You dare something, as a woman! #solofemalecamper
Or on the subject of girls on the camper front aka vangirls
I keep stumbling across the hashtag #solofemalecamper on social media. Then there are transfigured, romantic pictures of pretty girls, who are slightly decked out in their light chains, cuddly blankets, well-decorated campers, drinking a cup of camomile tea and, in at least the least cases, addressing another woman with the social media post. But then I thought to myself: how could it be otherwise, nobody wants to see the reality!
Girl power, pragmatism and corporate business clowns
a, I was also on the road as a #solofemalecamper for a while, only that was anything but romantic, but rather pragmatic and practically good. When I calculated what the overpriced room in Munich cost me for 2-3 nights a week as a commuter, I faced the choice: cheap hotel, annoying friends or city van life? And, unsurprisingly, the choice fell on the latter.
During the holidays, for example, I can tolerate not washing my hair for two or three days, but this option does not apply to a classic corporate business job in a pinstripe suit. Therefore, strategic planning had to be done when switching to vanlife and I was repeatedly faced with small challenges. The following are the top vanwelling challenges.
Basically, it is not always welcome or even allowed to stay overnight in the car - I'm not even talking about wild camping! In addition, you would like to have peace and quiet in the evenings and at night and not be roused from your sleep by noise or bullying young people. This is usually finding the right location, especially in a big city, the biggest challenge when van dwelling, especially for #solofemalecampers.
However, I quickly managed to find a good parking space in Munich, which was only 10 minutes away from my employer and outside of the city. Wanting to look as inconspicuous as possible due to an underlying paranoia, I hid in a secluded parking lot near a small military compound. Most of the time it worked great!
But sometimes not. In fact, these secluded parking lots are popular with youngsters who don't seem to need sleep during the weekdays, or young couples looking for a bit of bunga bunga. Parking at the very back of the parking lot to hide is therefore counterproductive, because the others also want the last row of seats. So I chose my standard parking space right at the beginning of the parking lot and therefore had hardly any reason to complain. It is important to note that parking in itself is simply legal. For a couple of nights I just stood in the parking garage or on friends' private property, which eliminated certain inconveniences anyway.
Larger employers usually have showers available, but I wanted to make my project a little more incognito. So it made sense that gym subscriptions in Munich are now being offered at dumping prices. At €20 a month with a monthly notice period, you really can't complain. For me it was a double win, because after work I could do sports and then use the shower and hair dryer. If I just trudged in to take a shower, nobody was interested either. Every now and then I slept on a colleague's sofa, but as nice as the girls' nights were, somehow I ended up preferring my "own home"! As an alternative to these solutions in everyday life, we were able to shower here and there at swimming pools for 1-3 thalers on our road trips or simply treated ourselves to a sauna evening in a thermal bath!
In van life, the most natural thing in the world is probably what is least talked about. Yes, everyone has to at some point. While one can be timed well with the first coffee at work with a balanced diet, peeing outdoors is a bit more cumbersome for a woman than for a man, as God created him. Above all, I don't think much of it when on Handkerchiefs lying around everywhere in the parking lot or it starts to smell like sewage in the dry summer months. Pooh. So for me there was only one option: Porta Potti. A small portable toilet that I could use even when the bed was pulled out. And yes, voiding wasn't necessarily my highlight of Thursday's day, but with the right tools, it's as bad as others and being disgusted with yourself would be weird anyway. In the case of pure urine, the right remedy is not the hard chemical club, but only some vinegar (possibly gall soap) and all-purpose cleaner for a little perfuming. If you then dispose of the yellow water in the toilet at home after 3 days, the inconveniences are reduced to a minimum.
Winter with -8 °C
Vanlife or vanwelling is not necessarily limited to the mild summer. Although I have to mention in passing that it was almost great to watch the sunset from the top deck of a Munich multi-storey car park and to have a drink with colleagues after work. In my case, the winter was -8 °C and sometimes up to 30 cm nightly fresh snow rather tenacious. The parking heater was worth its weight in gold at the moment. However, since I couldn't sleep with the volume and the fact that the original VW auxiliary heater repeatedly started up loudly in performance mode, the heater was off at night. Instead, I snuggled into a thick sleeping bag and put two thick blankets over it. I then set the automatic parking heater like an alarm clock so that it was pleasantly warm when I got up.
This is probably a sensitive point that is repeatedly discussed in the supposedly weaker sex. You're in the middle of Nirvana: aren't you afraid of being attacked, robbed...no, of being murdered right away? Yes and no. Yes, because the human brain always maintains a certain level of paranoia and you are automatically alarmed when you hear noises or people sneaking around the car. But as soon as you rationalize these thoughts, the spook is over. First, there are “normal” people in remote places from time to time. Be it walkers with dogs, young people fleeing from the eyes of their guardians or other campers checking out the location. These people are generally not interested in the vehicle, and certainly not when someone is in it. Secondly, real burglars explicitly go in search of the object of their desire. What is the probability that someone like that is looking exactly where I am? Usually vanish low!
Third, with a little common sense in seating, you don't have to be lucky for a quiet night. However, if bad luck comes along, you can prepare appropriate exit strategies. In 99 % cases, thieves are scared off as soon as they realize that the car is not empty: so turn on all the lights and make a lot of noise. Then the key should be ready to hand in order to flee if necessary. Last but not least, I had a bear spray on hand - although the self-knock-out risk speaks massively against the use of such aids. Conclusion: Prevention is always better than reaction and caution is the mother of the china box.
As I have at least tried to describe, there is no problem that cannot be solved. With a little brain power and intrinsic motivation, everything can somehow be fixed. But what you get in return is priceless. I loved the feeling of getting rid of the obligations that came with the second home in my case. No one needs this packing of things back and forth, the commute within Munich, the additional costs that feel disproportionately high and, above all, the lack of flexibility! Not only was I able to do my thing, but I was also able to use the savings to finance the "expensive" camper and I realized how little you actually need to live and how much (too much) we all actually own.
The camper itself also gave me an almost infinite freedom to travel in my free time. When and where I want without having to commit myself. Or worrying about where I'm going to sleep tonight. So a win-win situation. One can only hope that our city and municipal administrations will also recognize the potential of this "housing alternative". In Munich I observed a handful of "camper buddies" myself and I'll bet my last shirt that the need for alternatives will grow in all metropolitan areas with scarce living space and an increasing proportion of commuters. Hopes up! And until then: Happy Dwelling!
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