Have you ever had the roof in your home leak really badly? It’s pretty stressful, right? Every time it rains you freak out a little. And that constant worry about how much it will cost to fix!
Now imagine the leak is right next to your bed. And it splashes all over the place even if you put a bucket underneath it. Your slippers are wet, your walls are wet, the paint is starting to peel off, everything is damp. And you have no heater to dry stuff off. And it keeps raining really, really hard, like buckets of water coming out of the sky.
One of my favourite things about travelling is how easily you make close friends with the right people in this environment. Travelling the way we travel, living in a van and leading an essentially dirtbag lifestyle, brings us in contact with like-minded people and we just…click.
Living and travelling the world in a van while climbing at some of the most famous destinations across the globe…what could possible be better?
Having this freedom and opportunity is a massive privilege, and that’s something I never let myself forget. But vanlife, like any other form of travel, doesn’t come without its own difficulties. It may be a dream come true, but it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, just like any other form of travel.
The reality is, travel can be lonely, travel can be disorientating, travel can make you feel insecure and confused about the future. People rarely write about it, but like any other reality, travelling is bittersweet.
A couple of weeks ago we really slowed down from our already pretty slow lifestyle. We went to visit our good friends Anna and Lukas in their family holiday home in Alsace – a green and hilly French region close to the German border.
This house is a real hidden gem. Nestled in the midst of a thick forest, it is only accessible via a narrow and bumpy dirt track, on which our Ford Transit nearly bottomed out. The building is off the grid. It is powered by batteries and a generator, with a boiler heating up the water, but has no central heating or electricity. Which meant fires every night for warmth and small battery powered lights to get around at night.
New Zealand is not one of those destinations you usually go
to solely for the rock climbing, not unless you’re Chris Sharma. That’s partly
because it’s so damn far away and expensive to get to from most parts of the
world. There are many far cheaper and closer climbing destinations for most of
us, and climbers are a famously dirtbag bunch.
But more importantly, New Zealand is far too breath-taking and
offers so much for the outdoorsy adventure lover, that to come here for the
climbing alone would be worse than sacrilege. So of course, in the four months
that my partner and I spent in NZ, climbing was not at the top of our agenda.
Rather, it was dominated by catching up with his family and
friends, all of whom hadn’t seen him in years; eating and drinking a lot at
these gatherings; and trying to fit in all the sights and do all the activities
we could afford (which was sadly a small minority of what’s out there).
Nevertheless, no self-respecting climber would go to a new
destination and…not climb at all! Plus, NZ was the old stomping ground of my
partner and I was eager to see where he cut his teeth on the rock.