Eight months ago, we bought a camper van with the aim of discovering Scandinavia. A couple of changes of clothes, six pairs of skis and a large snow shovel later, we were packed. All you need in life, right?
Words and Photography by Anna Cederlund | www.dishoveled.com
Spending the Scandinavian winter living in a camper van sounded like a great idea when it was proposed by my husband a year ago. Now that winter is over, it still feels like a great idea. With over 80 nights in our camper, we have no regrets. The lowest temperature we experienced was -16°C, the most snowfall in a day was 1 metre and the strongest winds were 18 m/s. We have discovered how little space and how few things we actually need to be happy.
Living in a campervan tests your life-skills significantly. It has taught us that almost anything can be fixed with duct tape and/or cable ties. So far our duct-tape/cable-tie mending solutions include, but are not limited to; mobile phones, windscreen wipers, the sink, cable management, cupboard doors and upholstery. If the gas runs out at 3am and you wake up two hours later to 0°C inside, you really only have yourself to blame…or blame your partner!
We have encountered countless numbers of reindeer, elk and snowmobiles. We have experienced Winter transitioning to Spring just for it to go back to Winter, forcing us to unpack our warmest jackets again. Living in the far North, with its distinct lack of sun, affected our mood much more than we realised it would; arguments over the amount of chocolate eaten seemed marriage ending at the time. We have driven through mountain ranges and never ending forests. We have experienced incredible vistas while spending the night in some of Scandinavia’s most beautiful areas. We have seen quirky villages we would never have gotten to if it was not for this adventure. However, not everything has been the idyllic experience #vanlife would lead you to believe. Plenty of nights were spent in car parks and petrol stations as they were often the only places cleared of snow. I tend to think they make you appreciate the good places all the more.
As our adventure draws to an end we have naturally started to consider what we will miss the most. It will not be having to go out in all kinds of weather to change the gas bottle over (13 times so far) nor will it be spending an hour trying to find somewhere suitable to park for the night. It will not be running out of fresh water or being stuck in such a small space when the rain is pouring down outside for days on end.
The reason it is all worth it is the overwhelming sense of freedom. Knowing that you can go, or stay, anywhere you like. The possibility of something new and exciting just around the corner. The lack of predictability. The realisation that you are parked next to a lake with ducks and geese swimming about as you work. Above all, this is what I will miss when it ends.
*A little secret, we have only used approximately 50% of what we have with us.