Sometimes it takes a crisis to recognize you’ve reached a fork in the road. It’s time to decide which way to go.
Following the break-up with his girlfriend, Emil Sergel found himself weighing his options. “After four days of feeling utterly forlorn, I started to imagine a life without belongings and a long list of obligations. A simpler existence, with less work, less stress and more time to enjoy life. The more I thought about, the more I realized I had to give it a try,” recalls Emil.
In some ways, Emil’s life is ideal for traveling. He’s a freelance adventure documentary filmmaker, travel writer and author – three jobs he not only can but perhaps should do while living mobile. “Yes,” he agrees, “it’s hard to be a travel writer if you don’t travel and even harder to make an adventure documentary if you never leave home. But exploring the world was not an idea that came to me out of nowhere. I remember when I was I kid in kindergarten, I used to spend hours staring in fascination at this globe, just dreaming about all those countries and oceans. I started traveling as soon as I was old enough. To me, embracing vanlife was not such a big step.”
With his mind made up, Emil left his apartment in Gothenburg and headed out in Alfie, his trusty old van. It was to be his home for the next three years. An early stop was Hoddevika in Norway. “I found this incredible spot close to the ocean,” Emil recalls, “and a spent an amazing week there, just surfing and climbing. I used to drink my morning coffee on top of my van while looking at the waves crashing against the shore. I felt so free. I even wrote a book about it – My Year as a Nomad – and the cover image was taken during that first magical week.
Emil’s year as a nomad has now become three. How much longer does he see himself on the road? “A lot has happened since I decided to leave my old life behind. I’ve met someone, Maya, and I’m trying to convince her to quit her day job so we can do this full-time. And I’ve invested in a new van. Alfie is no more. In the end, he was just too unreliable. One time, he decided to just give up on a ferry crossing to Bornholm (a Danish island off Sweden’s south coast). I was a bit worried, because I had no idea how I was going to get the van off the boat. But luckily, it started and I just parked it at a surf camp for a long weekend. A mechanic fixed it, so it worked out in the end. But I figured enough was enough – I had grown tired of my old van and all the hassle and repairs. So I have a much newer one now – a Renault Master. We’re busy converting it the moment and will be installing a Dometic HSG 2440 sink-and-cooker combo – which we look forward to using,” says Emil with a big smile.
Assuming he can convince his girlfriend to give up her job, where would like them to go? “I have a bucket list,” he says, “but it’s always evolving. I’d love to do a road trip along Europe’s Atlantic coast, through France, Spain and Portugal and then head down to Morocco. And one of these days, we’re definitely taking the campervan on a ferry to Iceland. I don’t know what the future holds or how long we keep doing this. But I know this: I am a free sprit and I need to roam and explore.