“I go with the flow, it depends on the weather.”

“I go with the flow, it depends on the weather.”

Name: Christoph (50)

Where from: Berlin, Germany

Chosen home: 2008 Citroen Berlingo

Why did you choose van life?   I didn’t want the organised part of my life any more. I wanted to focus on the things that are important to me. A small surrounding helps me to focus. I started as a banker, I went to live in a mountain hut for over two years and then I had my own zip lining business for 10 years. When people are high up in the trees they often panic and freeze. The question is: how do you get out of the situation?  This happens in normal life too. I trained people not to be afraid of themselves and how to get rid of their fear. So I applied this to my own life. I had earned a lot of money and I could do as I wanted, but it led me to burn-out. I tried other things, but they also led me to burn-out, so I had to get a control over my emotions.

How long have you lived in your van?    In this van half a year, but I’ve been on the road for two-and-a-half years. Before I had a Fiat Ducato, and I build each van according to my needs. The Ducato was built for storage, so I had very little living space, but it was beautifully done. However, by the end of the year I had got rid of half our stuff. My Citroen was designed for living space rather than storage space, which is fabulous. I don’t need a lot of space.

What countries have you visited?  I started in Germany, and from there went to France, Spain, Portugal, and then down to Morocco and West Sahara – and then all the way back.

How do you make a living?  I convert vans into campers. I talk to the customer, understand their requirements and then build to their specification.

Best country you’ve visited?  I don’t have a favourite country. At the moment the best is where I am right now, which is Portugal. I follow my feelings, so if I want a colder or hotter country, or a country with more or with less culture, I’ll go there.

Worst country you’ve visited?   I have no worst country. Some countries have had a pull on me, but once I am satisfied I can let go and carry on.

Best experience you’ve had while living in your van?   I was in my mini camper and didn’t have enough living space. I really wasn’t comfortable with it. Then two elderly people came up to the van and saw the chimney smoking and said: “Oh god, isn’t that cute! I’d love to have something like that!” My irritation about my situation changed into happiness. I could embrace my van again.   

Worst experience you’ve had while living in your van?  It was here in Portugal.  A wedding group came to near where I was parked. They were pissed, they took photos of the bride and groom, we looked on and clapped, and everything was great. Then some of them got into their cars and started wheel spinning around the married couple, spraying other vehicles with stones. My car was battered.  It ended in an argument until I threatened to throw stones at their brand new cars, at which point they drove off.

Do you have a dream?   I don’t have any particular plans now. If I can find a place where I am happy, then the surrounding doesn’t matter. I love free camping, but I bought a small property in the countryside in Portugal as it’s the one place where the police cannot move me on.

What is the most important thing about your van?   It’s my high-speed blender. I could change my car but I couldn’t change that!

How do you pass the time?   I go with the flow, and it depends on the weather. I try to be more flexible in the way I look at things and look at myself.

What advice would you give to would-be van dwellers?   Don’t finish building your van until you know what you want. Live in it and change it as you go along. Keep changing it. It’s like evolution.

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