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Man Quits Job to Travel in Solar-Powered Home on Wheels
Eco-friendly lifestyle is one thing, but eco-friendly travel is another when everything from taking planes to buying souvenirs can leave a mark on the planet. But an intrepid young man and his van proves that we can see the world and tread lightly at the same time.
After quitting his engineering job in October 2013 to live his dream of traveling, 26-year old Mike Hudson of Hull, England, got rid of his possessions and purchased a 10-year-old LDV Convoy van off eBay. Before setting off, Hudson and his friends spent five months renovating the rusty camper van into a tiny home on wheels.
The entire operation—buying the van, fixing the engine, installing a stove, a 70-liter (18.5-gallon) water tank, a shower and toilet, heater, desk space and even solar panels—cost Hudson only £5,000 (about $7,700). The van also has a refrigerator, speakers and storage space.
Hudson and his two buddies set off officially on March 2014, ferrying from England to France and driving south to Spain and hasn't stopped since. For the past year, Hudson has gallivanted around Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Austria and more, attending music festivals and camping under starry skies. The 26-year-old documents his travels around Europe on his blog, Vandog Traveller.
Ever the minimalists, the travelers sleep on hammocks or a foldaway sofa-bed. They've also washed their clothes by a lake near Bucharest, and dived in a dumpster for homemade jam ingredients in Budapest.
Washing clothes by a lake near #Bucharest pic.twitter.com/LdsCjj45YX
— Mike Hudson (VdT) (@Hudsontek) October 18, 2014
Thanks to his two 100 watt solar panels and two large 200 amp hour batteries, Hudson and his buddies can have enough juice to power their electronics for three weeks. "After some tweaks, the solar powered electrical system is completely self sufficient and almost maintenance free," he wrote. "I’m not exactly frugal with the electricity either and there have been three of us living in here for more than half the time."
As far as water, Hudson says the van has enough running water to last for 12 days, or probably more than a month if they are near a spring or a well. For fuel, Hudson said his van's refillable cylinder can store 11 kilograms (or 24 pounds) of petroleum, which is enough to power the stove, kettle and heater for three people for two weeks. Finding a stable internet connection, he says, is one of the hardest parts of off-grid travel.
Getting internet off-grid is proving a lot harder than I thought pic.twitter.com/1PLsPG6ntz
— Mike Hudson (VdT) (@Hudsontek) April 2, 2014
Hudson didn't intentionally plan to live off the grid, but realized he was heading into this territory without even knowing it. "Being off-grid probably isn’t the easiest way to live but it does seem to offer choice and much freedom with no white lines or boundaries," he wrote.
In Greece, Hudson and his friends stayed for a few weeks at a wind-and-solar powered eco-community 40 miles from Athens, where they picked their own salad from an herb garden and cooked in a clay oven. "I’m not really a serious environmentalist kind of person, but I do think there is something hugely satisfying about being responsible for generating your own electricity, dealing with your own waste and growing your own food," he wrote. "Doing this in a communal environment with a dynamic pool of talent and knowledge is a pretty powerful setup."
The best road in the world? – driving the Transfagarasan mountain pass in Romania http://t.co/VqBRfKO1Im pic.twitter.com/uhqJmFm1ag
— Mike Hudson (VdT) (@Hudsontek) October 9, 2014
Hudson logs his miles on a shoestring budget ("I can eat three very good meals a day for €3 [about $3.36].") and stretches out his euros by busking, baking his own bread and avoiding tourist traps. Click here for more of his frugal travel tips.
"I am doing my dream; I can comfortably live wherever I want. I am temporarily free and in control," he wrote. "The next thing I need to figure out is how to make this last for as long as I like."
In the video below, watch Hudson and his pals convert an old van into an apartment on wheels.
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Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
Pope Francis spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.