Man With a Van (That he can't drive...)

Updated: Dec 26, 2018

I suppose the best way to get the blog posts really rolling is to talk about the reason I started this website: the van. The reason I got up in the morning, but somehow also the reason I lost sleep some nights. Truly a love-hate relationship.

DIY campervan black and white film
Final Preparations: The week before the voyage.

The idea came to mind some 4 years ago. Driving cars became accessible to me and it opened up so many doors. Road tripping around Europe was both a pipe dream and a fetish for me. However, a car wasn't enough. Daddy wanted a van… A big van.

My real passion lies in photography and video. God forbid I label myself as a content creator, though. Such a gross term. However, with all that equipment, a van made a lot of sense. But all that space made for a lot of work. The more I researched, the more I wanted. A bigger van, custom interior, a design plan that I created. It was super exciting and in two years time I would be driving in to the sunset somewhere on mainland Europe with 25,000 Instagram followers cheering me on.

Fours years later and deadlines continue to be pushed back. Taking a step back from it, though, it's fine. I won't go into too much detail due to how long this post would end up being. In short, plans just don't always play out. Actually I'll rephrase that. Plans rarely play out.

diy campervan build kitchen install
One of the most untouched kitchens in Europe.

You must be asking ‘well why are you not driving the van around Europe right now?’ What a great question that is. Simply put, insurance has said no. I'm not saying they gave me a quote of something crazy like 10,000 euro for a year. No, no. They just said it wouldn't be happening as long as I am under the age of 25. Brilliant. I would like to put the blame entirely on Ireland, but the UK were exactly the same. No.

So what's the plan, wait until I'm 25? Not quite. I found out that insurance in Germany would only be 650 euro for a full year. The plan was simple: register myself as a German resident, open a German bank account, get a German phone number, register the van for German licence plates and then I can insure it. Let's give it a go, shall we?

diy campervan build seats
The cockpit. Classy interior design with tasteful red tiger fur seats for pilot and passengers.

My dad and I drove the van from Ireland to Germany in August and begun the process. All it took was about 3 days and then the van went in for its test. It was then when I felt as low as I ever have. Alone in Germany I was told in broken English that I need about 4,000 euro worth of repairs and even then it might not pass. I left the centre with a broken heart and a bill of 180 euro for the test.

graffiti van spray paint
A Dutch stop off on the way to Germany. @humble_writerz did that piece. Follow him for even better work.

With my girlfriend in Barcelona (the same woman I told I would see a week later in Milan), I had to think quickly. I didn't want to stay stuck in North East Germany. I drove the van (uninsured) 1700km to the south west of France where my mother's friend is holding it in their shed. My only time driving my van was an intensive 2.5 day drive with a soon-to-be late Mac Miller blasting through the speakers I installed. It was a nightmare, but it was the closest I came to living my ‘dream’.

So, a week long trip from Ireland to France with a big stopover in Germany cost me about 1,200 euro and was also the experience that solidified the fact that I won't be driving my van anytime soon. I've had better holidays.

white van diy build campervan
The van parked in Germany for a week I'd rather forget.

That is, though, the very long 'long story short'. The van sat in France and I went to Barcelona to see my girlfriend for two months. That was September. It's now December as I write this from a cafe in Portugal and I know the next time I see my van will be August when I have enough money to go at it again.

As my old German friend told me when the van failed, ‘The best way to make God laugh is to make a plan’. Oh well…

#Van #insurance #Europe