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Meet Our Co-Founder Karl

Karl is the co-founder of Just Kampers Hire and has kindly shared the story of how a love of campervans has blossomed into an exciting new e-commerce platform.

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Kent in the South of England, but I was never in one place for too long. My parents spent several years building an impressive 58 foot yacht, and when it was ready we clambered on board and headed off along the coast of France, Spain and Portugal. We eventually joined the first ARC race across the Atlantic over to the Caribbean. To say this experience gave me a lifelong love for travelling and learning about different cultures would be an understatement!

Where do you live now?

I have been living on the island of Jersey for the past 25 years. At the time I was offered a 2 year contract to work here, but I fell in love with island life and have never looked back.

Photo credit: Visit Jersey

What’s your life like in Jersey (the rock)?

When I first moved over here I never expected to call this my permanent home. Now it’s hard to imagine life without the beautiful beaches and sunsets. I find the relaxed lifestyle here suits me perfectly, and my black lab Ziggy loves it too! My wife Clare and I have our own VW T2 1966 Splitty which gives us the freedom to escape the rock and travel wherever we set our sights on.

When did you buy your campervan?

I bought my VW in 2006 on Jersey’s sister island, Guernsey, and at first it needed some TLC! When I returned to Jersey we spent 6 months renovating it. It got a new lick of paint and the interior was modernised to make it comfortable and functional. We have had some brilliant adventures in it ever since.

Karl with his campervan in Sweden

What do you love most about campervans?

I love that you can travel at your own pace. It’s all about the journey and making the trip your own, stopping for as many breaks as you like along the way. I always try to take the scenic route for this reason, you’ll be surprised how much you can miss on the motorway.

Taking the van on holiday also means that you have the luxury of bringing whatever you like with you, whether its a couple of bikes, paddle boards or suitcases full of clothes. You don’t need to worry about any baggage weight limit!

What are your other passions that compliment your love of vans?

As you can tell, I have always loved travelling and exploring new places, which couldn’t be easier to do from a campervan. I also can’t get enough of being outdoors and have been on many cycling trips with friends in several different countries including China, Costa Rica and Tanzania.

What activities do you enjoy when out on the road with your van?

Wherever we go with our van, we always try to punctuate the journey with impactful memories. In the past we’ve been kayaking in Dordogue in the South of France and hiking Troltunga in Norway.

Photo credit: Julian Hanslmaier via Unsplash

How did you meet Mark, the other co-founder of JKH?

I met Mark through his colleague James, who I’ve known for many years, at Just Kampers. Once we started talking we realised that we both had a similar idea for a Campervan hire platform and decided to put our heads together. My background in e-commerce and Mark’s vast knowledge of VW Campervans and the community gave us a good foundation for the business.

How did the idea for JKH come about?

We wanted to create an easy to use platform where people could share their enthusiasm for campervans and camping. The sense of community that campervan owners have has always been strong, and we wanted to provide a platform for them to share their vans with a wider audience, and pass along their tips for the best road trip experience.

What makes JKH unique?

With over 30 years of experience within the campervan and camping community, we have a strong understanding of our customer base. Our website is unrivalled in its usability and automation which will give both owners and customers a straightforward experience. Customers can be very selective in terms of the van type and location they want to travel to, and van owners can communicate with their guests easily and securely.

Can you tell us about a few of the best roadtrips you have been on?

For our Honeymoon, we planned a long road trip and drove up from Jersey, through France, Germany, Denmark and Norway. We stayed in some beautiful campsites along the way, at one point having a lakeside spot all to ourselves. We also stayed a Norwegian lodge cabin, giving us a amazing view of the fjords.

We regularly head across to France as it’s very easy to get to from Jersey (90 minutes by ferry to St. Malo), and always have a great time. We love stopping off in small villages, and trying some of the local cuisine in the little independent restaurants, you better get there before service stops at 2pm though!

Northern Spain is also a beautiful place to do a roadtrip. We journeyed down from Jersey and then out from San Sebasitan and headed along the southern Pyrenees, visiting monasteries and vineyards along the way. It’s perfect if you’re wanting a peaceful break, as most places you’ll visit are quiet. The restaurant prices are really reasonable too.

*sidenote – this wasn’t exactly a roadtrip but we did use the van as a photobooth at our wedding, everyone loved it!

Who is your favourite person to travel with?

My wife Clare. Our first trip together was on the Gallery Rally, a fundraising event from Jersey down through France to Biarritz. It involved lots of challenging routes and puzzles along the way. We made such a good team then and still do now.

What is #vanlife to you?

#vanlife is whatever you make it. The beauty of travelling in a campervan is that you can make the journey your own, creating memories with the people you meet and places you stay along the way.

What happens if it all goes wrong on the road? Have you had trips that have been memorable for all the
wrong reasons?

We have only had a couple of mishaps on the road, but breakdowns are definitely something you should be prepared for, especially if you are driving a vintage camper! Make sure you have the right insurance and safety equipment so that you can continue on your journey.

My advice would be, don’t let a breakdown ruin your trip. If you do find yourself in a sticky situation, it won’t be the end of the world and you may even turn out to add to the adventure.