Meet The Van Lifer Interview 2
To the Mountains and Back’s Ceri, Will & Pigs!
Welcome to our second ‘meet the van lifer’ interview! We have a real treat in store for you with this interview…..these guys seriously know how to live van life well and have a beautiful van!
We introduce to you Ceri, Will and Pigs also known as ‘To the Mountains and Back’. They have a self converted Mercedes Sprinter van that has gorgeous Scandinavian style to it.
Pigs is their super cute Beagle dog who travels with them on their adventures. She has her very own little hideaway cubbyhole in their van and is the main feature in lots of their Instagram photos, along with many beautiful mountain scenes of course!
So here we are: Meet Ceri, Will and Pigs:
1. What made you get into van life?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision! We’ve always loved travelling and often talked about where we’d love to go if we could just pick up and leave but never really had a serious conversation about it. We had no idea the ‘van life community’ really existed until I came across an article on Facebook about a couple who travelled around Europe in a van for a year with their beagle. I forwarded it on to Will and joked we should do the same. A few weeks later he announced he’d bought a van and that was kind of it! Originally we thought we’d use it for weekends and holidays but then once we realised we could work remotely heading off on longer trips was suddenly much more viable.
2. How long have you been living full time in your van?
We started travelling in our van at the beginning of 2019. There are times Will needs to be back in the UK for meetings and work that has to be done in person but we try and condense that altogether in a chunk every few months. I’d guess we spent around 8/9 months living in our van in 2019. We’re not currently in our van as we (reluctantly!) decided to head back to the UK when all the Coronavirus lockdowns started to come in to affect. Luckily our house in the UK isn’t rented out currently so we’ve based ourselves back there for now.
3. Is full time van life forever?
Probably not! But who knows. We love the freedom that having our van has given us and we’ve already explored so many incredible places with her. We love being able to take our dog Piglet on the road with us, and she seems really happy in our little home. The dream from the beginning has been to explore more of America/Canada as we love road tripping over there, but we need to figure out how we’d balance that with work commitments. We don’t tend to plan much in advance (we usually book a ferry on the way to the port!) so as long as living and travelling this way works for us and we’re happy I can’t see us changing that. But never say never!
4. Who inspired your van life adventure or van build?
I wish I could find that original article I read as I’ve no idea who the couple were that originally set us on this journey. When we were doing our van build we found so much inspiration on Instagram, sometimes there were a few too many good ideas and it was hard to narrow down a plan! We always loved your van with the live edge worktops and copper detailing. We love how light and airy it feels too.
We should also mention Sara and Alex James (originally 40 hours of Freedom) as their beautiful light and modern van really inspired us too. Having a toilet and shower in the van was a must for me and the first thing I did when Will arrived home with a Sprinter Van was google ‘Mercedes Sprinter Bathroom’ and we found their van from there. There’s so many other vans and YouTube accounts I could mention but let’s just say there’s so much information and ideas out there I could be here all day!
5. Where have you travelled so far in your van?
Our first trip in our van was skiing in Austria for a few weeks, we then drove north up through Germany, Denmark and Sweden to the top of Norway to explore the Arctic in winter! It was an amazing trip, we’re desperate to go back as we loved Scandinavia. We’ve also been to Northern Italy, Spain, France and Ireland. Ireland was a huge surprise actually, we loved it there. I’d 100% recommend driving the Wild Atlantic Way, the views and beaches were just stunning.
6. What resources do you use to plan your travels and adventures?
We don’t tend to plan much! I’m a sucker for a Lonely Planet book, I’m not sure why as they’re usually quite heavily city focused and we avoid cities but I like to get a general overview of a place from them. We usually have an idea of a few key areas or places we want to see and just take it day by day getting there! We like finding things as we’re travelling, often we’ll get chatting to people and they’ll tell us somewhere we shouldn’t miss so we’ll head to those places and explore. We see ideas on Instagram as well and make a note of them but we don’t tend to research a place too much. We probably miss out some major sites that way but at the same time we don’t get disappointed if a place isn’t what we thought it would be!
7. What’s your favourite place to travel and why?
We love America. If I had to move tomorrow and could go anywhere in the world it would be Montana! The National Parks in America are incredible too. I’m glad our plan to head straight over there in our van didn’t work out though as it’s meant we’ve started to properly explore Europe. We’ve only scratched the surface but there’s some pretty amazing places to see here too. I don’t think I can narrow it down though, so long as we’re on the road we’re pretty happy! We naturally gravitate towards mountains and love exploring them, so as long as we’re not too far from some high ground we’re happy!
8. What do you like doing in your spare time?
When we’re in the van if we’re not out exploring we’re usually working! We’ll chill out with some Netflix in the evening occasionally but most of the time our days are full! We both love to ski so that’s the main goal in the winter and I love horse riding but don’t get to do much of that when we’re travelling. We had a go at paddle boarding last summer and really enjoyed that so we’ll definitely be doing more of that this year when we can get back on the road!
9. Is there anything you would change in your van?
Not really! There’s a few small things like somewhere specifically for laundry and somewhere for shoes by the door but mostly we’re pretty happy with our van! I’d like a king size mattress, we’re still debating if one will fit and I’m determined to win that argument!
10. What’s the best thing about van life?
The freedom of it. We don’t have to plan anything we just take every day as it comes and head wherever we want. You get to see so much more of a country that way. Having your home with you everywhere you go makes it so much easier and it’s nice to be able to relax and work in the comfort of your own home at the same time!
11. What’s the worst thing about van life?
I feel like I could make a huge list here but they’re really small niggles in the grand scheme of things! Sometimes finding a place to park for the night is a nightmare, other times you find somewhere perfect straight away. That’s definitely the biggest source of stress each day. The other thing we find hard is the perception we’re on one long holiday… We’re not! We have bills that need to be paid and businesses that won’t run themselves! Some weeks you’ll be in the most incredible place with views to die for and you have to stay in the van all day for days straight to meet a deadline. It takes a lot of discipline and I’m terrible for getting distracted and wanting to get out and explore. The van feels like a pretty small space after a week of solid work!
12. What’s the strangest question you have ever been asked?
I don’t think we’ve had any strange questions… yet! A lot of people ask about our toilet, and yeah, let’s just say there’s no mystery left in the relationship on that front
13. What’s your top van life tip for anybody thinking of getting into it?
Just give it a go! But, don’t worry about what other people think and don’t be afraid to admit if it’s not for you. It’s easy to get into a mindset of “I’m going to do this for a year” but maybe you’ll hate it? Maybe you’ll love it and want to do it forever? Van life isn’t all one perfect view after the next and it’s not a fix all, we argue as much as we ever did in the van! So, give it a go, you’ll never know until you try it whether it’s for you or not.
14. How do you make money on the road?
Will owns a company that’s well established, working with smart homes and smart technologies. There’s a few aspects to it but when we’re on the road he mostly works on the software/programming side of things as he can do that anywhere with an internet connection. I worked at a large equestrian and country store full time running the online side of the business before we started van life. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do it remotely so sadly had to say good bye. I now work on the online side of Will’s company as well as doing freelance web design and marketing.
15. What are 5 things in your van that you couldn’t live without?
Our bed lift! We love having a totally separate living and bedroom space.
Our bath mat – I know that sounds ridiculous but it feels so nice getting out of the shower and standing on a bath mat!!
Travel mugs – we drink a lot of tea. Before we set out anywhere the travel mugs are filled!
Our copper kettle – I absolutely love our whistling copper kettle, it’s looking a bit bashed now as we regularly forget to put it away before driving.
Will would say the projector, he was determined to have a TV and this was our compromise!
16. What future adventures/plans do you have?
We were hoping to head back to Norway this summer but I’m not sure how likely that is with current travel restrictions. We’d also really like to explore more of eastern Europe, including Slovenia, Montenegro and Croatia. We’re not really planning ahead at the minute but as soon as travel is safe and encouraged again we’ll be back on the road somewhere! Maybe we’ll eventually make it over to America too, fingers crossed!
Where can we find more information about you?
We may put a few videos on You Tube as well at some point but for now you can keep in touch via our website and Instagram.
We hope you enjoyed the 2nd instalment of our van lifer interview series. We have some fabulous inspiring van lifers coming up in our series so stay tuned. Don’t forget to subscribe to our updates to be one of the first to review our new posts, competitions and deals.