#NEVERIDLE JOURNAL   //   Roadtrip Travel  //  Staff Picks

Life on the Road with Orange Road Trip


In between attending university and studying in Germany, Janek and Lisa love to take their old Mercedes van out to explore neighboring countries in Europe. Spain and the Netherlands rank high on their list of favorite places, but at the end of the day, they just want to be immersed in nature. Follow their current road travels around Greece at @orangeroadtrip

Tell us a little bit about yourself including where you are from, and where you are going.

Hey there, we’re Lisa and Janek from Cologne, Germany. We’re 20 and 21 years old and both students. Lisa is studying Business while Janek is studying engineering. 

2 years ago we bought an old Mercedes van to explore Europe. Since then, we’ve been a Spain and the Netherlands a few times and also to Portugal. Right now we’re on a 4 month trip through the Balkan countries. We’ve already visited Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania. 

 

Currently, we’re traveling through Greece, but soon we will have to go back to Germany and readapt to normal life. When we’re both studying, we’ll have two stints of six week holidays, so there’s still plenty of time to explore the rest of Europe!

 

What was your main desire for buying a van and hitting the road? 

Lisa got a Volkswagen Caddy for her 18th birthday, which was our first campervan. We put a really simple build into that car and explored southern France and the coast of Spain with it and we both just loved the freedom and flexibility you get by travelling with a van. After two holidays with that car, we decided that we needed a bigger van in order to be able to travel for longer times. We believe traveling in a van is the best way to get to know a country because you get in touch with locals easily and you get to see all the different landscapes it has to offer.

 

How long have you been on the go? 

Before we started our current trip, we were only able to do shorter trips (3 or 4 weeks long) because Janek did an apprenticeship in metal work before starting his studies. We tried to travel as much as we could and also did a lot of weekend roadtrips back then. Right now we’ve been on the road for two months and so far we love it!

What kind of vehicle are you traveling in and why did you choose it? 

We’re traveling in a Mercedes-Benz 407D which is also known as the “Düdo” because it was built in Düsseldorf, Germany. We mainly chose it because of its reliable motor and technique, but with 5’10m length and 2’15m width, it also offered enough space to build in everything that we wanted. We really like the look of it!

 

Did you need to make any modifications to it?

When we bought our van there was a really simple build in it, but since we wanted to be able to travel in it for months at a time, we decided to get everything out. We completely rebuilt it starting with the isolation and a solar electricity system. We kind of built ourselves a home! 

The only thing we changed on the outside is our rims – we mounted 17.5’ ones instead of the normal 16’ ones in order to have more ground clearance and be able to go a little bit offroad.

 

 

What are a few of the favorite places you’ve traveled to? 

We really love the northern coast of Spain because it’s not too crowded yet and the landscapes are just amazing, especially the Basque country. It’s one of the places that we would love to visit again. We also really like the Netherlands. It’s really close to Cologne so we go there for weekend trips quite often and the Dutch people are super friendly. We almost feel like we’re at home. 

 

The country we enjoyed the most on our current trip was definitely Albania. The people there are just amazingly helpful and even when they don’t speak English or German they try their best to get in touch with you. We were also quite impressed by the diversity Albania has to offer, endless beaches in the west and beautiful mountain areas with a lot of lakes in the east. Because we liked it so much there, we’ll go back there in a couple of days to stay for another 2 or 3 weeks to explore this magical country a little bit more!

 

Do you plan your route or travel spontaneously? 

We always plan our route (at least roughly) and I (Lisa) always pick out a few spots before we start that I would really like to visit. Normally we don’t visit all of them, but at least a few. We also like to go to places that fellow vanlifers recommended to us on our journeys.

 

How long do you usually spend in one spot before you move on to the next? 

We normally only wild camp and only go to campgrounds when it’s been raining for days in order to charge our battery. Otherwise, we just prefer to be surrounded by nature and not have so many people around. When we like the spot we’re staying at, we’ll normally stay for 2 or 3 nights, otherwise, we’ll move on the next day.

 

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Slow down and enjoy life

A post shared by @ orangeroadtrip on

 

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I (Lisa) normally get up around 8:30 while Janek likes to sleep in a little bit longer. When I get up, I go for a short walk most of the times in order to explore our surroundings a little bit. When I get back I’ll make some coffee and a small breakfast and we do the dishes from the day before, ‘cause usually, we’re too lazy to do them in the evening. Then we spend the day exploring something or just reading, swimming in the ocean or going for a round with our kayak. In the afternoon we’ll start to prepare dinner and eat while the sun is going down. When we’re with other people we’ll then light up a campfire and chat with them or play some card games. Otherwise, we like to watch a movie in the evening or just read a good book.

 

What are your 5 must-have items for van life? 

 

  1. All of our camera equipment, as we like to keep our friends and families up to date about where we are and what we’re up to.
  2. Downloads of all our favorite music so that long rides don’t get too boring.
  3. Solar electricity system
  4. Snacks
  5. Sand ladders as we like to go offroad sometimes and wouldn’t feel safe without them.

 

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Our home under the starry sky

A post shared by @ orangeroadtrip on

 

What’s surprised you the most about life ‘on the road’? What have you learned about yourself in the process (so far)?

What actually surprised us the most was how little you actually need to live. At home, we have tons of stuff we rarely use or don’t even use at all. Since we don’t have a lot of space in our van, we had to pick out the things we really need and wanted to have with us. 

We learned that we don’t need as much stuff as we thought in order to be happy. The other thing that was quite astonishing for us is how helpful people you don’t know can be when you’re in need of help. Especially in Albania and in Greece. People help whenever and wherever they can!

 

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