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Bringing the vanlife fantasy to life

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Is there anything more appealing to a person of nomadic sensibilities than a set of wheels, an open road and no fixed plans?

Intrinsically associated with the hippie movement, the original VW camper van is a countercultural icon in its own right, conjuring images of surfers at sunset or traveling cross-country to Woodstock.

In 2018, the VW California has grown beyond its roots but remains a powerful symbol of escapism and spontaneous adventure. Search “vanlife” on Instagram and rising to the top are snaps of sunny days by glassy lakes, of feet poking out of duvets against a backdrop of mountain peaks, of sheepskin rugs and retrofitted pine interiors.

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But do these glossy images capture the reality?

To find out whether vanlife lives up to the hype, we took a 2018 VW camper on an epic two-week, 2,600-mile road trip across Europe,

Heading first to Slovenia via Austria, before dipping down into Croatia’s Istrian peninsula, popping up into the Italian Dolomites and meandering home to the UK via Bavaria and Germany’s Moselle Valley.

The journey was a steep learning curve, an unforgettable adventure, a never-ending quest to find that perfect Instagrammable light.

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