Sii & Ivon: An Australian-Czech couple who have decided to live in the camper van in the arctic of Norway. Thanks to their openness, honesty and positive approach to life, we can have a look at their lifestyle.
- Please introduce yourself and write something interesting about you.
We are Sii and Ivon, I am from Australia (I left nearly 6 years ago to travel the world) and Ivon is from Czechia (she left 5 years ago to study in Denmark). We have been working in tourism here in Norway for a few years up until now. Covid-19 has affected our usual jobs and as such has provided the opportunity to venture elsewhere so Ivon now works remotely while running her own business as a freelance HR service provider. I am now starting a new filming venture with North and Beyond on youtube as well as starting a tourism company that will be in full swing come winter 2021/22 in Finmark, Northern Norway. Now we live full time in a 2010 Mercedes Sprinter called Randal Silvandal.
- Why have you decided to live full time in a camper van? What motivated you to make that decision?
Well for me it’s something I started back in 2002 when I lived in a laundry van in London and It’s something that I’ve always wanted to get back into again. Constantly being on the move as I am It’s nice to be able to take your things with you. Neither of us are ready to settle down in one place yet so it makes sense especially as we have a husky named «Sorry» (I know its a ridiculous name haha).
- What are the best and worst parts of your lifestyle?
Best… We are homeowners haha, we can live relatively freely here in Norway (we have a full shower and toilet as well as oven and stove… Essentials in my opinion). We can visit new places and don’t have to worry about accomodation or what to bring… we take it all (including the kitchen sink). We now don’t have to pay for accomodation and can save money. Bad… One must learn how to live in such a small space… with a dog… and keep it clean… finding a place to park (our van is big at 7.35m long) keeping batteries topped up and water… and the worst of all is shit weather, haha. The good far outweighs the bad but it just takes time to become accustomed to this lifestyle.
- What do you think is the best way to travel? What are the best places in the world for you to live?
hahaha if we knew that we probably wouldn’t be living in Randal… but actually we don’t think there is a best way to travel… travel desires change you can’t just choose one way and stick to it, It’s great to have options. As for the best place in the world, again neither of us have found it… We love the arctic… but don’t want to live here all year round as it’s too extreme, I love the Canary Islands and Ivon loves Madeira but neither have a real winter… Slovakia is like a second home to me. The people and culture are amazing… but it was difficult to make a living there, Australia is incredible but so far away from everywhere… this is why we are still travelling, the world has it all not just one place.
- How long does it take to convert a van into a campervan? If you could change something about your vehicle, what would it be?
It Depends on your skills, available time and supplies… I am a carpenter by trade, and I had virtually full time to spend on the conversion thanks to coronavirus, however, getting materials and the right fixtures and equipment up here in tromso in Norway was so difficult. I started the conversion in April 2020 and got Randal to a livable stage by August… but he is still not finished. I still need to add cupboard doors and finishing touches but the majority of it is done. If I were to do the conversion in Oslo or southern Europe it would have been soooooo much easier and quicker. Changes we would like to make would be to design the heater system better to heat more evenly. We are still working on the van and would like to add Swivel seats in the front to give more usable room in the back here.
- Have you made any changes or modifications to your camper van for the arctic climate?
Yes, I added insulation all round the van 50mm in the roof, 70mm in the walls and 50mm on the floor, we have a 6kw combi diesel heater that heats water and air. We have a 200l flexible water bladder tank inside the van for all water (I did this so we don’t have to worry about the water freezing). We have a heavy curtain to stop the cold air in the cab coming into the back and I in the process of making an insulating blanket to cover the outside of the cab to stop condensation and the cold coming in more in the front of the van. We also have ventilation inlets and exhaust out;ets to keep air circulation and fresh air in the van during the nights.
- Would you like to travel outside Europe? If so, in which country would you like to drive your camper van?
Definitely we would, both of us would love to drive Canada and America, but also to travel through the «Stans» would an incredible journey as well.
- Can you describe some of your future projects related to your nomadic lifestyle?
Now we are waiting for the world to open up again, when it does we would like to head down through Russia and the Ukraine through the far eastern blocks and Just experience the different cultures there.
- You have been living in Norway for several years and certainly know the country well. What are some of the best places to visit in Norway
- West coast of Andøya
- Lofoten Islands
- Oppdal area
- Pasvik Valley
- Lyngen Alps
We have spent most of our time in the far north of norway so unfortunately we cannot add more. We were planning to head south this summer…maybe next year haha.
- What advice would you give to your fans who are considering changing their lifestyle to yours?
Vanlife is not instagram. Vanlife do not come into it thinking every day will be like instagram, there are beautiful moments but it’s not every day… as in every lifestyle. This lifestyle is amazing but not suited to everyone, and in the winter here in the arctic finding an overnight spot has its challenges. Do your research make sure you are ok living in small quarters, and thoroughly enjoy outdoor life and that’s where you will spend 90% of your time.