Ever wanted to pack all of your possessions in van (preferably a pretty VW Kombi in a pastel colour) with one of your best friends and road trip to a new country? For a number of years a traveler friend and I have put it on our bucket list that we’ll buy a van and live the van life after returning from living in London. Apparently, we couldn’t wait that long and decided to give it a go on a long weekend road trip through Wales.
We hired a car and after a few scary minutes of each of us remembering how to drive (I hadn’t driven a car in over a year and a half) we were on our way from London to Wales. Armed with a double mattress that perfectly fit the boot of the van (with all seats lying down) and a very vague idea of where we wanted to go, the road trip had begun.
We set off for the Pembrokeshire coast as I knew I wanted to hike a coastal path and drive along the seaside. If you’re heading to Wales, I highly recommend heading to the south west sea line and stumble on some of the most gorgeous views.
Where to Visit:
I fell in love with this picture perfect little coastal town with lovely coloured houses, adorable pubs and beach side walk. It is also the perfect place to base yourself if you plan on hiking the Pembrokeshire coastal path.
Other not to miss sites along the path are:
St Davids Head
The Stack Rocks
Church Doors Cove
Green Bridge of Wales
Living the van life (even for just a few days) was all kinds of exciting and exactly the escape we needed from busy London. However, as two city slicker girls who rarely camped and had only slept in a car once or twice previously, we did pick up on a few tricks that would have made the experience slightly more smooth (if a little less exciting) if we had known this earlier.
Tips for Living The Van Life (Even if only for a few days)
1.Always plan where you’re going to sleep that night.
As we had never road tripped with the idea of sleeping in our car before, we weren’t entirely sure of the rules and legalities of the whole thing. We also planned to drive further than we did on the first night and thus ended up having to park in a dodgey trucker carpark on a side street in Bath. During the night I think both of us pretended to sleep while our heart rate increased at every sound of someone coming out of a pub, and it wasn’t until a huge downpour came over us did we manage to drift off. Needless to say, we researched and booked campsites for the next nights of our trip which were far less nerve racking (and bonus meant we could shower and pee freely..).
2. Always bring a portable mirror, preferably with a suction cap on the back.
Cos you know, it’s nice to live in the back of a van and not LOOK like you live in the back of a van.
3. Always bring a knife.
No, not that kind of knife, a bread knife. As we were trying to keep costs low, we went out and bought a loaf of bread to make sandwiches for our breakfasts and lunches. Apparently once you leave London there are no Pret’s or Costa’s that will give you a free plastic knife, and spreading with a spoon just doesn’t quite create the same culinary effect.
4. Fish and Chips on the seaside in the back of a van is always a good idea.
Also add a bottle of cider, a trashy magazine and a best friend for best results.
5. A large black sheet has many uses.
A picnic blanket, a bedsheet, a basket.. the uses are endless (ok there are like 4 good uses). One use I would definitely recommend thinking about (especially if you’re sleeping in a car that’s general use is not to be slept in) is placing it over the windows at night. This both gives you privacy for changing and sleeping (funnily enough the thought of someone staring at me while I sleep doesn’t fill me with happiness) and also shades you from the sun in the morning so you don’t wake up in a ball of sweat (or up at 5am).
6. Crack a window.
Or more specifically, crack the windows at the driver and front passenger side doors. This stops you from getting wind directly on you as you sleep, but also means you won’t wake up in a steaming furnace of your own breath.
Given we managed to have the most perfect weather Wales has probably seen in awhile, but I would definitely say that road tripping the coastal path is the best way to see this beautiful part of the U.K.
So tell me, have you ever lived the van life, even for a weekend? Tell me all your tips and tricks!