Full time vanlife: Melli & Finn in camper interview

Melli and Finn are an inspiring couple who have been traveling the world together for four years. Since 2023, they even live and travel full time in their self-built camper named Carlo. They are accompanied by their faithful Australian shepherd Linus. They share their travel experiences and everything that is part of vanlife on their social media channels to inspire other people and give them insights into living, working and traveling in a van.

A home on four wheels: The life of Melli & Finn

In this interview, we learn more about their favorite destinations, the tech tools that make traveling easier, the design of their van interiors for functionality and coziness, their camping experiences, their activities for exploring nature and surroundings, and the rituals and habits that help them stay comfortable in their van during their travels.

More from the two of them here:

Lukinski Villas

Germany - Spain - USA

Fantastic coasts, mountains & untouched nature

FIV: Hello Melli, hello Finn! Feel free to tell us a little more about yourselves so we can get a first impression of you.
Melli & Finn: We two are Melli (23) and Finn (27). For 4 years we travel together through the world and since 2023 we even live & travel full time in our self-built camper Carlo. Since 2020, our Aussi Linus is also with us. Our social media channels are all about vanlife & everything that goes with it. We want to inspire people to do the same, give food for thought and report openly and honestly about living, working and traveling in a van.
FIV: You are traveling full time with your van. What are your favorite destinations so far and why?
Melli & Finn: We have already been to different countries with our first VW T5 Bulli. Every country has something so extraordinary and every country has incredibly beautiful, but also not so beautiful sides. Three years ago we fell in love with Portugal. The vibe, the people and especially the gorgeous coasts have remained quite positive memories for us there.
But also the less touristy countries like Bosnia or Montenegro we have learned to love on our current trip. Here are the mountains, untouched nature & you can feel the freedom and the honest warmth of the locals.

The best gadgets for the van

FIV: You built your van yourselves. What gadgets or technical aids do you have in your van that make traveling easier?
Melli & Finn: Since we work on the road, we urgently need our mobile internet router, for example, where we can put a respective SIM card of the country.
Melli loves to bake and therefore the Omnia oven is indispensable. What makes traveling easier, especially on the “long-time travel”, is for us also our dry separation toilet.
After all, business is also part of van life. A dry separation toilet makes disposal much easier for us, as no chemicals are used. A drinking water filter must not be missing, of course. These are probably our biggest gadgets. Of course there are many more small gadgets. But that would certainly go beyond the scope of this article.
FIV: We saw that you use a water filter. What advantages does this have for you?
Melli & Finn: Without a decent drinking water filter, we would have to buy our drinking water in the stores and that means a lot of plastic waste, money and extra storage space. In our experience, even store-bought water often tastes like chlorine. Our filter allows us to fill up with water at any tap. This filters bacteria, smallest particles and also medicine residues from the water, so we can drink any water without hesitation. It also neutralizes the taste.

Feel good factor on small 8sqm

FIV: How did you design the interior of your van to make it functional and comfortable?
Melli & Finn: It took us a total of just 4 months to complete the project. Besides our full-time job at the time, that was a house number. Already when we knew that we would buy a van, the planning started. On 8sqm everything that is built in must have a purpose and a function and should still offer a great feel-good factor.
We love warm colors, are both relatively tall, and wanted the space to be as open as possible so we could be as comfortable as possible. It’s our traveling home, so it was totally important to us that we feel comfortable in the van even on rainy days.
FIV: How do you manage to sleep comfortably in the van? Do you have any special mattresses or sleeping systems?
Melli & Finn: It’s hard to believe, but we have a normal bed “like at home”. Slatted frame, normal mattress and firmly installed, without rearranging. We have installed a sleep widening on one side, so that we can sleep crosswise with over 1.80 m height without problems. Our sleeping area is now about 1.96 m X 1.50 m and is quite enough for us.

A dog that loves driving

FIV: How do you integrate your dog into your travel life? Are there special arrangements for him in the van?
Melli & Finn: Linus is a real vanlife dog. He is adaptable and loves driving. He doesn’t have a special den in the van. He prefers to sleep on the hard floor with as much stretching out as possible, it was the same in our apartment. On long trips we have a folding crate where he can sleep safely in the back of the living area.

Prefer campsites or wild camping?

FIV: What kind of pitches do you prefer? And how do you find the best pitches?
Melli & Finn: As free as possible. Without connection. Few people. In the nature. That’s how we would describe our favorite place. Campsites are not for us. We like to use them for a long shower or to do laundry – nothing more. In many countries “wild camping” is forbidden, so we are very careful and always respectful of the locals when looking for a pitch.
The “strict” is due, among other things, to the masses of campers and, of course, their behavior. In some countries this law is very strict and in other countries people are even happy about a visit. We often find the places via the classic apps like park4night, Overlander and co. or simply with the satellite view in Maps. We also often read blog posts from other travel bloggers who recommend the pitches. It is important that you really take back any trash and preferably even always a little more from the pitch. This mutual respect is very important to us!

The best activities to do while traveling

FIV: What activities do you do during your travels to explore nature and the environment?
Melli & Finn: National parks, hiking, strolling through cities or even an adrenaline rush once in a while. We are very open to everything and enjoy everything to the fullest. We set out to do something special in each country of this stage of our lives. In Croatia, we helped a large animal welfare organization with which we are still in contact. In Bosnia we went ziplining and in Montenegro we made a bonfire with stick bread in nature. All this broadens our horizons and is incredibly important to us on this trip.

New challenges & out of the comfort zone

FIV: Are there any particular places or activities you would recommend, especially for couples?
Melli & Finn: Basically, everything you do as a couple is an enrichment of any relationship. Luring one another out of their comfort zone, overcoming a challenge together, enjoying a campfire & watching the stars.
We clearly realize that every new experience makes us stronger and binds us together more than ever. Activities that scare you a bit, that don’t directly appeal to you out of fear, are usually the best. And if it means going for a drink with the locals of a country.

Routines for good interaction

FIV: What rituals or habits have you developed to keep you comfortable during long trips or stays in the van?
Melli & Finn: We always feel comfortable in the van itself. But we both like everything to be in its place and tidy. We think that is the case with many people. Because especially in the van with a dog it gets dirty quickly (fortunately also just as quickly clean again). On rainy days in the van, everyone has their place to work.
Most of the time, only one of us does the cooking (the other one chops) and we prefer to get dressed and ready one after the other instead of at the same time. Otherwise, we like to step on each other’s feet. On long trips, we like to listen to podcasts, audio books or do puzzles. Although we don’t have such long trips anymore.
FIV: Thank you very much for the exciting interview! We wish you a good trip on your travels!