GIRLS IN VANS - Viki and Cleo from Vanilla Icedream

I am so over the moon to finally launch the Girls in Vans series!


Through this series, we will be able to get to know some of the many incredibly women currently hitting the road.


Since the start of this blog, I always had women in mind. The goal of my writing was primarily to show girls that if you put your mind to it you can do  whatever you want.


Our first example is the lovely Viki from Vanillaicedream.  Viki reached out while working on her conversion last year. Since then she has traveled broad and far while taking some pretty stunning pictures (have a look for yourself on her instagram).

Let’s ask her some questions shall we?


1.What’s your name and where are you from?

I am Viktoria but everyone calls me Viki. I am born in Kazakhstan but spent most of my life in Germany.



2. Who are you traveling with?

I am travelling with my big love, my better half, the best travel buddy I can imagine, the perfect dog Cleo. We have been a great team for more than 10 years now.


3.What did you do before embarking in this journey? Describe a typical day.

I would wake up too late, run out with the dog, run into the office. I would have breakfast at the desk because It takes me ages to eat in the mornings.  I would then rush from meeting to meeting, joke around on the construction site, answer and send tons of emails and argue on the phone. I am an architect and I love my job, though I worked too much the past years. After work it would be time to walk Cleo no matter how hungry or exhausted I felt after a 8-12hours day.

During the walk I would call or message friends.  I would always be doing at least two things at the same time to optimize time. After 1-2hours outside I’d then go to ballet class and have a rushed dinner before falling asleep like a stone.


4. What made you click into wanting to travel around with a van? Was it a sudden realization or a long time dream of yours?

I wanted to travel. The van was secondary. Because of Cleo I realized that travelling in a car would be the easiest way to get around and still have some comfort. One day my friend asked me the question “why not now?” And as I couldn’t answer it, I quit my job.


5. I see you’ve converted your van yourself. Did you have any prior skills before the conversion?

No, I’m an absolute honk when it comes to building stuff. I learned a little on how to work with wood through my studies and my job. Planning was the easiest part and for the conversion and I was lucky to have the help of my handy father. He helped me for the basic construction where I was able to learn how to use all the tools so that I could continue with the rest on my own (with grandpa’s assistance).


6.Which part of the conversion did you find the hardest, and which one was the most fun?

Within the first hour of planning I knew that I’m going to have a van this size. I have to admit that except of two minor things it turned out exactly like I sketched it on a tissue after a dinner with a friend.
The hardest part was probably the electricity. I managed to keep it very simple but I was very hesitant on doing the work. At the end it was done in half an hour and I wondered of what I was afraid before.

The most fun were all the tiny little details. A small drawer here, a cute handle there, cutting a wood piece to open a lid, stuff like that. I could have spent ages doing that but had to stop at some point to finally start to travel.



7. Which were your main fears before starting your journey (if any)? How did you conquer them?

The time passed between the the idea and the realization was so short and I was so busy with the conversion that I had no time to worry about the trip itself.

8. How do you think you being a girl affects your traveling, and how do you respond to people saying that solo traveling is dangerous?

I think girls get more support and people are more willing to help you when they see you’re a woman on your own. I find that men turn into real gentlemen and women are encouraging and supportive.

Also, I am not travelling solo, I am travelling with a dog which changes a lot I think. I don’t feel less safe living in the van than living my old life. Bad things can happen everywhere and if I was afraid of every step I took, I would probably still lay in my baby bed.


9. How do you deal with being alone? Where you used to being alone or was this the first time?

I had never been alone before, I mean really alone. It took me three months on the road to accept being alone (which to me meant  not calling friends and family every free minute or searching for company).

Today, almost 8 months on the road I love and need to be alone from time to time. Travelling can bring many different and intense connections with people you meet, deep conversations and new impressions. I need some time on my own to reflect and think to be able to grow.



10.Is traveling in a van different from what you expected?

As I mentioned I didn’t much think about the trip itself before I started, so I had almost no expectations. I feel like this is exactly what I needed and except for an oven I don’t miss a thing.


11.Which challenges have you faced by traveling with Cleo (if any)? How do you think your journey will differ if Cleo wasn’t there?

If Cleo wasn’t there I would probably be in South East Asia, drinking from a coconut while laying on a paradise beach. I am so glad that I have her, because without her I probably would have never found out how much of an outdoor person I am and how much I like everything that is related to mountains.

As she is the perfect dog, I haven’t had any troubles with her yet. She can perfectly stay alone in the van for hours, she is better in doing long day hikes than me, she is the perfect icebreaker when it comes to meeting new people and I can take her everywhere whether it’s to a climbing wall or a tiny restaurant in a busy city.

She is calm, friendly, patient and still active and agile. The only thing I can think of is that, as she is an old dog of 10 now, she had some medical problems. But as a dog owner you have to be prepared for that no matter whether you live in a house or a van.


12. Name 5 must-have items any van dweller should have.
  • Magnet hooks
  • Hammock
  • Maps
  • A travel diary
  • Rain boots
12. Do you plan in going back to a more stable lifestyle? If so, how do you think this journey will affect your future life?

I am looking forward to work again although I am a little afraid and excited, like a kid who’s facing first day of school. In around 6 months I will search for a new job.  The plan now is to keep living a minimal life so that I can work less hours and have 3 days off to explore. A good work-life-balance is important for me.



Wanna get to know more about Viki and Cleo? Check out the video by one of my favorite van related Youtube channel Indie Project!




You can find Viki and Cleo on Instagram, on her site and on Facebook page 🙂



Are you a van dweller yourself? Wanna share your story? Reach out here!


WHAT, you didn’t know we have a Youtube channel? Go subscribe now to see traveling vlogs, how to videos or just Odie’s irresistible face.


6 thoughts on “GIRLS IN VANS - Viki and Cleo from Vanilla Icedream

  1. I love that you younger women have the courage to do this. At 68 I’m still in the work grind, wondering if I’ll ever have an opportunity (and finances) to break free!

  2. This is so encouraging and what a great way to share stories and inspiration for all of us wannabe travellers too! I did 3 months in 2016 and I’m just mentally planning the next trip while I do some Grannie duties for the next year. Wonderful blog I can’t wait to read more👍

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