Tag Archives: #vanlife

Wild Camping in the UK

Wild camping in the UK vanlifediary.com
Photo by Manuel Meurisse on Unsplash

One of the main attractions to vanlife is waking up in a different spot every day. From beaches to mountains and forests to urban stealth spots, the possibilities are endless when you are wild camping in the UK. If you are new to vanlife and want to know more about where you can sleep in your van, you are in the right place! We have put together this comprehensive guide to help you overcome your nerves, fill you with knowledge and give you some inside tips!

Sleeping in our van but not on a campsite was something that we were both a little nervous to do when we first started so we know how it can be! Will someone knock on the door? Should I respond to it? Could we get arrested? Now, a year later we feel much more confident about wild camping in the UK and have some great locations that we like to visit.

The first time is the hardest!

We had done a few trial nights in the run up to our adventure of full time vanlife to get us used to it and have camped all over England and Wales since. One of those adventures was a week-long tour of North Wales where we found spots in Trawsfynydd, Betws-y-Coed, Caernarfon and Anglesea.

Maybe we have been really lucky. Perhaps we mastered the art of parking a massive campervan where she wouldn’t cause too much of a problem. At 7.2 meters long, she isn’t very subtle! Having only been asked to move on once in our travels and that was because we had parked somewhere out of our norm and was totally our fault. We moved straight away and went to another spot nearby that we had been to before.

What is Wild Camping in the UK and is it legal?

Wild camping in Wales
Wild camping spot in Wales

It depends on who you ask. Some adventure enthusiasts refer to wild camping as a tent and a sleeping bag. No luxury, no bed, no leisure battery, no vehicle etc. For vanlifers we often refer to wild camping as sleeping in our van away from home, not on a site and without hook up to electric. It is also referred to as free camping.

Almost every piece of land is owned by someone in the UK. Without permission you do not have right of access to their land, even if they leave the gate open! If you are asked to move, you must do so. That being said, there are some spots where ‘wild camping’ is tolerated in the UK and as long as the basic rules of decency are followed you should be able to enjoy your trip without interruptions. The more remote your location, the easier it tends to get so busy tourist resorts can be hard to wild camp in and you may need to look at sites if you are planning a holiday in the south west of England in peak season!

Scotland is a lot more tolerant to wild campers

However in the last few years campers and motorhomes have been flocking to the country in their droves and over the last 6 months we have seen the Scottish councils putting up barriers and making it harder. We will touch on this later on in the post.

Essentially, whilst wild camping is not technically legal in the UK, if you are discrete and courteous, do not camp where there are signs that state no overnighting allowed, and move if asked you should be ok. Vanlifediary will not be held accountable for your decision to wild camp. We provide the info. Please do your own research in case rules have changed.  

What types of camping are there?

wild camping in the forest

If by the end of this article you are not quite ready to leap to wild camping in the UK, there are other places that you can go to bridge the gap from campsites to wild camping.  This will help build up your confidence in staying in more unusual places without the luxuries found on campsites.

Pub Stop Over

Some pubs, like Tuckers Grave Inn in Somerset, welcome campervans and will either charge a minimal fee for you to stay or just ask that you eat dinner as payment in return for sleeping in their car park. It is not always cost effective. We tend to relax and have a few drinks which is fine as we are staying overnight. If you are on a budget it may not be the best option but it is a great way to relax and have a nice evening with not far to stagger.

Please note that you must be careful if drinking when in charge of a vehicle. Do your own research but you must be able to demonstrate that you are not intending to drive the vehicle when under the influence so if like us you have a separate key for the engine and the doors, perhaps ask to keep the engine key behind the bar! We do not drink unless at a site or pub stop over. Otherwise you could be asked to move on at any point and be over the limit.

Brit Stop

campervan and louise vanlifediary
Chewy taking in the view with Louise

Finding spots like farm shops, thatched country pubs, vineyards and breweries can be tricky however if these sounds like places you may like to investigate we suggest you look at Brit Stops. They aim to enable direct contact between you and the providers. They aim to encourage motor homers and caravaners to try local produce and for sustainable tourism through links to local communities. Although not Wild Camping, these can give you a good taste for being off grid in the UK.


Several different options on this site including NightStops, a scheme overseen by the Motor Caravaners’ Club in conjunction with the monthly magazine. Comprising of around 50 individual properties from pubs to community areas, they offer overnight accommodation for motorhomers in their vehicles. You can stay for free at one of the pubs if like above, you buy a meal in exchange. You do need to be a member of the club to benefit.

Small campsites.

Sites like Pitchup.com or the Camping and Caravan Club do offer more basic sites for you that vary in facilities. Some are just a field with hardly any facilities. It will get you used to being off the grid and away from hook ups.

Basic rules of ‘free/ wild camping in the UK

No Parking sign
Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

Don’t litter or empty your toilet!

Some people are very disrespectful when ‘wild camping’ by littering in the UK. Either by leaving rubbish or emptying toilet cassettes along with chemicals and waste matter. We have witnessed this ourselves on many an occasion, walking through a forestry car park a couple of months ago there was toilet paper and human faeces by almost every tree stump around the car park. We found washing up sponges and food wrappers, tin cans and cigarette butts all over the place in another location.

On one occasion, in a car park by a canal in Coventry, we filled 2 bin bags of rubbish that we found there and took it to be responsibly disposed of. Most campsites that we asked during one of our earlier posts advised that they do allow campers and motorhomes to come in for an hour or so to use the facilities such as showers and toilet disposal for a small fee or donation. It is not impossible to be responsible and is part of being in nature and respecting it. Emptying your toilet and leaving rubbish is a sure way to get into bother.

Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints.

Local councils in the UK are ending wild camping spots. By putting in height restricted barriers and no camping signs they quickly eliminate a subgroup. Councils will not allow us to use areas if they are being treated like a tip. I am one of the first to say that caravan and motorhomer’s get blamed for a lot of the rubbish and not all of it is theirs. Vanlifediary feel that if everyone left a location a little tidier than you found it and the rubbish was removed, we would get positive reviews instead of negative ones.

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

Don’t outstay your welcome

It is best not to park in the same spot for more than 2 nights in a row. It is OK to revisit stops as long as you are not there permanently or so frequently that you could become a nuisance. If you have a vehicle that stands out a little then it will be easily noticed by the local community and authorities. By having a few options and moving around every night you can offset the impact to the community and have more luck at being left alone. If you are going to be in the same area for a few days, it is good practice to have a list of night spots and day spots.  

Do not get too comfortable! Don’t put up your awning, get you deck chairs out with washing lines and make a garden like you would on a campsite. Keep everything close and inside the van as much as possible. Taking up more room than necessary is a quick way to make enemies and upset the locals! ‘Setting up camp’ may make it look like you are planning to stay a long time.

Do not enter areas where there are farm animals, crops or historical sites.

Farmers are not the most tolerant. As tempting as it may look to just nip into a field where the gate is left open for a safe camping spot, It isnt a good idea. Also good to note, farmers tend to have big guns so tread carefully however we have never put ourselves in a situation where we are on farmers land. Their animals and crops are their livelihood and they will protect them. You can approach the farm and enquire as to whether they would be happy for you to stay a night or barter manual labour to stay longer. That is always an option!

Use common sense and trust your gut. If you find a nice spot but something in your gut gives you an uneasy vibe, move on. It is telling you something for a reason and while it might turn out to be wind from last nights vindaloo, better safe than sorry! On the flip side, if you have a thought that says “I wonder if its ok to park here, maybe this isn’t the best spot” listen to that too. The last thing you want is to be uneasy all night expecting a knock on the door.  

Give others space. If you pull into a car park or park-up and there are already other campers there, don’t park up 6 inches away! Take the opportunity to park further away and give each other space. Do feel free to introduce yourself once parked and strike up conversation if you feel it is safe to do so.

Get used to the sounds.

camper at the beach
Photo by Billy Williams on Unsplash

Before you set off for your first night wild camping in your van and opt for the UK wilderness, spend a few nights on a site so that you can ensure that everything is working in your van and that you are used to the noises that it makes. Like a house, the van will make noises as temperatures change and the metal expands and contracts. The weather will also make noises such as the wind finding the one hole in the van you thought you had fixed and whistle through it all night and the rain will make varying sounds depending on how hard it’s hitting your roof!

By getting used to these noises it will be easier for you to determine what is normal and what isn’t. When parking in an urban area expect to hear traffic, sirens and people as the norm, where as when is more rural places you are more likely to hear owls, branches cracking and be woken up by wild cows having a scratch on your rear bumper making you question if there is an earthquake on the top of the Gower Peninsula!  Wild camping in the UK can be just that!

Stealth Camping

stealth camping
Photo by E D on Unsplash

Aside from the rural setting of opening your door and doing yoga just outside on the beach at sunrise, the practicality is that at some point you may need to be a little stealthier or camp in an urban situation. The key is to try and blend in to your surroundings. Try to make your van look as generic as you can, if it looks like commercial work van it wont draw as much attention as an older style van or one covered in stickers and a cool paint job that will stick out in a crowd.

Try to make it look as though the van is empty. If you have blacked out windows and curtains this will help not draw attention and alert the locals that you are there. If they notice you are sleeping in your vehicle, they could call the police and report suspicious activity and get you moved on.

Be cautions when cooking.

On the odd occasion we have needed to urban #stealth camp, we have cooked our dinner elsewhere and then moved late in the evening to our sleeping spot, climbed in to the back and drawn the curtains. This way we are discreet and try to draw as little attention to ourselves as we can. The smell of food cooking is a sure way to get noticed.

Playing music loud or standing on the pavement to brush your teeth is a sure way to raise eyebrows so try to keep your noise and activity to a minimum.


When it comes to actually sleeping, pay attention to how close you are to traffic. If you are on a road, be aware that there is a possibility of someone having an accident and crashing into you so where are you sleeping in relation to where impact could be? Try to make sure you are safe and that your head is away from an exposed corner. If possible, use a lay-by where there is a clear island between the road and the lay-by.

After a few nights in the van you will get used to the noises of people passing and tune out the sounds but for the first couple of nights you may find that you wake at every noise. This is normal. There are so many options of places to experience wild camping in the UK that you do not have to use areas that seems risky.

Ideas for places to park

campervan sleeping
Photo by Balkan Campers on Unsplash

There are apps such as searchforsites and park4night that will show you places that others have parked up before with pictures and reviews others have left. These can range from campsites, pub stopovers, carparks, laybys on the main roads which we would never do personally for security and safety reasons but some people do. You can search around you using GPS or by a specific area. Each pins are colour coded and the sites are easy to navigate. You can get a good variation of wild camping spots to campsites in the UK and some abroad too.

If you don’t want to use these apps there are places that you can look that will usually come up trumps. Do check signs in the car parks and obey any local bylaws. We look for places that are out of the way of most people and where it may not be unusual to see a van parked up. For example, we have looked on the map for canals and areas where they moor up. It would be quite normal for vehicles to park here if the owners were on a barge. Forests are a good idea too as there are often large car parks set back off of the main roads.

To Urban, or not to Urban?

Side roads are an option however if you are in a residential area, do be warned that there has been an increase in people getting very protective of the car parking spots outside their houses! In America Walmart allow overnight stops however this hasn’t really caught on in the UK yet. Some stores are happy as long as you purchase items in their store. You could ask store owners for permission and see what they say. Look at industrial areas where lorry drivers park up. Although there will be a lot more coming and going as they finish their breaks and move on, there will also be safety in numbers. Again, if you don’t feel safe don’t do it and secure your vehicle when you are sleeping.


door locks
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

In terms of safety, instinct is under-rated. Trust it. It is there for a reason. Be that for a positive decision or a negative one. Use your 6th sense and take time to take in the area you are in. Do you notice anything unusual? Can you see any evidence that the area is a dogging site after dark or that it is used for drug taking? Are there people around? Is it lit? Does it feel safe?  We always spend about an hour or so looking for a suitable spot to sleep and if we do not feel safe, we move on.

Break ins. Yes they can happen but more often than not, it will happen when you are not in the van. Have as many security devices as you can to keep your possessions secure. From a portable safe for your valuables to extra bolts on the inside of your van, anything you can do to make your van more secure is a bonus. Do make sure that you can always get out of the van quickly if you are in danger or a fire starts.

What to do if someone knocks on your van door?

First and foremost, your safety is paramount. There are very differing views on the best course of action should you receive that dreaded knock and we would advise that you treat each situation as an individual case and weigh up the pros and cons as you deem safest.

Ignore it?

If is it just someone trying to see if you are in the van you could choose to be quiet and still. They may get bored and wander off. If it is someone scouting out the van for a break in they are more likely to return if they believe the van to be empty.

Answer it?

It may be the police or a local resident for example. If it is the police it is likely that they were on patrol and came across you or that they were alerted by a local that a van had parked up that was suspicious. Either way, it is best not to ignore the police. We were on our way to a park up in the back and beyond in Wales when we passed a police car who stopped to talk to us. He was very pleasant and just let us know that there had been a spike in break ins lately due to more vans arriving and people going hiking. Not every interaction will be a bad one.

With unknown people knocking on the door these can be more risky. If you are a solo traveller be especially careful. Always keep your doors locked when you are inside. You can shout through the door “who is it” without putting yourself at risk. You do not have to open the door unless you feel safe to do so. If someone is being aggressive and you feel that you have the right to be there, call the police yourself but be prepared to move on.

Always be ready to move.

If you find yourself in a confrontation, you can quickly drive away – hard to do if you have all of your stuff everywhere! Make sure your drivers seat is always empty and your keys close to hand so you can jump in and go at a moments notice.

At the end of the day it comes down to how you feel about the situation. If you feel able to handle yourself in a confrontation then make a call on it yourself. We would never suggest using weapons in a confrontation however if anything escalated you should be able to defend yourself. Pepper spray would be a good call, a rape alarm – depending on how rural you are or self defence classes are always a good shout. Weapons can be used against you so if you do decide to be armed – make sure you keep yourself as safe as possible. Call the police and lock yourself in/drive away if you can.


apps for camping
Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

What 3 Words

It is easy to get carried away in the wilderness, so to speak, and get used to not quite knowing where you are! In the eventuality that someone has an accident or is taken ill you should always know where you are. You can not always rely on having internet and using google maps to find your location so having an idea of where you are is essential. If you are going hiking take a map and compass.

There is an app that we have seen called ‘What 3 words’ that will tell you your location using 3 unique words designated to each 3m square in the world. Many emergency services can use this app to pinpoint your location to get to you quickly.


This is a GPS location app that you can set up with your loved ones so that they can look at the app and see where you are. This is especially helpful if you haven’t checked in for a while and people can see if you are driving or stationary, and where you are (signal permitting)

Iphone Find my friends.

An app between iphones so that you can find your friends using GPS.

First Aid Kits

Sounds obvious but always have a first aid kit in your campervan so that if you get into a scrape or are taken ill, you have some emergency care in your possession. You will also be able to help out if you come across someone that needs aid.

Food and water.

Always ensure that you have water on board and plenty of it – especially in hot weather. Ideally around 2 litres a day per person plus extra for washing up and cleaning. You need to be prepared for emergencies such as if you break down and are delayed getting to water source should you be very rural. You need to ensure you also have food for your survival!


Keep a close eye on the weather and make sure you are prepared for the forecast weather. For winter, ensure you have working heating and blankets to keep warm. Your vehicle should have a winter service and essentials such as a shovel for if you get stuck in the snow.

For information on other places we have visited, click here for Locations

For more articles like ‘Wild camping in the UK’ click here.

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CareerBreakKate Q+A

We are often asked lots of questions about why we travel and how we do it.

We were approached by CareerBreakKate, a blogger who runs a website dedicated to travel and career break inspiration. Taking a career break to travel the world transformed her life and she wants to inspire you to do the same.

Career Break Kate on her travels

We were honoured and over the moon that she reached out to us after hearing about our story. Kate’s website offers lots of helpful hints and tips about sabbaticals, career breaks, TEFL (teaching English abroad) and volunteering abroad as well as anything else you need to know. She also covers her travels and adds reviews of her experiences.

We decided to take part because a lot of people want to know why we do what we do. What drove us to both quitting jobs we loved and move into a van. Kate asked us questions that a lot of people ask us so it seemed only natural to do the interview with her.

We would love to share that interview with you now and if you are thinking about taking a career break or sabbatical, have a read through her site for some information.

So here it is!

Couple quit their jobs and pack up to embark on a vanlife

emma and louise

If you have any questions for us please leave them in the comments and we will answer them! Don’t forget you can tweet us @vanlifediary facebook or email us contactvanlifediary@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE via email for monthly emails of ‘behind the scenes’ content. We love to share our travels with you but there are so many other things that happen along our way. Our monthly newsletter will fill you in on all the other gossip.

How to Transition to Full Time van life

Have you taken the first steps to full time van life and now wondering what you need to do?

Whether this transition is one you have been dreaming about for years or perhaps a sudden impulse to live in your vehicle, we are here to help you out and ensure you have covered all of your bases. Full time van life is often a cheaper option than living in a house but it isn’t for everyone.

By now, you likely have the van already and are almost finished with the conversation. (I say that but a van conversion is never really finished!). You have made the decision and thought about how wonderful your new life will be. A simpler, more minimalist life. You look around your home and all you can see is ‘STUFF!’

Fret not. Here is a list of what you need to do.



1 Cancel your council tax. This could take a month to arrange and new bills/refunds to calculate. You need every penny so make sure you do the boring council tax bit! Some councils allow you to do this notification online so you don’t even have to talk to anyone. A cheque may be sent to your address so it’s helpful to be there or have your post redirected! (More on that later).

2 Cancel TV licence. It can be tempting to just cancelled your direct debit however you can be paid up to 6 months ahead. You may be entitled to a refund. Whilst we are talking about the TV licence, by UK law even if you have no fixed abode but a TV in your motor-caravan (or tablet /phone where you can stream the TV) you should still have a TV licence – if you have a home with a TV licence and that TV is not being used at the same time you can technically use your home TV licence to cover you. There is a lot of talk about how anyone would know and whether you could get away without having a licence. Please do your own research and make your own decision, I’m just here to tell you the facts associated with full time van life transition!

3 TV/phone/internet cancel all of these again giving your last day at the address. Be prepared for some charges, depending on your contract.

4 Gas, electric and water. Make sure you get the meter readings and report these to the utility companies. Take a picture if you need proof but don’t end up paying for someone else’s use!

5 Extra bin collection. We pay extra at our address for a garden waste bin. This needs to be cancelled or again, someone else will benefit financially. These are often on auto renewal set ups so cancel that direct debit!

6 Home and contents insurance. So easy to overlook when packing but anything related to the house needs to be notified of your exit from the property.

7 Mail. Options include leaving a forwarding address, redirecting your mail, a company such as boatmail who will scan and email or forward your mail to a destination as required. You may wish to also change you address with as many places as possible as you may not want your Dr’s letters being opened by the next occupant.


1 Sort out what you NEED first. Space is an issue in a van. Make a list of the bare necessities, essential items and keepsakes. Once you have those items sorted you can start to look at what room you have left.

2 Sell some stuff! More money and less hoarding. You can use apps such as ebay, gumtree and shpock to sell things without leaving the house or hold a car boot sale. This will enable you to convert belongings to travel funds and boost your finances.

3 Recycle or upcycle. Upcycling is big at the moment and bulky furniture can be a blank canvas for a facelift. Why not try to find a local furniture upcycling group who may take that old chest of draws off your hands. We found a recycling waste company that delivered a skip and will recycle our items for us. This means less waste to landfill.

4 Storage is another option. Whether you have a friend with an empty garage or look at renting a unit, this option means your belongings should be safe in case you need them again.



1 Photocopy documents. Take photos/ scans of important documents such as driving licence, bank cards and passports. This way you have all the details should they get lost or stolen.

2 Breakdown cover. If you haven’t already organised it you need to sort out cover. Don’t forget that you may need to confirm with the company that they can take the size of your vehicle. You don’t want to have a break down and then find out that the company you are paying wont help you due to size. Often this needs to be in place for 24-48 hours before it is active so give yourself time..

3 Emergency back up plans. Should something go wrong with the van you need to ensure that you have a back up plan, financially and with regards to accommodation.

4 Spare parts. Bulbs, fuses and fuel filters are a good idea to carry as well as using YouTube, Haynes manuals and ask on forums to see if you can fix a job yourself. Get recommendations from the van life community on trusted tradespeople.

5 Bright torch. either for dodging the frogs by the lake or being able to see under the vehicle, you need a really bright and reliable torch!

6 Always have a bag of change ready for car parking or public toilets!



Emotions will be high. you will be anxious and excited. You know that this isn’t going to be a walk in the park but you feel you have everything sorted out. Then you realise you still have possessions in the house that you haven’t decided what to do with. You have no choice but to throw them in the van. THIS ISNT PINTEREST. This is the reality of van life. It gets messy quickly. You are constantly battling for space and shifting things from one place to another.

It took us a full week of packing and unpacking, re-boxing, re-evaluating and ultimately getting rid of loads of stuff that we brought along with us.

1 It’s not uncommon to get ratty with each other when living in a confined space.

2 You will be busier than when you were at work and wonder where all of your time is going.

3 Plan ahead for water refills and toilet cassette emptying points.

4 If one of you is not feeling comfortable about sleeping in a certain location, you need to move. Listen to each other and respect their opinions. It is too small a space to argue!

5 Get comfortable with different smells, and quickly. Bodily functions happen, even if they are all glitter and sparkles! Respect when someone needs to use the toilet and go for a walk!

6 Top up your fuel tank when you pass somewhere with cheaper fuel. it may not be much that you add, but the money you could save will add up over the month! See how you could save money when travelling

7 Dry shampoo – buy it in bulk! Use it outside as it makes the van dusty however if you don’t have access to a daily shower it will be your best friend.

Full Time Van Life – one month in!

We have been on the road for a month now and wanted to share our personal journey with you. You will have read posts (hopefully!) of places we have been, but we haven’t really spoken about our personal experiences. Here is our post on the first month of full time van life.

The #Vanlife movement is really popular right now. We have been very open about our reasons when people ask us. (Vanlifediary will be doing a post on the questions people ask us soon!) We had planned extensively for our change to van life however nothing can really prepare you until you are living it. No matter how many times you read that you don’t need to pack too much for full time van life, you still will. This is because as far as you are concerned you have already downsized considerably. The truth is we still brought far more than we needed.

During the run up to us leaving I was still working a full time job where I lived on site. I would get home in the evening and be too tired to think about packing. Even though I was excited to change my life I just couldn’t find the motivation to pack for it. I know now that I was too emotionally attached to my ‘stuff’. The act of holding it in my hand and having flashbacks of the memories connected to it and deciding if I throw it, keep it or sell it were too hard. What I wanted was someone to do that for me.

Too Much Stuff for full time van life!

The day we left to start full time van life Louise greeted me in the car park. We had a very emotional send of from our work colleagues. The van packed to bursting point with (and not limited too):

2 Bikes (inside the van as no bike rack at that time). 3 Duvets, 8 pillows, 6 Blankets. 4 Bottles of shampoo (when we don’t have a shower), 6 Toothbrushes, 2 Full size and 4 mini toothpastes, 5 Bottles of sun cream. 4 Massive Tupperware’s full of rice. 15 Pairs of shoes, of which every day so far we have worn walking boots… AND all of our wardrobe – because you never know!

full cupboard

We thinned out more of our stuff over the next week as it was just too cluttered. Why did we bring 5 tool boxes, 4 wash-bags, 3 woolly hats (each), 2 extension leads and a partridge in a pear tree? No matter how much stuff you get rid of, you will still have too much!

Road less travelled

With the van down to a reasonable amount of crap, we could concentrate on our adventures. The first week was living with the STUFF so we didn’t get far. From Evesham, to Illmington Village, to Malvern and Hereford, our first week was so exciting. It was all new and felt like a holiday. We used a few websites such as searchforsites and pitchup.com for free locations where possible but cheep sites when we needed. Reasons like to empty the toilet cassette and have a shower. We try to free camp whenever possible but sometimes you just need a good shower and top up the electric.

Speaking of electric… When we set off we didn’t have an inverter in the van. We realised quite quickly that we had overlooked this in our rush to get going. TJ auto electrics in Evesham booked us in for the following week and we doubled back to ‘home’. We knew Tim and trusted him to fit the gear for us. We made all the mechanics jealous as we sat in the sun and they worked on the van! After all, it’s ‘home’ so couldn’t leave it to collect later! Inverter fitted we set off again and headed to Wales.

TJ Electricals

“Ones destination is never a place, just a new way of seeing things”

We stopped in Hay-on-Wye on the way. Totally blown away by it’s architecture and little roads filled with antique shops and independent businesses. The castle hid itself to us until we were nearly ready to go. It was covered in tarpaulin having some refurbishment work done. Saying that we did find a small hole in the castle wall and found a beautiful honesty bookshop, 2 massive bookcases piled high along the walls with a wooden shack roof fitted to protect them. Plants were growing on the floor and wound the books.

We have stayed in some amazing places but our next stop, Tallybont-on-Usk, is so far my favourite location. Just being able to fully relax and unwind, an impromptu 5 hour hike and frog mating frenzy made this an incredible location. We finally started to relax and realise that we were not on holiday. This is our life for the foreseeable future.

Talybont On USk

Dare to live the life you have always wanted!

The best part about being on the road is being able to decided if you want to move, or stay put. I could quite easily have grown roots in Talybont. It’s connection to Tolkein just added so much more and really inspired the imagination.

So far all was going well. As we were near to Louise’s brother we decided to stop with them for a couple of nights. To take advantage of a free hot shower and spend some time with them. We were not sure how long it would be until we were back in that area. Having mentioned to Louise’s brother that the van seemed a little sluggish, he recommended a mechanic near where he worked. We made an appointment and told Lous’s brother we may need to stay a few more days!


Miss Chewy spent the day being tickled by the mechanic. He thought it would be a good idea to change the oil, the fuel filter and the air filter as we were unsure when they had been done last. There wasn’t an air filter in place so all the muck from the road had been sucked into the engine. We poured Redex into her and we thought a good swill around the tank should clear some gunk out and get her healthy again. She hadn’t been used very much in the 3 months we had her. She had been between mechanics and electricians!

We also took advantage of a recommended welder to do a few bits that came up as an advisory on the last mot and got them sorted out. Chewy was being loved! In return we believed that she would look after us! Since then we had further issues with her turbo going and needing repair. This took about a week to fix and some angry tweets to Iveco. #sorrynotsorry. Luckily we could stay with family again but we did camp outside of Iveco in Avonmouth on one occasion! Touch wood she seems to have settled down except for a warning light telling us the warning light isn’t working. £150+ vat diagnostic fee for that one was averted! Oh and the sliding door got jammed so we had to climb over the seats to get in or out.

emma climbing over seats

Somerset Sunsets, sat navs and crabs!

We have travelled through Somerset and met a fantastic bunch of people at Tuckers Grave Inn, many of whom were also on their own personal journey to heal and reconnect with themselves. We have ventured as far as the Norfolk Coast had had Cromer Crab, slept on marsh land with lapwings and marsh harriers surrounding us and now camping in a secluded woods not far from the coast.

Cromer Crab, Cromer Beach

The sat nav has been a help and a hindrance. It tried to take us down a rather narrow one way road in Malvern which caused chaos to the traffic behind us. It narrowed quickly and didn’t have much in the way of a pavement, just a tall, probably listed building. In the kerb was a ditch/gutter which changed the tilt on the van to where the top of the van was almost touching the building. Having cars up your rear end wanting you to go faster really isn’t helpful at that moment. Occasionally we have had to take a detour due to her size or the sat nav having a nap at the most inconsiderate moment but largely we are unscathed!


Some have asked if we are over our wonderlust yet – are you kidding? We haven’t even seen the start of it yet! Apart from van repairs most of our money has been in fuel as we have done a fair amount of back and forth to see family. We are hoping now that we can limit the amount of miles we do each day and just casually travel. There is still so much to see! Full time van life is an amazing experience.

We are trying to cook as cheaply as possible but not compromise on healthy fresh food. Today for lunch Louise cooked us a water chestnut and potato curry with a red thai curry mix we brought from Aldi. The whole meal cost approx £2.20 for 2 people, including the 80g of rice each. We are measuring our portions as we don’t want left overs (because we don’t have any spare tupperware – I am a horrible person and made Louise leave it all behind).


For us, choosing the first day of spring to leave for full time van life was a good choice. As we are waking up to our new lives, nature is waking up too. The sky, the buds on the trees, the fragrances and textures, the colours and sounds of nature… all things that we would have taken for granted when we didn’t have the time to look closer.

Not having a TV means we can ditch the soaps, news and propaganda, we listen to the animals and watch our barometer for the weather. This means we don’t fall into a nasty trap of talking politics with people! We did wonder if we would become lonely and not speak to people but actually we have had proper conversations with more people than I can count! Not mundane conversations, but conversations about healing, nature, environments and positivity.

This has been the best month of my life. A freedom to explore not only the land, but ourselves

What will next bring? All we know so far is a touch of cat sitting and a family holiday where we have to be still for a week… eek… that will be strange!

Emma and Louise VanLifeDiary

How Can I Save Money Travelling?

Whether you are planning a weekend road trip or longer term travel adventure, finances are always on our minds. One of the questions often asked to seasoned travellers is how to make it easier on the wallet. What can I do to get costs down? Where can I buy cheap fuel? How can I save money travelling?

van life diary save money
Save money travelling with VanLifeDiary

Here at VanLifeDiary we have put together a few ideas to help you reduce the cost of your travel.


Whilst we all know about fuel prices, are we really doing our homework before filling up? Some supermarkets will run initiatives to get you to buy fuel from them. While that is great news if you are doing a large shop, make sure you don’t buy unnecessary items to reach the total spend requirements. You could find you have spent out more than you saved at the end of the day!

Service stations and ‘last stop shops’ can get away with selling fuel at higher rates. Make sure you fill up when in towns were there is a bit more competition. Apps and websites like petrolprices.com are worth a look at too. They can tell you the prices of local stations before you set off. Keep an eye on prices as you travel and if you spot a good fuel bargain grab it. Pennies add up!

It’s handy to remember that not all petrol pumps are the same length too! When in Newquay I drove to a petrol station and there was a queue for cars on one side. Trying to be clever I attempted to fill up by dragging the fuel hose around to the other side of the van. I have done this in countless petrol stations before but this time it backfired and wouldn’t reach.  Rather embarrassed I left that garage and ended up paying an extra 5p per litre!


Make sure that you look after your motor. Ensuring that you have checked your vehicle over before setting off on long journeys will hopefully stop the car from breaking down on the motorway. Nobody has time for that and it can ruin a really good holiday. If you don’t have breakdown cover you could be charged a hefty amount to get towed off of the motorway.

Current Government legislation advises that you could be charged anywhere from £150 for a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes MAM upright and not substantially damaged up to £300 if its not upright and has sustained heavy damage. For larger vehicles this cost rises quickly into the thousands. Another option would be to ring a breakdown company at the roadside and enter into a contract with them. This will usually incur fees for an immediate removal of your vehicle.

Ensuring your tyres are correctly inflated can help save money travelling. The more surface area that is coming into contact with tarmac, the more effort it takes to move. Fueleconomy.gov can explain how much you could save. Remember that your tyres will also wear out quicker if not properly inflated. Mythbusters and other popular mechanics did debunk the myth that you could save even more by over inflating the tyres. Before you get any clever ideas there is a very high likelihood that this could blow your tyres out. This will cost you more money (or cause an accident). You would end up shelling out for new tyres and a few hundred quid to get towed off the motorway!

Don’t forget to check the other essentials such as oil, water, windscreen wash and windscreen condition for chips. Also check your lights and a have a tool kit containing a warning triangle and hi-viz jacket as well as spare bulbs and fuses. This can really help save money travelling long term rather than instant saving.


Save Money Travelling
Save money parking

Unexpected stops in a pay and display can quickly eat away at your spare change. Paying the equivalent of your mortgage or first born child’s college fund is never fun so here are a few ideas to ‘curb’ your outlay.

Use an app such as justpark or yourparkingspace and pay less to park on peoples driveways. Initiatives like these are popping up all over the place, and while a good way to save some money there are also a few stories out there where people have arrived to find they can not use the spaces they have booked. We have not used this service ourselves so can not give a personal recommendation but it is always worth doing your own research and not taking my word for anything!

Parkopedia is another parking app that tells you about prices and location in order to get the best price for a car park – it might mean an extra 5 minute walk but if saves a few quid each time it can have a huge impact on your budget. If you are driving a van like me, you also need to be mindful of height restrictions – google can sometimes help with this but you can always call the bigger car park companies to find out before you drive there.

If you know where you are travelling to in advance, why not join the local facebook page and ask the locals for areas to park for free, they will know the layout and may have some preferred back roads where you can park freely and without time restrictions. It can be harder in a town but not impossible.
If you are up for a bit of exercise why not park a bit further out of town and cycle in. its a good way to keep fit, reduce your carbon footprint and see the sights a little slower.

We hope that this information will help you save money. Feel free to send it towards our cheese and cider fund.

Part of our #Vanlife Guides Series. Click here for more helpful information.