Vanlife for a healthier existence!
At the time of writing, Europe was still dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. Most full-time campers abroad had had to return to their home countries and been forced to seek refuge somewhere. Some found shelter with friends or were on a public car park with the tacit approval of the local authority. This was something our telephone interviewee Dieter was able to tell us a great deal about.
However, before proceeding, let’s turn back the clock a little and briefly explain how we got in touch with Dieter. Some time ago, a charming little email fluttered into Kildwick’s mailbox. The whole team read it and we were all rather touched, even a little speechless! It read as follows:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I’m delighted with the MiniLoo. I gave it an oil finish and ‘inaugurated’ it the very next day. I must say I was initially rather sceptical as I live full-time in a motorhome.
But now that three days have already passed, two of which were rather hot for Austria at this time of year, and there’s still no nasty smell yet, I simply must tell you how pleased I am with it. I don’t need an extractor fan or anything else. It’s simply odourless! I merely clean the urine separator regularly after having a wee to keep it clean. But I’ll only dismantle the cassette toilet when it gets warmer, which is why it’s rather cramped in my bathroom at the moment.
I’d recommend the MiniLoo to anyone!
Yours sincerely – and thank you for such a great product!
We were very keen to talk to Dieter after he’d written such nice things about our MiniLoo. And he immediately agreed to have a chat with us.
When we first called Dieter, he was in the middle of his dinner, so we called back again a bit later and were able to have a long conversation with him. It turned out that despite sounding totally positive and relaxed on the phone, this now full-time vanlifer had spent many years leading a much unhappier life.
Born in Lower Austria, Dieter had once had everything that many people desire: a house with a big garden, a wife, a daughter, and a full-time job. But it was precisely those things that so many people dream of that brought this responsible person to his knees. He explained to us frankly: “Bear in mind that a house with a garden means a lot of hard work. In winter, the snow needs to be cleared manually, sometimes more than once a day, depending on the weather. In summer, the lawn has to be mowed, the trees need trimming, and there are all sorts of repairs around the house. As well as being physically demanding, some maintenance is pretty expensive.”
But his house wasn’t the only thing that took its toll on the hardworking Dieter. Another factor was the pressure of his responsibilities at work. “I’d been working in public security for a few years. This was a job I took very, very seriously. But with the management constantly imposing cuts that I couldn’t reconcile with my conscience, it caused me sleepless nights and constant stomach-ache.
After about three years, everything came to a head and nothing seemed to be going right in Dieter’s life. The result was total burnout followed by several months in hospital, almost complete exhaustion and loss of hearing, not to mention putting on far too much weight. This was followed in 2015 by total occupational disability.
Dieter realized that things couldn’t go on like this and that he had to change his life. He’d long cherished the dream of exploring the world by motorhome and so he began collecting information. He read and watched plenty of travel reports, and his favourites were the videos by Sabine and Micha von Herman and their ‘expeditions mobile’. (Yes, once again Sabine and Micha had infected someone else with the travel bug. And should they happen to read this, they’re bound to be delighted that their inspiration has made someone’s life more worth living.) Anyway, after doing plenty of online research, Dieter knew that this was what he wanted to do, too.
Dieter would have loved to explore our planet with his wife, but it was impossible for him to persuade her. Nevertheless, not even this could prevent him from achieving his goal, and in the end they separated, selling their house to their now grown-up daughter. And having taken early retirement and been gripped by travel fever, Dieter bought a Citroen Sunlight 2060 with a matching trailer. “That was the best decision of my life,” he says about his travelling home. And with a glass of drinking water instead of champagne, he named it Ruth.
In autumn 2019, Dieter went to Spain for the winter in his four-wheeled home. He’d originally intended to move on to Morocco, but was forced back to Austria by the coronavirus restrictions. He had to put his travel plans on hold, but not his travel dreams. We asked where he wanted to go once the borders were reopened. “I’m very interested in Scandinavia and the entire Baltic States,” he told us. “In fact, I’d really like to visit every single country in Europe at least once.” One of his biggest dreams is to reach Japan by land. However, this would be quite risky, as it would mean travelling through Russia, a country where visas are only issued for three months. If something unforeseen were to happen during this time such as his mobile home suffering a serious breakdown, it might provoke a diplomatic incident!
We asked the travel-loving Dieter how he first came across our MiniLoo. “I spent a year trying to find a better solution then my cassette toilet because constantly emptying the chemical tank really bugged me. I kept having to drive to a campsite to empty it, and the bills mounted up,” he told us. “Although I’d read about urine-diverting dry toilets, the right model simply wasn’t available yet. The toilets on sale were either too big, too expensive, or didn’t look right. But then by chance I discovered your small kit and everything about it was just right. Mind you, I have to admit – and this is something I mentioned in my email – at first I was really sceptical.”
When the parcel from Kildwick arrived, he could hardly wait to install it. And just imagine – since he didn’t have a hammer to hand, Dieter resorted to using two saucepans in order to hammer in the nails! As soon as the wood oil had dried, Dieter used his MiniLoo for the very first time. And you already know how delighted Dieter is with our little lavatory.
We asked the globetrotter how he was doing now. “I’m in a far better place in many respects,” he revealed. “I’ve lost several kilos, my hearing is getting better and better, and I now live far more calmly than before. I don’t own too much stuff anymore and everything I have has been completely paid for. I don’t have any financial pressure weighing me down, and I deliberately live very modestly.”
Dieter fills his days with cycling on his recumbent bike, and he also enjoys tying dog leashes. At the moment he’s making himself a belt because his old one’s too big for him.
He also designed the lead for his faithful companion. Dieter’s little dog Xena is the only female in his life, but that’s fine for him. This full-time vanlifer and his canine companion are a well-rehearsed team. They get along well with each other and don’t feel the need to change anything.
We wish the two of them bon voyage forever, always enough air in their tyres, many more exciting adventures, and (and this is the most important thing, of course) the best of health!
Update: We really wanted to find out how Dieter was doing recently and how he’d got over his compulsory coronavirus break. We’re delighted to tell you that they were back on the road again by mid-July. Although their destination for the end of August was still unknown, Spain and Morocco are definitely on the agenda this year. Happy travels, Dieter and Xena!