We travel when others are at home. Anticyclical travel makes the essential things easier for us. Hardly any tourism and relaxed locals.
Ever since Kathy and I started traveling in our vans, we’ve been traveling when others are at home. Don’t misunderstand, we’ve been living full time as digital nomads in our vans for just under three years, but in doing so, we haven’t always spent our time in vacation destinations.
Let’s start with our first adventure. The trip to the North Cape. We started on Dec. 22, 2018. Over Christmas and New Year’s Eve to the snowiest and coldest countries in Europe. The closer you get to the Arctic Circle, the earlier it gets dark in the winter. In Finland, temperatures dropped to -19°C. In relation, only a few tourists get the idea to start such a trip to Norway at this time of the year. Nevertheless or just because of this we had fantastic moments, which would never have existed without this totally crazy idea.
We spent Christmas and on our way back New Year’s Eve in Sweden. Both rather coincidentally, because we were somehow at the right place at the right time. We have never met another camper except shortly before the North Cape. We were able to free-stand right by the sea in Alta without disturbing anyone. Except for a few locals who once enjoyed a fire, we were all alone with a dreamlike scenery.
Now, of course, you can argue that the Nordic countries in Europe are not so densely populated. But I think that in the summer, with the best weather and tourist flows at places like these can be quite busier. When there is free-standing and a proliferation of campers crowding certain places, the police are then often not far away.
We had a similar experience when we finally upgraded our new van in 2019. Best weather in Germany, but it still drew a lot of people abroad for summer vacation at this time. Lucky for us, because we could spend our time pretty relaxed near our work. Towards the fall, we traveled to the south, to Portugal.
Portugal is clearly a dream destination for many in winter. However, you have to know where in Portugal you are at what time if you want to have few people around you. The interior of the country at the level of Porto is almost deserted in autumn. In Nazare the surfing season starts in October with the Big Tides. Here you will find a lot of surfing enthusiastic locals and tourists.
In the Algarve begins the season for those who winter, with very many at this time of year crossed to Morocco to continue to have summer temperatures. Due to the fact that in autumn everything shifts once again something, one could stand free in 2019 in Portugal at the most beautiful places.
In February 2020, we are then back to Germany, because somehow everything became a bit chaotic and shortly thereafter came the big lockdown. Again, we were in the right place at the right time. Close to our workplaces we had an official pitch with power supply and could get along well when it was a bit colder. When then the people could leave their house only rarely or were allowed to, we had for us and the dogs a huge field and paths on which we could run around, almost for us alone. So we persevered and actually enjoyed the time more than it affected us. We were very happy about the first rays of sunshine in spring, until travel was possible again in early summer and the place we were standing on filled up beyond measure. So we looked for alternatives in the surrounding area and bridged the time in less popular but no less beautiful places.
As the vacation season drew to a close and the craziness lessened a bit, Kathy and I made our way through Germany’s south. We were both officially on vacation, but Kathy had to go back to the office for a few weeks afterwards, while I was already on my way to Portugal. Since I was heading for the north of Portugal and most of the overwinterers were already in the south, I once again had the most beautiful places just for myself. Only on the weekends a few locals and occasionally the one or other angler joined me.
After I had spent a Weil, about 2 weeks, in this beautiful place, it went also for me slowly further south. I think the advantage of what we are looking for when traveling is that we do not like the absolute summer heat, nor do we seek out crowds or cities specifically. That was actually the case long before CoV.
We like, in part because of the dogs, seclusion. Peace and solitude are actually harder to find, especially if you live in Germany, than crowded places and cities overrun with tourists. Thus, this anti-cyclical travel is exactly what we enjoy. For this we gladly accept somewhat cooler temperatures, the one or other rainy day and maybe even closed beach bars. We get beautiful nature, many beaches or lakes just for us and this special feeling of freedom.
To make it a little shorter at the end, I think you can see what I mean at this point with anti-cyclical travel, we are always on the road when most people are elsewhere or at home. We always travel where we hope to encounter as little tourism as possible. So we also spent the winter of 2020, when Kathy was finally able to join us, in Portugal. We have, and there especially since 2020, the luck to visit sights that would normally be completely overcrowded and to have more contact with locals who are not totally unnerved by mass tourism.
Anticyclical travel is our secret tip for all those who want to enjoy vanlife as much as possible alone and in nature.