“Adventurers through and through”: Across Europe in a 35-year-old VW T3 camper van.


Anna and Martin are always drawn to faraway places. And mostly in their beloved blue VW camper van. We spoke to them about their camper lifestyle and, of course, their T3.

You regularly share pictures of your adventures with your T3 on your Instagram page @bullitourer. Who exactly is behind the account, which is now followed by over 4,500 people?

We’re Anna (28), Martin (30) and a VW T3 called “Smurf” (35).

And you have a very special hobby...

Exactly! Apart from eating good food and skiing, our greatest common hobby is discovering new places. Together with our VW bus, we mainly drive around Europe as “VW camper van tourers”. Every now and then, however, we get wanderlust for places further afield, at which point we also like to pack our backpacks and get on a plane.

Please tell us a bit about your VW camper van: What model is it? And, more importantly, what retrofits have you done?


Our van is a VW T3 Transporter, built in 1985, with factory conversion to a Westfalia camper. We bought “Smurf” spontaneously from a backyard dealer in June 2012 for 2,700 euros. It has now driven 170,000 kilometres. Its 1.9-litre wasserboxer with a standard 60 ps is good up to 120 km/h. The changes we’ve made include the following: •    Completely renovated/partially rebuilt the interior incl. new wood-look flooring•    Passenger seat fitted with swivel console •    New high roof installed incl. new skylight that can be cranked up •    Premium hi-fi system •    Auxiliary battery with 120Ah •    Two solar panels with a total of 200 W on the roof •    Reconstruction of angular headlamps to original round headlamps •    Auxiliary headlamps from HELLA •    Suspension lift via VW T4 springs (rear) and LT springs (front) •    Bilstein B6 suspension for occasional off-road driving •    PU-mounted front axle (racing technology for firmer handling on the motorway)

Anna and Martin have already been to France, the Czech Republic and Italy with their 1985 VW camper van.

Anna and Martin have already been to France, the Czech Republic and Italy with their 1985 VW camper van. Source: @bullitourer

You often hear about this special “camper lifestyle”. What does travelling mean to you?


We’re adventurers through and through. For us, travelling means discovering places we haven't been to yet and seeing things that we aren’t familiar with. That's why we’re always on the road quite quickly and usually don't stay anywhere longer than 3 days. Therefore, a camper is the perfect solution for us. It allows us to come and go as we please, to be independent and to get from A to B relatively quickly. When we see a nice beach, we can stop and jump in the sea. If we feel like it, we can drive off road and wake up to a mountain panorama – that's just priceless!


How detailed are your plans for your trips? Or do you sometimes just drive off and see where you end up?


When we have a big holiday coming up, we usually plan a rough itinerary or decide on places we absolutely want to see, but we never book campsites in advance. Often we just drive in the right direction and then look at where we want to spend the night when we get there. If there’s a campsite nearby, we check it out and book a night if we want to. If there isn’t one there, we move on. In principle, it’s possible for us to get by for one or two days without a campsite, which we definitely take advantage of. Then we enjoy being completely alone somewhere in nature. Roughly speaking, we probably spend 60% of our nights at campsites and 40% as wild campers.


Where have your trips taken you so far and how often are you on the road?


As we don’t have a permanent heating system, we rely on it being 10-30 degrees outside and therefore mainly travel with the camper from April to October. Every year, we go on at least one longer camping holiday, which we decide on relatively early in the year. However, we always go on smaller trips in between and we also use the weekends as much as possible.


So far we have travelled to the following places with our Smurf: •    Southern France (Camargue - Cote d'Azur) •    Northern France (Normandy and Brittany) •    Fehmarn (“Midsummer Bulli Festival”) •    Croatia (from Rijeka to Dubrovnik) •    Czech Republic (Prague) •    Belgium (“Le Bug Show”, Spa) •    Italy (Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda, Adriatic Coast, Riviera Coast, Rome, Amalfi Coast, Tuscany) •    Austria (Salzburg state)

When you visit cities like Prague, what do you do about parking?


That is actually a problem. In many cities, parking a camper van isn’t permitted, which is a shame, of course. Unfortunately, quite often, this has left us with no other option and we’ve had to miss seeing a site. In principle, we can absolutely understand that motorhomes longer than seven metres aren’t welcome. However, we’d like to see an exception made for smaller campers. After all, almost every family car is longer than our van, and ours is certainly prettier.

The VW T3 is equipped with auxiliary headlamps from HELLA.

The VW T3 is equipped with auxiliary headlamps from HELLA. Source: @bullitourer

That’s probably true: Your Bulli not only attracts VW and camper van fans. Are you noticing that?


Let's put it this way: there are two things that bring a smile to our faces as VW camper van owners: 1. When strangers run up to us bright-eyed to tell us that they once had an old van like this and then tell us their stories. 2. When we drive around a corner and look into astonished faces that think a sleek Porsche is coming around the corner. Yet it’s just an old van that likes to attract attention with its “bubbling” sounds.