Before we started our own huge van life adventure, we decided that it would be best to rent a van to be sure that we enjoyed this type of travel – so this is where we had our very first experience of van life Norfolk.
We had wanted to do some long-term travelling for a really long time but life kept getting in the way.
Van life was something that we had not ever really considered before, we just planned to do some backpacking type of travelling through Asia.
But then we got our little Cockapoo, Lottie, which meant that long term travelling became a bit more tricky, we just did not want to leave her for a long time at all.
So, this is when we started looking into alternative types of travel that could include our dog Lottie, and this is when we really started to dig deeper into van life adventures!
We watched SO many YouTube videos, did tonnes of research, read plenty of blogs and it was at this point we realised that this could be the type of travelling for us that would actually suit our personalities so much more than other types of travelling.
We really loved the idea of being able to travel to so many countries, but also having a mini home on wheels with all the home comforts too!
As part of us planning our own van life adventure, we thought it would be a good idea to actually give it a little trial before we committed to anything serious, which is why we decided that we would hire a camper for a little while and give van life a go!
Campervan Hire UK
We carried out some research and came across the website – Quirky Campers. Quirky Campers offers handcrafted campervan rentals across the UK with some absolutely stunning campervans to choose from.
You can filter by the type of van you are looking for, e.g. size, berth, pet friendly etc or the region of the UK you would like.
We were obviously looking for something pet friendly and had some specific dates when we wanted to go when we had some annual leave from work but we were not particularly fussed about where in the UK, it was more the experience of being in the van for us.
This is when we came across Etta – Etta campervan for hire, Norfolk – Quirky Campers
Etta caught our eye instantly with her beautiful whitewashed decor, we fell in love! She was also based in Norfolk which we thought would be a lovely part of the UK for us to have our first ever taste of van life. We really liked the idea to have a trip by the seaside, and Lottie loves a beach!
The booking process was easy, you choose a time you’d like to pick up the van and drop it off, extra hours come at an extra charge and you can also add on any extras such as bedding, towels etc – we added on a firepit and fire kit and also a picnic table and parasol. You also have to submit the details of the driver(s) and pay a refundable security deposit.
When we picked up the van, the owner went through how everything worked with us such as the water, gas, toilet etc and there was also a handbook included which explained everything. The owner also sent us a link to a video which also explained how everything worked just in case we forgot anything whilst we were on our trip, although we found everything really straight forward and simple to get the hang of which was great. We had been doing lots and lots of van life research prior so we had a bit of an idea how things worked anyway.
Etta has an indoor toilet and shower which was important for us as we wanted to try this out as this was something we were going to have in our own motorhome. Etta also has an amazing little kitchen area with a fridge and oven and tonnes of storage space. This van conversion has really been thought through and it really shows in how stunning it looks but also the practical elements of the van.
Etta has a seating area and table at the back of the van which converts into the bed area. It is easy to make the bed up which is great. We decided to leave the bed area set up for the entirety of our trip as we were only renting it for a few days and didn’t require the seating area at the back. The van also has a smaller seating area and table by the kitchen area, which actually also converts into bunk beds. A fixed bed is something that we had decided that we wanted to have in our own van as we did not want the hassle of having to make up the bed every day.
Is Driving a Campervan Difficult?
At first we were a little unsure on driving the van, which is to be expected, but once we got used to it we were absolutely fine. The van had reverse parking sensors which we feel is absolutely essential when driving a vehicle of this size when you’re not totally confident in it!
Parking was generally not a problem, we managed to find car parks around Norfolk which were quite large so we had enough space to park the van out of the way of the other cars and plenty of space. There was one occasion where parking wasn’t great and we had to park a little further away from our location in a residential area, but it was only a short walk away.
The van seemed to be extremely good on diesel, we drove quite a way and had only used a very small amount of diesel which was great.
We were also able to connect our iPhone maps to Apple Car Play on the centre console screen which was really handy.
So all in all, once we got used to the van there were no issues at all with driving it – there was even space between the driver and passenger seats for us to clip Lottie in so she was secure whilst we were travelling and she was also happy to be sat between the two of us, so that worked out perfectly.
Where did we stay in our campervan?
As this was our first van life experience, we didn’t feel confident enough to go off grid for the whole trip so we decided to book a couple of campsites and ease ourselves in. We stayed at some really lovely campsites, the first being Deepdale Camping and Rooms. We reserved a site with an electric hook-up. This site had some great facilities with a shop and clean toilets, showers and washing up areas with drinking water and also heated dog showers which is so handy!
On our second night we decided to go off grid and stayed in a pub carpark which we found on Park 4 Night. The staff were so friendly and were more than happy to let us stay in the carpark as we were having dinner and drinks in the pub and the food was really good. It was a nice and quiet car park, there was no noise or disturbances at all and we felt totally safe considering this was our first off grid van life experience!
On our third and final night we stayed at an amazing campsite called Old Brick Kiln Caravan Park. Again this campsite had some really clean and lovely facilities. We actually preferred this campsite as the pitches were really big so we had plenty of space and also the pitches were stones which meant that our shoes were not getting so muddy as the first campsite that we went to which was on grass, which can be really messy and annoying when getting in and out of the van.
What did we learn?
The experience of hiring a campervan was everything that we wanted it to be and more, and we learnt so much to help us with our own van life adventures.
- We learnt how to empty the toilet which was something we were a little worried about! But was actually super easy to do
- We learnt where Lottie may need to sit in our own van and also how we needed to think about where we could clip her in to keep her secure when we’re driving
- How the electric hook-up worked and emptying the grey waste
- How to check water levels and turn the water pump and heating on for hot water
- We were able to compare things that we liked and disliked about this van compared to our own which was so so useful and has given us lots of ideas for our own van life adventure
- Generally we just learned how much we loved van life and how we were so happy that we had made the decision to have adventures in our own!
We absolutely loved our first van life experience and it made us so very excited for our adventures in our own van!
Keep up with our full-time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube
You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437
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I have always wanted to travel and luckily I always got to travel to some amazing countries while I was growing up with my family and this really encouraged me to continue this and get out into the world on my own when I was older.
My goal growing up was really to see as much of the world as I could, but then I started going to work and really concentrating on my career and travel took a back seat. I still tried to get away a few times a year but I always knew there was an end goal which was to travel as much as possible.
So I got my head down and worked as hard as I could as an e-commerce manager. I have always been techy, I love computers and websites, so that’s where it gave me the idea to start this blog and also have my own web design agency. If you want to check it out or need any help then please take a look rrwebdesign.co.uk (shameless plug there)
But after covid, we both knew this was now the right time to take the leap and go and see the world after being trapped inside our house and working from home for a couple of years. We realised more than ever that you only get one life and you really need to make the most of it and do what you love!