Vanlife is gaining popularity among travelers for good reason! There are many ways to experience the world, but few are as special as traveling in a homey car. When your heart beats strongly for new adventures, having your own camper van is the best choice. This is the story of Teemu and Noora, two travelers whose vanlife adventures were enriched by the warmth and reliability of merino wool. Join in and read about the couple's journey towards Iceland!
Teemu and Noora were pleasantly surprised by how well their mental space in the camper van sufficed. Noora, who is calm, and Teemu, a bit more lively, were both content with the lack of personal space during their journey.
Kickoff: Planning and Dreaming
"Our plan was to drive from Finnish Lapland to Iceland and back this summer in a camper van," share Noora and Teemu, who embarked on their journey with excitement.
They chose Iceland as their destination, a place that the well-travelled Noora had been dreaming about for long. Although Iceland was a familiar destination for Noora, she had a specific kind of journey in mind. "Iceland is a very special place for me. I've taken road trips on the island before and circled it with a rental car. I always thought it would be great to travel around the island in our own car with no time constraints. When Teemu and I bought the camper van last summer, I knew this was the time to do it," summarizes Noora.
Trips and van life often span several weeks or even months. For Teemu, who works in education, summer provided a natural opportunity for a long trip. Noora, who works freelance as a canoe and adventure guide, could adjust her work schedule to her liking. "So, I worked from December to the end of May, saving up for the trip, and in early June, we moved into our mobile home," laughs Noora.
The camper van was the best impulse purchase ever for Noora and Teemu, stumbled upon almost by accident when the couple was visiting relatives in Rovaniemi. Their summer vacation continued smoothly in their new camper van after the car shopping.
Heading to Iceland
The travel plan to Iceland by camper van was quite clear for the couple. The only way to get a car to Iceland is through Denmark, where Teemu and Noora drove along the Swedish coast. The journey from southern Finland to Sweden was a smooth one, taking a ferry. In Denmark, the couple loaded their car onto a cargo ship bound for Iceland. The journey on a small cruise ship took 3 days. That's why, on the way back, the couple decided to put their car on a cargo ship and fly back themselves.
The trip exceeded all of the couple's expectations: "The best part has been the complete change of scenery from Finland. It's hard to pick just one highlight, but I would say that witnessing a volcanic eruption was something not every taxpayer gets to see," Teemu enthuses.
"Is it cheesy to say that the best part of the journey was the company? Maybe, but I'll say it anyway. It was amazing to see each other's excitement because it made many moments even more special. I also got to see a few entirely new places, but for me, it was important just to be on the road. Living without big plans and schedules.," summarizes Noora.
The couple traveled around Iceland largely according to their mood: they stopped when they felt like stopping and headed where the weather was best. Teemu also mentioned that their sleep schedule was completely flipped: "So, we slept during the day and traveled at night. This way, we saw the landscapes in the best light and experienced sunsets and sunrises." With this tactic, Teemu and Noora also avoided the worst crowds that gathered during the daytime at famous waterfalls and other attractions.
Due to its challenging terrain, Iceland placed a lot of demands on the car. All-wheel drive is a must. In addition, Teemu and Noora changed to more durable All Terrain tires before leaving.
The car has everything you need on a trip
"The interior of Iceland can only be accessed with four-wheel drive vehicles. The law states that other cars cannot go there" Noora and Teemu's car is a Karmann Dexter, which is a factory-made camping car. "So the car is a high-roof Ford Transit, which has everything a person needs inside. A bed, a toilet, a shower, a kitchenette and a dining area," elaborates Noora.
Many people dream of their own camping car. Noora and Teemu remind us that traveling is more than just driving from one place to another: "This way of traveling is definitely not suitable for everyone. For example, the fact that you have to empty the toilet yourself 1-2 times a week is likely a big inconvenience for many".
Noora and Teemu's car has a 140 cm wide bed. There is enough width, but just enough length that Teemu can also sleep. A big advantage is that the car can be cooled with a fan. If necessary, heating is provided by a diesel-powered heater. "Of course, this requires that the batteries have enough current. We have an extra battery in the back for this and a solar panel," sums up Noora, who reminds to be prepared for cloudy days as well. A sufficiently warm blanket and merino wool clothes help in that case.
The well-prepared couple is not bothered by the lack of space: "We have everything in the car that we have at home, except for the sauna. And the biggest plus is freedom. The home moves where we do!".
Vanlife - Merino wool is an excellent travel companion
Who would have imagined how merino wool and life on the road could intertwine so perfectly. Noora and Teemu encountered a variety of weather conditions on their journey – there were windy and rainy days as well as driving under the scorching sun. Merino wool clothes were Noora's and Teemu's ace up the sleeve when traveling by car because of the unique properties of merino wool. Merino wool repels dirt and odors, keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the warm. In addition, it is breathable, so even long driving days went comfortably. In particular, the underlayer of the Sensitive collection and the Basic socks of the All Day collection became everyday heroes. Teemu, on the other hand, fell in love with the Halla sweater, which proved to be a salvation on many chilly evenings.
Noora has been wearing North Outdoor clothes for a long time. It was the first time for Teemu: "I've been listening to Noora's hype about merino wool for a couple of years, but I was still surprised by how comfortable merino clothes feel when wearing them. Really soft and not oppressive when worn! And it doesn't start to smell, at least as easily as synthetic fiber clothes!"
There is limited space in Noora's and Teemu's car to store clothes. The couple has realised that the versatility of the merino clothing has been a big help. They are just as suitable for exercise as for leisure. Both Noora and Teemu had a good selection of North Outdoor merino clothing with them. There is little need to wash the clothes. Airing them even takes away the smell of sweat and smoke.
"According to Noora's order, I packed more than a leather jacket and skate shoes for this trip. I went with merino layers to keep warm and waterproof pants and jacket on top. And although at first I thought this was a bit of an exaggeration, it turned out to be necessary in Iceland's changing and not so warm conditions", laughs Teemu.
Teemu's favorite is the Halla merino polo by North Outdoor, which was used a lot in the cool weather in Iceland.
Tips for travelers
Iceland is well suited for car camping. "There are so many wonderful things in Iceland. Hot springs, waterfalls, black sand beaches and geothermal areas," advises Noora.
Noora urges you to carefully check the country-specific rules, laws and restrictions before setting off on your trip. Getting to know the destination and weather forecasts in advance is worth it. Then you know what kind of equipment and clothing you should pack.
On the road trip to Iceland, Noora and Teemu urge you to refuel whenever possible: "In Iceland, you can't always count on getting gas from a gas station, and the journey to the next one can be surprisingly long."
Temperatures vary a lot in Iceland. Noora advises to take plenty of merino clothes with you and to get a fan for the car: "A year ago in the summer we still didn't have a fan, and sometimes heat stroke was definitely not far away. We learned from this!".
Teemu also raves about merino clothes: "On this trip, I've noticed how a small amount of clothes can make the difference, because merino stays fresh easily. If possible, we have aired the clothes to refresh them. During the two-month trip, laundry was done three times. And usually because of the stains, not the smell. Sometimes it feels like the whole trip has gone by wearing my favorite shirt".
Teemu and Noora emphasize the importance of equipment. When you have the right gear, such as high-quality merino wool clothes, you can get by with surprisingly little. Their message to other travelers is clear: invest in quality and comfort. Also, if you're dreaming of a big adventure, don't let uncertainty get in the way. As Noora and Teemu say: "Courageously towards dreams!"