One of those new ways (for most) was through campervans, RVs, motorhomes, and even tiny homes. Since international travel was pretty much prohibited, people who had never before dreamed of giving vanlife a try were suddenly interested in it. More so, they were actually doing it.
Filmmaker Lara Hewitt was one of them, though she had other goals in mind, as well. She is the owner of a campervan known as Chaletvan, which is dubbed the only Alpine chalet on wheels in the United Kingdom and is now offered for rentals like an Airbnb, so others too can get a taste of what vanlife in a unique camper is like.
The basis for the Chaletvan is a 2008 Fiat Ducato. Its rear end was covered with real timber, in the manner of chalets: Stimson even added a little mock terrace upstairs, under the slanted roof, cute curtains to all the windows, flowers, and even a fake door. All that wood and embellishments surely add weight to the rig, but presumably, with a camper so cute, you’ll want to travel slow enough to allow common folk to take it in properly.
The interior is plywood and, to an extent, in keeping with the chalet theme of the exterior. You get a U-shaped galley right behind the front seats, with everything you need to make a short stay at camp comfortable: a sink with electrically pumped water from a small water tank, a small cooler, portable burner and, due to considerations of space, a slide-out portable toilet in one of the cupboards under the sink. The kitchen area also includes plenty of storage for foodstuff and dishes.
The four-person dinette turns into a two-person bed at night by simply dropping the backrests from the sofas so that the gap between the two sofas is closed. The bed is neither very wide nor very long, but it’s supposedly perfect for two adults, if they happen to like cuddling. When entertaining – a somewhat funny thought in this small camper, but possible nonetheless – you can position the portable table in the middle and host a dinner party for four. The galley is functional even with the bed extended.
After Stimson built the Chaletvan in 2018, he sold it on eBay that same year, with Hewitt being the buyer. At the time, the Fiat already had plenty of miles on the clock, but the unique designed turned the conversion into somewhat of a local celebrity. Hewitt used it continuously as her home for a couple of months in 2020, shooting a Brexit-themed documentary called Goodbye Europe, which saw her take her last trip as an European in the campervan.
Now that Hewitt has completed the journey, Chaletvan is available for rent out of Preston, Lancashire. So, for £65 ($89 at the current exchange rate), you too can experience the joys of living in a chalet of wheels, the kind of tiny mobile home even Heidi would approve of. Or so Hewitt hopes.