Camptoo, the Airbnb for Campers!

As a traveler, you always have a few things on your bucketlist that NEED to be done. These could be destinations, but also experiences. Most people would agree if I said that taking a camping roadtrip with an old Volkswagen Van would be one of them. 2 years ago I was so lucky to cross it off my bucketlist! Camptoo, the Airbnb for campers and mobile homes, asked me to take an oldtimer Volkswagen T2 for a little roadtrip.

What is Camptoo?

It’s too easy to compare Camptoo with Airbnb but it’s really the best comparison to make. It Basically works like this; most mobile-home owners only use their ride half the time so it just sits there, in front of their garage. Camptoo makes it possible for those owners, to rent out their camper. Take a look on their website and select the camper you want, for how long and for which date. As a result you get several options and all you need to do is to pick your favorite and send the owner a message. Finally you will see which camper is available and if they’ll accept your request.

After a quick check up, we were handed over the keys and headed on our little adventure.

Once accepted you will receive a confirmation email plus a text message. I picked a beautiful Volkswagen T2. Not really knowing what to expect, me and my family drove down to her house where Nicole explained everything we needed to know about her precious ride. Camptoo makes sure that you are all-risk insured and you pay a deposit to cover yourself for any damages along the way. Just make sure to have your travel insurance sorted. After a quick check up on damages and details, we were handed over the keys and headed on our little adventure.

On an adventure with Camptoo

I was worried about the cold,  would the rain drip inside? What if the van breaks down?! 

Volkswagen dreams. Camptoo

The Route

The first thing I noticed is that driving a car like this get’s a lot of attention. A lot. People waving, throwing up peace signs or giving you a thumbs up out of respect. Pretty cool. We decided to drive to The Ardennes, an area with hills and greenery and lot’s of adventurous roads. From Limburg we had about 2 more hours to go and we found this amazing camping online called Les Cabanes De Rensiwez. Here you can camp but also rent the most amazing lodges such as treehouses, Norwegian style cabins and hobbit-like-houses. Our campervan included a little kitchen with a stove so we could prepare dinner and make some tea. No camping adventure is complete without a little thunder storm and boy did we have one on the first night! It rained and rumbled for about 3 hours but it just made the whole experience even more special and cozy. TIP: Bring your own pillows for comfort and a (extra) warm sleeping bag as it get’s very cold at night even during summer. Many camper owners have blankets available but they can be too thin for your liking.

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Bohemian dream
Yep, this is soo me!

Breakfast at the camping
A breakfast basket brought to our camper

The next we drove down to a special place called the Jan Foppen Forest. This is a small forest on top of a hill where you can do crazy survival stuff like abseiling, climbing, paragliding, horse riding and much more. Definitely check out this spot if you’re heading to the Ardennes. 

Camptoo at The Foppen Bos
Our VolkswagenT2 at the Foppen Forest

On our last and final day we really got to drive through small towns where we stopped if we saw something nice such as a little Sunday market or a beautiful viewing point. The Van had to be brought back to its owner in the early afternoon so we decided to sleep at a camping in Limburg, near the Belgian border. This camping was very modern and even had a swimming pool, restaurant and beautiful forest nearby to walk in.

La Roche
We stopped at La Roche, a town visited by many cyclist 

My Verdict

A dream come true. honestly. Ok, I didn’t have a lot of sleep like I would have in a 5 star hotel but that’s not what camping is about. Camping and especially, camping in an oldtimer, is about the magic of it. The adventure without knowing where you will sleep the next day and to follow your own path. I felt like a true nomad and besides that, the whole thing was so well organized from beginning to the end.

Me and the VolkswagenT2, Camptoo

Do you want to go on the same adventure? Visit Camptoo’s website, Facebook & Instagram for inspiration!

Check out my video to get a good impression!

Love,

Elke

This couple left everything behind to live in a Volkswagen Van

In October this year Hedwig (30) and Jeroen (33) left everything behind and started a new big adventure. After living in Amsterdam for 5,5 years they sold all their belongings, including their lovely house. Together with their two dogs, Tommie and Olaf, they decided to live in a Volkswagen Van while they explore the world.

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Hedwig & Jeroen selling their belongings before the big adventure!

‘To live in a Volkswagen Van wasn’t a difficult choice’.

How did you come up with the idea of selling all your belongings and start living in a van? When did it start to feel like something you could really, really do? We wanted our lives to be less predictable. That’s what started it. We were feeling more and more restless and with that grew the need for adventure. On the other hand, we like to have a place of our own, something to call ‘home’. Living in a van combined these two things and for us it wasn’t a difficult choice. We actually made the decision on a Friday afternoon and right that Monday after we started calling real estate agents for selling our apartment.

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Cruising through Europe in their Volkswagen van.

You sold everything you had within 3 months after making the decision. Was it easy to let go of your belongings?
We were lucky to have a place in Amsterdam we could sell within two weeks. The buyer took on some furniture, so until the last day we had a couch to sit on. When it comes to the rest of the furniture and expensive stuff such as our PlayStation, we used an online marketplace for that. Turns out: selling almost all you have is so much work and costs so much time! All the rest we either gave away or we sold it on a huge flea market. After that we only had a few boxes in one corner with the things we were going to take with us. It wasn’t very difficult for us to let go of our stuff. It turns out that we didn’t really need all that luxury anyway. At this point we almost have nothing left, but we’re still happy.

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Home is where you drop your doormat.

Looking back, what were the biggest struggles and what have been the easiest so far?
The biggest struggle is that almost everything is a struggle, really. Each activity takes at least three times longer, from making tea to getting clothes out of the closet. Also the two of us live right on top of each other, that’s another thing we have to deal with. We have been together for 15 years and we realize how important it is to make time for yourself and do whatever makes you happy in order to harmoniously live together. Either way: living in such a small van is a true exercise in staying calm. The easiest has been the pure joy we get out of all the amazing places we have seen and the nice people we have met. Surely you make sacrifices, but this life you get in return is quite special. Being parked on top of a cliff and seeing the sun drop into the ocean right in front of you, after which the sky fills itself with the most amazing pink, orange and red colors, that just can’t get boring. Right?

How did your friends and family react when you told them about your exciting plans?
Everyone was really happy for us. They were as excited as they were surprised, because they hadn’t seen it coming, but hey: neither did we. We feel really lucky to be supported in the way everyone has done. Also it’s nice be not that far away. Traveling in Europe means that almost everyone has the chance to visit us!

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Olaf and Tommie on the road

How did you prepare yourself to this new life?
We still don’t know if there is really a way of preparing yourself for this life. You just have to undergo it. For everyone it is completely different. We tried to prepare ourselves by just imagining what would be the core belongings we need. From practical to personal and sometimes not even useful. We gathered new stuff as well, like a plastic African mat that functions as our porch and an indispensable hunting knife that we use for almost everything. Another thing that has helped us is the online community of van-lifers. Many of them share details about this kind of life you eagerly want to know when you start working on such an adventure.

Where have you been and what are your experiences so far?
We have now driven about 3500 kilometers, which is above average since we covered a lot of distance in the first two weeks. We were chasing the bit of good weather that was left in Europe. This meant we headed for Portugal and spent not even a handful of days in both France and Spain. What we’ve experienced is incredible, although we also try to live a slow paced life. We don’t want expectations to guide us. There will always be more that you miss than what you will actually see, no matter how much you travel. The only expectations we’ve had when starting this journey is about the way we live, about being free and making our own choices. That box we can totally check.

Live in a Volkswagen van
When you live in a Volkswagen Van, you enjoy candlelight dinners every night. 

How does a day in your life look like?
It starts with something awesome: not having to turn off an alarm clock. Funnily enough we almost always awake at about 8am and hardly ever sleep in. The way the morning passes varies: from staying in bed and reading when it rains to doing yoga outside to spending forever on making an extensive breakfast to just doing nothing. The afternoons we tend to be a bit more active. We like to discover a town and when we are in the middle of nature we might take a long walk. Sometimes there are chores to be done, such as doing laundry. And sometimes there is serious work to be done. I will work on an article or interview and Jeroen will be editing one of his drone videos of the van. There’s one thing for sure in our days: we almost always get to do stuff we like, each and every day again. Loving this lifestyle to the moon and back.

Did you meet some interesting people yet?
Many! From enthusiastic surfers that can get a huge campfire going in no time to interesting hippie people that live in vans as long as they remember. They have a total different view of this world. Meeting different people was also something we looked very much forward to.

What are your travel plans for the coming weeks or months?
We think we will stay in Portugal for the holidays. We might go to Lisbon for New Year’s Eve. After that we’d love to take the boat and go to Morocco. We hear nothing but good stories about this country. Also it will be nice to experience some warm winter weather. Springtime we might spend in Spain and France, but nothing is certain. We are however keen to go to England, Scotland and Ireland and also Scandinavia.

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Waiting for the rain to stop.

Do you think you will ever come back to Amsterdam?
Of course! It’s one the nicest and most beautiful cities we know and many of our friends live there. On the other hand, we have no idea if we would ever want to live there again ourselves. This journey that we’re on right now asks our undivided attention and it exists just because we don’t think or worry about the future.

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Waking up like this.

Curious about their new lives or ever thought about living in a van? Go follow them on Instagram via @liveslowdriveslower.

All pictures in this article are by Hedwig and Jeroen.

Love,

Kim

*Kim Bosman is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands. This gymrat works as a digital creative and loves to travel. Other things she likes: eating, writing and photography. You can expect an article from her once a month. Go check out her Instagram

The amazing Lake Como, Italy

If you want to see Italy’s most beautiful treasure, you must visit the Lake Como. I had seen the pictures and always hoped to visit it one day.. but 2 weeks ago it actually happened! I flew to Milan with 2 cuties Jaimy Li from Quater Magazine and Lotte from blog Beautify and we were going to discover Milan and Lake Como in just 2 days with the new Volkswagen up!

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With Jamie Li and Lotte Nijborg

Milano
In Milan we stayed at the amazing Me Milan hotel. A design hotel with an amazing rooftop where you can overlook te business district whilst enjoying your breakfast or drinks. A few days before, I was sleeping in a glamping tent and now I was staying in a 5 star hotel. Crazy. If you go to Milan for a short period, start walking around and get lost a little bit. We walked through part of the fashion district and discovered that most big brands like Prada and Armani literally own half of the city. Apart from their exclusive shops Armani has a hotel, restaurant and Prada owns one of the most prestigious coffee bars in Milan. That’s how things roll down here. Walking around, I noticed the large amount of good looking men and women passing me and they all looked like they own a stylist. Yes, Milan is the capital of fashion and they are not hiding it!

From fashion to food because that’s another thing the Italians are good at. Score yourself a Ice-Cream with a minimum of 2 scoops as there are plenty of flavors to choose from! Not being the biggest fashionista type, I much more preferred the area in Milan where the alternative types go. Check out Mag Bar on Ripa di Porta Ticinese where you will get the menu hidden in a book cover. (Never judge a book by it’s..well, you get it right?) Here you can order great cocktails and eat a few bites. At night (especially during the weekend), it’s packed in this street. Go early to get an outside spot and enjoy the people watching. If you really want to mingle with the hip crowd of Milan, you should try to pay a visit to Ceresio. This is a restaurant and pool bar with 2 pools on each side of the restaurant. Wear your best outfit and order a glass of champagne to fit right in!

Ice cream in Milan
Best Ice-Cream snapping moments in Milano!

Milan
Champagne by the pool at Ceresio

Lake Como
To get to lake Como from Milan you need to drive approximately for 1,5 hours and what better to do it with a car that is ideal for cities and zig zag roads than the Volkswagen up! This cute little car fits right in the Milano style and has been redesigned into different color and variations. The new up! has some cool features like smartphone integration for IOS or Android. You can easily use it to navigate your way through town and hills of Como just like we did or use Bluetooth to play your favorite songs. But one of the coolest things about Volkswagen smallest car, has to be the option to buy it with the Beats by Dre sound system!
Once you get from the highway into Como, you see the landscape into a green oase with flowers and fresh air. I was non-stop trying to hang out of the window to make pictures.

Lake Como route
The road around Lake Como is amazing!

After a stop for lunch in the town of Como, I had about 1 hour to walk around the historic part and it all looked so amazing. I had no time to find the best coffee bars but I would always advise you to sit somewhere next to the water and you’re good. (they should have a George Clooney Nespresso right?) After that we continued our way up to the amazing Villa Leoni which is situated on the mid-westside of the lake where we enjoyed cakes and fruit with some stunning views.

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The old town of Como

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Stunning views from Villa Leoni where the new Volkswagen up! was presented

VOLKSWAGEN UP
Me and the new Volkswagen up! Photo by Martin Meiners. Wearing a jumpsuit from Costes.

Villa Leoni Lake Como
Wow, just wow.

If I had the time, I would have stayed a bit longer for a coffee with Mr. Clooney but hey, I’m a busy girl 😉
Check my video report here!

Love,

Elke

*For more info about the Volkswagen Up and all the different designs, go to www.volkswagen.nl