eastern European language. The exact origin is unknown.
What was your life like before Vanlife?
Here in Germany, we pursued insanely demanding jobs that demanded a lot from us. Philipp worked as a civil engineer and moved entire buildings and I led a forest kindergarten group. This has increased our desire for freedom and independence. Philipp will also work as a civil engineer on the go and I quit my job. However, I’m still running a small online shop with sustainable clothing. We are lucky that we can work a few hours a week from the “van office” and thus help finance our trip a bit. However, we fear that this will also deprive us of some of our freedom and independence.
What made you decide that Vanlife is right for you?
We have already traveled by plane and last winter we traveled all over Italy by train and an Interrail ticket for reasons of sustainability. But traveling with our Reini is just something very special. It’s like always having your home with you. We are flexible to stop where we want and can. And when we find a parking space, we can fall asleep and wake up in heavenly places. For example, we have stayed at the beach, a rocky cliff, a mountain lake or a waterfall several times. That’s something special.
Biggest Vanlife fail so far?
14 kilometers after our home village, we had the first breakdown. It was quite nerve-wracking when suddenly the screws on one of the wheels loosened, the indicator relay broke and the engine wouldn’t start. We then rolled into a supermarket parking lot and thought, now that’s it! After we had tightened the screws, the engine suddenly ran again and we could continue to Freiburg. There we ordered a new indicator relay from a friend, cleaned the seat of the wheel nuts, who was responsible for loosening the screws, and also ordered new screws. Then after 3000 kilometers we noticed that the tires were also set too poorly. After a grueling week, we found a workshop that could help us.
What do you find is the biggest challenge to living in a van?
The biggest challenge: the lack of space. Here, it benefits you to simply take as little as possible with you and to make the division in the bus as space-saving as possible. You also have to get used to the fact that everything is a bit more tedious. Where can I go to the toilet and wash? Where do we stay for the night? Where do we wash our laundry? Where do we get fresh drinking water from? What to do if it rains all day long? Where do we park our van safely?
What has been your most memorable experience so far?
I can’t make up my mind. We have seen magical sunsets, bathed in clear mountain lakes, swam in the turquoise sea, defied storms and waited in workshops, woke up in wonderful places and fell asleep on the cliffs. We also made nice acquaintances and saw architectural wonders. Everything is unforgettable.
What advice would you give to other travelers considering Vanlife?
Just do it. There is always a way to make it happen. In addition, such a van is a good investment for the future and a good way to travel even in pandemic times. And with the van you can explore the beauty of nature in Germany and Europe according to our motto Volver A Lo Simple meaning “back to the simple”.
Follow Yurena and Philipp’s journey here: instabio.cc/VolveralosimpleYurena on #vanlife: “We’ve seen magical sunsets. Bathed in clear mountain lakes. Swam in the turquoise sea. Defied storms.” Read our interview! Click To Tweet