Introducing Freerange Freelance!

Those of you who have followed a link to campervanthings.com might be confused to see a different domain name and site title “Freerange Freelance”. Let me explain!

The first version of this blog was called “Rick on the Road”, which started as a travel blog years ago, when my wife and I started looking at the idea of spending the summer touring france, with our (then) young son while I carried on working as a freelance web developer, attempting to keep an old plastic macbook with a two-hour max battery life charged from an inadequate portable solar panel, and attempting to keep in touch with clients and upload code over sketchy campsite wifi.

After that trip, the blog lost momentum until we bought a camper van and I enthusiastically relaunched it as “camper van things”, and wrote almost exclusively about camper van things.

It then lost momentum again, particularly after we sold the camper. This year having bought another van I thought I would give it a refresh and start writing again, and in doing so, I decided that the name of the blog didn’t really reflect what this blog is about.

So what is this blog about then?

I’ve worked (mostly) as a freelance web developer for over ten years now and the goal has always been flexible working. I’m lucky enough to have built a career that revolves around the internet and remote-working tools, and so most of the time I only need a charged laptop and a decent internet connection (wifi or 3G/4G)  to do my job. Moreover, I prefer flexible work hours, and not having to commute to an office “day job”. All of those aspirations can be difficult to achieve sometimes, which I will talk about on this blog.

But you’re still going on about camper vans?

Yep! As far as i’m concerned, a camper van makes the perfect mobile office, and is the best way to combine travel, adventure and freelance work. Plus I just love camper vans, so they will still feature prominently, particularly the one we own.

Freerange Freelance

Naming a blog is almost as difficult as naming a band. My wife is also freelance (TV/Video production/Copywriting) and we threw around a few ideas before coming up with this, then impulsively reserving the domain name and instagram handle. Twitter username character limit wasn’t long enough, so I left that one as @campervanthings for now. I think Freerange Freelance better covers the scope of this blog and any associated social media accounts.

Web development stuff

I’ll refrain from talking too much about web development on this blog, as I have another blog for that – if you’re interested in code, take a look at rickhurst.co.uk.

How to live in a van and travel – new book from Vandogtraveller

How to live in a van and travel book

I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of Mike Hudson’s (AKA Vandogtraveller) new book How to live in a van and travel”. I’ve been a fan of the vandogtraveller blog since the early days, and bought a copy of his previous book “from van to home”.

Though I have no current plans to live in van (or indeed, currently, a van to live in), i’m very interested in ideas for nomadic/remote working – the original subject for this blog. I did actually live and travel in a van for six months in my early 20’s, with a vague plan to “travel europe” and, like Mike, started off with a few grand in savings, and no fixed timescale. Aside from busking, I had no other income stream – this was in the mid-nineties when the internet was in it’s early days, and the term “digital nomad” was (probably) yet to be invented, so I needed to live as cheaply as possible to make the savings last.

So, like many people I suspect, I initially skipped straight to the “Making money on the road” chapter to see if I could pick up any tips. I then went back and read through from the start. He covers pretty much everything, other then details on conversion (covered in “From van to home”).

Thoroughly recommended, and inspiring – Mike tells me that a hard copy version will be available after the ebook, which I will happily buy to add to my coffee table/ toilet reading library!

Overland dreaming

Travel books in kindle store

As you may have guessed from the lack of recent updates, we haven’t been able to use Rocky much over the winter, and he is currently off the road having another engine transplant and a few other jobs sorted (hopefully) in time for spring adventures. Therefore I have been travelling vicariously through reading about other peoples’ adventures. I’ve always been a fan of real paper books, but for reasons of availability and immediate need for reading material, I downloaded the kindle app to my nexus 4 phone and read a few eBooks. It was actually fine reading this way, surprisingly, and was handy as I virtually always have my phone with me, and it gave me something to read other than facebook or twitter.

The first one I downloaded was Not in that car, by Roy Locock, the story of his unlikely round the world trip in a 32-year-old MG midget. A very entertaining read and proof that with determination, you can get any unsuitable overland vehicle round the world, even with only a few inches of road clearance.

Not in that car - MG midget arriving in cape town

On the same theme (and bought to my attention by the “you might also like..” feature in the kindle store), I then read Survival of the quickest by Ben Coombs, about his 13,500 trip from England to Cape Town in a Porsche 944. Apart from the numerous mechanical issues dealt with along the way, I was also impressed to see the Porsche fitted with a roof tent!

roof tent on a porsche 944

The last kindle purchase was The Long and Whining Road by Simon Courtie, an entertaining account of a family travelling round the world in their VW T25, busking beatles songs as they went.

Penny the vw t25 in monument valley

Finally, I ordered a real paper book Drive Nacho Drive, the book about another round the world trip in a T25. I’ve blogged about Brad, Sheena and Nacho before – their blog is great, and some of the content is repeated in the book, but it is extremely well written and worth a read even if you already read the blog.

drive nacho drive book

Last but not least, I have been following the adventures of the campervan culture team, travelling through Spain and around Morocco, and am looking forward to the rest of the videos.