VW VOTEL - UK
NAME, AGE, BIRTH PLACE (home)
Lord Minister M P Disney RM, 33, UK
MAKE, MODEL & YEAR OF VEHICLE, YEAR OF CONVERSION
2005 VW Transporter T5 T30 1.9TDI SWB.
I brought her for £5k in May 2015 and spent 150hrs+ on weekends over the next few months working on her to meet many legal requirements (which also snowballed the cost) to transform her from a panel van to a motorhome. Hence the Votel (Vehicle + Hotel) was born.
DIMENSIONS (Length, Wide, Height, Volume)
L: 4892 W: 1904 H: 1990 5.8 cu m
TOTAL MONTHS LIVING MOBILE
6, Wed 22 July 2015 - set sail, or let the wheels roll should we say, embarking on the traveller's life, exploring every corner in every country of every continent around the world in my Votel.
My first stop was a sunrise at Stonehenge, UK, then partying in Paris, to D-Day in Normandy, to Châteaux hunting in Tours, France.
Running up Andorra's highest summit, Coma Pedrosa (2,942m), to festival loving in Montpellier, to laughing at the superyachts in Monaco, to delivering myself to the most famous French postman Ferdinand Cheval's Le Palais Idéal.
Getting soaked under the Geneva Water Fountain, Switzerland, to meeting the Grim Reaper on Liechtenstein's highest summit Vorder Grauspitz (2,599m) and finding an unexploded, active 20yr old mortar, to sleeping the night above the clouds at Luca V Bivacco on the Julian Alps, Italy.
Boat parties at Dimension Festival in Croatia, to 13.5hrs, fell running over Slovenia's highest summit Triglav (2,864m), other summits and the Seven Lake Valley, Slovenia.
Drinking my way through Oktoberfest, to sporting my sock trainers & "we love short shorts" while completing Germany's snow filled highest summit Zugspitze (2,999m), to entering 'Darkrooms' in techno clubs in the 'new Berlin' that is Leipzig, Germany.
Snapping photographs of the best collection of street art I've ever seen in one city that is the bullseye of Poland that is Lodz, to drinking homemade Plum Brandy naked on Poland's highest summit Rysy (2,499m).
Getting lost in the finger rocks of Adršpach-Teplice Rocks, Czech Republic, to dreaming of fairytales at the Blue Church & Bojince Castle, Slovakia, to drinking my way through the ruins of Budapest, Hungary.
Countless showers in the waterfalls of Croatia, to going off the beaten track to the world's largest underground military airbase, to getting naked on Croatia's highest summit Dinara (1,913m).
Snowplowing through Serbia, to an ice-blasted beard and face on Serbia's highest summit Midzor (2,169m), to batting around in the cathedral-sized cave with 35k others species of bats, to getting a selfie of Chipul lui Decebal that is the tallest rock structure in Europe.
Running 'near God' of Bulgaria's highest summit Musala (2,925m) and the 7 lakes, to going outer space at the abandoned UFO, to joining Mario and Luigi down the pipes of Sofia, Bulgaria.
HOW MANY LIVING IN IT
I mainly travel Han Solo. I did have an NZ friend that travelled 3 countries for 3wks with me which was amazing. I have also had friends fly over to see me in cities, and had Bla Bla Car passengers.
However finances, families, and jobs are amongst the many reasons, excuses or commitments I hear from people unfortunately even though they are envious of this type of lifestyle. However, there are thousands of people who overcome these reasons to live the way I do.
HOW DO I SHOWER
I visioned and designed a very simple external shower system that is very effective that then got customised built.
Consisting of 1 welded rod to the roof rack where I then slot a pipe over that which has a hook on the other end holding my solar shower bag to it. While I have 2 long heavy-duty draw runners welded to my roof rack with a metal rod joining them together forming a letter 'U'. This creates a shower curtain rail that when it's not safely stored away, easily pulls out to then attach a shower curtain to; unless you decide as I do now & then to not use a curtain at all and just be one with nature.
HOW DO I GET THE INTERNET
I discovered every McDonald's has free WiFi throughout Europe. At first, I would buy a coffee to use it (never food due to the only time ever I've had food poisoning was in 2009 from a McDonald's that lead to me spraying rainbow vomit everywhere while on a date with my ex, so I've never eaten McDonald's again).
However, nowadays I have more neck than E.T's pullover / more neck than a giraffe so I now just go in and sit straight down and steal the WiFi without buying anything and to date have never had any trouble/grief from doing this.
HOW DO I RECEIVE MAIL / PARCELS
This would be very rare, however, if any of my friends were flying over to see me then I get them to bring it with them; or get mail addressed to a foreign friend's address as I am very fortunate to have friends literally in most corners of every country.
HOW OTHERS REACT
Envies, jealous, scared of not being able to imagine doing it themselves, proud of me for as they say 'living my life to the fullest'.
The reaction from others however that I only enjoy is seeing, hearing or finding out about, is when it inspires them.
WHAT WAS I DOING BEFORE I WENT MOBILE & WHY DID I MAKE THE CHANGE
I was a former Corporal in the British Royal Marine Commandos for 9yrs.
On Tue 10 Aug 2010 after declining several invitations from a very good friend in the Royal Navy, I finally said yes to a trip to New York via 1 night in Amsterdam. He had just gotten out of a relationship after his partner ended things suddenly so wanted to get out of the country to clear his head. My ex-partner had also left me 2wks prior. We shared many similarities - both spent close to 3yrs in relationships that had ended suddenly, same age, same rank/position, worked on the same ship. So off we went to NY - and what turned out to be the beginning of waking up my travel bug. The travel bug that grew larger, stronger and more hungry as I then utilised every possible holiday off work I had each year to travel. This lead to me constantly having the thought process about 'what would be the best means of travel'. Originally this leads to the idea of a motorbike, however soon the endless benefits of a Van / Motorhome became the clear winner; so the Votel dream was born.
WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE TO MOVE INTO MY MOBILE HOME
I found the transition and process moving into the votel very easily. Knowing from the outset what my vehicle of choice was a VW transporter, to constantly envisioning every piece of the conversion of my then VW panel van to becoming a legal motorhome. I also found it very easy, due to my previous career in the Marines, to live full time out of a confined space that I would from then on be my 'home'.
DO I PLAN TO GO BACK TO MY PREVIOUS WAY OF LIVING
The honest answer....starts with 'N' and ends with 'O'.
I don't envision or want to live any other lifestyle now as nothing compares to the pure freedom of basically living off the grid/radar.
HOW DO I BALANCE WORK & LIVING IN A SMALL SPACE
I have had the luxury of travelling full-time without having to work at all since leaving the Marines. However, I manage several l social media networking sites to share my travels which are like a job in itself but one I enjoy and have a dear passion for.
I enjoy this so much as not only am I keeping my friends and family up to date with everything I am doing, but it has naturally turned me into travel advisor for them as well as providing inspiration for others.
HOBBIES ON & OFF THE ROAD
Apart from the obvious partying, festivals, meeting new people and generally being a social butterfly / social cat. I am currently climbing all the highest summits in Europe and then beyond. Currently, I've completed 13, with my biggest being Zugspitze, Germany (2,999m), while my latest being Bulgaria's Musala meaning 'Near God' (2,925m).
TOP 3 GO-TO ITEMS IN MY TINY HOME
1. Gym kit (Dumbbells, TRX, gloves and pumping Chicago House, Disco and Deep Techno tunes).
2. Climbing gear.
3. Customised memory foam Rock N Roll bed, fold away table and swivel front seats. As they can easily go from rear seats, to work / dinner table, to swivelling my front seats around and turning my Votel into a party bus, to making a simple single bed for quick city sleeps to a full king sized bed to sleep like a baby in luxury.
MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT LIVING SMALL
Freedom! No bills like mortgage/rent, water rates, electric, solicitors, stamp fees, council tax. While the only gas bill I have is fuel I use it to get to new places, locations and making incredible memories. Basically, I go where I want when I want without anyone to answer to. Be one with nature.
MOST CHALLENGING THING
Breakdowns, border controls, visas, toll fees with rules that constantly change per country, while also getting the votel broken into, and then realised the new quiet off the road area we choose to get some cold, noisy few hours sleep till the morning to sort everything out, turned out in the morning to be a prostitutes working area.
WHO AM I INSPIRED BY
Literally, every single person that shares the same passion for travelling, hunger for adventure, lust to explore, the will to not live by societies rules.
ADVICE TO FUTURE HOMEOWNERS WANTING TO LIVE SMALL / HIT THE ROAD
You will never regret it, the benefits are un-measurable. As Nike's famous slogan says 'Just Do It'.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR ME? ANY NEWS I CAN SHARE
Carrying on through Europe to complete it by Sep, before then tackling either South America, US, and Canada or more likely first Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia while of course carrying on doing all the highest summits of each country.
CLOSING LINE (quote / motto / saying / belief)
"The world is too big to live a life in one place" Lord Minister M P Disney RM
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