Van Life

My Unexpected Experience of Vanlife in a City

After galavanting around Ireland in May, I spent the month of June living in my home city. It was a month of getting ready for my travels, finishing up at work and saying goodbye to loved ones.


For me vanlife is made for remote and off the beaten track living, where I can write in scenic settings, take solar showers in the trees and explore new landscapes. It is not made for living in my home city where there are no camp sites close by, locating a safe parking spot provides an everyday challenge and finding an appropriate place to solar shower which will not present a flash risk is near impossible. Initially I was not looking forward to the month of Vanlife in the city of Hull but within a week I had a huge revelation which made me look at the situation completely different.

Hull Humber Bridge
Hull - Humber Bridge

Returning from the Remote Donegal, Ireland.

The first stop on my return to Hull was my sister’s house. My sister Sarah lives with her husband Phil, her two children Holly (11) and Chloe (7) and two cats, Tibs and Benji. The Daniel’s live in a big countryside family house, having farmer’s fields backing onto their garden. The day I arrived at my sister’s house I just made it in time for tea (dinner for you non-Yorkshire folks).


A couple of hours later after the dishes have been washed and a good catch up, I would usually head home to my conventional brick house across town. This time however, my house was on Sarah and Phil’s driveway. Unbeknown to me and my sister at the time my tiny house on wheels would remain on Sarah and Phil’s driveway for the next 3 nights.


‘Holly and I watch an episode of friends every night before bed, want to watch it with us’ Sarah asked.

‘Sure’ I replied.

Before we all retired to our beds I merged into their new tradition and sat on the sofa between Holly and Sarah, giggling at a couple of episodes of friends.

The Next Day

My alarm went off at 7am, I picked up my phone to turn off my alarm and saw a text from my sister which read ‘the front door is open’.  Entering the house, I sat down and had my breakfast with both of my nieces and somehow got myself involved in their morning ‘getting ready’ for school routine. 


Sarah and I are both homebased so after the girls went to school and Phil went to work Sarah and I opened our laptops and went to work too, stopping to have lunch together and an afternoon walk.


After Holly and Chloe arrived home from school the three of us walked my dog Jamie through the farmer’s fields and the girls shared the events of their day.

On our return to the house, I reflected how living in a van had gifted me unexpected quality time with my family. I had slipped into my sister’s family household routine and had become an extension of their day-to-day family. I was closer to them then I have ever been before, experiencing what it was like to live with them, except I wasn’t actually living with them. 

Van Pit Stop Hospitality

Over the month of June this experience continued with other members of my family and friends. I spent more quality time with my loved ones than I usually would and gained a deeper understanding of their lives, quirks and homes. Plus, I never had to worry about mooning random strangers whilst getting a shower in nature, my family and friend’s hospitality covered all my cleanly needs.


Now this of course wouldn’t be the case for everyone, not everyone is happy having a vanlifer hanging around their house cramping their style, but what I have also learned is that my inner circle of friends and family are extremely caring and hospitable. Plus, they are massively competitive. When I told them I was going to write a blog which would cover their hospitality the game was on and many of them made lots of effort to be my favourite ‘van pit stop’. So as promised guys here are my reviews of my family and friend’s facilities and hospitality over the month of June ……

Van Pit Stop Hospitality Reviews

The Brown’s - Sarah & Rich (Friends)

Sarah & Rich

After a long day hiking, I was given a roasted chicken sandwich as soon as I walked through the door. Roast chicken cooked by Asda, purchased by Rich.

The real selling point of my stay at the Brown’s household was the bubble bath they ran for me, included was candles, a rubber duck, Alexa (with my music of choice) and a cold beer. Nice touch guys.


Unique selling point – Eddy


The Ramsden’s – Danielle and Michael (Friends)

Danielle & Michael
Danielle, Michael, Mini and Louie

Danielle and Michael supplied me with wine, pizza and they have one of those 5* rain showers which I used appreciatively. Mini and Louie (the doggos) provided the entertainment showing me how special they are by chewing their own tongues and licking the rug. 

In the morning Danielle and I went for a run, ate breakfast and spent half the day together.



Unique selling point – mid day hot tub session

Friel’s – Iain (Friend)


Now Iain has no hot tub or even a bath but what he does in his bathroom is a….


Punch bag.

Iain gave me his house key so I could come and go as I please, he also let me adopt his surfboard during my stay. Iain supplied me with me whiskey and bought Jamie treats on our every stay.


Unique selling point – crazy Irish man

Stark's - Jenny & Phil (Friends)

I did not test the Stark’s facilities, I got completely side tracked by cracking open a bottle of bubbly as soon as I entered the house…. and then another and then some whiskey. Jenny and I accidentally got wasted and I woke up with a terrible hangover….


Unique selling point – drunk dancing in the kitchen at early hours of the morning on a school night.

Smithy’s – (Nanna)


I popped into my Nanna’s to take a shower, when I came down the stairs, she had cleaned my hairbrush and organised my toiletries into a new toiletry bag. At the age of 37 she is still looking after me.

Smith also brought homemade rice pudding to my van whilst I was in work meetings.


Unique selling point – taking me to my first bingo game.





The Daniel’s - Sarah & Phil, Holly and Chloe (Sister’s Household)

Sprinter Van Build

This is one of my regular pit stop locations. Sarah and Phil kindly gave me the code to the lock box so I come and go as I please. All of my post gets delivered here and occasionally Sarah will even hang out my washing.

Even though Sarah claims I will be and quote ‘on big fat distraction’ she has agreed to put a second desk in her garden office so we can work together when I’m in town.


Unique selling point – The Cherubs

The Cherubs

Shepherd’s – Julie & Colin (Mum & Stepdad)

This is another one of my regular pit stops. Mum and Colin gave me a key to come and go as I please, my dog Jamie loves the garden and his grandpop. Mum makes a cracking roast dinner and has frequently done my washing for me 😊. Top job mum.

Colin has his own workshop which he has let me use during the kitchen part of the van build. Fanks Col!!


Unique selling point – The well stocked pub in the garden

For those that didn’t make the list, don’t worry guys I’ll be back in October for another round of ‘Van Pit Stop Hospitality’ 😊.


Love you all, you have been amazing!


Emma and Jamie xx

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1 thought on “My Unexpected Experience of Vanlife in a City”

  1. Hi Emma
    I have really enjoyed reading your blog n look forward to reading more, love looking at your photos on fb, take care stay safe and have a brilliant time on your travels xx

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