Compass Avantgarde parked with Italian village backdrop

Vanlife is proving to be a great therapy for both my FOMO and JOMO.

I’ve suffered from Fear of Missing Out for many years, maybe forever. Before it was recognised with its own official acronym?

When I realised I wanted to make some life changes, and work on my self-development, one of the biggest challenges was to learn to say “No”, to create more me-time to figure it all out!

Through this learning process, I discovered the Joy of Missing Out.

I quickly started to appreciate the benefits of being more selective with my choices on how I spend my time, and to enjoy my own, amazing, fun company.

Travelling solo in a campervan is proving to be a great way for me to feed both my old (or evolved) FOMO, going wherever I can and want to, and also indulge in my more-recently-found JOMO, relaxing in my van sanctuary or taking in beautiful locations alone.

FINDING THE BALANCE

Travelling solo in a campervan means that I can stop and go whenever and wherever I like.  I can experience the journey with extra spontaneity.  If it feels right, I say yes to new plans and on the other hand if I long for time to myself, I know how to say no.

So far, I feel I am balancing my options well. This past month for instance has been jam-packed with fun solo times as well as many social opportunities.

In 4 weeks I’ve driven c.1500km and stopped at 10 incredible locations that couldn’t be more different to one another.

WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

Or shall I ask, where have I NOT been?

After spending time at my parents in Veneto (Italia) I set off West-ward to slowly reach Chamonix where one of my London besties arranged to have her (40th. …shhhh!) birthday celebrations.

The general plan was to take about 10 days to get there then about the same time to return to the Veneto region (Venice to be precise), where I would meet the Juke Media film crew to create a video documentary of my vanlife so far, taking advantage of the vibrant carnival atmosphere.

Aside from these 2 fixed destinations, I wandered freely along the way across Northern Italy and explored these locations:

Verona / Lake Garda (Italy)

Aaah Verona Verona, wherefore art thou, Verona!

Such a beautiful, romantic city. I loved stopping here for a stroll and finally visit inside the Arena for the first time. What a gift to have such a beautiful, 1st Century Roman amphitheatre right in the middle to town. And it still hosts events today. Incredible.

Sculpture in VeronaColosseum in Verona

I walked through the lively, shop-lined streets to the Juliet’s balcony. Probably the busiest spot in Verona where lovers and love-seekers enjoy taking photos, writing messages on the walls, hanging hearts on a tree in the courtyard and touch the breast of the statue of Juliet, for good luck!

Juliet balcony in VeronaLove note wall in Verona

I then drove to nearby Lago di Garda and stopped at Sirmione and Peschiera. I had been feeling a little low in energy (I blamed it on the full moon), and walking along the lake boosted it right back up.

Castle near Lago di GardaLago di Garda

Bergamo / Brescia (Italy)

I used to work in Bergamo in 1998! Being back here 20 years on brought back so many memories. Citta’ Alta (Upper Town), is the older walled part of the city and is so beautiful.  Just as I arrived it started snowing, which made it all feel even more magical.

Alleyway in Bergamo

Near Bergamo you find Brescia, where I thought I’d stop to visit a hair salon and treat myself to delicious cakes at the Pasticceria Veneto of the famous Italian pastry chef, Iginio Massari (https://www.iginiomassari.it/pasticceria-veneto/).

Compass Avantgarde parked outside Pasticceria VenetoSelection of pastries and desserts from Pasticceria Veneto

Lago d’Iseo, Brescia (Italy)

In the province of Brescia is gorgeous Lake d’Iseo. I pitched up at the friendly Camping Vela, managed by Bruno who welcomed me in despite it being closed that day.  He offered me the best spot right by the lake, with a gorgeous view of Monte Isola, the island right in the middle of the lake which is currently shortlisted to win European best destination 2019.  So I hopped on a boat with my bike and cycled all around it. A stunning tour of c. 10km.

See previous blog here: http://gr8fool.com/benefits-of-gratitude-in-daily-life/

Compass Avantgarde parked next to Lago d'Iseo

Milano (Italy)

One of the many benefits of the Compass campervan is that I can easily drive it through city centres. Even Milano! I was invited to stay with a lovely girlfriend who lives centrally where parking was a little tricky so eventually Peter van ended up chilling at Linate airport for a few nights.

My days in the fashion capital were packed with social catch-ups with friends and ex-colleagues. I also visited my former employer’s HQ and finally stepped inside the majestic Duomo.

Milan cathedralInside the Milan Cathedral

Chamonix / Megeve (France)

I arrived in Chamonix a couple of days before the birthday weekend because by wonderful chance, another London-based BFF happened to be here on a romantic trip with her partner. I gate-crashed their get-away and we enjoyed a fun, sunny day on the slopes together.

Compass Avantgarde parked in the snowy mountains of Chamonix

I pitched for a couple of nights at the Camping Des Deux Glaciers then stayed at the funky Hotel Rocky Pop with the rest of the birthday-bash crew. Around 16 friends travelled to join in the celebrations and I had tons of fun!

I particularly loved snow-showing up to a lovely restaurant in Les Houches for the birthday lunch. The climb up through the snowy path looked like a setting of a fairy-tale.

Before leaving the area, I fitted in also a perfect girlie day at the Megeve / Gervais ski resort. The weather and snow conditions where spot on and I am proud to say that on this special day I also braved a dreaded, long “drag-lift”… not once, not twice, but 3 times! Without falling or being literally dragged awkwardly on the floor, as per all previous attempts in my life.

TheGr8Fool SkiingTheGr8Fool Snowboarding

Turin (Italy)

How gorgeous is Turin? Another location I hadn’t considered before that I would now highly recommend.  I stayed at a nice and friendly camper-area called Grinto with easy transport links to the city centre or right on a beautiful cycling path that follows the river Po’.

The iconic Mole Antonelliana is a must see.  You can catch a lift to the cupola and admire the 360 views of the city then visit the awesome “national museum of cinema” hosted inside. I confess, I was pretty nervous going up on the lift to the 85m-high viewpoint!

Mole Antonelliana in TurinStreet next to the Mole Antonelliana in TurinTurin skyline from the Mole Antonelliana viewpoint

While in Turin, I posted photos on my social pages and a friend based in Monte Carlo commented: “are you heading this way?”.

“I am now!”.  

Cuneo (Italy)

After a nice bike ride along the river, I set off from Turin towards Monte Carlo with a stop in the middle: Cuneo.

I woke up on the morning of the feast day of our Lady of Lourdes with a whatsapp message from mum (reminding me of it) then found a statue of our Lady just outside the van!

Compass Avantgarde parked with a Lady of Lourdes statue in front

In Cuneo, I witnessed the impressive viaduct Soleri, took a stroll through their street markets and visited the beautiful Cathedral of Saint Maria del Bosco.

Soleri viaduct

La Turbie (France) / Monte Carlo (Principality of Monaco)

The drive to Monte Carlo was so much fun. I drove through tunnels, over mountain bridges and crossed country borders 4 times! Italy > France > Italy > France > Monaco Principality!

There are no campsites in Monaco or close by. I was told campervans have only been allowed in the principality recently. I booked a lastminute Airbnb and stayed in a gorgeous studio in La Turbie.

Ruins in MonacoHouses in La TurbieCompass Avantgarde parked outside an Airbnb

I did find street parking close enough to the Port from where I could walk down their steep hill to lunch at a sunny table with relaxing views of the harbour and lush boats and yachts.

La Turbia harbourLa Turbie harbour at night

Sanremo / Cervo (Italy)

As I made my way over to Italy again, I stopped in Sanremo where just the weekend before the biggest annual Music festival was held, won by Mahmood with the song called “Soldi”. A catchy tune that I had played through the van speakers on repeat!

I stayed at a free parking area right by the sea and only a few minutes bike-ride to the town centre. In fact, the cycling path continues along the seaside for much longer. The weather was so mild and sunny. My next-door vanlifer and I went on a longer ride one day and stopped for a light lunch at one of the sea side restaurants.  

Compass Avantgarde under palm treesOcean view from the Compass Avantgarde

After Sanremo, I explored Cervo located just 50km East.  An excellent suggestion from a friend often sends me great travel tips. Cervo is such an adorable ancient commune, built on top of a hill by the Italian riviera. The walk up to the castle is fun, especially if you don’t mind getting lost through narrow, arched old streets and discover little cafes’ / restaurants on your way up or down.

Cervo bell towerCervo bell towerTheGr8Fool walking down a Cervo alleyway

Getting inside the pastel-coloured interior of the church that stands tall at the top of the village felt like walking into a wedding cake.

Inside the Cervo church

Fonte, Veneto (Italy)

From Cervo I drove all c.500km back to Veneto at once, with no other stops. My Dad was feeling very ill and luckily I was able to be there for him and the family at a difficult time. I arrived late at night, just a few hours before we called for medical assistance. 

As I am writing this, I am relieved to say that he is feeling stronger and he is coming home from hospital. My Dad is a true rock and always wins over the gloomy medical prognosis (Love you, Papa!)

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You can find more blogs on my vanlife and other adventures, as well as topics of life coaching and mindset tips: http://gr8fool.com/

Compass Avantgarde and Elddis Autoquest Campervans are available nationwide, priced from just £37,827 on-the-road - with Retailer Special editions also available.

Get The Best Deal: http://www.elddis.co.uk/get-the-best-deal

#NoMoreFOMO #FunStartsHere