FIRST 48H LIVING ALONE IN MY 4x4 (What Went Wrong)
I'm Eva, and I've spent the last three years of my life traveling solo to some of the world's most remote and off-beat places. From horse trekking alone in Mongolia, to living in Pakistan for a year and spending the first three months of the pandemic stuck on a remote island off the coast of Yemen before making my way back home on a cargo ship, it's been one hell of an adventure, but recently I decided it's time for a change. I've been dreaming of being completely free and independent with a little nest of my own, so I bought my dream truck, a Land Rover Defender, and started converting it into an off-road overlander slash mini camper, as you could see in the previous episode things weren't going quite as smoothly as I had hoped.
From wonky plywood fittings to a crisis of morale I started to doubt the whole idea. Today though, is the big test. Today is going to be a really good day because today is my very first day of Defender life, truck life, van life, overlander life.
So today, I'm sitting off on my very first adventure in the Defender, which means that I will be quickly finding out about everything that we did wrong in the build as well as maybe some of the things that we did right, and I'm also going to see if I'm actually cut out for this kind of life and lifestyle. I know it's a little bit late because I've already kind of committed by buying the car and converting it, but it's always good to check, right. So first things first, I'm going to have to arrange the interior a little bit so I can actually sleep in it and sit in it, then I'm gonna have to pack, and then I'm gonna set off for a couple of days.
So exciting! But first things first, coffee. Tonic espresso it's like my favorite thing this summer, honestly. It's so good, you gotta try it before bashing it, though. All right, let's make this bed look like an actual bed.
This here is the backrest thingy, so I can actually lean on the window. Here we go, here we go. Oh my god, from bed to couch in literally ten seconds, kick up my shoes, and relax in this sauna. Oh my god, I think I need a fan. This, by the way, is going to double up as an extension of the bed if I've got friends visiting. It's time to accessorize.
Here we've got a blanket from Afghanistan, a blanket from Iran, a rug also from Afghanistan, a curtain from the local hardware store. All right, here we go, halfsies... kind of, Afghan rug, voila. It fits, it fits, it fits, and tomorrow I can go on my trip. I have to be pretty minimalist whenever I travel because I usually don't have much luggage space, but this time, for the first time ever, I could bring four pairs of shoes, all of my electronics, and all of my clothes. Honestly, I don't think I've ever brought this many clothes on any trip, probably ever, but now I have space, so you know, why not.
And then, all of a sudden, my biggest fear came true. Well, we've got a little crisis. I just went to run a small errand before setting off on my trip, and I'm trying to start the car, and it's doing the following. What does it mean? It's not starting.
I don't know what this icon means there's... It looks like a fuel pump thing with a lightning bolt across it which to me is a bad sign. Also, the car is not starting, which is in itself a very bad sign. I'm not very far from home, so that's good news, but I can't start it.
Why, why are you doing this to me right now? I just got you, I've been taking really good care of you, why? No! All right, well, I'm gonna walk back home and get some help because I conveniently left my phone at home. You know, when I got a Defender, everybody told me that I should expect some mechanical problems pretty frequently. Fair enough, I guess I just didn't expect to have mechanical problems on day zero, like an hour before setting off on my trip.
This is a great start. So I walked back to my grandparent's place where I've been staying and enlisted the help of my grandad. I watched a little YouTube video which said that one of the possible errors or the reasons why this error could be happening is because of the key being faulty, so here I've got my spare key. Let's see if this works.
We're looking for the fuel cut-off switch. That still didn't work. And then I remembered something that gave me some hope. A couple of days before I had jumped on a call with Graeme Bell, one of the best-known overlanders in the world.
Graeme gave me some advice for my upcoming expeditions and said something that really stuck with me. In this instance, a Defender community on Facebook came to my rescue with a quick solution. Oh my god, guys, you're not gonna believe this.
Here we go, one, two, three. It's on, it's working thanks to a Facebook group which unites Defender fans and owners worldwide where you can get all sorts of tips and tricks. Turns out that I had to press the fob a couple of times and then start the engine again. That's it, no mechanical issues, no electrical issues, just the car probably thought that someone had broken into it or something like that. I don't know why clearly I still have a lot to learn about this car. But it works! Yay, I can go on my road trip.
That's amazing. I feel so stupid. What a morning it's been, you guys. Oh my god, I'm feeling so nervous. I've got these butterflies in my stomach, like you know that feeling when you get so anxious that you're feeling physically sick. Yeah, that's me right now. That's how I feel about my upcoming trip.
It's not the best sign. I'm just scared of the car breaking down, not being able to do anything about it because I don't know how to fix cars. Honestly, I think I'm just terrified of like, failing at my dream project before it's even begun.
I think that's where all this stress and anxiety is coming from, but I just need to take a deep breath. You know what I always say that the world belongs to the brave, damn I just need to do it, I just need to go for it. What's the worst that can happen? Car breaks down, I call a mechanic, right? Get up and go, just get up and go, the world belongs to the brave. Let's do it! Well, I don't even have a holder for my phone in the car just yet, but I do have snacks which is great, and I have strawberries which is even better. Alright, to the south.
You might be wondering what it's like to drive a Defender, and I'm shouting right now because I don't know how well you can hear me over the noise of the car, which is the first thing I should mention, driving a Defender is a really, really loud affair. It's just super loud on the car that's just how the car is built, it's something you kind of have to get used to. The next thing, it's so hard to drive it, as in the car feels so hard. It's like, you know, every time you put it into a gear, it's a bit of exercise, every time you do anything actually, it's a bit of a physical exercise, so it takes a bit of strength to drive it.
I kind of knew going into it because I did a test drive and it's just such a different driving experience to anything else. In a Defender, you're sitting really high up, it's a proper truck. It feels like you're the king or queen of the road, you're on a throne all and you can see everyone and everything below you, which is really funny, and you get used to it super, super quickly but when you go back in a normal car it's super weird all of a sudden you feel like you're about to like sink into the road. So those are my main impressions of driving a Defender.
Honestly, I love it. I saw a turn into the forest, which looked quite nice, and I thought, let's try it. I don't know I'm supposed to be here. I don't know where I am. There's no phone reception.
It's nice. It looks so pretty. All right, I think I just drove past the place. Let's see if it's the place, but it looks so nice.
Oh my god, check this out. It's there, the clearing in the middle of the forest. This place is an absolute dream. I can't believe I found it. It's a meadow in the middle of the forest, and all I can hear is birdsong, and okay, those flies over there could be a problem later on, hopefully not. I can't believe I found it, and there is nobody else. It's just me. It's empty.
I can't believe this is my first night overlanding, so cool. All right, I'm gonna go inside the truck, get ready for the evening and enjoy this beautiful spot. What you see here is a classic example of total chaos.
I kind of just ran out of the house feeling the pressure of having to go on this road trip as soon as possible, and I just chucked everything in. Now I gotta clean it up. Okay, now in order to reach the little cupboards below, which is where I'm planning to store my clothes, I need to remove the mattress somehow, which is proving already to be a little bit of a piece of strength and gymnastics. Come on! Oh yeah! Got it! Oh no, no, my leg is stuck. Oh no! Lift it, here we go.
I just need to put some stuff under the mattress then I'm going to put the bed back on. Oh, okay, this might need rethinking. At least there's storage space and the storage space works.
It's the access to it that's the bigger problem, now I know. Okay, the stuff is in the storage, and now I need to lift this piece back up together with the mattress and fold it, or maybe I just won't. Maybe I'll be lazy, and I'll just put this here extend the whole bed.
Yeah, that's a great idea, and this, ladies and gents, is my full queen-size bed. There's one more really important thing, that's fixing the curtains. Now there's nobody here, so I don't expect to need too much privacy, but you never know. And to create a bit of a separation between the front of the cabin and the back of the car, I'm using carbines.
Voila, haha. See, it's perfect. What a day it's been. Honestly, I'm feeling so exhausted and stressed out that I'm not even hungry and I'm not even gonna attempt to cook anything. I'm just going to have these strawberries and some tea and I'm going to sleep and get some rest, and tomorrow I promise I'm going to stop somewhere for lunch at dinner, and I'm going to show you my kitchen setup.
That is going to be very, very important to my life on the road. My setup is simple, and I always think back to Graeme's advice on keeping it that way. Huh, this is not the right stuff in my camping bag. Huh. Did I leave my cooking stuff at home by accident? Could be, could be. No, I'm so hungry! Crisis averted, got everything. Let's make some breakfast.
My first impressions of my first night spent in the truck. So, starting from last night when I was falling asleep I could hear dogs barking in the distance, and obviously, I'm in a forest, and it's completely dark, so it was a little bit scary but the fact that I knew that I was in a truck that was locked and I could drive away any time made it so much better, so I fell asleep within like five minutes and then woke up really feeling super happy, I was comfortable all night, the temperature was perfect, the mattress was amazing, I loved it. I felt so grateful when I looked outside and saw this view out the window of the car.
Now don't get me wrong, not everything is quite perfect. The edges of the plywood furniture are really sharp, so we need to smooth them because I've just been banging my hips and my legs against them all morning. The tailgate door doesn't really stay open very well, so I had to fix it up with a rope which is probably a temporary solution, and I found that for things like breakfast and cooking I could really use an outside table because I won't always be able to find a really conveniently placed rock that's super flat in every campsite that I stay in.
And of course I forgot about a couple of things, my toothbrush and my tripod broke so I'm gonna have to go into the city at some point today to replace those things, but otherwise, I'm feeling super happy I feel like this is definitely one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I just hope that everything keeps going just as smoothly I know it probably won't, but you can always hope, right. It's already 10 a.m. I had my coffee, had my breakfast, so I'm gonna jump in the car and hit the road on to our next destination. Getting out of this spot it's a little bit tricky, but no risk, no fun.
Four by four, thank you very much. I don't even know what to tell you because this place is absolutely unreal and I'm going to be staying the night here, can you believe it? I can't believe it. I can't believe it. Yes, this place is absolutely wild, but I promised you that I will show you how I make my food, and tonight, honestly, you guys, you're in for a treat because I'm starving, let's get to work. Here we go, these are the ingredients for my dinner tonight. I'm going to be cooking up an instant meal with some extras, of course, I'm not gonna be completely lazy.
I don't know anything about cooking, let's try this. I wish you guys could smell this because it smells absolutely divine, and so spicy, it's making me cry. And here we go, risotto alla Defender, let's just call it that way. Initially, I was going to put this all on a plate, but then I thought, who have I got to impress, so I'm just gonna eat it straight out of the pot.
Simple and good. That's the vibe of this place. Well, let's say that I definitely hadn't expected to be waking up to this. My first couple of days living in the truck are coming to an end, and finally I feel like I have a much better understanding of what works, what doesn't, and what I will need for my upcoming expeditions, and there's a lot of really cool adventures coming up you guys.
All right, so here's a quick wrap-up. First of all, I need to fix up the corners of the furniture. They're really sharp right now, and I just keep banging myself up against them which has been giving me bruises.
Second of all, I definitely need a power source. This is something that I've known since day one, so soon we will be installing solar panels on the roof of the car which should give me enough power to charge up all of my electronics, my laptop, my camera, my phone, everything, which is super exciting. Next up, I definitely need a fan, some sort of ventilation system in the summer, and some sort of heating system in the winter because it gets really, really, really hot in here.
Next up, another really important thing is going to be some sort of shower solution, so I go running a lot, and when I come back, I want to be able to just like wash off the sweat, just take a really quick shower. Right now, I've just been using a water tank, a very simple plastic water tank, but I think I need a slightly better solution. Another really cool thing, but this is like nice to have, would be a rooftop tent. I don't know how cool it would be to sleep on the roof when the weather is nice.
I like that thought. And there's a whole bunch of other smaller things like, I need to rearrange the storage system a little bit, need to create better curtains and need to find a better solution for cooking because right now I've just been sort of setting a blanket on the ground and cooking there, but that might not always be possible so I would love to have like a drop-down table, like a fold-out table on the tailgate of the car, so let's see if we can make that happen. Anyway, these are just some of the things that I know I will need to work on in the coming weeks. Honestly, being in the car still makes me a little bit uncomfortable and nervous that's because I don't know anything about cars and mechanics yet, but you know what I always say, the world belongs to the brave and to me that means, you know, going outside of your comfort zone, conquering your boundaries and trying out new things that to me is real courage and real bravery.
In the next episode, I'll be taking the conversion up a notch and adding some high-level stuff with the help of actual experts. This is an actual expedition vehicle. If you don't want to miss it, make sure you subscribe to my channel, keep exploring, and I'll see you on the next adventure.