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Vanlife - Cecilie - travels
Denmark

Vanlife - see the world from a campervan

Cecilie experiences the world from her campervan, and the van life has really gone into her blood. It has actually changed her life.
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Af Cecilie Ballegaard Thuelund

Vanlife - Cecilie - travels

The start of a rolling adventure

I have always loved to travel and experience new places. Experiencing other cultures and learning new languages ​​is really interesting.

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The way I travel has changed. In the past, I traveled alone with a backpack, stayed in hostels, worked as a volunteer and flew between many of my destinations. Now I live the van life; I'm got a campervan!

I like to share my story and my love for the travel and lifestyle of campervan.

My love of van life starts way back in my childhood. There are two specific memories in particular that come to mind that have certainly made my passion for life in a campervan sprout much earlier than I actually myself was aware of. And before I even knew what a van life was.

The first childhood memory is the many camping trips my parents and I went on. However, they were not created in a caravan like most others, but in my father's old van of the brand Volkswagen LT. It was completely empty at the back, leaving room for an inflatable double-air mattress for my parents and a single-mattress for little me.

In addition, we had a custom-made tent that could be zipped on the side of the car and voila; then we had the perfect camping setup! It was simple but ingenious. I have only good and happy memories from the trips we were on.

The second childhood memory that comes to me is from when I was about 12 years old. My dad is a furniture upholsterer and had customers visit in their large four-wheel drive Range Rover with roof tent.

They had to drive from Denmark to Asia, and I was very fascinated by it. Later in my life, the thought of a van popped up every now and then. I could google it, see the pictures and dream. What some adventures I have been on in my performances.

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When grief puts life on hold

In early 2017, my life was turned upside down: My mother was diagnosed with incurable cancer.
My mother was my best friend and had been by my side all my life, supporting me and loving me unconditionally, so it completely knocked me over.

I stopped my studies - I was writing a thesis in biology - because it felt like the right thing to do. Now it was my turn to be by my mother's side and support her.

My mom was sick for 20 months and I was by her side through it all. We traveled a lot together, enjoyed life as much as we can and supported each other throughout the process.

Going through that kind of thing at the age of 27 really changed my way of looking at life. I realized how vulnerable we humans are, and if you dream of achieving or doing something, then just do it. What is the worst that can happen? In October 2018, my mother died. My life stood still.

It was very hard for me. I was lost. I fled for a long time from the emotions and traveled the world with a backpack, but the grief haunted me. I realized I had to process and work with it. Here in 2020, I'm still trying to figure out who I am after all that's happened.

What do I want with my life? How would I like to live my life? How do I get where I want to go? Many big questions fill. To be able to answer these questions, I try to listen to myself, and one day I realized that I have to feel free before I can get a handle on myself again.

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Vanlife - Cecilie - travels

To follow his dream and process his grief

I need freedom and the feeling that nothing depends on me. And here my childhood memories came up again, and the dream of owning a van myself began to grow. Is there a better way to feel free than to have a van? With a van I would get a safe and nice place. A home on wheels that could take me exactly where I wanted to go.

There were no more questions; I should have a van. I got - after a while - persuaded my boyfriend and we started looking for a van. In May 2020, we found the perfect van for both of us. She is a white Volkswagen T4 with a 'pop up' tag. She had a nice kitchen setup in the back and a sitting area as well as sleeping space for four people when we bought her.

She was worn out, so we decided to renovate her and get our own dream van that way. She could be the van I had always dreamed of - she could be the freedom I longed for. She made me happy.

We named her Fudde when my mother used to call me that. There was not really anything else she could be called. So when we go on adventures, it feels like my mom's with us. Before we started renovating her, we went on many adventures around Denmark. We simply could not wait.

We spent the first month and a half enjoying her, having great experiences, getting to know her and spending the time figuring out how we wanted her to be in order to live up to our expectations and future plans.

We ended up experiencing most of Denmark through this time. It was really exciting to get to know his own country in this way. There are many hidden glories around the Danish country that none of us had heard of before.

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Vanlife - Cecilie - travels

A rolling home - around Denmark

Denmark has an enormous amount to offer. This is one of the good things in this time of year, where we are very much within our own borders due to Covid-19. I have really developed a great love for Denmark and the wonderful nature we have here. I especially love that we have so much coastline and so many beautiful beaches.

When you drive around in your van and have a good time, you get many more details. It is a wonderful way to experience nature and other countries. We can not wait at all until we go on bigger trips in Fudde. This summer has been full of adventure and joy for my boyfriend, our dog and me. Our future travel plans are to run Europe thin. In particular, we dream of a long road trip to Eastern Europe, a trip on island hopping in Greece and a trip to the North Cape.

We just started renovating her here in late July. We have painted the kitchen part petroleum blue, made our own table top, made a table ourselves and decorated the kitchen cabinets with colorful wallpaper on the doors. We have laid a new floor, made curtains and put new fabric on the cushions in the sitting area.

We have painted the fridge with magnetic paint, the ceiling with blackboard paint and now we are going to make shelves and add small details that make her really cozy inside. It feels so good to create results this way and quietly see the progress. When it's winter, she must go inside and have a proper round; rust needs to be fixed, she needs to be painted orange in the bottom half and shines up a bit.

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Vanlife - Cecilie - travels

An inspiring lifestyle

Van life is a lifestyle and it is much more than just nice photos on Instagram. You become incredible
attached to his campervan - it becomes part of the family. You are addicted to it when you are out on an adventure, and everything you need is in it.

You spend an incredible amount of time in your campervan when driving or if the weather is bad, so you must have arranged so that your van fits exactly to your requirements and way of life.

Van life has its pros and cons like everything else. It is not cheap to buy a van and there are quite a few expenses in terms of owning a van. Especially in Denmark.

But all the positives quickly outweigh the negatives, so there is no excuse for not getting a van and getting started living the van life if you dream of it. It's a nice cheap way to travel; you are very flexible and can move to where you want, when you want. You have everything you need with you: kitchen, wardrobe, bed, roof over your head. Everything.

You really get to enjoy and experience the beautiful surroundings you drive around in. And the opportunity to stop when you feel like it or take a detour if you suddenly see something exciting, is always there. Life in a campervan is 100% freedom.

For me, van life has given me security, freedom and a wonderful project to go to and from. It gives me the peace I need in my grief, the freedom I need, a lot of wonderful experiences and reminds me daily that one must live while doing it, enjoy life and be in the now.

The most important thing I would like to convey in this story is to follow your heart, go after your dreams and reach for the moon. You will never regret what you do. If life is against you, stop and listen to your gut feeling - and follow it.

You must dare to throw yourself into it. I still struggle with my grief and the loss of my mother, but life in a campervan has really helped me and gives me a sense of freedom that I do not want to be without. My campervan is with 'safe place'.

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About the travel writer

Cecilie Ballegaard Thuelund

For Cecilie, freedom is one of the values ​​she values ​​most. She feels best when she can feel free. That's why she's traveled most of her life. In 2020, Cecilie's travel style changed. Cecilie has most often traveled alone, but now she is exploring the world in her camper van, Fudde, with her boyfriend and their dog. Next big planned trip is road trip through Eastern Europe with final island hopping in Greece. Cecilie's biggest dream is to get the record full: She only needs to visit a single continent, so Antarctica is high on the list - along with the Mongolian Railway.

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