They had everything a modern person needs to live: a beautiful home, a successful career with a full schedule and of course themselves. Yet, Marcela and Alex say today, they had one thing missing: balance. The first doubts were sown when the two pondered over their everyday lives on Christmas Eve 2016. Is this the life we want to lead? Is there perhaps something more out there? Have we remained true to ourselves?
For Marcela and Alex it was a moment of enlightenment: “I realized that I had wasted too much time on things I didn’t really want to do,” the Welshman recalls. “I had a job that swallowed up all my time and dreamt too often of so many things I always wanted to do, but never found the time for.” A short conversation, a symbolic handshake and the plan was set. Marcela and Alex gave up their jobs, their apartment and went looking for a van. They left Great Britain and their previous lives behind them. From a businessman to a hippie, as Alex says and grins. “The time was right,” said the Welshman. “I knew that if I didn’t change things now, I’d regret it ten years from now.”
For 15 months now, the couple has been touring Europe with their two dogs and their Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. They blog and vlog about their vanlife on their blog “KiteVanMan”. Today they live a self-determined lifestyle that they always wanted to lead: off the career ladder, far away from routine, in their white van with the star that Marcela and Alex affectionately call “Joyce”.
Now an “ordinary” morning in the young couple’s life looks like this: waking up at sunrise, then a little jogging round with the dogs and then breakfast near the sea. “After that we visit the area or drive on – and the rest of the day it’s work.” In other words: Alex takes care of photos and video contributions for the vlog, works on the van, or even teaches kitesurfing – and Marcela creates new vegan recipes, which she also publishes online.
The Sprinter simply offers the perfect conditions for life in a van. It’s also very reliable and robust.
For Marcela and Alex, a life without a fixed location, even an everyday life as a vagabond, doesn’t just mean lying around, and hanging out, but instead “We have left all our constraints and obligations behind us and are now free,” says Alex. “For me, freedom means doing what I want and, above all, when I want.” He lists: snowboarding, meeting friends, laughing, loving, running, riding, eating, drinking, dancing, making bonfires on the beach, sleeping and relaxing. And above all: kitesurfing. “The feeling of using the energy of the wind to ride the waves is simply indescribable,” says Alex.
A life reduced to the bare necessities – and to the essentials. Also with enough comfort? “Absolutely,” answers Alex. Their Sprinter 313 LWB, built in 2010, offers them everything they need to live. “It wasn’t easy to find the right vehicle for our needs,” says Alex. Then they found “Joyce”. After a ten-minute test drive they fell in love. “The Sprinter simply offers the perfect conditions for life in a van. It’s also very reliable and robust.”
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The two worked together on their vehicle for three months and over 500 hours and they converted their Sprinter just the way they wanted it: with solar systems, a unique shower, practical storage solutions, and so on. Of course, Alex always had the camera at hand during this time. One of his many van conversion videos has almost five million clicks on YouTube to date. The community was thrilled. Marcela and Alex were overwhelmed with compliments – and with numerous questions from DIY lovers. Therefore, Alex decided to publish an eBook with his best tips for converting a Sprinter into a vagabond van. “I wasn’t the best student before,” Alex says, laughing, adding, “My teachers might be shocked to hear that I’ve now published a book.”
But that’s what makes such a step so attractive: when you leave everything behind you, a lot of weight falls from your shoulders and you realize, how little you need for a happy life. That’s one side. The other: “You are confronted with new, unfamiliar situations and challenges every day and you grow with them.” An escape from routine, then. “I love our simple life in the van. It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.