Another part of the series Delusions of Working in a Café or a Camper Van.
German version: Mittelstandskinder ohne Strom
Middle Class Children devoid of Electricity
The name of a former German pyschedelic trance music project, Mittelstandskinder ohne Strom (middle-class children devoid of electricity) is the perfect caption for the kind of delusional escapism lifestyle that has been promoted in social media like Instagram, but also on matt glaze retro print magazines like Flow and Walden. It’s the #Vanlife idea that you can simply buy a camper van and leave everything behind that has been stressful in your life so far.
Young and your whole life ahead of you, a fuelled camper van in the car park and exciting encounters with other travellers. Everything seems perfect, and so it is, but not entirely, in the road “movie 303”, a film about two young people on a trip in an old motorhome.
Sustainability and the Boundaries of Freedom
“Pure idyl”, “freedom on four wheels”, “van life”, but also “the boundaries of freedom” are some of the captions alongside the many beautiful pictures about travelling in a camper van. At first sight, it might seem absurd that now, just when urban life without owning a car has become popular, dreaming of road trips is growing in popularity as well. But you have to try and find one of those picturesque roads where it is still fun to ride, surrounded by wilderness, without traffic jams and overcrowded motorways. A striking paradox, at least mentioned, in a thoughtful paragraph, in some of the magazines: we tend to destroy what we love. Masses swarming in the countryside with combustion engines are maybe not the best alternative to air travel. Sustainable travel in a camper van does not stop at the engine. Avoid litter, dispose of wastewater properly, use a composting toilet instead of a chemical one and chose eco-friendly campsites to reduce your ecological footprint!
Work and Life?
Even a short trip with or without a camper van can make you realize the boundaries of a would-be lifetime dream on the road. Unless you are a professional travel blogger, it can become difficult to get your job done, even if you work as a freelance web developer with a 100% remote “home office” option. You might or might not get enough electricity out of solar panels to power a humble laptop, and you can prefer campsites with wi-fi or car parks with a good radio reception to be always online. But did you ever try to join a meeting with coworkers or customers on the road? You can sugarcoat noise and bad lighting conditions when working all by yourself, but speaking in a video conference while in a car park on the seashore, your contacts might not be amused about the wind and the crashing of the waves.
In his book Through the eyes of others, “Journeyman” Fabian Sixtus Körner shares his experience of trying to write a book while sitting inside a camper with his wife and little daughter on a rainy day. Still, he is convinced that travelling with his family has been the best experience that he has ever had.
Personally, I prefer to work at a writing desk, home alone or together with coworkers in an office or coworking space. Sometimes it inspires me to work while on the move, and sometimes going for a stroll makes me focus on ideas that I can take time to elaborate on later – back at my large screen, fast internet connection and a door that I can close when I want to phone or zoom in peace and quiet.