Early retirement - a new project
Last week, Sally asked me what I want to do? I don't think she meant it as a serious or deep question but I did have a real answer: I don't want to be boring.
To me, not being boring means doing things that aren't just the ordinary, not simply sitting on my backside watching other people do stuff. It sounds something like "I don't want to coast, I don't want to look back in the years to come and say, those things I imagined, I should have given them a go, I could have done more".
In some recent posts I've mentioned a project that I have in mind. It's actually not brand new, I've mentioned the idea before, but maybe it's time to start committing to it rather than just talking about it.
Plus, like many people at the moment, I'm stuck at home with our Covid-19 lockdown so it feels good to be thinking of something different than Coronavirus for a while. That may make me sound insensitive, but I do believe it's important that we keep other things in our lives and don't let Covid-19 be all consuming.
Anyway, let's have a look at what's behind my either brilliant or pretty stupid idea. The idea to buy a van and convert it into a camper.
Why do I want to get a van?
Now that's a good question, although whether I have a good answer is more questionable. Here goes:
Have you seen how cool the #vanlife pictures look on Instagram? All those young, active, good looking people - who wouldn't want to be like them? I'm pretty sure that if I build a campervan then I'll look as young, good looking and cool as they do😎...in case you want to call me delusional, no need, Sally does than enough for everyone!
My original round the world trip plan (which hasn't entirely gone to plan) included travelling through North America in a campervan. We haven't done it, but I'm not ready to let go of that idea just yet.
Buying a cargo van to convert into a camper will be a big project. Nothing like we've ever tried before but something we can do together, and I think the conversion is something that Sally will really enjoy.
I'm hoping that having a camper will make us go places, see new things, do new things too. Arguably we can do that without a camper, but I don't think we will, at least not nearly as much. I suspect it's quite easy to fall into a life of laziness/doing little and I'm determined not to let that happen.
Re-inheriting the family cats makes travelling difficult. It might not be conventional or easy, but my idea is that the cats can come with us in the camper.
One of the things that Sally doesn't like about travelling is the frequent packing and unpacking. A camper solves that (kind of), your temporary home on wheels, with your stuff inside, moves with you - no unpacking and re-packing required!
I can use my "if I had a van" Spotify playlist that I've already made.
Is now the right time?
No but yes but no but yes...there are always reasons to delay things.
No, because we can't actually do it at the moment. We can look at vans for sale on the internet, but we can't see them for real, and we aren't buying something that we haven't seen first hand.
I don't think we can build the camper at our apartment in France and, of course, during the current Covid-19 lockdown, we're not allowed to leave.
While we can't get on with the purchase or the physical build right now, we can use this time when we're stuck at home to plan and to try to learn about the hundreds of things that we don't know anything about. Electrics, solar, plumbing, joinery, cabinetry, insulation, actually everything about converting a van into a camper. We, OK I, can also use this time to be excited about the plan.
Why do something tomorrow that you can do today? That might not work in every situation, but it's not the worst adage to follow.
Is this really a good idea?
Well, this is a bit awkward! Hmm, to be honest, I'm not one hundred percent sure that it's one of my smarter ideas. If you're going to push me, maybe it's 40% a good idea, definitely more than 20%, perhaps 30%. I guess I'm not really selling this idea am I?
So if the "is it a good idea" rates somewhere in the 30% to 40% range, why do it?
Because I don't want to be boring...and I feel that this isn't boring
Because I don't want to look back in the years to come and say, if only...
Because I'd rather make a mistake trying something than not trying it at all
Because I think we can have some fantastic adventures. I suspect neither the build nor the travels will all be easy but then, most things worth doing aren't easy
Because I just want to do it. I'm working on the basis that not everything in life has to make sense!
What's the build plan?
This is where things get even more shaky - at present, there isn't much of a plan. What I've got so far is:
Do internet and YouTube research on van layouts, builds, electrical stuff, plumbing stuff, in fact loads of different stuff. We can do this now.
Draw up our plans with old fashioned paper and pencil.
Finalise what type of van we want to buy. There are various pros and cons, but I already have a good idea about this.
Figure out where it's best to do the build, the UK or France (my original idea was Canada, but that probably isn't practical, and too big a leap for Sally). We also need to figure out a specific location, do we need to rent a lock-up, or are there other options?
Realistically, it may be that the current lockdown situation will continue and this summer will be a bust. With building in the winter not being ideal, it may be spring/summer 2021 for the build.
What's the travel plan?
The UK and Ireland seem to be a good place to start. Although I'm from the UK, I've spent the majority of my adult life living and working abroad and I haven't really explored the land where I'm from.
After that, continental Europe is the obvious choice, close and also not previously explored by us.
And I still have travelling through North America in a campervan from my original round the world trip plan.
Before hitting the publish post button, maybe I should check in again on the reasons why buying a van and converting it into a camper might not be a good idea. Like that we don't know how to do it, that 60% to 70% of me says it may not be the right thing for us, like can we really travel with the cats? And that's before we even get to talk about the toilet/bathroom situation in a camper!😮 Against this, there's "but I just want to do it". If it turns out to be a mistake then so be it - it won't be ideal to spend all the time and money in vain, but it won't break us, and I won't worry that I'll look back and say "I wonder..?".
So back to being positive, it seems like a foolproof plan to me. Like I said, the Instagram and YouTube vanlifers are predominantly young and good looking, surely just a little of that can rub off on me?🤣 Now to see what Sally thinks😬
One last thing: I've had to update my blog to a new version and the comment section is different. It's great to receive comments so please take a moment to go through the new process - sorry if it's a bit of a nuisance the first time round. Sadly, all the old comments on previous posts couldn't carried across.