Many people have dreams of dropping everything and traveling the world, but not everyone has the courage to let go of the familiar job, home and routine to go bravely into the unknown. But for Mike Hudson of England, the opportunity to travel and experience those "once in a lifetime" moments was too great. So in late 2013, he quit his job, sold or gave away most of his possessions, moved back into his parents' home temporarily, while he worked on converting an old van he bought on eBay into a small mobile living space that he could occupy full-time, while traveling Europe.
It took Hudson five months to refurbish the van from a junked state into something livable. Documenting his journey on his blog Vandog Traveller, he's since been through Spain, France, Portugal, Germany, Hungary, Romania and more, plus several music festivals and even spent Christmas with his family on the beach when they travelled to Athens, Greece to meet up with him. As of January 2015, he's still on the road, hoping to travel to Morocco in the future.
Though Hudson didn't intend to go all-out off-grid, his set-up is currently quite self-sufficient thanks to two solar roof panels and two big batteries, which are enough to power a refrigerator, laptops, cellphones, extractor fan, water pump, lights and even a sound system.
Here's the toilet.
He's learned to conserve water much more since traveling full-time in the van, which is equipped with a 70-litre (18.5-gallon) water tank, and cooks using a refillable 11-kilogram (24-pound) gas tank.
Despite moving around so much, Hudson keeps his blog updated as much as he can, though reliable internet access is a challenge (he mostly uses free WiFi connections). Check out his foldable workspace.
Whenever possible, Hudson saves money on food, the freegan way, by going to local markets and asking to take anything that producers intend to throw away. He's got some nice tips on how to save money that he's learned while traveling and "wild-camping" (no access to hook-ups). Sleeping in done in either the hammock or on the fold-away sofa-bed.
Life on the road is not for everyone; so while some buttoned-down folks may shake their heads at this seemingly unrestrained life, there's a lot to be said for being responsible for realizing one's dreams -- in a responsible and respectful way. As Hudson quips on his own site, "This was originally about traveling in a van -- but now it's about living in something that I built." Giving insights about adventures into the unknown, and sometimes into the mundane (like how to do laundry while traveling in a van), Hudson's story is ultimately quirky, authentic and inspiring. More over at Vandog Traveller.