Travel & lifestyle : Katharina Böhler’s van life diary
Have you ever wondered what a life living in van would be like? Well we have! So we’ve asked Katharina to share with us her experience with this unique lifestyle - in case some of you were thinking about doing the same thing ;)
A house that brought me to so many places and that I’ve always seen as my home. I never thought that I could live in van until I tried it. And now, I can no longer imagine myself live in a house. I am a wanderer who finds home within herself. I’ve spent so many nights in different places. But always in my bed and with the ocean by my side.
What made you want to adopt the van lifestyle? What were you looking for?
My best friend and I were on a road trip through Portugal last year. It felt so good to be directly next to the sea and in the nature everyday, meeting great and like-minded people. After these four weeks of traveling, I decided that I wanted to live like that for a longer time and to be able to really get into that vibe, try a new way of living and learn to surf.
Do you think this lifestyle is helping you grow in a different way than everybody else your age? What HAVE you learnT about yourself so far?
Definitely! I am challenging myself with new and unknown situations and people everyday. Normally I am a rather shy and quiet person (I still am sometimes) but with every step I took away from my well known surroundings, I learnt how important it is to face your fears and grow stronger. There is so much more life has to offer than staying in a safe place and being scared about new things and risking something.
In Germany, there was no place for me, no place where I was truly feeling at home.Since I have been on the road, with my first own house always with me, I am feeling more at home within myself than ever. Of course, I still miss my family and friends, but I am living in the now, right here in this moment and I enjoy and appreciate that.
How do you deal with loneliness and/or travelling as a woman? Do you get scared OR sad at times?
Before my travel started I was really scared about being lonely therefore I asked a friend to come with me for the first three weeks.
After she left I was so excited and curiously happy about finally experiencing everything alone, but only a few hours later I began to feel really lonely and sad, because I had been to such a pretty place and I had no one to share it with. And then I began to think about the next few months and got really scared that it could all have been a big mistake. But just some days later, I met a really nice English man, we spend some days together and drove to different places. Afterwards I realized that wherever you go, it is easy to meet new people.
A few weeks ago I met Niki and now we are traveling together. We have the same route, we are both searching for some good waves to surf and share the same interests. Since then I have never felt alone again. And I am more than happy that I found someone to share all these great places, moments and waves with.
After driving more than 5000km away from home, I am feeling more at home than ever, within myself and the places I see. I follow endless roads and chase the sun.
We only met two months ago. Since then we haven’t spend one day or night without each other. We explored so many places together and watched so many sunsets. I have never stayed such a long time so close to somebody.
What does a typical day look like?
First of all, I have to admit that since Niki and I started travelling together, we are not getting out of bed before half past eleven or later. It is just too cozy cuddling in bed. We are spending most of our time together. One of us prepares coffee and breakfast, afterwards we head to the beach and check the waves as our day is rythmed by the tides. If there are good waves, we go surfing, if not, we wait and do different stuff, like reading, exploring the area, chilling, washing the dishes, grocery shopping, etc. As I am working as a freelance photo designer, I have to do some work every week as well.
As we are nearly every day surfing in the water, we shower in the ocean or use the showers at the beach. Additionally, I have a 5L pump-shower as well that I use sometimes, but I realized that the skin and hair don’t need shampoo or soap every day or even every week. Sometimes I visit a campsite to take a hot and long shower and shave. I either wash my clothes by hand, if there is just a little, or go to a laundry.
It is definitely important to have enough water in the van and fill bottles up whenever it is possible.
I really struggle with the lack of electricity. I only have a really small solar-panel. It takes about two sunny days to load the battery, and it is not even enough energy to charge my laptop battery full. In the beginning I often went to cafés to charge my laptop battery there, as I really need my laptop to work. As now I am traveling together with Niki, I can use some of his energy, lucky me :)
I met this 50 year old guy from England. We spend some time together, helping each other, making bonfires, drinking sherry and crossing borders together. I have never spend so much time with someone his age, except for my dad.
There is something about travelling that changes your mind and the way you see yourself. I learnt a lot during the last few months. Who I am, who I can be and who I want to be.
Every little sun ray on my skin warms my heart and fills my soul with light.
Would you find it hard to go back to a normal life ?
I have another two months of travel until I have to go back and I really cannot imagine to go back to normal life after living a life like this. It will be really hard for me to be bound to one place and in a city without the ocean or the nature around. Thanks to this Van Lifestyle I am completely where I want to be and I live the life I want to live.
This journey showed me that you can reach whatever you dream of. Always keeping that in mind gives me strength to live through harder times until better times come. I am already planning my next, longer journey and can’t wait to be back on the road again next year.
This little spot looked like a fairytale but became a nightmare. The night I spent here was the scariest one. The sound of the ocean echoed in the tunnel and made me feel like someone was coming for me.
Interview & photo customizing by Jessica Ayinda . Photography by Katharina Böhler.