Is campervanning right for you?
Mitsi the Campervan campervan hire in Portugal

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We are in the middle of a pandemic. Locked in our homes only if we are lucky, and not in a hospital or worse. If you are not craving freedom and free will to travel now, you probably never will. Honestly, I am sick of it. Yes, I miss travelling a lot! Sadly, the only contact I have with my campervan is to put the battery on the charger. But when I do that, I have this tingling feeling, which isn’t an electric shock.

The memories are coming to the surface when I open the garage door, and I take a glimpse of the heart which incorporates the Mitsubishi diamonds on Mitsi’s nose. The days, when I was so busy with loading the van to go for a long weekend camping somewhere in Portugal.

Good days will come again. I know it! They have to!

Two Mitsubishi L300 campervans in Portugal
Doris and Mitsi and in the middle my son Ákos is testing the hammock. During the lockdown, in front of our house…

I never was a big fan of camping. Let’s make this clear immediately in the beginning. When I was a child, every once in a while, my father mounted a small tent in the backyard on a random summer weekend. That was my only “camping” experience for a long time. The feeling of sleeping in the wild underneath the stars never came through during these “adventures”. It was fun and exciting, in a certain way. But I never got the bug, only until I became a father myself.

Yes, it happened in 2014 when we were still living in The Netherlands. I mean, my son was born back then. Not my passion for camping. That I yet don’t have, in the classic meaning. Anyway, we moved back to Portugal in the early summer of 2016. One of the best decision we have made ever since. On the downside, we miss my brother, my sister in law, Irwan a lot, who we left behind. Well, this is the Generation Y lifestyle, moving from one country to another sometimes.

Slowly we begin to realize that we are back in the country that loves so much and here are the endless possibilities to be outdoors. But our life changed a lot. Being a parent and self-employed didn’t provide the flexibility to pack the panniers and go for bike touring for a few days whenever we wanted. Some people do that and can manage it, full respect for them. We aren’t that type, I guess.

Ideas were floating through my head from time to time, how to solve this whole situation. To do short holidays, with an infant, outdoors in a safe way that all three enjoy. Hmmmm, it took quite a while until that lightbulb lit up. I already had my Mitsubishi L300 van back then, which I used for my bicycle and walking tours. I came up with the idea of transforming it and go camping. No tent, just a modest campervan.

Mitsi working for Wheel Nuts Cyclotouring
The original “work” of Mitsi, transporting guests during our bike tours.

The transformation had to be done on a budget since we didn’t know if we would like the experience. Imagine wasting a lot of time, effort and money on something that you even don’t like. Kicked that can down on the road already a few times, thanks, but no thanks! We made a foldable bed that we could pop in the van, a few storage boxes plus a small bbq, and hit the road. Mitsi preserved her soul purpose as a vehicle for transporting my clients, and occasionally it transformed herself into a campervan. Mitsi The Campervan was born!

It was something similar to my childhood experience sleeping in a tent in my parent’s backyard. Only now we were sleeping in someone else’s backyard (we always overnight in campsites or parking spaces reserved for caravans), and still couldn’t see the stars from the inside. But we were sleeping in a van! Also, this wasn’t the point. We were outside the house on a real adventure, and all of the members of my family loved it. Mission accomplished!

Mitsi teh Campervan in Portugal
The very first camping we did. 2017 summer, my son was only 3 years old, and we were sleeping on an inflatable mattress 🙂

After the 3rd or 4th campervan weekend we had with Mitsi, I understood this whole thing’s importance. My son was excited continuously and asking when we go again. Sometimes we haven’t even left the campsite he was already asking if we return on the next weekend or not. He hugged and kissed the van a couple of times too. Isn’t crazy? Yes, in a super cool way!

That was the point when I understood my parents when they set up the tent in their garden. It didn’t matter that we were not in a forest, or that it was fake camping or sleeping in a van somewhere. We create joy and good memories for others and ourselves. Long-lasting memories which we store in our subconscious mind. To dream about them and to share the stories with our family and friends later in our lives.

We got hooked on the campervanning, this cool addiction.

While many people don’t understand why it is good to sleep in a tin can, cramped up like sardines and sleep somewhere exposed to all that “hazard”. Like we do in our small Japanese van. Sometimes nor do I when I bump my head into the roof for the 5th time within 30 minutes. Or when it takes several hours to clean the van after a long weekend. It is just part of the deal. All of the annoying things that come with the campervan “lifestyle” is nothing, compared to the upper side.

Me sitting by my van, watching my son playing and laughing with the other kids he just met in the camping worth everything. Not mentioning a good bbq dinner with my wife and my son below the stars. To top the experience, laying in the hammock after sunset with my wife and sipping chilled Portuguese green wine and watch the sky in silence.

Camping in Portugal with friends
One of our best long weekend holiday in 2019.

Meanwhile, our family got bigger. I ended up buying Doris, the green Mitsubishi L300 a year ago. Don’t judge me. It is just like any other addiction. I am sentimental, living in the past, occasionally when I was travelling around Europe with the same van and mountain bike racing. The challenge was to justify it at home 🙂 Two vans (9+6 seats) plus a small car (5 seats), for three persons. My son doesn’t even have a drivers licence since he is six years old.

I got confronted with a tough decision. Rightfully I have to admit. “Make the car fleet reasonable. It doesn’t make any sense having three cars!” My dream was to ditch the Fiat Punto and stick with the two vans. But I wasn’t that brave to make that suggestion at home 🙂 I took some pictures from Mitsi to create an ad to sell her.

Luckily, I told this story to my friend Miguel at work. Later the same day he showed me a website, Yescapa. “This is a solution for your problem,” he said. I did understand it immediately. “Rent out your van occasionally, and you can keep it.” Now we are talking! Make a vast liability into an asset! That idea I can sell at home! I was going home happy as a clam and announced my concept. It was accepted, by my wife, and frankly, I got relaxed as well. We really couldn’t afford that many cars and didn’t make any sense too.

Disinfecting the van
Disinfecting Mitsi before handing over.

Yescapa is a motorhome and campervan rental marketplace, that turns easy any roadtrip you might dream of through Europe. They offer both peer to peer and traditional rental agencies vehicles, include insurance and roadside assistance, and make it all hasslefree.”

Mitsi got transformed into a campervan permanently. We made a new folding bed, which is still removable. My dad helped me with that, it was a joint project. What a luxury! We added extra storage boxes, a camping table, made some furniture to store things, etc. The latest update was the exterior shower and the deck. Mitsi was reborn, and in late October of 2019, I have created the ad on Yescapa.

A few months later, the first booking came in. In a plane pandemic in the summer of 2020. Ok, we were allowed to travel a bit, so it wasn’t illegal back then. A few days later I got another booking, and another one, and another one. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My new concern was that we have a campervan, and probably we are not going to use it any soon 🙂 Well, eventually we got her back after several rentals, and we could go campervanning as well.

The answer to the question in the title if campervanning is right for you, only you can answer. For us, it worked out just fine.

BBQ dinner in a campsite
The bbq dinner what we love so much 🙂

Just like for so many others who rented out Mitsi through Yescapa last year. We even could spread the addiction a bit too 🙂 Pedro, who rented out Mitsi for the first time, intended to buy he’s own campervan. But he prefered to try one first. Smart! He liked the weekend spent with Mitsi a lot, I guess. He is the owner of @turqanthetinyvan now. How awesome is that!

The Covid pandemic opened our eyes and made many people realize how tough it is to lose even partially our freedom. For now, we have to stay put, and we have to be patient. When the right time comes though, we can sit into our van or in a rental one and create good vibes and memories as only the campervanning community can.

Keep safe, and remember: Home is where you park it!

Mitsi the Campervan in Portugal
Our last camping weekend in 2020

About Author

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András
Herczog András, WNC alapító, túravezető, túraszervező. Harminchárom éves élelmiszermérnök – kerékpár szerelő vagyok Magyarországról. Tizenkét éves korom óta foglalkozom komolyabban a kerékpározással. Hobbimmá vált a bringatúrázás. Az utóbbi években feleségemmel, Barbarával az Ibériai-félsziget csodálatos országaiban tudtunk hódolni immár közös szenvedélyünknek.

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