The Nordic region is a paradise for nature lovers and explorers. Visitors to Norway, Sweden and Finland have a right to roam that is enshrined in the law. This right extends to private property – as long as you keep your distance from dwellings, don’t invade someone’s garden and don’t trample over cultivated land. If can you respect those basic caveats, you can go wherever you want.
Anna Ringman, her husband Dan and their two sons, Eddie (12) and Charlie (7), plus two dogs take full advantage of the access. But it wasn’t always like that, as Anna explains.
“My husband and I used to be real homebodies. But some years ago, when we were looking into buying a new – and pricier – house, we began to question the wisdom of our life choices. The boys were no longer babies and we asked ourselves if we shouldn’t be spending our time and resources doing something more adventurous than buying an expensive house?”
Embarking on their new adventurous lifestyle, the family, both two-legged and four-legged members, went hiking and occasionally camping. But pitching a tent in the pouring rain and filling it with wet pups and soaking kids wasn’t exactly their idea of outdoor heaven. “We wanted an alternative that was a little less weather sensitive,” says Dan. “That’s when we discovered vanlife (a word coined by Foster Huntington that has now become a global movement). We bought an Opel Movano, or MoMo as we call it, which was perfect for us – still outdoorsy, but simple, flexible and less exposed to the elements. Sure, it’s cramped, and we have to think carefully about what we bring, but it’s also cosy, giving us a few square meters of indoor comfort in the midst of the glorious outdoors.”
Speaking of comfort, Anna is very happy with a couple of recent additions to the van.
“We installed a Dometic HBG 2335 cook top and CFX 40 cooler and we couldn't be more satisfied,” she tells us. “We used to cook outside the van, which is fun and in the spirit of outdoor adventure. But traveling in Scandinavia, the weather can wreck even the best-laid dinner plans – and so can the mosquitoes. For us, being able to prepare food in the van is a game changer. We love to cook burgers, pasta and pancakes – and making coffee has never been easier. The cooler is also a big hit. It’s quiet, roomy, energy efficient and heavy-duty. Next time we make a purchase, it’ll probably be a Dometic product – it’s our go-to brand.”
With the boys and school, and Anna and Dan full-time employed – she as a youth worker and he as a blacksmith – the family sees themselves as weekend warriors. “We’re restricted at the moment, not least financially, but going forward we can see opportunities,” says Dan. “Right now, the long summer vacation is the highlight of the year, but we’re looking into the possibility of traveling for an extended period. In the years to come, when our kids are grown up and have their own places, Anna and I see ourselves as full-time vanlifers. Maybe we can find a way to make money online and become digital nomads. Wouldn’t that be great!”