Adele Dingles, 26, a photographer, and her videographer partner Thorin Toz, 26, ditched their three-bedroom home for something a little more portable.
The couple, who struggled during Covid lockdowns, now have a far more nomadic lifestyle, touring the world in a 23-foot long wheelbase sprinter van.
The vehicle cost them £7,000 and they’ve spent a further £13,000 turning it into a home, relying on solar and batteries for power on the road.
So far, Adele and Thorin have travelled a total of 20,000 miles in it, and have visited France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg.
They’re currently back in the UK to earn some extra cash, but have no plans on staying put.
‘We do a variety of shoots then leave again and live on small amounts of money to cover the insane fuel prices and food’ Adele said.
Once they have completed their work commitments, the pair will travel to Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey and The Canary Islands all within the next nine months.
Adele says living in a van saved her life. She suffers from ADHD and a mood disorder, and lockdown left her fearful of not being able to have new experiences.
The pandemic forced the pair to re-evaluate their lifestyle, which led them to decide to transform it and hit the road.
‘I found day to day life a struggle, I just didn’t feel like I belonged,’ Adele recalled.
‘I felt like something was missing from my life and I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I wanted to travel and see the world and get away from my tiny island that I had grown up on.
Adele’s mum was initially worries about her travelling in the world, as she sometimes struggles with change or without a defined structure.
However, she thrived with the freedom that van life brought.
‘Days went by and I was living in the van and I felt something in me switch,’ said Adele.
‘Muscles in my body which I hadn’t even thought of before relaxed, I felt my entire body change from a pressure I hadn’t even thought of to nothing, my body was healing and so was my mind.’
The couple live simply while they explore, using a 525W solar panel to generate electricity for their 200AH lithium leisure batteries.
Adele adds: ‘We have so much solar we can use a hairdryer for three hours and then it would die but would recharge again with the sun or driving each day.’
They cook off a camping stove hooked up to gas bottles, which they can easily get hold of throughout Europe.
While they adore their life, it isn’t without its scary moments.
‘When you hear a strange noise coming from the van on the road it can be pretty frightening,’ Adele explained.
‘The worst moment had to be when we had bad traveller’s belly from the Italian water and I accidentally left the lights on and drained the battery on a remote mountain road.
‘Luckily, the second person we flagged down stopped and helped us.’
Their next investment in the van will be a shower facility, but they are currently more focused on daily maintenance issues.
‘At the moment we use public showers available at multiple places like swimming pools, truck stops etc but we are looking into making the van shower accessible,’ Adele shared.
‘There are always things going wrong and needing fixed, from leaky skylights to drawers opening when we drive, we need to find a new solution for this. It needs maintenance but for us these issues are worth it.’
Thorin and his dad were able to take the van from drab to fab in just 15 days, spending eight to ten hours a day working on it.
‘I love it all, so much love went into designing our van it is hard to say a favourite,’ Adele said.
‘This lifestyle is beyond anything I could have imagined, the liberty you feel in your soul is nothing I can put into words, I feel as if now I am truly home.
‘My mental health and attitude towards life is getting so much better, I have grown so much and I have this way of life to thank. I live true happiness and I continue to work on myself daily.’
Before embracing van life full-time, Adele would work long hours, but loves that she can now use her camera skills to capture their life on the road.
Adele said: ‘We don’t need a flashy car, expensive clothes, the best hotel or villa.
‘We just need our little home on wheels, our camera, the open road and each other, and isn’t that what life is really about, going out there making memories and finding happiness?’
For others thinking of making the jump to nomad life, Adele has advice.
‘Do your research and follow other people on YouTube or Instagram so you can see the reality of it,’ she said.
‘Ask questions to other van-lifers. It isn’t all rainbows and you need to be prepared for things to go wrong.’
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