Here’s our story of the race to retirement worklife to vanlife! As we’re snuggled up inside a sleeping bag made for two, in a 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. Sharing such a small but well organised space together could be challenging.
This really then got us thinking as to why we actually need 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 is that we don’t. That’s the joys of vanlife, a realisation that materialism and the ‘big is best notion’ is neither necessary or essential. A stress-free lifestyle, happier mind and much gentler approach to life is just a better option for us.
It could also be the reason, why those who have little in the way of material possessions, are generally more content with life. Often, it’s the thrill of the purchase itself, that is the attraction, rather 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 all ages. From young adults in their 20’s and 30’s to the mid-life crisis 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 rebellious out there have chosen to live a life so different from their parents and grandparents generations. Where a routine mandatory cycle took them through a system based on leaving school and starting work followed by marriage, children and the eventual retirement at a designated age.
Often, old age brought the inevitable issues of unexpected ill health or increasing lack of confidence in new adventures. 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 was enough to hold them back from reaching out to experience the wonderful world around them. Often 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 too. Unlike the previous generations who were on the property ladder before the coming of age at 21.
The chaotic buzz of the 9-5 commute no longer appeals either, the work day starts and ends, on busy public transport or roads, where vehicles queue bumper to bumper. Slowly etching their way to the workplace, the super stressed workforce are banging their fists on the steering wheel in frustration. That’s even before they’ve entered the office!
Furthermore, it’s all repeated for the return journey, arriving at the 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 attention like a 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 turn our backs on 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. Keeping fit and healthy and eating 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 from day to day.
On these journey’s to New Zealand, the original trip was unplanned, a chance opportunity that brought us back to a country last visited in 2002 and 2003. Both trips back then traveling by van, of course!
We’ve at 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 understand why there’s the rise in 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. For us, our goal was to experience more of the world around us. Wanting to do so, before we reached the age of ailments that could prevent us from doing so.
We’re also, now at a time when we are financially secure after 30+ years of working hard.
We’re just loving it, the freedom is liberating and exciting. The realisation of an existence outside of work and embracing the youth that we still have left in us.
We want to enjoy our freedom now, be able to climb those high mountains, swim in turquoise lakes, cool off in a clear river swimming holes and feel the salt water on our skin, in a tempting warm blue ocean.
We love to scale those trails of discovery, along paths of solitude, where hikes bring welcome picnic spots and new wildlife greets 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 a 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 when we’re on the road, home is always where the heart is. Crucially, that’s not always a home of bricks and mortar anymore but often the small metal box on wheels.
Our home just moves with us, there is no material item that we miss and everything we need we have with us. It all fits into that little box, it’s 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 really matters.
More importantly we don’t miss the unnecessary baggage, bits and bobs 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. Each person has their own reasons whatever age bracket they fall into and whichever country they come from.
Professional or working class, there are no boundaries, rich or poor, anything goes. New or old van, small or large, size doesn’t count. Every person has their own journey, it’s a vision that’s catching and growing.
Vanlifers everywhere, we salute you!
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