It’s our race to retirement, giving up the worklife for vanlife and we are, snuggled up inside a sleeping bag made for two! Travelling in a rental campervan of similar size, to that of an under stairs cupboard!
Above us, is not much more in the way of headroom, than an extended arm’s length! A very clever, wooden pull-out bed base, provides a useful 3rd sleeping space for our son, who has joined us for a weekend. We’re in the beautiful Wairarapa wine region, in the South of New Zealand’s North Island.
Feeling blessed, with the fact that our adult children, still don’t mind tagging along with their middle aged parents. We feel even more so, due to the fact that it involves sharing such a small, but well organised space together.
This really then got us thinking, as to why we actually need much more room than this in everyday life? When everything we really need, just fit’s so snuggly into an area of just a few sq meters?
The answer, of course, is that we don’t! That’s the joys of vanlife, it’s the realisation that materialism and the ‘big is best notion’, is neither necessary or essential. More often than not, nowadays, less is the better option for us. Offering a more stress free lifestyle, happier mind and much gentler hold on our wallets.
It could also be the reason, why those who have little in the way of material possessions. Are generally more content with life. Than those, who perceive to have wealth through the purchase of expensive buys. Above all, it’s the thrill of the purchase itself, that is more pleasurable, than the enjoyment of the item afterwards.
It’s now one of the reasons why so many people across the globe are joining the vanlife phenomenon. Swapping four walls and a roof in suburbia, for a small metal box on wheels. It’s all part of the race for retirement.
Vanlife, has become the modern day trend, or movement amongst people of various ages. From the younger adults in their 20’s and 30’s, to the mid-life crisis conscious 40 and 50 something’s. Many, suddenly find themselves seeing their life flash before their eyes. Realising, they don’t want to be looking back in years to come, wishing they’d done more while they could.
Those outgoing, or even rebellious out there. Have chosen to live a life so different from the norm of their parents and grandparents generations. Where the previous, almost routine mandatory cycle. Took them through a system of leaving school, starting work followed by marriage, children and the eventual retirement at a designated age.
Often, older age brought the inevitable issues of unexpected ill health or increasing lack of confidence in new adventures. With the thought of trying to do something completely different, outside of the comfort zone. Bringing dread and fear and too many excuses!
All this, despite the luxury of greater financial stability later in life. It was enough to hold them back, from reaching out to experience the wonderful world around them. At a time, which should have been their golden years.
Nowadays, the modern world is so convenient yet so inconvenient. The increasingly, impossible realities of living in a demanding 24/7 career. We live in an age, when house prices are out of reach for so many young people. Whilst past generations were on the property ladder before the coming of age at 21.
The chaotic buzz of the 9-5 commute no longer appeals. When the work day starts and ends, in an endlessly, hectic cycle of jam packed public transport. On roads, where vehicle’s queue bumper to bumper. Slowly etching their way to the workplace, driven by a super stressed workforce, who are banging their fists on the steering wheel in frustration. Even before they’ve entered the office!
Furthermore, it’s all repeated for the clogged return journey. Back to a front door of a tiny rented living space, that’s costing almost as much per month as the pay cheque.
It doesn’t end there, as the front door keys are hung up, the smart phone is, by now, ringing out in anger. With a list of instant messages, e-mails and voicemails that are demanding the attention, of this new technological virus.
It’s those instant needs, whose perpetrators are not afraid of contacting who they want, when they want! Despite the fact, that the office closed 2 hours ago! Have a they not got a life outside work or their own desire for the race to retirement?
Therefore, it’s no wonder that there’s a revolt out there. People like you and us, turning their backs on the normal and the expected. Those tedious demands, that society places upon us, it’s liberating to just stick two fingers up to conformity!
For those quieter soles, this is just simply and gently gliding smoothly away from the spotlight into a different kind of world. Where the vanlife dream, seemingly fills the gap and meets the ideology, of those new found rebels amongst us.
Maybe, we’re following in the footsteps, of those who’ve gone before us, but we’re not quite the same. In fact, there’s nothing from the past, to compare those who’ve taken social media by storm in today’s modern world. The picture perfect bodies advertise various products, through beautiful photo shoot poses, in artistically manicured vans. Situated in the most enviable of locations, therefore, attracting thousands of followers, who are also, sharing their dream.
We don’t have the youthful skin of our younger selves, to promote to the world in glossy images. However, what we do have is our health and a keen willingness, in fact, a mission, to keep active. To stay fit and healthy and eat wisely, will hopefully keep all those faculties alive and kicking!
We bring life skills and experience that come with 30 years of togetherness. Along with travels in vans large and small, that began when our children were just babies! It’s strange, how life goes by so quickly, almost in a flash, now we are back to being just the two of us.
Those brief interludes of loveliness, when one child is free to join us for a short spell away are now precious. Moments to cherish and a chance to reflect on how lucky we are to have our family.
It’s a joy to be on the road either part-time or permanently. Life changes as the unexpected happens. With the unplanned freedom comes new, or revised decisions about when or where we’ll be and even, in what van we’ll be using. As with this journey to New Zealand, the trip was unplanned, a chance opportunity that brought us back to a country, last visited 15 and 16 years earlier. Both trips back then traveling by van, of course!
We’re now approaching the big 50! Having given up the daily grind after decades of business and work. A relentless workload of never ending people pleasing and red tape. We’re out of it, the rat race of work, bed, work, bed, work work work!!
We understand why, there’s that growing breed of people, who want that different life. People like us, who are not traditional retirement age, but who’ve worked hard, for what seems like forever.
When our children grew up and became independent, our outlook on life changed even more. For us, our goal was to experience more of it, that’s life in general and the world around us. Wanting to do so, before we reached the age of ailments, that could prevent us from doing this. We’re also, now at a time when we are financially secure after 30+ years of never ending work, yes weekends and on travels too!
We’re just loving it, the freedom, the liberating excitement, the realisation of existence outside of previous work normality. Happily, embracing the youth that we still have left in us.
We want to enjoy our freedom now. To be able to climb those high mountains, swim in those turquoise lakes, cool off in a clear river swimming hole and feel the salt water on our skin, in a tempting warm blue ocean.
We love to scale those trails of discovery. Through paths of solitude, where day hikes bring welcome picnic spots, new wildlife greets us and glorious abounds of natural beauty surround us. Binoculars are the new essential item, always being at the ready for that new monumental view!
We’re stubborn and determined to continue to see the world in all its glory. Ready to seek out and find new favourites, to add to that list of memories that has grown way beyond our expectations. We’re on that road, the race to retirement is on!
It’s a strange thing, that when we’re on the road, home is always where the heart is. Crucially, that’s not a home, as in bricks and mortar anymore. Home is more often that not, the small metal box on wheels. Our home just moves with us, there is no material item that we miss, everything we need we have with us. It all fits into that little box, that we mentioned at the start of this posting, it’s almost hard to imagine to outsiders but for us it’s true.
With simplicity comes the fact, that no matter where we are in the world it’s people that we need not possessions. It’s those that we love and hold dear to us, that is all that really matters. More importantly, until we give up on those other items, either temporarily or permanently. We don’t realise, that those things we think we love that we’ve paid for and left behind with the rest of life’s unnecessary baggage, are just things! Bits and bobs of emptiness, that hold no real value to us.
We understand the growing trend for getting out there and seeing the world, before it’s too late for people everywhere. It’s a mixture of all the above, each person has their own reasons, whatever age bracket they fall into and whichever country they originate from.
Professional or working class, there are no boundaries, rich or poor, anything goes. New or old van, small or large van, size doesn’t count, each person has their own theory and their own journey to participate on. It’s a vision that’s catching and growing. Vanlife and the young retired brigade we salute you!