After Retired She Downsized into a Conversion Van - Finding Freedom at 58

When It Comes to Solo Travel, I Was a Late Starter. It Wasn’t Until My 58s That I Took a Look at Myself and All Those Other Women Who Had Traveled on Their Own and Decided to Try Going Somewhere Alone. 

After Thinking About What Sort of Travel I Would Most Enjoy on My Own, I Settled on a City Break Just Short and Exciting Enough to Dip My Toe In. It Was a Success, Soon Followed by a Lengthy Road Trip and Countless Other Journeys, Lasting from Day Trips to Several Week-long Adventures.

I Liked the Sensation of Going Somewhere New Alone, I Also Met a Ton of Cool People Along the Way, Including Cute, Foreign, Single Men, Which is a Dream for Single Sheens.

1. Life on the Road

We’ve driven over 100,000 miles in the past 6 years, and this unexpected standstill has given us the time to think back to our favourite places. The awe inspiring mountains of Norway, sandy trails of Zion NP, wild Brown Bears along the Finnish/Russian border, crystal clear rivers running through Slovenian gorges and the wild Atlantic coast of Portugal. There’s a lot, and there’s specific memories attached with each one. 

Norway was where we discovered our love of hiking in 2014, before spending time in the van there we’d never given ourselves the opportunity to immerse ourselves within landscapes such as that. The ability to park up in our home on wheels was what really made our love for all things travel a way of life - being in bricks and mortar at the moment has really reminded us why we fell in love with vanlife to begin with. The freedom to have a new back garden every day and explore new places is what keeps us going. 🌟

2. Memorable Experience

One of My Favorite Feelings in the Whole World is when I Am Truly, Entirely, Completely in the Moment. During These Times I Feel So Alive and Free, and Suddenly I Have This Tiny Glimpse of the Expansiveness of This World and How Everything That Has Happened in My Life Has Led Me to This Moment, and It All Makes Sense. It’s So Beautiful and Raw, and I Can’t Contain My Wonder.

I Usually Start Laughing My Head Off, Like a Crazy Person, As Gratitude and Joy Fill My Heart So Quickly That I Literally Feel Like My Chest is About to Explode (in a Good Way).

Those Moments Have Happened Just a Few Times on This Trip. One Was when I Couldn’t Find a Shower in Squamish, British Columbia, After Hours of Searching, and I Finally Decided to Just Run into This Little Beach Where the River Meets the Sea. I Jumped in and It Was So Cold. No One Was Around and a Giant Slab of Granite from the Mountains Towered Overhead and I Just Realized in That Moment That This is What It’s All About. I Love Those Moments. I Live for Them.

3. 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 

I’m All About the Gut Feeling, and I Had One of Those As Soon As the Van Popped Onto Craigslist After Months of Searching. It Was in My Price Range (less Than $3,000), Had Less Than 160,000 Miles and Came with Excellent Reviews (4.9/5 Stars from Hundreds of People Who Said These Vans Run Forever).

4. She Was Inspired

I Met a Friend Who Lived out of Her Honda Element for a Whole Year by Herself and Traveled and Climbed All Around North America. She Was a Huge Inspiration to Me, Although I Never Thought I Could Do It by Myself As a Single Woman.

I Was Scared, and I Wanted to Face That Fear Because I Knew Great Stuff Was on the Other Side of It.

5. Redesigning The Interior

It Was Intense and Quick. with the Help of My Awesome Friend, It Took Just About One Month (maybe Even Three Weeks) to Rip Everything Out, Insulate, Panel the Sides and Ceiling and Install Flooring. I Drove from Florida to Maine All the While Sleeping on a Pad, and then Built the Bed and Cabinets in Another Two Weeks at My Grandparents’ House in Pennsylvania.

6. A Fresh Look

With Construction Finished, Added Spunk and Personality to Make the House-on-wheels a Home. 

The Finished Look is a Stunning Boho-chic That Feels Welcoming Yet Spacious, in the 40-square-foot Motorhome. Aside from Making It Aesthetically Pleasing, It's Also Practical. 

7. The Finished Interior

There’s a Cassette Toilet Under That Pretty Little Cover. Behind It is the Car Refrigerator. There’s Lots of Storage Under the Bed.

I Wanted to Make Sure We Did Everything Right So That It Would Last and Wouldn’t Break when We Were on the Road.

8. On to New Adventures 

My Initial Trip in the Van Through the States and Canada Taught Me How Much of Our World is Still Wild. Time and Time Again, I Found Myself Waking Up to Spectacular Sunrises over Stunning Mountainscapes While Camping Alone in the Woods, or at the Viewpoint at the End of a Hike Without Another Human in Sight.

That Means I Have Freedom. I Can Pick Fun, Sporty, Small, Agile—whatever I Like. the Van Lets Me Channel My Inner Twenty-something While I Take My Top Down, Let the Wind Blow Through My Hair, and Have Some Fun!

I Chose to Go Only Places I Have Never Been Before, and It Has Been Incredible.

9. Kungsleden

We've been taking in our surroundings, our completely awe inspiring surroundings. This very area we're currently in completely changed our lives four years ago when we hiked 440km along the famous Kungsleden to create an inspiring documentary.

At the time we'd never hiked for longer than two days at a time, and now here we were in the last largest remaining wilderness in Europe, backpacks stocked with cameras, batteries, food and camping supplies, with nothing but determination and eagerness spurring us on.

To be back here, in this part of the world where we showed ourselves what we were capable of, has reminded us what we can all achieve if we truly believe in ourselves. Seize the day, you will surprise yourself πŸ˜€ 

10. Wild Brown Bear Lodge

An I N C R E D I B L E experience! Words can’t even describe, you’ve got to swipe to see the true amazingness that we saw πŸ‘€ at in Finland. Bears, Wolverines, and Foxes came over to say Hi πŸ‘‹ whilst we were hidden away in a hide for 2 nights. 

11. North Norway

Standing at the edge, looking out into magnificence. If we’d never moved into a van five years ago I doubt we ever would have seen the northern lights. It wasn’t something we’d even thought of wanting to see until we were planning our first roadtrip in 2014. Before then it was something we’d heard of but never envisioned camping beneath for as many nights as we could handle the cold. 

Fast forward five years and it is like greeting an old friend; stoked to see them and not knowing where this adventure will take you ✨

12. Norway

πŸŒ…Autumn is creeping upon us fast up north, blink and the trees are now a thousand shades of orange. Winter is around the corner and we’re excited, five years ago we were here in our small VWT4, no heater & summer tyres yet determined to stick it out - we lasted until mid-October before we realised inland Sweden was going to already be snow packed πŸ™ˆ
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That was a lesson which really drove our desire for a beasty heater this time around, and some decent tyres! Now we are enjoying the changing seasons πŸ‚

13. Lofoten

Inside this cabin is a treasure trove of memorabilia left over from a number of people passing through; copious amounts of candles, beer bottles, reindeer hides, a stuffed cuddly elephant, streamers, food, a guitar, murals, notes and so much more. 

It’s a pretty special place to hang out and spot the northern lights πŸ’«

14. Lofoten

We stayed at this spot for a couple of nights (not in the actual hut as our bed in the van is waaaay to comfy to pass up on), another unbelievable place to visit here in Norway! 

It was wonderful to stop here and catch up with Roger & Gro and Clare & Ryan (and Seb!), who are all travelling in their vans too ❀️

15. Eggum, Nordland, Norway

The things you see outside your van! Last night was the strongest Northern Lights we’ve ever experienced, starting off before the sun had even set we were up until the early hours revelling in the amazing display. 
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Tag someone you’d like to share this experience with ✨

16. Hamnøy

We stayed on one of those islands last night, parked up amidst the stockfish racks overlooking the ocean and mountains. Before coming to Norway 5 years ago we’d never seen or heard of these ancient drying racks, which are always empty by this time of year. A drying method for harvested fish (mainly cod in these parts) which allows them to last for many years once dried. The grass and surrounding rocks has an interesting array of dried fish heads still πŸ™ˆ

17. Atlantic Ocean Road

Waking up for sunrise in November is a lot more fun than sunrise in June πŸ˜… rolled out of bed at 8am and were back on the Atlantic Ocean Road in minutes. Some may call it overrated, and it sure is short, but it’s a nice little stretch to drive that’s for sure πŸšŒπŸ’¨

18. Reine

Growing up in Birmingham - England’s second biggest city - meant that views like this didn’t exist, only tower blocks and office buildings. Travelling made us realise that we no longer wanted to be part of the concrete jungle and are much happier in remote places 😍 cheers to attiljh for recommending this spot πŸ‘Œ

19. Geiranger

What’s the scariest road you’ve ever driven? 30 minutes after this photo was taken we were climbing 1000m high switchbacks on pure ice. Theo handled it like he’d been an ice road trucker since day 1 whilst I just couldn’t believe the one driving condition I’d sworn was an absolute worst case scenario was actually happening. We made it out in one piece, confident we could handle that situation again and ready to avoid any winter Norwegian mountain passes for the foreseeable future πŸ₯Ά

20. Bergen

🌞Sitting on the step, clutching a coffee, clinging onto the last rays of sunshine. Norway you have been incredibly amazing these past months and it’s with heavy hearts that we’re leaving tomorrow, BUT! But we still have a couple of gorgeous travel videos coming out from our time here, one which actually came out TODAY! Link in bio ✨

21. Denmark

Welcome to Denmark πŸ‡©πŸ‡° it’s strange to no longer be in Norway after exploring the beautiful country since August! We’re now winding our way south, and it’s lovely to be back in Denmark after 5 years. When we first hit the road in 2014 we ended up spending an entire month driving around Denmark; there’s a lot of cool stuff to see here and we have so many wonderful memories ✨

22. Peak District National Park

When did you last take time to #SwitchOff? This photo is a #throwback to our time in the Peak District National Park in May. We’d been staying in the bustling city of Nottingham for a couple of weeks and needed an escape, the Peaks were calling our name for a #MicroGap - a concept by @visitengland to get people out there, take some time - a day or a weekend - to pack the best bits of a gap year into an experience allowing you to Switch Off, Give Back, Learn More or Go Wild in England.

23. Bergen, Hordaland

We’re creeping closer to the end of 2019 and also the end of our Norwegian adventures in today’s video. It’s hard to leave beautiful places, but as we spoke about in the video we’ve got BIG PLANS for 2020... any guesses where we’re headed to?

24. Longpont

The answer is going to be no, because there is no such thing as perfection. It’s completely subjective, life is how you perceive it and react to every single aspect of it. We know that Van Life can be portrayed as perfect, especially online, but it’s always worth absorbing everything with a pinch of salt πŸ§‚ what you may think is perfect is completely normal or even imperfect to others. We don’t shower for a week at a time; which I know others will think is 100% imperfect. For us it’s just normal, not necessarily perfect but just life. Anyway, this is one of those rambles to say this photo was taken on a normal day, in a normal place, in our perfect van πŸ˜‰ 

25. Europe

🐈 Everyone knows a cat goes its own way, and if you try to get it to post for a photo it will look down through the lens with a hatred so deep, so ANGRY, that you will quiver with fear. That being said, @ginjeybear is the best furry companion you could dream of travelling with. 

26. France

🌬 We’ve been driving through a windswept France these past few days as we’re heading back to the UK for our final prep before shipping to Canada. We’ve had some issues getting our visas organised in time, and I’m not going to lie - I was feeling incredibly nervous for a couple of weeks that everything was going to unravel before it had even begun. Travelling isn’t always as simple as moving from A to B, but as my favourite saying goes ‘it always works out in the end’.πŸŽ₯

27. United Kingdom

This is not where we were planning to be, in fact next week would have seen us and the van heading to Canada, but as we’re sure most of you have seen by now there is a global pandemic of Coronavirus which has meant we’ve sadly had to cancel/postpone our North American adventure for the time being (hopefully not too long). Coronavirus has been on our radar since early January and we were aware of everything occurring, we hoped we’d be able to get to Canada before it escalated even further but in the past week it has changed into a worldwide lockdown understandably. We’re incredibly happy that our van wasn’t already half way across the Atlantic when Canada shut its borders otherwise we would have been in a particularly sticky situation.

28. United Kingdom

We’ve driven over 100,000 miles in the past 6 years, and this unexpected standstill has given us the time to think back to our favourite places. The awe inspiring mountains of Norway, sandy trails of Zion NP, wild Brown Bears along the Finnish/Russian border, crystal clear rivers running through Slovenian gorges and the wild Atlantic coast of Portugal. There’s a lot, and there’s specific memories attached with each one. 

Norway was where we discovered our love of hiking in 2014, before spending time in the van there we’d never given ourselves the opportunity to immerse ourselves within landscapes such as that. The ability to park up in our home on wheels was what really made our love for all things travel a way of life - being in bricks and mortar at the moment has really reminded us why we fell in love with #vanlife to begin with. The freedom to have a new back garden every day and explore new places is what keeps us going. 

29. United Kingdom

One question we’re asked all the time is what's the paint used in your van? Today, we wanted to share the answer and hopefully save a few of you some trouble! The real answer is we blended up Bee's dress to create a custom colour unique to our van...just joking 😜

30. United Kingdom

✨The impromptu standstill gave us a chance to clear out the van, clean it, repaint it, tidy up the mess created by Ginjey with the carpet 😭, add curtains, and spruce up quite a few other things. It’s really odd how removing our personal objects such as bedding, kitchenware and sofa cushions stopped it feeling like home. The JOY at putting those thing back in their rightful places was immense; it feels like home again and now we are just awaiting the green light to get back on the road.

31. Used to Life

Probably Just the Creature Comforts and Not Having to Make So Many Daily Decisions.

But I Am Finally Starting to Truly Adapt to This Way of Life, and It’s Totally Freeing. I Wouldn’t Change It.

32. What's Next?

I’m Not Sure Where I See Myself in Five Years, but I Feel Like Sometime I Might Want to Put Down More Solid Roots—i’d Love to Buy Property Somewhere and Have a Dog and an Art Studio, but Continue Traveling. I Can See Those Things for Myself; I’m Just Not Sure when It’ll Happen.

I’m Calming Down the Travel for the Winter Months but Will Still Be in the Van. I Am Currently in Colorado, and Between November and December, I'll Be Near Joshua Tree, California.

Go Up and Down and Around and Backward and Sideways. Start Again. Let People Think You’re Nuts. Yes. Create That Precious, Beautiful (perhaps Non-linear) Life You Love!

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