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The Algarve is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the vanlife area. Miles of sandy beaches, crystal clear water, good food and a versatility that surprises you every time. These are the images that come directly to mind when we think of Portugal and bring a smile to our faces.
But then there is also the other side of Portugal - the one where toilet paper and other leftovers collect on the supposed dream beaches, garbage is carelessly thrown into nature and kick mines can be found behind every bush.
This situation prompted Portugal to ban free-standing in January 2021. Although there were some months later relaxations, so that you may stand 48 hours in a community, as long as it is not national parks, nature reserves or other protected zones, but no obvious camping behavior (such as putting out the table and chair) may be shown.
Free standing was prohibited in Portugal by a law since January 2021. Due to a petition, however, they have adapted the law again a few months later and now you are allowed to stand 48h in a municipality, as long as it is not national parks, nature reserves or other protected zones. So now it is tolerated up to a certain point again, but you are not allowed to show camping behavior (table and chairs out etc.).
These pictures are also for us a thorn in the eye and absolutely incomprehensible. Just as a camper who loves nature and the proximity to it, you should take responsibility here but take care of their own legacies.
We were able to meet Jasmin and Filipe, who live in Portugal themselves, and spend the weekends on the road with their van.
The two set a good example and have already thought about the "business on the road" in advance.
Jasmin told us that Fellipe, who is also originally from Portugal, actually once wished for his birthday a garbage tongs - Just so he can free the pitches no longer by hand, but then with the tongs of the disgusting toilet paper scraps. 😃
But make yourselves here gladly a picture of how the two deal with this issue.
Introduce yourselves briefly:
We are Jasmin and Filipe - two creative dreamers who emigrated from Switzerland to Portugal in the sunny Algarve in 2019 and have been consciously saying "yes" ever since. Yes to our dreams, to life, to ourselves, our independence and every new challenge. We are in love with ourselves and the little things that make life worth living. We love to go on adventures with our van and our dogs in the nature of Europe or on the beaches of the Algarve. In 2022 our wish will become reality: We will become parents and our daughter will see the light of day.
Everything we do, we do with passion. Because life is too short for sometime - life is the greatest inspiration for the here and now.
What kind of vehicle are you on the road with?
Within almost 8 months we have built our cozy home on four wheels from an empty, white van (Peugeot Boxer, L3, year of construction 2010). With a lot of planning, diligence, countless hours of work, nerves and ups and downs it became "Eddy" - our rolling DIY camper van.
Your worst toilet experience so far?
Something that (almost) all of us have experienced: You're sitting comfortably on the toilet of a café, restaurant or other establishment and suddenly the supposedly locked door swings open. Sitting topless on the toilet, you shout "Occupied!" in rising panic and are annoyed that you obviously forgot to lock the door after all. An embarrassing moment for all concerned!
Your first point of contact with the subject of toilets on the road:
Something that bothers us immensely is when toilet paper is just carelessly left behind in nature. Campsites and coastal sections are literally devastated, the environment damaged and the residents annoyed. So for us it was clear from the outset when we expanded our van: we need and will have a toilet on board!
Why did you decide on a compost toilet?
Mainly for the sake of the environment! It is by far the most sustainable option. But it's also much more practical than a chemical toilet, because it's easier to empty and clean.
Is there an embarrassing/ funny experience with the previous toilet?
During the build-out, we wanted to save our wallet and made our own compost toilet using a canister, a bucket, and a plastic bidet insert. At first, we thought this would be a cheap and clever alternative, although quite cumbersome to build. But we thought wrong: During our first longer trip we had to realize that our own construction is neither completely tight nor odorless. Already from temperatures of about 16 degrees, a light but very penetrating urine smell spread throughout the van. And the warmer the temperatures, the worse it got. However, while traveling, you always meet new people and like to show the inside of your rolling home. But every room tour through the van was embarrassing and sweaty for us, because every time we thought anew: Hopefully no one will notice the smell!
How long have you been using the compost toilet?
We've been using the Trelino for about a month now (December 2021) and wouldn't want to miss it! All tight, finally no more nasty and embarrassing urine smell, comfortable and super easy to clean!
What are the most important tips you would give to vanlife starters?
Don't get the idea of building a compost toilet yourself! It's better to invest a few Dollars more, leave it to the professionals and have a good, long-term solution. We would definitely not want to do without a compost toilet in the van - for our sake and for the sake of the environment.
Your favorite saying about the toilet or 💩?
"Meu amor por ti é como uma diarréia. Não dá para aguentar!" -
Portuguese and translated means: My love for you is like diarrhea. Not to be stopped!
This is probably the most beautiful form with which diarrhea has ever been illustrated to us.😃 The two have now found their toilet solution, but we hope that quite a few other people will succeed in doing so, so that less trash, toilet paper scraps and leftovers end up carelessly in nature.
Campers are often criticized for doing the same. But it is we who should show consideration for nature.
We are happy if we can do something together against all the pedal bombs in Portugal and the devastated beaches there become an old negative example that belongs to the past.
Of course, having a toilet available at all times is only a small step towards this, but definitely a step in the right direction, which we would like to take together with you.
If you too can tell us about some toilet situations or would like to share your favorite toilet slogan with us, please feel free to write to us directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are happy about every message.
If you want to learn more about Portugal or maybe even move there, have a look at Jasmin and Filipe's website, where they share their experiences with you and also offer help. :-)