With increased flexibility that remote working has brought, pandemic sees record numbers take to van life
Weakened as the travel and automotive sectors have been by the challenges posed by Covid, one niche is proving resistant and, even, flourishing in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
Buoyed by the collapse of foreign travel, as well as the public’s continued fascination with ‘micro-living’, sales of motorhomes have continued to surge with 2020 seeing a 300% increase in the number of motorhomes imported to Poland from abroad.
According to data released by CEPiK, the number of new motorhomes registered in the country also jumped to 1,040 – up from the 720 recorded in the previous year.
In all, as of the end of 2020, the number of motorhomes registered in Poland stood at 3,071, a figure that represents an increase of over 30 percent since 2018.
Additionally, with interest in air travel at rock bottom, more and more people have looked to four-wheel travel to satisfy their wanderlust.
The impact of veteran travellers, however, should also not be underestimated. Inspiring the wave of newcomers are a series of well-established bloggers that have helped romanticize the world of van life with their stunning pictures and beautiful portrayals of life on the road.
In this respect, Katarzyna and Łukasz of Podrozovanie.pl are a prime example. Followed on Instagram by over 30,000 people, the couple began their adventure in 2018 in a self-converted camper and have since covered 60,000 kilometres while visiting 31 countries.
Travelling in Wielki Wóz (The Big Dipper), the pair view their new lifestyle as a path to personal development and have recorded their tips and experiences in a book titled Poradnik życia Samochod i vanlife'u.
“Travelling, especially during the recent global crisis, has made me realize I’m no longer the same person as before,” says Katarzyna. “I look at the world far more calmly than the Katarzyna of old would have done.”
Similarly inspirational have been Ola and Tomek of NomandiLife. Describing themselves as working nomads, the couple first caught the van life bug after choosing to spend their wedding gift money on a Peugeot Boxer instead of an apartment.
But whilst images of star encrusted skies, empty beaches, flickering bonfires and cozy interiors are de rigueur on social media, it is the diversity of those posting that is perhaps the most noteworthy.
Though often considered the domain of the hipster generation, the broad appeal of the lifestyle has served to attract allcomers.
Quitting the Warsaw rat race to pursue their dreams of freedom, Kaśka and Bernard have spent the last 18-months travelling Europe with their three children. Schooling their children inside a self-adapted, unheated Mercedes Sprinter named Lemon, the change has ultimately proved spiritually rewarding despite the daily hardships.
“Before,” they say, “we were only able to really dedicate 30-minutes a day after work to our children.”
Proving age is no barrier, pensioners Teresa and Andrzej of Kamperem Przez Swiat have likewise helped fan the allure of mobile living, and in the process have travelled 190,000 kilometres across far-flung regions such as West Africa. “Every pensioner,” they say, “has the right to happiness.”
How long the boom will last remains open to question, however. While appetite remains strong, CEPiK warn that it could ultimately be a question of supply, rather than demand, that dampens next year’s figures.
“It’s difficult to predict what the sale of motorhomes will look like in 2021,” they say. “we’re dealing with a huge increase in interest, and for the time being supply is growing because manufacturers are investing in increasing production capacity.
“But even so, some brands are limiting the quantities available in individual countries, so it’s therefore difficult to talk about normality and balance.”