This is a translation of an interview of me and Martin, the owner of a czech website about digital nomads. Martin is an internet marketing consultant and his wife Lenka is a graphic designer. Both of them are freelancers.
One day they realised that if all they need to do their job is a computer and internet, they can work from anywhere. Even from a camper van. So they started to try it out and to write about it so it could inspire others. That’s how nomadem.cz was created. Me and Martin once sat down and he asked me a few questions about my new caravan and why I bought it.
For a start, can you describe your old caravan? Why did you choose this one in your nomadic beginnings?
We were looking for a cheap caravan in a good condition, suitable for four people. That was the basic idea. For a few months, we kept visiting the stores with pre-owned caravans until we discovered the new Burimex company, where they offered an incredible 6-month warranty for used caravans.
I kept track of the offers, and as soon as the Coachman appeared in an offer for 100,000CZK (about 3 920 €), I was absolutely sure about it and the deposit was paid the very next day. Even if I didn’t have enough money on my account and had to borrow something from my friends – can you imagine how my wife “admired” me for that?
Photos of my old caravan
Which of these things did you consider the most important when buying the first caravan?
I wanted to have a caravan with the best equipment, and the English caravans have been providing this for a long time and at a European price. So even the 1995 Coachman didn’t lack an oven, a hot water boiler, and windows that can be all opened.
Of course, the design was not quite modern, but we just needed to verify the idea – if our family is able to travel with the caravan. For us, the most important things were both the layout of the beds and the weight of maximum 3.5 tonnes, to suit our BMW 5 Series. Also we needed the driving license B to be sufficient. At first we also wanted to put a crib in the corridor, but in the end the carrycot from the stroller turned out to be enough.
You decided to sell the old caravan and buy a new one. Were there any things that did not suit you in the old one and the new one was suppose to solve it?
Our first caravan was great for us. Thanks to having a built-in water tank in it, we were able to camp in the wild for 3-4 days. But after four years, we decided that we had already verified the caravan idea, and it’s time to add a bit of comfort.
We first explored built-in vans with a goal of traveling more agilely and park for instance in the forest, at the road or in the city, just like you and Lenka. But in the end I couldn’t justify the investment of 600 (second hand) to 900 thousand CZK (???) ($ 28,000 – $ 42,000), not even to myself. You’re doing great taking it from the other end, I certainly don’t have such patience and skills.
(Writer’s explanation: our first camper van costed about 100 000CZK = 3 920 €. Now we own and rebuild Mercedes-Benz Sprinter truck from 1999, slowly turning it into a camper van. Here you can follow the procedure: FB Nomádem.cz)
So I went back to the caravans. It was a coincidence that in Burimex I found one that had some nice conveniences. It had a separate shower so I would no more be tangled in the curtains, and we would not have to mop it all the time so the girls could go to the toilet at night.
Another great thing was the bigger fridge that’s really convenient for the family living in the caravan – I got points from my wife for that. And then there’re a few nice but unnecessary parts of comfort: a fan in the ceiling, a large sunroof, more modern and hopefully reliable roller blinds, more storage space, built-in electric hotplate in the stove, and not only gas heating but also 220V. All of this was at the expense of gaining about 500 more kilograms and a lowering the number of beds, which we plan to expand with a bunk bed.
What was the most important thing for you? Have your priorities changed somehow since you bought the first caravan?
The basic idea remains the same. Long-term traveling and getting to know new cultures without spending a fortune for hotels, while saving time we’d waste by constant packing and unpacking.
What’s changed a little is the lust for wild camping, which is related to our girls growing up. We only tried it couple of times in the end of our spring journey from Marocco, and it seems to be much easier than I thought. Thanks to the mobile app and the Campercontact site (odkaz?), traveling with a zero-cost for overnight is a piece of cake. That’s why we attached a solar panel to our new caravan and we are excited to see how it’s all gonna work if we won’t show up in campsite perhaps for a week.
We didn’t buy an awning tent for the new caravan, because we mostly used to carry it around as a dead load anyway. Also we left the electric heater at home. I think in general we have a very moderate point of view on the equipment – we don’t take unnecessary things with us.
We also aren’t concerned with the weight anymore. We have a heavier Toyota Hilux which for no caravan is heavy. And I also have a driving license BE. We already have a maximum weight of about 4.4 tons, but we don’t care very much about it.
Until now, you’ve spent most of the time in the campsites. The new caravan has a solar panel, which means at least partial independence from the electricity supplies. Do you plan to spend more time “in the wild”, or does it not go well with the kids, and you’ll need the campsite facilities?
The campsite facilites are great for longer stays at the same place. But when we move halfway across Europe, sometimes we stay in camps only for one night and then we actually don’t even use what we are paying for. We come there in the evening, so the reception’s still open, meaning we try to arrive before 5pm. It adds unnecessary stress into the day on the road and also it’s steals our time.
When we’re at the campsite, we spend around one hour connecting to the network, parking and setting up the stabilizer legs. In the morning, we have to wait until the reception opens and it again wastes the time we could already be on the road. We don’t travel at night, because it’s the time to sleep.
Parking in the „stellplatz“ is very convenient for the relocation. We arrive at 9pm, keep the car attached to the caravan and we don’t connect anywhere. So we benefit more from the day on the road while missing out the stress factor. I used to be worried about „stellplatz“ being just small parking places for three cars and I’ll just bother everyone with the caravan, but it’s actually an opposite. Typically they’re huge parking spots that are only half-full even in the full season. And if we can gain a free lunch in the top of everything (’cause we won’t pay for the campsite about €12-18 off season and €30-40 in the season), the whole idea is just perfect. We can even make a coffee without electricity, using the AeroPress coffee maker.
Where and for how long do you plan to travel in the near future with the new caravan?
We just came back from the road to Western Europe and the tip of Africa. In August, we would like to take it easy and visit the Czech hills with the new caravan. And we’ll know more in the fall. Since last year, we’re thinking of Scandinavia, but it’s all in stars. We don’t stick to the fixed schedule. And for the next spring, we’d like to go back to Greece and Turkey.