I can’t believe I’m actually writing a post about an upcoming trip! Lately, our updates have been all about quarantine and lockdown, but a lot can happen in just a couple of months.
We’ve been in Portugal since February 22nd and while we were able to travel around Lisbon and see and do a lot in the beginning, that slowly changed.
Here we are more than 3 months later and we have yet to see anywhere else in Portugal! Not even further than a few blocks from our apartment.
We’ve felt so welcomed, safe and blessed to be here in Lisbon during this pandemic, and we’re very happy with our decision to have stayed put during all of the chaos.
After more than 2 months of being in a State of Emergency, we’re now in a State of Calamity which sounds bad, but it’s actually a step in a positive direction.
It seems like there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel.
While measurements are still in place (changes in business hours, mandatory use of masks, lower capacity in restaurants, and hand sanitizer use), things are improving here in the country.
We’ve been experiencing a gradual opening of restaurants, gyms, cinemas, malls, beaches, shops….and CAMPSITES!
While we’ve been taking advantage of the opening of restaurants and amenities in Lisbon (drinks with a rooftop view and dining on some of the best Portuguese food), since being in our apartment and in a city for so long, we’re definitely craving nature, which Portugal has in spades.
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The Serendipitous Email
Nick and I have never travelled by campervan. We’ve moved around the world by plane, train, bus, boat, scooter, car, horse, camel, and foot but have never explored by campervan.
The funny thing is, over the years we’ve talked numerous times about one day having a van and potentially living “Van Life”.
Friends of ours have done it, or are currently doing it, and we know of many people who rent campervans to travel around the countries they visit.
But for some reason, we just haven’t experienced this way of travel. Yet.
During the lockdown, we were researching and binge-watching YouTube videos about van life (we had a lot of time on our hands), and had thought that would be a great way to get around when things open up.
On May 5th we received an email from Indie Campers, which is a Portuguese company with campervans around Europe (Spain, France, Italy, Iceland, Germany…to name a few).
They had found our website and saw that we were digital nomads currently in Portugal and were interested in collaborating with us.
This email literally came just days after we were searching the internet for ways to travel that didn’t include boarding an airplane. And in fact, we had been on the Indie Campers website as well.
It was incredibly serendipitous, and after a bit of back and forth, it was agreed that when Portugal opened up for domestic travel, we’d hit the road in one of the Indie Campers’ campervans!
There are a wide variety and styles of campervans to choose from on Indie Campers website, but after checking out a few and figuring out which ones were available here in Lisbon, we’ve decided on the Active model.
This isn’t a van that we plan on living in forever, it’s a holiday vehicle, so we wanted something compact that would allow for easy driving, maneuvering through narrow roads, and parking.
Plus, we (I) really wanted to make sure the van had a toilet.
Among other features, The Active has a shower, toilet, electric cooler, curtains for privacy, a cleaning kit, a bedding kit, kitchen kit, a gas stove, and a large bed. Plus, roadside assistance is included, which is a bonus.
Because it’s meant for 4 people, there are actually two beds in this van usually (sort of like bunk bed style). But the one we’re renting will be converted so we’ll just have the one bed — which is great as it’ll make the van feel more open, bright and spacious.
We’re also getting a couple of add-ons. A little BBQ and an outdoor table with chairs which will be great for eating and working at, as well as a wifi router to help us continue running the businesses(es) while on the road.
When we pick up the campervan, we’ll get a full rundown on how to fill the water tanks (clean and grey), empty the toilet and manage the auxiliary battery usage.
Bordered by nothing more than the Atlantic Ocean and the country of Spain, the small, compact country of Portugal has a lot to offer.
While there are 7 regions in the country, Portugal is probably most famous for the Algarve which is home to some stunning rocky cliffs and the turquoise Atlantic Ocean. This is a holiday hotspot for Portuguese people and many other European nations as well.
For wine-lovers, some fo the best wine to ever touch our lips has been from here in Portugal!
From the Douro Valley and Alentejo to Lisboa and Beira, there are wineries and unique grape varietals found in different wine districts all around the country.
Then, there are the mountains and National Parks — which is what we plan to focus on during our 10-day road trip.
Central Portugal is a region of contrasts. Torre, the country’s highest mountain in the Serra da Estrela range (1,993 meters / 6,539 feet), sits alongside stunning coastal towns.
The region is home to forests, beaches, wine routes, and Portugal’s famous sheep cheese — queijo da serra.
Finally, we plan to visit the Northern reaches of the country to enjoy the natural beauty of the Peneda-Gerês National Park. While Portugal is home to many Natural Parks and Reserves, this is the only National Park in the country.
Plus, the north is known for its small traditional villages and gastronomic delights.
Since we’ve lived on a gorgeous Caribbean island for many years, we don’t plan to check out the beaches of Portugal (yet), but instead, we’re looking forward to staying in campsites and enjoying the rivers, lakes, and forest.
Our hiking gear and Nick’s fishing rod are packed and ready to go!
Is It Safe to Travel Right Now?
We’re not promoting or recommending travel at this time. Always follow the laws and measurements put in place by the country, city, or municipality you are living in.
Having said that, since things have opened up here and the government has announced that it’s safe and permitted to travel around Portugal, we are quite comfortable minimally traveling around domestically by campervan.
What better way to practice social distancing than by travelling with our own vehicle — which also acts as our restaurant and accommodation?!
Typically, on a 10-day road trip, we would probably make about 5 stops, but because we want to work while we’re travelling around, and since it’s important to limit our interaction with people, we don’t want to move around too much.
We’ll probably only spend time in 3 different campsites (and exploring the surrounding areas!) before returning to Lisbon.
There are still hygiene measurements in place and we have masks that we’ll wear when entering into any shops, or when we need to talk with others.
When it comes to travelling, I think moving around by campervan is the safest and most convenient way right now.
We’re Ready For The Road!
With all the restrictions in place around the world right now, and with people concerned about getting sick, or not being able to obtain travel insurance coverage, I think domestic travel by land will be the new norm for a while.
Renting a campervan is the optimal way to travel safely, while being self-sufficient when it comes to eating, drinking, sleeping, and moving around.
We’re really looking forward to experiencing this style of travel and sharing it with you. Stay tuned for tips and advice for travelling by campervan, the do’s and don’ts, what rentals include, the overall cost, pros & cons, and itinerary details from Portugal as well.