Picture hazy summer days, winding roads, forests, mountains and sea. Add a VW camper van to the mix plus two freelance creatives and you have the ingredients for The Rolling Home. Calum and Lauren, the brains behind creative agency Stokedeversince, road trip around Europe in their VW, adventuring, writing, and creating some pretty beautiful content. We chat with them about camper van living, road trip essentials and what to do when your van breaks down…
UO: When and how did the Rolling Home story begin?
We bought the van 5 years ago for next to nothing. It started life as a sorry looking VW T4 panel van. We didn’t rush into converting it, rather decided to let it transform as we discovered what we needed on a trip. It is now our most prized possession, our true home. We have travelled 80000 miles, collectively spent 6 months in it, have shed the odd tear or two when it has elected to give up the ghost, months off the road, an engine rebuild and the addition of a hightop roof (Ebay find) later and we were back on the lanes of Western Europe. We have always documented our travels and decided to create an Instagram especially for the rolling home – @therollinghome.
UO: Where in the world are you now?
We are currently in France, after working on a couple of projects here. The week before last we spent time in Galicia in northern Spain. Now that we work together full time we are super flexible; we spent years dreaming of not having jobs that held us down, and now the dream is a reality.
UO: Where are you planning on going next?
Our next trip will be with two of our closest friends who have just got their own van – after a very short stop back in the UK, we are heading back to Europe. Staying in the pine forests and beaches of the Basque Country, and just seeing where the road takes us for the rest of summer. After that, we are hoping to head back to Sweden in August.
UO: How do you plan for a road trip?
The good thing about having a van, is that there is no space for clutter and the objects that seem to fill everyday life. All we need to do is grab our clothes and toiletries and get on the road. We make sure we have clothing for all weather, like a good pair of walking boots, wetsuits and a waterproof! You can never guarantee sunshine in this country! We will also stock up on water and staple foods so the van has everything we need in case of a problem.
UO: What are your road trip essentials?
Plenty of tea bags and long life milk- we are british after all! We have some super warm wool blankets in the van. Two years ago we took an unplanned detour to Stockholm which was super cold: it’s always best to be prepared.
Maps, maps, maps! – you can never have enough. From large scale European-wide, to detailed hiking maps of our favourite spots. On a girls note, always keep a stock of dry shampoo & face wipes; you never know when your next shower will be!
UO: How do you make the most of your small living space?
Calum has an unhealthy obsession with keeping the van extremely tidy. I hate to admit it, but this does help with living in a small space. Storage is the key, a place for everything to fit. From cups, cutlery and jewellery to cameras, BBQs and badminton sets.
UO: What are the best and worst parts of living in a VW Transporter?
The van has been the vessel to take us away from the mundane, familiar roads of home. There is a way it smells inside: surf wax, pine, salt water. It shows the miles, but these are only reminders of adventures past. Parked atop cliffs, next to rolling oceans, Baltic pine forests and Mediterranean coves, it has taken us to virtually every corner of Europe. We close the curtains, read by candlelight and could be anywhere in the world. The worst part is getting lost in places that aren’t really van friendly, the dreaded break downs do happen from time to time, but we know the van well enough to get it back on the road, most of the time…
UO: Have you had any disasters on the road?
As The Rolling Home is a 20 year old van, you always have to expect that potentially something may go wrong! Over the years, we have had to replace alternators on the road, leaving us stranded in non English speaking towns. We’ve had to remove our exhaust while on a motorway, leaving us with a very loud journey ahead of us. And also running out of diesel on the last stretch of a very long trip home. Calum rebuilt the engine 2 years ago, so he knows it pretty well.
UO: How do you keep boredom at bay whilst travelling?
We go through books like there is no tomorrow. I think we could genuinely have a trailer just full of books, like a rolling library.
When we do get connected, we are Spotify’s biggest users! Or if not, flicking through the European radio stations is always fun (ish)
UO: Have you ever found a stowaway in the VW or had any run-ins with wildlife?
Not anything other than the odd bird flying. We have stayed in a few gnarly places like the Czech Border and the wilds of Sweden, and have heard a couple of odd sounds at night.
UO: What has been your favourite destination so far?
Long haul flights and distant shores were never too much of a draw for us. We soon discovered how lucky we are to live in Europe with all of its cultures, languages and landscapes. The ones that continually stick in our mind are the North Western tip of Spain; Galicia seems like a distant cousin of Cornwall, with the same rugged coastline but with warmer weather. But to be honest, Sweden is where our heart really lies. We found ourselves there at the end of a three month trip across Europe and it is the most magical place we have ever visited.
UO: What is the most disgusting thing you’ve eaten on your travels?
Nothing in particular, but being in a hot van in the height of summer means we can only keep fresh food for a day or two. There have been several times where we have opened our fridge to a pool of mouldy milk, and suspect veg.
UO: Tell us a little bit about your business, Stoked Ever Since.
Together we run a small creative studio called Stokedeversince. It started as a personal blog to document our travels, and a place to share our photos and films. Calum had worked as a freelance filmmaker for the past 4 years, and I bounced from one 9-5 to another between trips. We talked and talked about working together and one day when we were sat in a small Swedish coffee shop, we finally decided to bite the bullet and I handed in my notice the following month. Now we make beautiful things for a living.
Lauren, Finish this statement…
My ideal breakfast is… Breakfast burritos and Avocados!
I’m currently listening to… Frank Ocean ‘Lost’
My biggest release is… the fuel gauge reading ‘full’, an empty road ahead and the promise of swell when we get there.
I don’t like it when the VW… makes strange noises – never a good sign.
My favourite time of the day is… when the first light comes through the porthole, usually means its gonna be a pretty rad day.
The most exciting thing that’s happened during my travels was… Meeting new friends on the road. We have stayed with people all over Europe after chance meetings. Now we’re all friends for life. The scariest thing that’s happened during my travels was… Being woken by strange figures at 4am in Northern Sweden, only to find they were night fishermen heading out.
My favourite on-the-go snack is… can you beat fresh french bread and olive oil?