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February

2018

INSIDE A TRAVELER’S WALLS VAN LIFE FAMILY: NANOUK VAN GENNIP

INSIDE A TRAVELER'S WALLS
Here we go again! Inside a Traveler’s Walls is back with another amazing van life family. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Nanouk and her family.

We thought it would take us 6 months to set up a decent location independent income. We were so wrong.

I first chatted with Nanouk many months ago when they were traveling in a caravan. I loved their story and wanted to share it. However, I love it even more now that they are in a converted van. They downsized! In a world were most 1st world countries are upgrading, it is rather refreshing to see a young family downsizing and placing more energy on family time rather than acquiring.

Don’t let anybody tell you it is impossible. If you have the right mindset, you can make it work.

They are responsible parents from a fiscal standpoint, but they have not set any rules or strict plans for the future. They will allow it to unfold seamlessly as life situations present themselves. Quite magical from this view. Imagine a life where a child grows up in a peaceful environment void of societal pressures and chaos, being given the opportunity to find happiness in the simple and natural pleasures.
Grab a cup of coffee, a comfy seat and get ready to be inspired.

Van Life Family

Introduce us to the people you live with? 

We are a Dutch family of four: Nanouk (32), Joost (35), Roan (3), and Evi (1). Joost is head mechanics and in charge of all the technical van stuff, while Nanouk is chief logistics and planning. Roan is a professional outdoor player. We often call him “Bob the builder” because he loves playing with all sorts of tools. And Evi is a first-class explorer! She runs around, trying to keep up with her big brother, and is not afraid to get dirty from grass and mud.

Where are you in the world and what are you living in? 

We are exploring Europe and currently traveling through Spain and Portugal. We live in a self-converted campervan. Joost built it himself and it completely suits our needs!

Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?

When Roan was born, we had a house, both a job and were living the normal suburban life. I worked from home, so I was full-time with Roan, but Joost only saw Roan on the weekends. He hated it.

Furthermore, Joost had his doubts about corporate life for as long as I can remember. But he had been ignoring this itchy feeling until then. We first thought of moving to another country, but we couldn’t decide where. That’s when the plan to travel full-time began to grow. The idea was that during our travels we would find the place for us to settle. In two months time, we had sold our house and moved into our RV.

What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?

Our RV is self-built so we felt at home from the first minute. We did nothing special to personalize it because with little kids there are toys everywhere. No room for pillows and artwork 😉

Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?

I loooove our bed! It’s a bit more wide than normal and therefore perfect for co-sleeping! Our little girl still sleeps with us and we love the coziness of this.

What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?

When we left, we had no remote jobs yet. We thought it would take us 6 months to set up a decent location independent income. We were so wrong. In retrospective, I must admit that we made some stupid mistakes. We had no focus, no plan at all. We had enough savings, though, so we survived.

What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?

Our small hand broom. Little kids make such a mess when eating, and there is always grass and sand in our RV. We use this little sweeper about 80 times a day.

What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?

In the Netherlands, cycling is a normal part of life. There are more bikes than people! I miss getting on my bike to go somewhere, like the HEMA (I miss this shop as well!).

 

What is the one item your children carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?

Roan and Evi are so young, they don’t realize their home is less conventional. And we have been living this life for more than 2,5 years now, so for them, this is just the way it is.

Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?

No pets. Only a baby and a toddler, that’s enough 😉

Where do you shop when you need items for your van?

We mostly buy stuff online in either Dutch online shops or the ones in China. It’s then delivered to my parent’s place and they take it with them when they visit us. When we don’t have time to wait for the delivery, we buy things in big shopping malls and grocery stores like the l’Eclerc in France and the Decathlon in Spain.

If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?

Space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.

Above average internet! Absolutely 100% sure. No need to think about this twice. The quest for a decent connection is a big part of our lives. We have a Dutch data plan of 25 GB which is sufficient for us, but we sometimes find a beautiful spot with a bad connection. Then we have to move on. This happens a few times per month.

If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?

I don’t really have a decorating style. When deciding how to lay out our stuff we choose the most practical solution. So our style can be compared to a cutlery tray 😉

How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?

We skip it, but we would skip it too if we were living traditionally. Boring right 😉

What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?

That we can hike every day. No need to wait until the weekends!

We have found the perfect balance: we work 7 days per week (instead of 5) but only 2 hours per day. We work these hours in the evening when the kids are sleeping. Therefore, we have the whole day for hiking, relaxing, playing and sightseeing.

Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?

Home is where our beds are, so where we sleep. Basically, home is our RV.

What makes you love the place you live?

That we are together 24/7 and can go wherever we want, whenever we want! To sunny Spain in the winter, for example.

Can home be a person, or an idea?

Absolutely! Home is where we are together as a family (but that’s also where our beds are).

Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes? 

Don’t let anybody tell you it is impossible. If you have the right mindset, you can make it work.

Anything else you would like offer?

Living with less stuff is liberating. If you feel there is not enough space in your head, you should start with downsizing. Really, works like a charm.

What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?

We don’t plan that far ahead, but we have this idea of finding a spot somewhere in Europe where we can build our own natural built house. We would then use this as a home base while we continue traveling for several months per year.

What are your plans for education?

We have two small kids, not of school age yet but we plan to do world schooling.

How do you make a living?

We are entrepreneurs and work completely remote (for Dutch clients). I do SEO copywriting and blogging, Joost is a web developer. We both work approximately 10 to 15 hours per week, so that’s a total of 20 to 30 hours per week. We can easily support our family with this because we keep our costs down and live rather minimalistic.

Quote to ponder

If you feel there is not enough space in your head, you should start with downsizing. Really, works like a charm.

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I love how the Van Gennip family has created their normal on the road with endless possibilities. How these two siblings will have the opportunity to grow up being best friends and global explorers while maximizing time with their family. Nanouk we thank you for sharing your magical path and inspiring other young families to choose their own path.

WorldTowning’s services can help make this travel dream ‘your reality’ and we can do it all stress free. We will be there with you every step of the way.

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Go adventure,
Jessica

Inside A Traveler’s Walls is where we feature families living in less traditional and unique homes (tents, boats, camper vans, yurts, flats, etc). If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled, please contact us for details.

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