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UK Couple Travelling Part-Time in their DIY Van Conversion


Meet Izzy & Laurie, and their second van conversion named The Grizzly!  This campervan is fully off-grid with a solar, gas and water set up that helps the couple climb, hike, and explore the outdoors on the weekends.

They began part-time van life in January of 2017 (@camperdreamin on Instagram), when they bought and converted an old painters’ van into their travelling home. When they added dog, Bear, to their family, they decided it was time for a larger van and have been working on the Grizzly for about 6 months. So far they’ve visited 8 countries during their weekend vanlife.

The Grizzly is absolutely stunning inside, outfitted for their needs with a spacious kitchen, adorable mini wood-burning stove and large garage for all their adventure gear. We got to do a Q&A with the couple, so be sure to check that out at the end of the post!

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The Grizzly: Off-Grid Campervan Renovation

The inside of this van is impeccably decorated!

This L-shaped buffet is lovely, and something I haven’t seen often in vans.

Now THAT’S a meal! And the mini wood stove (@cubicminiwoodstoves ) is the cutest.

Have you ever seen a more lovely camper kitchen?

Beneath the bed is their large garage storage area where they keep all their goods!

This is a fun feature: Cutting boards over the sink!

Man I wish I was this organized!

I’d love some coffee, please.

The details are amazing: Look at the holder for the mini wood stove tools.

I love this slide-out storage. So much easier to find things inside!

Video: Citroen Relay Camper Van Conversion | Part 2 | Van Tour & Kitchen Tour

Tiny House Talk Interview: Izzy & Laurie

What are your name(s)? Izzy, Laurie and Bear

Where do you live? How long have you lived tiny? We are based in the UK and have been part-time van dwellers for 3 years.

What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time? We both run our own businesses – Laurie is a tree surgeon and I am a hypnotherapist. We work during the week and escape to our van for weekend and holiday adventures.

Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny? 4 years ago we started rock climbing and spent all of our weekends traveling and camping as we threw ourselves into our new hobby. We got fed up of constantly pitching our tent and soon realised that now was time to make our life long dream of building a campervan a reality.

How did you first learn about camper life? Our greatest love has always been to travel. Everyone who knows us, knows we are always planning the next big adventure. Over the recent years, the focus of our travels began to be less about new countries and cultures and more about losing ourselves in The Great Outdoors. We swapped hostels for camper van rentals and took to the roads to feed our travel bug. We fell in love with the camper lifestyle and were instantly hooked!

How long did it take to finish your camper? We are 6 months into the build and the end is definitely in sight.

How did you build your camper? Did you have any help? Did you do it yourselves? We are very proud to say we have done everything ourselves. We love a challenge and we are very blessed to have the means to be able to do so. For us, there is no greater feeling that sitting in our tiny rolling home, looking around and thinking ‘we built this’.

Are you comfortable sharing how much your tiny home cost? What are bills/utilites like compared to before? Since we are part-timers we can’t really comment on bills but our overall build cost (not including cost of the van) is between £8k and £9k.

How did you find a place to park and live in your camper? Most of park ups are discovered when driving or on our walks. We also use an app called ‘Park 4 Night’ and of course rely on word of mouth from fellow van dwellers.

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny? For us tiny living is a total shift in our mentality. When we hit the road we embark on a simpler way of life. We disconnect from our phones and reconnect with nature. We live completely in the moment. We get satisfaction from taking time to complete simple activities which can be done so quickly and without thought at home. We live for the weekends when we can hit the road, lose ourselves in the Great Outdoors and break free from our working weeks.

What about some challenges? The lack of a toilet can definitely be a challenge! It’s not much fun when nature calls in the early hours of the morning and you have to dive out of the van in sub zero temperatures to locate a bush. However it’s all part of the adventure for us. We could have incorporated a loo in our camper but it’s just not that high up in our list of priorities.

What makes your camper special? It’s a piece of us. Every little detail was planned and built by us and because of that it reflects our passions, our tastes and needs.

What is your favorite part of your camper? Our woodburner – it is the heart of our little rolling home. We love sitting around a campfire or cooking on an open flame so it’s been a wonderful way of bringing that feeling into the van.

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny? Dive in, don’t get too hung up on specifics and let your plans evolve naturally.

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife and mama of two little kids. She and her family just purchased a small fixer-upper and are starting a self-sufficient homestead on their happy little acre.
Natalie C. McKee

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Cindy
    May 4, 2020, 3:18 pm

    Such a cute camper. One of the few I’ve seen that I would enjoy living it.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      May 5, 2020, 1:06 pm

      They did a spectacular job.

  • Avatar Sherry
    May 4, 2020, 6:07 pm

    Just perfect for my dog and me to take off and view the world. All I need is a hook up for my computer and off we go.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      May 5, 2020, 1:03 pm

      Sounds amazing! You should do it!

  • Avatar Sheila
    May 4, 2020, 9:32 pm

    Perfect! Has all one would want and need.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      May 5, 2020, 1:01 pm

      Agree!

  • Avatar Theresa Perdue
    May 5, 2020, 9:19 pm

    It’s cute but especially with everything being closed now I can’t imagine living without a bathroom and shower. I saw one where they put the sink on the same side as the door and was able to have a outdoor shower which may be cold sometimes but it works. They could maybe try that. I really like the wood stove. It’s adorable

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      May 6, 2020, 1:07 pm

      Yes life without a toilet or shower would be quite challenging!

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