Living in a van or mobile home as nomads or “#Vanlife” has become a dream for many people who wish to work and travel without the physical and financial ties of a permanent home. Felicity and Pär are currently in Mallorca, and live full time in their van. They are also serious athletes who compete in the endurance hybrid races called Hyrox and won the 2022 European Champion Mixed Doubles title.

Where are you from?

Felicity: I’m from the UK, I was living in London and working full time as a personal trainer.

Pär: I’m from Sweden, I was working as a specialised heating engineer and living in Stockholm.

How did you two meet?

Felicity: We met in Marbella. I had gone there during COVID because I had switched all of my work to online. I was living at a place called Mike’s Gym which has cabins that you can stay in. Pär was there as well, we became friends and then our relationship developed from there. What originally was supposed to be a month in Marbella turned into seven! No one could travel so we had this kind of cool life just training and hanging out together.

Pär: My work allowed me to be remote, so I had gone to Marbella to train. One day I just logged in from Spain and just didn’t say anything to my boss! I had some weird noises in the background like the dogs were barking and the birds were chirping but I got away with it!

So that was when the van life dream was born?

Felicity: I think so because I've always had a desire to do it. I'd always worked in central London and doing Personal Training there was never an opportunity. But obviously COVID brought so many opportunities. We met some people who were living in a van and they inspired us.

Pär: I quit my job and sold my apartment in Stockholm and we looked for a van.

Was that scary but freeing?

Pär: Yeah, it's fun also, because I had started to work my way up all of these ladders. The career ladder, the real estate ladder. Everything was up, up, up, but I wasn’t getting any happier. In fact maybe the opposite.

How did you get your van?

Felicity: Well, everyone wanted one at the same time it seemed! We ended up buying ours in Sweden from a man who had just converted it. It is quite clinical inside, but it is very practical. You have to maximise your space wherever you can. It fits our purpose though as we are both training daily for Hyrox races and that is our main personal focus. It’s important to wake up every day with a purpose, especially when you are doing vanlife. It would be very easy to lose your way and not achieve anything.

You bought the van in Sweden and then headed back to Spain?

Felicity: I'm British and Brexit obviously made this difficult. So during this whole same process we were trying to get me a residency and this was an extremely stressful process which took about a year. So we had to keep going back to the south of Spain. Once we had bought the van in Sweden, we drove all the way back down to Spain until my residency process was finished. And in that time, we were doing the process. We sometimes drove to compete in a race, for example to Maastricht, and we also drove to the UK because I had to get documents from there.

What was the attraction of Mallorca?

Felicity: I had been to the island quite a few times, and it seemed perfect to me. You have the landscape, the outdoors, the sea and the weather!

Pär: We didn’t realise that the training facilities in Mallorca were so good, and we were very pleased to find CrossFit Mallorca where we have been training for our Hyrox races. It is a great gym, with everything we need, and the atmosphere is really welcoming.

Has VanLife lived up to your expectations?

Felicity: There are two different types of vanlife I think. There is the experience where you want to be near to facilities and other people, and then how we live, which is more remote and isolated. We have solar panels and we can be completely self-sufficient. I think at the beginning I thought we would move around more, but I am very happy with the pace of life that we have found now. We found that just being curious and looking around us is more fulfilling than trying to do big trips where you have to cover all of the famous landmarks or spots.

Pär: We enjoy not having a plan. And we are able to move around easily. We have a coach who makes our training programme for us, and when we receive that we decide where we are going to be for the week. On which days we need to be close to the gym, and on which days we can go and be in the mountains, or on the other side of the island.

Is living in a van a test on your relationship?

Felicity: I am quite easy going, and I don't mind what other people might see as difficult situations. I thrive on that. But yes, I am surprised that it's worked so well for us. I don't want anything else right now.

Pär: It is important to have open communication and not be scared of saying what you think as well. It makes the relationship better because if it's not working, then you have to fix it, you're in this tiny space!

What is the law about living in a van here?

Felicity: You cannot leave anything outside, not a table, not a chair. Everything has to be enclosed. We never ever leave anything out. And we stick very strictly to respecting nature and leaving no trace of our visit. We are always respectful of other people’s space as well.

Pär: We have seen people acting really badly, leaving rubbish, throwing it out of windows, but that is just as likely to be a group of people in a car than people living in a van. We all have to take better care of where we live.

What’s a typical day in the van look like?

Felicity: We like to start the day watching a sunrise. We take our coffee to the sunrise, and then do some breathwork. It's one thing I learned from leaving London, to give yourself time in the morning to free yourself. Yeah, because I was so stressed for years because you just get ready for work and go to work all day you don’t have the time for calm. So it's something I have really implemented here. After that I normally have a PT session online with a client, and then we will have our first training session of the day. And then we typically park somewhere and cook, and relax for a bit. Then I'll get my laptop out again, and do some programming for clients. I could be working on the beach or in the mountains, depending on the weather. Then we go for the second training session of the day.

Pär: I sometimes work as an energy consultant now with my old company, and I work as an online coach as well helping people to recover from injuries, so the daily schedule works very well for us.

So you literally can sometimes wake up in one place in the morning and not know where you're going to be at the end of the day?

Felicity: Exactly! It’s the best adventure. Right now we wouldn’t change a thing.

You can get hold of Felicity here https://felicitycole.co.uk/ and find them both on Instagram @pbergsman and @felicitycolept