Featured vanlifers Billy & Leanne are of @donatellavansace. These guys got their van in August 2020 and began converting it. They have been travelling the UK part-time in their van for the last 9 months.
A little about featured vanlifers Billy & Leanne
Billy & Leanne are currently travelling in their van ‘Donny’. Billy’s love of VW vehicles began with his first car, a 1968 VW Beetle. When this VW T4 came up for sale the couple had to have it and snapped it up within a couple of hours.
Leanne is definitely into her fashion and so it is no surprise their van is named after a fashion design icon. Donny, aka Donatella Vansace is helping them to enjoy the ultimate UK road trip.
Billy & Leanne spent the first part of 2020 stranded in Thailand due to the pandemic. When they arrived back in the UK they knew they didn’t want their travelling experiences to end there. Living vanlife the couple are getting to visit lots of places they have not seen before, and keep their travelling dream alive.
Originally from Essex, the couple and Donny have visited a number of places in the UK, these include the Cotswolds, Stonehenge, Wales, Cambridge & the Peak District.
What is featured vanlifers Billy & Leanne’s van like?
We already know their van is a VW T4, which they have converted and updated theirselves. After surviving most of the winter in the van with no heater, the new diesel heater is their favourite feature in the van at the moment! One of the benefits of having a smaller van is the ability to fit most places, which they have been grateful for.
When the couple began travelling in the van it still wasn’t complete and so they would do all their cooking on a portable stove outside the van. The outdoor activities weren’t limited to cooking either. Until the couple fitted their sink they were washing up and brushing their teeth outside too! They admit they attracted a few strange looks from passing dog walkers. Luckily – with their fitted kitchen these days are a thing of the past.
They kitted their van kitchen out with a Dometic sink with a single burner hob attached. There is a 20l water tank with pump to provide running water. Plus they have a 12v cool box for items that need to be kept cold. For when those summer days arrive the pair also have their portable camping stove still which they will use to cook outside.
Not forgetting the bike rack on the back of Donny to make sure Billy can cycle!
Experiences of vanlife..
Billy & Leanne seem to be loving vanlife at the moment, which is clear to see on their regular updates on Insta & their other socials (links at the bottom!).
Their favourite experience so far has been parking up at Stonehenge last Summer. They were surrounded by dozens of other vanlifers, enjoying the freedom that vanlife can bring and watching a beautiful sunset. This memory must be even more precious with the changes in UK legislation now making it more difficult for vanlifers to park up for the night in places like this. This freedom has so far allowed them to enjoy many beautiful sunsets in nature, that they know they would not have experienced without Donny.
As is always the case, as well as all the good memories, there are always the ones that you can laugh about – after a period of time. Billy & Leanne have a couple of those! The first was finding a stunning park-up one evening, enjoying a beautiful sunset together…and then realising it was a local hot-spot for certain night-time activites!
The second was on a campsite in Gloucester. The couple were new to vanlife, and turned up to a campsite with no-one around, just a sign informing them it was a self-catering site. There was a second sign which the couple failed to notice on their way in – advising against parking at the far end. There had been heavy rainfall and that end was a mudfest. Oblivious to this the couple drove down only to realise they were very quickly stuck in deep mud – Donny was wearing her low profiles at the time too which didn’t make things any easier.
The couple began to panic slightly & poor Leanne climbed out and went to the back to help push the van. Billy tried to stop Donny sinking any deeper. After a very long half hour (and leanne wearing a LOT of mud!) the couple managed to get free. They quickly used the facilities and left, preferring to find a wild camping spot instead.
Featured vanlifers Billy & Leanne and food..
Billy & Leanne like to keep things fairly simple when it comes to cooking in their van. Stir-fry’s are a firm favourite, they’re quick and easy to make, delicious and only use one pan – so less washing up! They are currently in the process of reducing their dairy intake, and have reduced their meat intake with the hopes of eventually having a plant based diet.
There are a couple of items in their kitchen that are their favourites. One favourite is a knife set they bought in Thailand which they are really pleased with. The other is their Ridgemonkey. This is small enough to fit on their Dometic hob but allows them to cook a number of different things. The meals they have made includes mini pizzas, nachos and chicken skewers.
Their favourite recipe is Sticky Chinese chicken – the recipe can be found here!
What advice do Billy & Leanne have for other vanlifers?
Our advice would be , go for it! There’s no perfect time to get a van. Also if you intend to live in your van full time think about how much space you will need. If you want to stand up and have an on board toilet and shower go for a Medium wheel base or ever a long wheel base! You can do things as simply or as complex as you wish. We have done 9 months in a T4 most of which with just a bed and a shelf. The rest is luxuries!
Make sure to follow Billy & Leanne’s adventures in Donny on their Instagram. You may even see yourself on their spotted section!
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