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Charlie and Dale, founders of Climbingvan and authors of the Van Conversion Bible share their van conversion tips, discuss life on the road and their passion for climbing

Charlie and Dale

January 19, 2022

Meet Charlie and Dale, currently travelling Europe and living full time in their self-built camper van.

Fed up with living for evenings and weekends, Charlie and Dale gave up their secure 9-5 office jobs for a life on the road – working remotely from wherever their fancy takes them and waking up to gorgeous mountain views.

They started building Ringo, their bright yellow Sprinter van, in January 2019, fully intending to go exploring when they were done. Ringo was finished in March 2020 – just before the first UK lockdown!

Undeterred, Charlie and Dale turned their hands to helping others with their van conversions, becoming Instagram stars in the process. They used their backgrounds in science and engineering to write the Van Conversion Bible, which fast became the bestselling van conversion book of all time.

They’ve also successfully launched Nomadic Energy, their electric design service for campervans.

When they’re not chilling and working in their van, they’re out climbing. Join us as we dig into all things van conversion, nomadic living and their passion for climbing.

guest links

show notes

  • The Van Conversion Bible - Book
  • Quickfire questions
  • Which Van to choose when starting?
  • Pros and cons of small - medium - large vans
  • Tips on fitting the bed 
  • Pros and cons on closing the cabin
  • Converting a van vs buying a ready made campervan
  • How to set a budget for a van conversion
  • Finding information on different types of van conversion
  • DIY or outsource?
  • Things to avoid when converting a van
  • What’s the Nomadic Energy System?
  • Nomadic Energy System
  • The Van Conversion Bible - Book
  • What’s their experience of living and travelling in the van been like?
  • How do you earn money while travelling? What kind of work can you do?
  • Charlie and Dale’s journey into climbing
  • Charlie’s traditional climbing experiences
  • Deep water soloing in Scotland
  • Charlie and Dale’s favourite climbing areas
  • Experience of travelling abroad
  • Brexit rules on travelling and staying in Europe


FULL transcription

calltoadventure

hello hello and welcome to another episode of the call to adventure podcast with me George be I hope you're all good listeners and viewers remember that you can now head over to Youtube. And see the video version of this if you're so inclined by searching call to adventure podcast subscribe and turn on then a notification bell if you want to get alerts when new episodes drop. It's great to see that things are opening up a bit after the most recent wave of omeron is stabilized which means that lots of our trips are back on. Amazing. So I'm now heading out to France in February some for some winter mountaineering and there's still a couple of places left on a few of our courses. So if that floats you boat head over to callwoodadventure dot uk um, you can check out those trips and just those that. You know there's ah the covid guarantee which means that you can change dates for free move to a different trip or just get your money back. No questions asked so now on today's show we're chatting with Charlie Low and Dale Koli 2 climbers with a passion for design and diy currently living full time in their selfbuilt. Caravan they're the authors of the book. The van conversion bible which we'll link in the show notes and have since launched nomadic energy a campervan electrical system design service. So we'll get into the weeds of van conversions which I know is a very popular topic amongst our community. So guys. Thanks for coming on the show. How's it going. Good stuff. Well yeah, pumped chat so we normally kick off with a few quick fire questions. So given that there's 2 of you. We can just do first one on the buzzer. There's no buzzer but you could just shout out the first answer. Okay.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah, good. Thank you? Yeah good good.

calltoadventure

there's there's there's 3 quick ones. So first one sprinter or crafter.

Charlie _ Dale

Who's well bias but sprinter because we live in one so that one's easy. Yeah yeah, how long we got. Ah.

calltoadventure

Definitely easy. Easy breezy 1 in the bag trod or sport.

calltoadventure

Ah, that hour actually.

Charlie _ Dale

You will both say on the count of 3 yeah k one on 2 3 trad. Oh that was good. yeah yeah I think it's interesting I think Charlie's like come from a traad background I've come from a sport background. We're kind of like finding some happy yeah middle ground. So or apparently not.

calltoadventure

Um, whoa.

Charlie _ Dale

Now Just trat.

calltoadventure

Ah, but I guess you mentioned that you're out in Spain now. So lots of sport climbing now is that is that right? or you did yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Oh for sure. Yeah, we definitely spend probably the majority of our time sport climbing I would say but if we're in the Uk then I think we definitely favor trad because the uk is good for definitely good for drag climbing. Yep get fit sport climbing and then do some maha trial in the summer

calltoadventure

Yeah, very cool. Love it last one coffee or tea.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

A coffee definitely coffee. Yeah, that one was easy to yeah.

calltoadventure

Yeah I'd so I'd say we're like 90% coffee as there's there's a few people who randomly go for a tea. Some people are like white tea black tea poor air tea. We've had so some some some real interesting ones? Yeah, but but normally normally coffee I was I was just ah.

Charlie _ Dale

If. Um, Why don't that sounds right? Yeah yeah.

calltoadventure

Heavy coffee addict for many years and I actually stopped so I'm still coffee even though I don't drink coffee anymore I was still coffee just wins every time but um, but I can't drink it because I love it too much and then you're in like the the five a day and then you can't get out of bed without it. So I definitely miss the coffee.

Charlie _ Dale

Um.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah.

calltoadventure

Okay, cool So quick fire questions done. Let's hit up some van conversion stuff so you've kind of written. Well you really have written the Van conversion bible I was gonna say the bible for fan conversion but that's exactly what it is so.

Charlie _ Dale

Great hope.

calltoadventure

Um, it's something that I've wanted to do for some time. So I Just want to pick your brain on all things Van conversion because I know lots of people will be listening thinking. This is really cool I Want to give it a go I don't have any experience in it. So um, so let's let's go from the top. So. When somebody is thinking like I want to do this. How should they think about which van to choose.

Charlie _ Dale

Who Van to choose I think there's some. It's a very difficult like definitive answer you you you're going to get good vans bad vans of every make very much depends on its kind of like its background and its history I Think. Looking at I'm trying to remember now the name of the survey. There's a survey each year that kind of highlights. The most reliable vans. Yeah, it's almost like a bit of an index isn't it. Yes, Um, but yeah that in terms of like make a model. Helps to highlight the kind of most reliable vans. But I think something that we always say um, is kind of planning. So if you start planning what you think you need in your van. So How much you going to use it. You're living in it. You're just using it for weekends. Like how much gear do you have then you'll start to get an idea of like how big a van you need as well and that's obviously going to inform kind of what van to base it On. So I think instead of just choosing a van. It makes sense to plan out how much you think you'll need in there and then based on that you can start to think about what van to base it on. Yeah, it sounds simple but it is a very common mistake that we keep on coming across of people spending hundreds of hours converting a van and then they've realized they can't really fit everything in it or they've built something absolutely enormous and they can't go to the places they want to go to and then they end up starting again. Yeah, which is not ideal.

calltoadventure

Yeah, yeah, I like that. So don't think about the van first like make the list of what you want to do with it and then find the van as like the second order to fit so but on the back of that. Um, if people are thinking like well I've got I've got my list. Um, not really sure now whether to go for like an extra long wheel base or is it. Can you really live in like a much smaller van like ah well I guess relay is kind of medium size. But what would be your. Smaller your medium and your larger either recommendations or things that you'd look in those or maybe even some that you'd stay away from that you like these are these are terrible. Don't get 1 of those.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah I think for the the smaller vans I think like you classic video. We transport is like a very safe bet. Um, obviously you can get smaller vans than that. But then you are, you're not going to into like stretch out when you're sleeping. It's. I think v two we transporters are like the starting point for kind of like being able to live and travel in some degree of comfort smaller than that's always a bit of a sort of compromise yeah yeah I think in terms of medium vans I know the Ford transits are like fairly popular. And I think there's like pros and cons to that? Um, it's like fairly easy to get parts but then more likely to break down. Yeah so yeah, pros and cons. Yeah, and then I think larger I think. You're in the worlds of like fiat de cattos and citron relays which are essentially the same thing and it's the same for the sprinters and crafters and which are also very very similar apart from the sort of engine difference. Yeah I think a lot of it really comes down to kind of personal preference. Yeah I think the other thing is with the big fans. Um, the decatos and similar vans have like much kind of boxier shape so they tend to be much more flat-sided whereas the sprinters are a bit longer inside but the walls taper in a lot more so it kind of depends what you're wanting to do if you're trying to get your bed across the van. Then something like the decato makes sense because it's a little bit wider inside and you get a bit more kind of space across whereas if you are going for like a lengthwise bed or you're maybe having like a bed that converts into seating then it maybe makes more sense to go for the sprinter where you get a little bit more kind of length inside of it.

calltoadventure

Yeah, yeah, and I should wait to ask this one but I just I have to ask it because we've had so much discussion like me and my girlfriend about and lots of other people that we've talked about beds in the van are probably 1 of the big things. So lots of people go for the sideways van I'm six foot and um.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, you know.

calltoadventure

I Do like the idea of being able to spread out so and not have to always lie diagonally So what do you think about? what have you got a definitive answer on this is the best way to do your bed or at least some good tips.

Charlie _ Dale

Ah, yeah, definitely got a good tip and a good tip for I suspect the people that listen to the podcast if you're into adventure and sports and you've got loads of kit inevitably you need loads of boot space and this was the main sort of driver for us. And putting the bed lengthways because we've got so much climbing equipment and there's probably like 5 six hundred meters of rope in the boots and it all takes up a lot of space I think for us having it going across you just don't get the same amount of space. Um, so I think. I think whether if we wanted to sort of go across and the van or not we didn't really actually have a choice. We have to go lengthways to get everything in that we need. Yeah I think the the other thing is in terms of kind of like practicality is like if you go lengthways for us. We've got ah just a normal double mattress from Ikea. And it's given enough space to make a kind of like bedside table that also has storage in to give us some extra storage whereas if you have your bed across ways then you very much need to use like every ounce of space. You'll probably need to chop a mattress down and a lot of people will kind of.

calltoadventure

And.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, eat into the insulation space in the walls to give themselves a bit of extra space. But it means that you end up with the space next to your bed not being very well insulated which isn't ideal. So I think if you are going across. It's probably more suitable if you're on the shorter side like. Won't be a problem for me because I'm only five foot 3 but if your six foot is probablyly. Not not the way to be going.

calltoadventure

Ah, okay, cool. That's really really Useful. So I'm now thinking Definitely gonna go vertical bed So I was right? Um, and but how how big a van. Do you need to be able to accommodate that given that you've still got to have your other stuff. In the rest of the van.

Charlie _ Dale

So we've got a long wheel base sprinter so there isn't an extra long version available. They are so relatively rare and I think we kind of I mean we don't want to convert another band now because this is lovely and we want to kind of like. Enjoy traveling in it and that sort of thing but I think if we were to do another. We'd probably do a medium wheel base. So a little bit shorter maybe half a meter shorter but we could pretty much get away with the same layout. Yeah, so at the moment we've kind of got like this big l-shaped kitchen. Um, we've got like double seating. Kind of sat opposite each other so that you can sit at the table and then we've got the bed. So I think you could definitely make the kitchen quite a bit shorter and shrink the seating down a little bit and still get away with having the same bed. Um, and then there's like other options for having like seating that folds out more and it all kind of depends on what layout you're doing. Um, and also for us our cab is enclosed so we've built a bulkhead so that we don't see the front of the van whereas for some people. They'll keep that open and have swivel seats and then that gives you a lot more room as well. So then you can kind of eat into the van a bit more with your bed if you're having Swivel seats. Yeah I think the shorter the van gets the better or the the better reasons you have to like open up the cab and have swivel seats. Um, just because you're sort of you're so limited on space anyway, cutting off another meter at the front already with 2 seats. There.

calltoadventure

And why might you not want to open up the front.

Charlie _ Dale

Becomes harder and harder to justify really. So We had a couple of reasons for ah building the bulkhead and closing it off. Um, one of them was just to make it feel kind of more like cozy and homely so like when we're on black of our van. It kind of feels like you're in a tiny little like apartment.

calltoadventure

Um.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

There's nothing really that makes you feel like it's a van like because it's fully cladded and you can't see any kind of like doors or this sort of thing it. It feels really cozy whereas if you can see into the front. You don't quite have the same vibe and it's also more cozy because. It's warmer as Well. It's like much better insulated having the cab. Um, if you don't have it if you don't have the bulkhead then you lose loads of heat through the front. So. That's like another kind of good justification for doing it and conversely to that. It also gets hot a lot quicker as Well. Um.

calltoadventure

And.

Charlie _ Dale

Which yeah I mean both of those for us is kind of like quite important like we're always traveling in areas where it's kind of relatively. It's like relatively cold in the shade but will be like ° outside and leaving a car or a van in that sort of temperature in full sun all day.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Does get quite hot. Um, so yeah I think it's it works really well for us blocking it off. Yeah whereas for other people. The pros of having the extra space will outweigh the kind of negative. So the nice out convertting a van What it normally comes back to is like you can just do whatever you want.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

So You can open the cab up if that's what works for you but equally if it doesn't work for you then you can close it off. So yeah, you don't need to fall into the trap that you're kind of like classic motorhome Manufacturers of like hat to go down there trying to satisfy absolutely everybody with 1 or 2 Different designs which coming from a background of design and engineering just doesn't Work. You're going to satisfy a few people and kind of irritate the rest I don't think you can kind of see that because so many people are now converting fans? yeah.

calltoadventure

Ah, as yeah, it's It's really interesting actually um and that isn't a kind of um, lens that I've thought about it through like the fact that there's not much variety and not much customization because I always think um. Like it looks really cool when you convert a van and I love the idea of doing it and like living in a space that you kind of Made. Um, but then when I see a mate of mine. He he bought like ah, an old pretty old camper van but like a proper old school one. And it was and it is just really practical like it looks like the least cool thing you've ever seen. But the bed's just right above the cab and there's loads of space and everything fits in there and ah I mean yeah, you'd You'd be the least cool people on the campsite. But I do think like it's so practical I Hate how good it is.

Charlie _ Dale

Um.

Charlie _ Dale

For he.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, yeah.

calltoadventure

Like when I go in there. So um, but but but like you say maybe it's the you You don't get the option to think about like to fit it to your your bespoke circumstances in the same way as like when you do a van conversion.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah, yeah, I think one of the interesting things is and for our book that we we ran a really really big survey of people that converted vans and people that wanted to convert vans and we were delving into all sorts of areas but 1 of the areas we were trying to understand was people's rationale for. Converting a van and we we kind of like assumed ah quite a lot of it be cost is like the main driver. It's much much cheaper to convert it yourself. But I think actually it was 83% of people were converting a van themselves as a pure personal preference they wanted something that.

calltoadventure

And.

Charlie _ Dale

Like exactly fitted their needs essentially rather than going down the sort of the like formatted like motorhome route where you're kind of given. Yeah.

calltoadventure

Yeah, so on that point like what about budget. How much should people be thinking like I need to have this much cash to I guess it's a bit like how long's piece of string. But um. Um, sure you can give me a bit more of got like kind of guidance of if you're doing a medium build then then you probably need roughly this to this like what's your kind of range of if you wanted to how much are you going to spend on say a duccato. Um, that still kind of works is I don't know maybe forty thousand miles and then how much do you think you're going to spend on the actual conversion.

Charlie _ Dale

So when we wrote our book. We knew that this is the question. Well this was the question we were asked the most when we finished our build and so we knew it was the question that people were asking the most because ultimately people that want to do it.

calltoadventure

Um, yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Want to know if it's possible and so they want to know how much it's going to cost. But obviously it varies wildly based on the size of van that you're converting and also the kind of level of finish that you're going to like how high spec it is. Um, how much time you're investing into doing it yourself versus if you're paying a professional to do different parts of it. Um, so we based and as Dale kind of mentioned before we ran a bunch of surveys so one of the questions that we asked people was how much did your conversion cost and how much did your van cost so that we could kind of. Get a bit nerdy with it and create these graphs showing like for small medium large fans of ah different kind of spec what the um kind of price range was so I can't quite remember off the top of my head but we can start leafing through the book to get some of the numbers if you want.

calltoadventure

Well, that's that that's a good teaser That's good reason for people to buy the book I mean if you're thinking of doing this I always find wet like taking on any new project I always try and find.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah, yeah, but.

calltoadventure

1 or 2 of like the definitive bibles where they can just somebody's gone through all the hard work and you can just learn from all of their hours like for regenerative agriculture which I'm looking at getting into now. There's a guy called Richard Perkins and he's done it for like twenty something years and he's just written this like the bible of. Like sustainable farming and it's it's is expensive for a book. It's like eighty quid but you think in in probably like a day you've saved that many hours of your ah yeah, it's it's so so worth it and um.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, nice. Yeah. Um, oh be official.

calltoadventure

I think there's there's kind of something to working things out for yourself, but it's always good to have a bit of a guide. So if people want the the in-depth graphs and I guess your science and engineering background means that you've like I I loved it when I heard that you both came from that background because I know that the kind of stuff. Will be in the book and the way that you approached it like I think doing a survey is such a good idea and something that a lot of people don't do and I think is it right? that you had like ah 1000 did you say a thousand respondents or something you had a lot of people respond.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, yeah, definitely well, it was well over a thousand. Yeah think close to $2000 yeah my head but the the reason that we did that was because we were really keen to approach it from kind of like a data driven.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Mindset So instead of just writing about what we did and just saying like this is how we did this and this is how we did that we wanted to approach it from a kind of like whatever you're wanting to do whether you want to put a shower in your van Whether you want to convert a tiny van or a bus like.

calltoadventure

And.

Charlie _ Dale

Whatever you're doing This is how to do it and here's the science behind what we're saying and here's the data to back up everything that we're saying so that we're not just guessing things. But we're figuring them out and then presenting our findings. Basically.

calltoadventure

Yeah, love it I'm gonna buy it now. You've said you've you've sold me? Um, so on the kind of part with the wider point of if somebody's thinking about they they like the idea of this lifestyle they want to go away. Do some traveling.

Charlie _ Dale

But.

calltoadventure

Is is Diy for everyone or do you think some people should just outsource.

Charlie _ Dale

I think the the outsource point is really interesting because I think converting about you are you almost you building a tiny house. Essentially you're you doing water gas Electrics Carpentry you're really touching on an incredibly broad like range of Diy tasks. But I think crucially you don't need to do all of them yourself if there's something that particularly scares you I mean I think fitting windows and creating a big hole in the side of your van is like the one for most people that they outsource ironically, it's probably the easiest task. Yeah, um, it is.

calltoadventure

Um, yeah, really.

Charlie _ Dale

Simple. It's just very daunting. Um, but I think that that's kind of like my top tip I'd say if anyone is going to like convert a van is don't be afraid to kind of like ask for help or if you're really not comfortable with something pay a professional to help like there's plenty of other jobs to be getting on with. Yeah, and I think the other side of that is especially for people who are maybe working in like freelance jobs then it might be that it makes more financial sense to pay someone to do a job that you don't feel comfortable with if you can then just go and do the thing that you would normally do. So I think there's like a bit of a balance of do it. You know for a lot of people. They just want to do everything so that they can say like I converted this myself and I did everything but I also think it's a bad thing if there's 1 job that you're particularly not looking forward to.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, kind of outsourcing that is probably sensible.

calltoadventure

Yeah, yeah, yeah, cool sage advice I Think how about so we've had your ah few of your top tips. What about top mistakes for newbies or things to avoid.

Charlie _ Dale

I think one of them is something that we touched on before which is kind of just like getting so excited about doing it that you just start doing it. You don't plan and then you'll probably just end up having a nightmare because you won't have half the things you need. You might build something and then later on you realize that you haven't factored in something that you need or space for something how to do something. There's like such a big thing to be said for planning even if you're not a planner by nature just kind of taking a step back and making sure that you've considered everything. And you've thought about everything and even just like what am I working on next weekend and making sure that you've ordered everything you need because there's nothing more annoying than going to start working on the van and realizing that you don't have everything you need for that weekend. So yeah, that's definitely a ah good thing to do I think the other. Thing that we've sort of noticed more recently like working within like the electrical system and side of campervans is people will basically crack on with like the easy jobs and like I referenced earlier like doing windows and skylights and vents. You get quite a lot of progress quite quickly so people tend to cover the top of the roof with vents and skylights and then they think right now I need to do my electrics and they've basically used all of their space on the roof and they've got massive power requirements and they've got room for like. Ah, tiny solar panel and fundamentally. It's just not compatible. It's not going to work and they just can't fit enough solar up there to meet like their needs essentially and they're a bit scuppered then there's there's only a few sort of things that you can do to kind of like rectify it and most of the time that is. Basically going to a campsite and plugging in somewhere and so that's definite really like common mistake that we're sort of seeing at the moment. Yeah, just not planning ahead enough. Really yeah, that kind of highlights why it's worth kind of planning more than 1 step in advance.

calltoadventure

And.

Charlie _ Dale

Because you might not think that you need to plan for something at the start. But then if you don't you might get a few steps down and suddenly realize oh no I haven't factored in this thing that I should have done about two months ago so I think it it basically created this exact problem created the structure. Most of our book. Really yeah um I think particularly for me coming from a design background and just having fallen into the trap tens of times myself and watched hundreds of people do the same and make like those mistakes we were really keen to set out. Ah, really solid logical process that you can follow to just essentially reduce your risk of making a big expensive mistake.

calltoadventure

Yeah, so you kind of touched on it there but you've launched this nomadic energy business. So what exactly are you doing there.

Charlie _ Dale

So the reason that we launched nomadic energy it kind of came off the back of the book a little bit so when we did all these surveys we found that the bit that people were most nervous about was the electrical system is also the most expensive part of most people's build and it's quite easy to get it wrong. Either to massively overspect your system and end up spending a lot more than you need to or if you underspect your system then you essentially just need to rip it all out and start again. Um, and because our backgrounds are in kind of physics and engineering and we'd spent a lot of time researching around that area for the book. Kind of made sense for us to spend a bit more time reading into it and kind of help others with it. We felt like it was an area that we could help other people not make those mistakes and make sure that they had a system that kind of fit their needs exactly. Um, provide them with a wiring diagram so that they wouldn't need to spend kind of hundreds of hours figuring it out themselves because there's like so many different things to consider and it can be really confusing, especially if you're from a less technical background because the actual installation process itself is very simple. The kind of. The way that we've approached it is. We've created these really detailed wiring diagrams and we've got like a little installation booklet that goes along with it and it almost feels a bit like a Ikea instruction manual. So it's like step one put this here step 2 and and the idea is that if you're not technical at all. You can kind of just follow it as a bit of a step by step and it should be fairly easy. Um, so yeah I think we wanted to kind of help people who were maybe less technical but also people who just didn't want to spend kind of hundreds of hours researching and trying to figure out every single component that they needed or kind of. Just um, end up under or overs specking their systems. Um, so that's what we kind of started working on once the book was finished and it's been going for maybe like 6 or seven so months now yeah um but yeah, the the nice kind of side effect of doing that is that we've. Been able to quit our old jobs and it's now enabling us to live and travel on the road. Um because it's like our business that we run so it means that we can kind of reply to people at ten o'clock at night or on a Sunday or kind of whenever we feel most productive but that allows us to kind of travel. Um, and live the lifestyle that we've wanted to live so. It's nice that by helping others. We've also been able to kind of help ourselves as well. I guess.

calltoadventure

Yeah, very cool. So Now you've started on the digital Nomad Life I think a lot of people. Love the idea of doing it. Um, how. You you we mentioned just before the start of the call but how long have you been kind of on the road and doing that and what's the experience been so far.

Charlie _ Dale

So we must be coming up for about ten months in now something like that. Um, and it's been great I think I was a little apprehensious before I think I'm this bike doing some of the things I do and some stupid things I'm relatively cautious. Particularly like financially and just like doing sort of like ticking all of the boxes that your parents kind of want you to tick I've always been like the first to kind of yeah but basically yeah, it's a very engineers mindset essentially um yeah I was definitely apprehensious about it.

calltoadventure

Okay, a good engineer.

calltoadventure

Gas.

Charlie _ Dale

And I can safely say it's the best thing I've ever done in my life is like committing to this because it's just opened up so much more opportunity and more time to kind of like spend doing the things I Actually really enjoy I think is that's just.

calltoadventure

Amazing.

Charlie _ Dale

That's what it's it's brought for is really yeah because I mean when when we first set out converting the van the plan always was that we were having like ah a year off in the van traveling and then we come back again and that was in part just because we both had full time office jobs and so. There was kind of no way for it to be possible for it to be longer than that or feasible so that was kind of the plan. Um and then kind of everything's fallen into place really nicely with kind of having written the book and then off the back of that starting nomadic energy. It's all just kind of meant that what. Initially started as being a year off has just become our lives I guess um, we kind of realized like fairly soon in that actually we can just keep doing this if we're kind of running our own business then why on earth would we go back to. Just sitting in our house doing that we may as well just keep traveling to cool places and exploring and climbing and working with mountains out the window.

calltoadventure

Yeah, really cool. Um, you mentioned that it kind of like fell into place and I think it seems like a bit of a perfect storm with you guys like you have great backgrounds for it. Um, but I think some people will think like I really want to do this. But um, I'm not sure how to. Think about what I could offer in terms of like making ah money online have you got any advice there. Any thoughts for people that don't come from like product engineering and physics backgrounds and doing you know a kind of relate I Guess it's. It's taking your skills that you've got.. It's not related to what you're doing before is it but it's kind of ah it's naturally suited to your skill set So have you got ah any thoughts on how people should think about if they are just like I have no idea but I'd love to do this.

Charlie _ Dale

Yet? yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

I think so often and I've definitely fallen and into this trap in the past you kind of you're busy sort of living your life doing 9 hours a day in an office and commuting and you don't actually have much time to really think and like come up with. Ah, new business idea or a new sort of direction for your kind of like career to go in but when you move into a van your living costs just they're just an absolute fraction of what they previously were so you haven't got that sort of pressure of paying rent or a mortgage to sort of. Worry about you can sustain living and traveling in a van for really quite a long time and I think having that time is just the answer for coming up with like well what your question is really finding that thing that you can do. I think like we never had any intention of starting pneumadic energy until we're on on the road and we're just generally chatting about like questions that we get from people and we kept on getting questions and kept on getting questions and it's like oh hang on.

calltoadventure

M.

Charlie _ Dale

Maybe it's just been staring us in the face the whole time and we can just commit to it and because we basically have no overheads and we've got lots of time we could apply it and it's like it's gone really well because of it whereas I think if we were trying to do that in in our house and like. Going to work each day. You just don't You're always working on your little project when you'renackered. Basically you never have that like fresh time to think about it I think the other thing is that that like what Covid's kind of shown us is that it is possible to do most jobs remotely.

calltoadventure

And.

Charlie _ Dale

And I think a lot of companies have had to change the way that they work to facilitate that and hopefully what that means is that's kind of like a positive thing that's come out of everything that's happened and so many more companies are offering kind of remote roles Now. So It's kind of even if you don't have a particular skill set I think there's. So many different types of roles now that can be done remotely. Um and it's also something that we kind of are asked about quite a lot and I kind of spoke to um, a few people that we knew to kind of write something for our website about it just to to kind of highlight all of the different types of things you can do because we know like. Loads of different people that live and travel in their van. Some of them are photographers some of them kind of make like um little like wooden spoons and like um weave things like so whether you're like more kind of creative I know someone who's like an artist who like illustrates things. Kind of you don't need to be doing one sort of Job.. There's so many different things that you can be doing that kind of can facilitate this lifestyle I think.

calltoadventure

And.

calltoadventure

Yeah, yeah, that's great advice that there's There's many different ways to skin the cat you can like have a normal job but just work remotely and there's lots of those going on um, hossein that that they have these big lists of like the best.

Charlie _ Dale

With.

calltoadventure

Digital Nomad jobs so people can go and check those out. There's some like um, you can do Ui and Ux um checking So when somebody builds a website they will.

Charlie _ Dale

Ah, yes, yeah.

calltoadventure

Um, get loads of people to use it and like Usability studies. So That's one that some people do I don't think you get paid that much for it now. But if you've got time and you just want a few pennies coming in. You can do something like that. There's also similar things like online Surveys but they tend to be pretty low paid. But Um. Think some of the the best advice that I've ever come across is if it's for when you're making your own business um make something people want it kind of sounds a bit facetious, but it's actually I think the best advice that you can have So um, it's it. Whatever you're doing. It can be like a lot of the times you can try to fit your skills to the problem or you could be like I Really want to go away in my van and I'm really good at this. So I'm going to do this but you really have to think and and I've used this a lot in the past like is this really something that somebody wants I've worked on a few startups in the past. And that's the thing that I've always come back to and it's kind of the North star and so if people are asking you for it or you're able to do some real customer research beforehand and talk to people a bit like you did with your survey but you can do that with your idea. Um, ideally you want to get people to pay for it because people will tell you things. Ah, is very different it that might not match how they'd actually part with cash in their wallet if people are thinking about well I'll just ask people if this is a good idea and people are like yeah I'd buy that and then you actually say well go on them and then they say no so um.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah.

calltoadventure

Make something people they will make something people want look at what skills you have and how they intersect with what people want as well as um Derek Sievers has a nice kind of mental model where he talks about um, it's very difficult to be the best in the world or the top world class as it's sometimes defined like in the top 5% of the field. But it's a lot easier to be in the top 5% say like 3 intersecting fields so you might know for me like I ah know quite a lot about sustainability adventure and then I know quite a lot about marketing and kind of websites and that kind of thing so I'm not really amazing at any of those. Um, but I kind of have a ah bit of a more unique position in the intersection of those 3 things so where you can think about where do the 3 things that I'm best at intersect and what come after there. So hopefully. Useful for people listening watching if they're thinking like I really want to do this but where should I start so check those out all all really useful and inspiring stuff I think um I would love to do the van life thing. So you guys are definitely whetting my appetite for that. But um, but we'll we'll see um. Haven't really touched on climbing yet. But I'm also a massive King climber so I do want to hear a bit about your guys journey into climbing climbing escapades. So um, how long what? what was your journey into climbing.

Charlie _ Dale

My ah gone. Ah first I think my journey started quite young. So I think I was about 7 and got invited on a friend's birthday party as an indoor climbing wall. Um. I think I was marginally better than they were and I was like yes I finally found the sport that I'm not awful at and basically immediately signed up for classes and would go twice a week the next year go 3 times a week the year after 4 times a week and it's just snowballed and basically taken away for my life. And so I've been climbing for like 22 years or something like that now. Um, thankfully ecuated from just climbing inside and and now basically exclusively just climb outside. Yeah and then for me, it's slightly different so I kind of.

calltoadventure

Wow, That's awesome.

Charlie _ Dale

Started climbing at university which was a really really great place to get into it. Um, because you just pay like a really tiny amount to join the club but then there's just this kind of like um evolution I guess of like all of the older members of the club teach all of the newer members and then we would go every single fortnight on a trip. Um, outside so we were in Leicester which is not particularly close to any climbing but it is in the center of the country. So every fortnight we would drive to North Wales or pembroke or the peak district kind of all over the place. Um and go climbing. Um, and I actually learnt to climb track climbing which is like fairly rogue. But. Ah, kind of a nice way to learn to climb I think because easy track climbing is still really cool whereas like some super easy sport climbing isn't necessarily as kind of inspiring. Um, but even really easy track climbs are still kind of really really cool. So that was a really nice way of learning to climb. Um, and then yeah it kind of just continued from there ever since I finished uni. It's just been ah every single holiday we went on would be a climbing holiday and now our life is basically just swiming living in a van climbing and working. So yeah. Ah, think it's yeah is pretty good. Um, can't really complain. Yeah.

calltoadventure

That's the dream. What more can you need in life. Yeah, it's ah climbing is definitely one of those things. It was interesting I've kind of seen it from the outside but never really got into it I'd been like once or twice when I was younger. Um and then. All of a sudden I I don't know what it was I think I'd seen somebody showed me like an Adam Andra video where he's screaming a lot and I was just like that. Guy's a machine but I didn't really understand you know when you watch him do silence but you have no idea about climbing and you you realize why he's screaming so much because no human has ever tried so much at anything ever.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, it did.

Charlie _ Dale

Yet.

calltoadventure

Ah, and but but if you haven't done it before you're just like ah his he is a bit over the top and then um, a friend was like oh do you want to just like come and try climbing I said Yeah, okay I'll give it a go and I'd I'd done play Drug B when I was younger then I done a lot of mixed martial arts but then got lots of injuries from tie boxing and things so I was looking for a new sport. And then got into climbing and I kind of wanted something that I could get obsessed with and I'd seen these people who were climbers and we'd met quite a few on our cycle tour and we'd stayed with them and they were just so stoked on climbing I was like I want to be this into climbing like look how excited they are about just going outside and.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, me.

calltoadventure

And and it definitely got me like it. It kind of um, you get the bug. Don't you and it's it's a very yeah, it's such an addictive thing and it's nice to be able to obsess over something kind of healthy like that. But I haven't done loads I'm only a couple of years in so far. So um.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, see how I so.

calltoadventure

Trad is there I tried it once maybe twice and it's It's a different ball game for sure.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah, it's definitely a bit of an experience I think learning to climb track climbing is a weird one because I definitely struggle with fear when climbing. And obviously that's like amplified when you go track climbing because it's not like a bolt below you. It's like a bit of gear that you've put in yourself and that might just ping out. Um, so I think like with kind of all climbing the more you do the the more comfortable you feel and so I think typically I. Now Feel fairly comfortable track climbing just because I've done so much of it. But I think there's a really big thing of just really learning to kind of trust your gear and like when you're sport, you can have someone. That's a really really good sport climber and they've got Mega fitness but then when they go track climbing it. If You don't know if your gear is going to hold or not then it makes the whole experience a bit terrifying. So Yeah I think that one of the reasons that I love climbing so much is because there's kind of so many different aspects of it and it's like a mental thing just as much of as a physical thing. So like it's great that it's physically challenging as. And as someone who's kind of not very sporty or I was never really into sports. It's like a sport that you can do if you're not a sporty person which is nice. Um, but I think it's like the mental aspect of it as well where you're like constantly problem solving.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

But then you also have to really challenge yourself to like push yourself mentally and because I've always kind of struggled with fear then that's something that I've always been kind of pushing like the whole time I've been climbing and like slowly like increasing your comfort zone. But it's like this kind of constant journey that you're on to kind of. Try and increase it but not so much that you then shrink it again. Um, so yeah there's like a lot of is kind of multifaceted I guess yeah I think the other good thing about climbing is that I think a lot of sports you sort of see the lineup of the people that are playing or who. In the race and they've all got a very similar build and climbing is like basically totally the opposite. Everyone's a totally different shape and some people will do really well on one style of roots because of their sort of build and somebody else would do really well on another one. But crucially all kind of averages out. Um, which is which is really nice and so you don't have to have been born seven foot tall it's like everyone's got like a really good chance of sort of doing well in it. Yeah.

calltoadventure

Yeah, yeah, that's that's a great point. Actually we're talking about it yesterday at the climbing gym and if you look at the the bodies of the like elite climbers. There's probably not another sport with so much differentiation or like dispersion like if you look at megos who's is really look.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah, yeah, whos yeah.

calltoadventure

Quite small and thin. Um, but super strong and he's like everyone's like yeah, he's really strong but he looks like he weighs about 8 stone but he's just so dense like really really unbelievably strong and then you see big bit bigger guys like Andra or um, it's ah which which I think.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, yeah.

calltoadventure

Is great like you say you just are suited to different problems. Some people are long and stretchy. Some people are strong but they tend not to be as flexible so it makes for it keeps it interesting for everyone which is part of the reason why I love it. So um, yeah I saw you doing on your website you had on your domestic ad.

Charlie _ Dale

You ask for? fill.

calltoadventure

Had a bit of deep water soloing somewhere. Ah, where was that oh shallow water soloing don't in the no fall zone.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah, or shallow multifaoing actually not very transpired. Yeah ah very much that yeah I hit the bottom very hard. Not it's not ideal.

calltoadventure

No way what why was that.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah, so that was basically it in so that was in Scotland on the isle of mull. Um, it was a really beautiful spot. So we'd never been there before and we had this shoot with domestic and we knew that we needed to take them somewhere cool and we're just like leafing through the guidebook. And we found somewhere that looked like it might be interesting and we we said out be really cool if we can go out on our paddle boards and we'll like paddle board out to this like deepwaterillon spot and it will look really cool and as we were driving there. We were like oh no, we've never been here before we have no idea. If. There's either going to be like loads of people there or it will be awful. They won't be able to film it and then when we got there, it was like well firstly it was the only day it didn't rain in the months that we spent in Scotland um, and then we walked kind of about 30 minutes to this beach that was like completely secluded.

calltoadventure

Nice.

Charlie _ Dale

Like beautiful white sand and like clear blue water and we got there and we like paddled out to the wall and it was like pretty amazing. It was yeah pretty idyllic. Yeah um, the fact that it was like wet and. The water wasn't very deep and the climbing was kind of disintegrating a little bit. You didn't really see in the video which was good and looking back on it. It look great. But yeah know it was really beautiful spot. Yeah for sure. Yeah I think.

calltoadventure

It looked it. Yeah it it looked amazing in the video you didn't see any of the bad bits. So yeah, really cool any other ah client. Sorry go ahead? yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

On that that that is actually the best bit about climbing is just all of the amazing places that it takes you you get like take yeah.

calltoadventure

Yeah, yeah, any other favorite climes top tips places that you've gone.

Charlie _ Dale

Ah I think our our defaults favorite climbing area is wo oh no know I agree say pe all right pet pembrke for the traad. Yeah, in the yeah, so Pat Pembrickke in South Wales is like basically my favorite place in the world. It's just the best and I love it and we'll be climbing in spa and and I'll be like oh this climb makes me feel like I'm in pembroke like a really predict thing to say and every so often you'll you'll go to like Logaro on Ukc and. All of the comments will be people going. Oh yeah, this feels like a pembroke root and you're like oh wow, that's really brits on holidays. Yeah, yeah, ah, but yeah pembroke for trad is just like the best because you just get the view of the sea and the climbing's amazing and it's just lovely. Yeah, and I think the. Sport climbing or single pitch sport climbing I think waterfaol boen in South Africa just can't beat it in my opinion. Um, incredible orange rock like really nice and high gently overhanging sort of initially jungle in the background.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Howls of monkeys. it's just it's just brilliant it's definitely mega. Um, and then I think just like for more european stuff. We really love sirana and Spain. Um, so when we came out to Spain a couple months ago that was like where we went first It's just like so lovely. It's like really like vertical. Ah, kind of crimpy rock which is like kind of our generally kind of preferred style. Um, and then yeah, we've kind of just slowly headed south as it's got a bit colder so we've been in chilea for like a month and a half now which has been really nice. Um, because when we were traveling earlier in the year it was kind of just as all of the covid restrictions were using and we basically spent like a couple of months like by ourselves because I wasn't really anyone else around whereas what's been really nice. This time is that there's just so many other people around. Um, and so we've had like really nice fan scenes and like a little van life community for the past month and a half like making group meals with people and hanging out and it's been really nice to just like have that experience. Um, but I think that will change very quickly soon when we get a ferry over to Albania. Think that will probably get back to being just us for a while a lot of contrast I suspect thought be a good event. Ah yeah, because there's there's a little bit of development that's kind of happened there over the last like three or four years but overwhelmingly there's absolutely loads of potential.

calltoadventure

Like.

Charlie _ Dale

And loads of opportunity basically and it just needs someone or needs people that have got the time to kind of like go and find all of the really good bits and then hopefully we can like relay that to yeah, do other people and they can start to head out as well.

51:35.16

calltoadventure

Really cool. So is it mainly climbing that you're going to Albania for to like go and put up some new routes.

Charlie _ Dale

So basically the the reason that we're going over t Albania is because of brexit. It only means that we can spend three months in the shang. Yeah so this is like the classic ah point of conversation for everyone living in a van. Um, but.

calltoadventure

I Wanted to ask you this? yeah.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

And so we kind of spent a while trying to get around it. But in the end we just decided that we're going to head over to the balkans for three months so yeah ferry over to Albania and then we'll head up through kind of like Montenegro and Bosnia up to Croatia um, so I don't think we can complain too much. Um, it is one of the like.

calltoadventure

Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Tenuous like positives like we were talking about covid with the positives that you can find out of that. It's the same for Brexit like we probably would have never have gone to Albania and the rest of the balkans. No, we would have just have endeded up staying yeah like staying in Spain or maybe going down to Morocco so it's going to be good to kind of like have that like push like. We have to leave Spain and then do something along adventure a bit different.

calltoadventure

Yeah, yeah, really cool. So for people listening I don't actually know what what is the rule for now Brexit I've just got my right to residency in Sweden. so so ah which was a real ba.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, nice, nice compress. Yeah.

calltoadventure

But um, yeah, that's ah, that's in the bag now. So um, which is which is very handy but I kind of am ah now splitting my time between there and back in the Uk. So um, what? what are the rules for just kind of like. Going to Europe now is it. You're there for ninety days of 180 or what's the what's the jam.

Charlie _ Dale

Yeah, so I think 90 in 81 is exactly the situation. Um providing that you don't have another passport of some description that entitles you to kind of like get around that and so yeah, it's ninety days in sort of three months in Europe or in crucially the sheng yeah, which is a little bit broader. Yeah than just europe and then you have to leave for three months and then you can come back in and and keep on repeating? Yeah, but yeah, the weird kind of slight kind of. Confusing bit is that it's not actually Europe it's the schgen which includes some countries that aren't in Europe but there's also some countries that are in Europe that aren't in the Schgen. So like it's Croatia which is in Europe but that isn't in the Schngen. So.

calltoadventure

And.

Charlie _ Dale

It's all very confusing and then you start having to try and add up all of the days to figure out when you're allowed back in and all this sort of thing we spent a while kind of having a look at various visa options but obviously being in a van makes that pretty complicated like for pretty much every visa. You need to have a permanent address so that immediately becomes very complicated and then it normally also requires you to be kind of either working for a company in a specific country or something like this. Um, so currently.

calltoadventure

M.

Charlie _ Dale

Visa situation isn't really possible. But I think what does look good for kind of van lifers um in the coming months is that there's a few countries that look to be introducing things that will be useful so Spain are looking to introduce a kind of like digital nomad visa in the next few months

calltoadventure

Oh cool.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, and we've like had a bit of a read into that and that sounds promising. So I think it's the same for portugal and Greece as well I think the world's kind of like catching up to the fact that people want to be able to travel around and keep working at the same time. So but it has to go through.

calltoadventure

And.

Charlie _ Dale

Governments and that sort of thing so inevitable. It's quite slow. Yeah, but it does look promising for yeah like this year that and might become available.

calltoadventure

Yeah, yeah, very cool I have seen some talk about it and countries know that like the the future of work is changing and that digital nomads often get paid. Okay or even fairly Well so if they're going to keep spending money in the country then then that's probably a good thing.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, yeah, exactly yeah.

calltoadventure

So hopefully there's some developments there and then people can stay on their adventures for a bit longer. Okay, also and well thanks so much for coming on guys. It's been really really good to chat where can people find out more about you. Um website and Instagram as.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, wall.

calltoadventure

Best place to go.

Charlie _ Dale

Yep, so it's climbing http://van.code.ek and at climbing Van yeah, that's yeah, yeah.

calltoadventure

Nice and easy. Awesome Well thanks Charlie! Thanks Dale. Ah, it's been yeah, really good to chat I look forward to catching up again at some point hearing how your adventure is going and I'm gonna live vicariously and see all the awesome climes that you're doing and you can give me some. Amazing beater out on eastern europe and where to go and and and some in Spain as well. Actually I'm going to be out there fairly soon. So I'll look forward to following your journey. So yeah, thanks again. Charlie and Dale and listeners thanks tuning in so until next time bye bye.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, mice. Yeah.

Charlie _ Dale

Thanks bye.

calltoadventure

Awesome! Thanks guys that was that was great.

Charlie _ Dale

Um, no cool. Yeah.

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