Inspiration: Van Life

Inspiration: Van Life

Hey, can you tell everybody where you are based and what you do!

We are Charlie and Dale, the couple behind Climbingvan, and we’ve been living, travelling and working from our UK camper van, Ringo, full-time since April 2021. When we began our van life adventures, we quit our full-time jobs and set up a business called Nomadic Energy designing off-grid electrical systems. Nomadic Energy and our book, The Van Conversion Bible, enable us to work 100% remotely, so we can explore Europe in our little climbing home-on-wheels and live as true digital nomads.

How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?

We have both always loved the outdoors – we actually first met on a climbing trip to the Dolomites! We have always spent our ‘free’ time on climbing trips or hiking up mountains, and it was always our dream to convert a camper van to enable more climbing adventures.

What’s been your favourite trip or adventure in your camper van?

Since we moved into our camper van, we’ve had the opportunity to travel slower and visit places we wouldn’t have otherwise had the time to explore. When we were working full-time 9-5 office jobs, we became less adventurous, having to pick spots for 2 week holidays that had guaranteed good weather and climbing.

But now we can spend much more time in one location, it’s been incredible to explore further afield and more remote areas like the Balkans. Sport climbing in Albania, bouldering in North Macedonia, paddle boarding around Croatian islands is something we wouldn’t have been able to do before, but it’s been really special getting to know these lesser known areas.

How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities, i.e. work and family?

We are very lucky that we run our own business, as this gives us ultimate flexibility. Our work is 100% online and remote, so we can work when we feel most productive and climb when we feel strong! We usually work in the mornings and on rest days, and whenever it’s raining, and spend the rest of our time climbing, paddle boarding and exploring the mountains. We still end up working roughly 40 hours per week, but at times that means we can still go out and do what we love in beautiful places too.

Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?

Charlie - for me it was my mum. She would always drag me up hills when I was a kid, and take me on holiday to the mountains to try and inspire my love of the outdoors. Now I love nothing more than going on an adventure with her and seeing how much joy it brings her.

Dale - I used to go for walks in the Lake District with my granddad, and he would tell me stories about mountain legends like Walter Bonati and Joss Naylor. He always dreamed of climbing Napes Needle, but he was more of a hiker than a climber so he ‘threaded the needle’ but never made it up to its peak. However, these tales and dreams made me psyched to go on my own mountain adventures. A few years later I called my granddad from the top of Napes Needle, standing precariously on its spire, to let him know I’d made it up there.

Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?

Absolutely. There is something so magical about climbing in that it takes 100% of your focus, both mentally and physically, so you don’t have the capacity to think about anything else. It totally clears your mind of any worries and anxieties. It has also been so positive for our wellbeing living in the van and spending the majority of our time outdoors, whether that’s climbing or even just working with the mountains as our backdrop.

What is it about climbing specifically that you love?

Charlie - I love that climbing is as much of a mental sport as a physical one. For all the days you spend training and getting stronger, you also have to put the same amount of time into pushing your head game and overcoming fear.

Dale - Being able to exercise and try hard in beautiful environments, surrounded by mountains or on a sea cliff.

When did you discover FINDRA?

We first heard of FINDRA when visiting Kendal Mountain Festival a few years ago. We absolutely love their ethos and focus on sustainability.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t wait until the ‘right moment’ to chase your dreams, or you will never make the leap.

On writing this blog, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more.

Make time for the things you love.

Favourite Place?

Charlie - Pembroke has to be one of my favourite places ever. You can’t beat topping out a trad climb and sitting on a belay, looking out at a sparkling sea with tired arms.
Dale - A country that many will likely never have heard of, but actually happens to be on the edge of Europe, North Macedonia is covered with beautiful mountains and lakes, and feels simple and honest.

Favourite Quote?

Favourite song?

Basement Jaxx-Do Your Thing

No matter how sad / angry / annoyed I’m feeling, this will get me psyched and happy again!

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