What 30 Days in a Van Taught Me

the pure life



2 People. 4 Countries. 4,000 km. What 30 days in van taught me.

Accidentally a trip of a lifetime, and so much more than I could have asked for. My partner and I ventured off to Europe on 1 mission: to explore the mountains! Incredibly fortunate, borrowing an old orange ’78 Westfalia van from a family member thinking “it’s now or never right?”, we scrambled off with a bit of money in our pockets, a desire for nature and a map of Europe. Making our way from Northern to Southern Germany, bordering the Swiss Alps, into small Swiss villages, into the breathtaking mountains and passes, into the South Western Swiss/Italian/French boarder, into Northern Italy down to Lake Maggiore, into Milan, up to Lake Como, through the Austrian boarder, into Austria, up to Munich for Oktoberfest, straight to Berlin, over to the beaches bordering Northern Germany and Denmark, to the crazy city of London and then back home to Vancouver. 4,000km, in 1 month – pretty crazy hey? 

What 30 Days In a Van Taught Me - THE PURE LIFE

What 30 Days In a Van Taught Me - THE PURE LIFE

So what did living out of a van teach me?

  1. Simple living really is best. All you really need are a few change of clothes, a small kitchen with a few basic spices, your hiking boots and some really comfy blankets.
  2. Positivity is so important, but also incredibly difficult at times. Living out of a van means multiple things going “wrong’ – I learned how to calm down, take a deep breath and trust that everything will be alright (because it will be).
  3. You can make pasta 30 different ways and not get sick of it. We spiced our pasta up with different versions (zucchini & turmeric, paprika & tomato, garlic & basil, onion & veggie “meatballs”, etc. etc.)
  4. The world is really, really big and you are really, really small. We have so much to learn, explore and see.
  5. Get over your fear of heights and climb that mountain! Because chances are, you will never see it again. Plus, it makes a really great instagram photo – am I right?
  6. Being street smart, but not in the “urban” sense, is essential. Learning how to take care of yourself in the wild is surprisingly therapeutic and may also save your life. Not to mention that my partner took care of us the entire trip, but it definitely taught me a thing or two and showed me that I am much stronger than my mind likes to tell me.
  7. Sleeping without an alarm clock is really precious. Going to sleep with the stars and waking up to a breathtaking sunrise can change your mood for that day in an instance.
  8. A little bit of water (lake, sea or river) can be insanely therapeutic. Weather we were washing dishes in the river (use biodegradable soap, please) or jumping into a cool lake at the end of the hike, it really re-sets you and connects you with nature. 
  9. Sharing beautiful things (and by things I mean hikes, cooking a meal, star-gazing, etc.) with a partner is 100 times better than alone. Although solo travel can be amazing, travelling with a travel buddy can also be incredible.
  10. You can still live a healthy lifestyle while you travel. Yes, there are days when you want to eat a whole jar of Nutella, and no, you may not exercise as much as you’d like to and that’s OK. Acceptance is key. You are human. You are doing your best :)



Van Life Grocery List for 30 Days in Europe

  • lots of pasta, brown basmati rice, oats, lentils, locally baked bread (rye, sourdough, etc.)
  • sweet potato, potatoes
  • lots of onions, garlic, herbs like basil, mint and parsley
  • spices such as himalayan salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, curcuma (turmeric), curry spice, cinnamon, cardamom, kelp flakes
  • seasonal veggies: we used carrots, lettuce, cucumber, peppers, lots of tomatoes, mushrooms & zucchinis
  • seasonal fruit: fresh berries, oranges, grapefruits, lemons/limes, local fruit like apples, melons, peaches
  • tomato paste, vegan butter (Alsan-Bio is my favourite one from Europe), plain or vanilla soy yoghurt (I looked out for soy grown locally in Austria such as the brand Joya), raw local honey, dairy-free milk, jam, almond butter, veggie “Aufstrich”
  • for snacks: nuts, vegan bars, dates, crackers, ginger chews, chai tea bags
  • We tried a lot of vegan knockoffs for fun, and fell in love with all of them (vegan cream cheese, lentil meatballs, vegan nutella, etc.)
  • It was also really easy to get grass fed, hormone free meats, cheeses and good quality eggs from farmers, if you are interested. Just simply hike through the farms and ask the farmers!

Meal Ideas

  • Breakfast: Porridge, Yoghurt with Fruit, Bread with Spreads
  • Lunch: Sandwiches, Lentil Soup, Veggie Omelette with Tofu or Local Cage-Free Eggs (if you eat eggs), Grilled “Cheese”
  • Dinner: Pasta, Salad, Rice and Veggies
  • Snacks: Fruit, Veggies & Hummus, etc. 

  1. sarah says:

    Sisley! Now that’s so funny, I wrote a VERY similar blog post about my lessons after living in a van for 2 months while road tripping across Australia! Haha So funny. Check it: http://www.deliciouslyvibrant.com/road-trip-across-australia-5-lessons-from-living-in-a-van/

    LOVE your blog girl! Glad to have found you via Instagram :)

    Peace & Love!

    • Hey Sarah! No way, that’s so funny. Can’t wait to give it a read. Isn’t van life the best? Lots of love xx Sisley

      • Sarah says:

        Very true, dear! It sure has taught me a lot and I would go back to Van living in a heart beat now! What a great way to disconnect and reconnecr with Nature and the simple pleasures in Life ?.