Ultimate Freedom: Traveling the world in a 4×4 Land Rover
Meet Jens. He quit his job, surfs, and lives out of a 4×4 Land Rover with his girlfriend, Julia. More than one year ago he decided to get rid of his daily life routine to start something completely new. He quit his solid full-time job, sold almost all his belongings (except surfboards and cameras) and bought, together with Julia an old Landrover Defender, which they converted to a fully equipped expedition vehicle – rigged and ready for a long and rocky journey around the world. Since mid-2018 the couple has been traveling full-time. Jens works as a photographer/filmmaker and of course as a mechanic – due to the fact that living in an old 4×4 vehicle which needs a lot of love, patience, and attention.
Where have you been, where are you going, and what’s the plan?
After finishing all preparations like selling all our stuff, getting the car completed, taking care of paperwork like insurances etc. we were ready to hit the road towards Scandinavia in June 2018 where we spent an amazing summer – 15.000 kilometers in around 3 months through the stunning and diversified landscapes of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finnland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
We met heaps of friendly and interesting people, surfed amazing arctic waves above Norway´s polar circle, witnessed the most epic sunsets and experienced the peaceful environment of Europe’s last almost untouched and remote wilderness in Northern Sweden. Finnland surprised us with almost no mosquitos and more lakes and reindeers than we were able to count.
In the Baltic States and in Poland we experienced pulsating and charming city´s as well as beautiful landscapes consisting of lonely beaches mixed with wonderful forests, hills and last but not least: amazing food. After more than three months on the road we returned back to Germany in September for a short stopover to do some maintenance and modifications on the car.
At the beginning of October, the journey continued towards the French Atlantic Coast to surf the first autumn swells of the year before heading southbound to Africa via Spain and Portugal. Currently, we are in Cantabria/Spain and just back from a stunning hiking trip in the Picos de Europa National Park“ with his steep valleys and majestic, up to 2600m high peaks just 15 kilometers away from the Atlantic Ocean. Pretty funny to wake up in boardshorts on a sunny beach in the morning and climbing through waist-deep snow in the afternoon.
How is it living out of a Land Rover?
The best thing about living in a Land Rover is, that there are almost no limits regarding the travel route! We discovered steep and super narrow mountain trails with 500m abysses right next to the car, we slept on remote beaches which are only accessible with 4 wheel drive and we were driving through rivers far north of the polar circle.
We have a very limited space of around 2,5 square meters, we have everything we need to live and work. We have a small kitchen with a gasoline-fueled stove, a fridge, cupboard, several storage boxes an extra battery with solar-panel to charge cameras, laptops and other devices – and the best feature of all times: an auxiliary heating. If you have ever spent a night in a car on the Northern Cape of Norway with temperatures around the freezing point and gale force 10 you will highly appreciate this little gadget. And to be honest: during the conversion of the car I had kind of serious discussions with my girlfriend about an extra heating – but I´m glad that she enforced her opinion and I installed it.
Of course, you have to reduce yourself and the things you take with you on the journey to a minimum. All items have their particular spot in the car and especially if you live with two people on such a limited space a certain level of organization is required. Everything you do needs more time than in the known and optimized environment of an apartment. But the cool thing is: We have time!
What are some of the hardest things about being on the road?
Before talking about the hardest things about being on the road I have to mention the best part of it again: freedom!
One of the hardest things is without a doubt that you are 100% exposed to the weather. If it rains for days and if it’s cold and windy the mood goes down inevitably. Due to the limited space of the Land Rover we can´t really sit and hang around inside the car to spend rainy days with working, reading or other bad weather activities. This is definitely the biggest disadvantage compared to bigger Vans or RV´s. We have to do almost everything like cooking, eating, working and relaxing outside – so it’s kind of hard to deal with bad weather. Especially if all your clothes are soaked to the bone after a long hike in the mountains it takes days to dry them.
Sometimes it’s also hard to find a proper place to spend the night, especially in cities and higher populated areas. This is why we love remote areas which are only accessible with 4×4 vehicles. And of course, it’s sometimes hard to spend 24/7 with your significant other on 2,5 square meters – open and honest communication combined with time for yourself is our key :-)
Funnest spot you have surfed so far along your trip?
Oh, that’s hard to say – I surfed so many fun and unique spots in the last few months. Norway is definitely one of my favorites – epic mountain-backdrops, crystal clear water, clean and fun waves, uncrowded spots and the fact that you can surf at midnight during the sundowner are hard to beat. I had sessions were I was sitting in the lineup alone at 12pm, watching the golden sun going down behind these steep-stone walls and had goosebumps – but not from the cold water. This place is unreal! You just need a thick wetsuit, boots and heaps of hot coffee.
The second place which surprised me with perfect waves and good vibes was Brittany, a small region in Northern France! I´ve been there during the first autumn swells in October and had loads of good sessions – and of course delicious food.
Any tips for people looking to do what you are doing?
The most important thing is the courage to do the first step, to trust in yourself and to listen to your inner voice. If you tell your friends, parents, colleagues, grandparents or any other people that you want to quit your job, leave your safe environment, sell everything and drive around the world in a 20-year old British car you may receive a few disbelieving looks – but when you truly believe in yourself and your idea many things will fall in a line and are way easier than you expected first. Learning by doing is one of the keys in this case. Don´t be afraid to do the first step and follow your dreams! If you don’t go, you don’t know!
Follow more of Jen’s journey on @jscbe