We have huge plans to embark on our very own van life adventure in 2022 and we cannot wait!
We have wanted to do some long-term travelling for a really long time and life kept getting in the way – most recently, covid being the issue.
Van life was something that we had not ever really considered before, we just planned to do the usual types of travelling through Asia, Bali etc.
A couple of years ago though, 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 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 – backpacking etc.
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 lovely to have a trip by the seaside, 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 and the owner also sent us a link to a video to 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’ve been doing lots and lots of van life research recently 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 is something we are looking to have in our van when we go on our adventure. 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 as the van also has a smaller seating area and table by the kitchen area. A fixed bed is something that we are definitely looking for in our own van as we do 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 our 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 when we go on our own vanlife adventure.
- 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 the one we intend to get 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 has made us so so excited for our adventures in 2022!