Television host, tennis coach and former world class tennis star Annabel Croft is joining a growing movement of people “going small”. The adventurous television host who covers both the Mens and Womens Tennis Tour will be converting an old DPD parcel truck into a glamorous campervan and plans on hitting the road this summer.
According to the Daily Mail, the campervan which she and her longtime husband Mel Coleman call ‘Vannabel’, will be fitted with a full kitchen, shower, dining table and under-bed storage. She chose the postage van because they are longer than ordinary vans and allow for the space to add higher spec amenities.
Croft, who has been jet-setting since her days on the Women’s Tennis Tour, has been hard at work renovating the truck and can be seen on her Instagram account @Vannabel documenting her DIY prowess. In one video, Croft can be seen wearing a workman’s mask and explaining how to install insulation to keep her camper warm during the cold season.
The goal is for Vannabel to be ready by April – which coincides with the April 12th date where lockdown restrictions across the UK will be eased. It’s around this date that outdoor parks and attractions will be open and pubs and restaurants will be opened for outdoor tables and beer gardens.
Annabel Croft Embraces #VanLife
Croft and Coleman say they were inspired by the custom DIY restoration projects ubiquitous on Instagram. They are part of a growing trend as air travel constraints of COVID-19 have seen the RV industry boom over the past year. There are more than 9.3 million hashtags on Instagram for #Vanlife – a culture defined by freedom, youthfulness and desire to live life on one’s own terms.
Croft told the Daily Mail that they were smitten by the thought of going off-the-grid and the sense of freedom that van life offers. She says she can see herself doing yoga from the back of her campervan in the Scottish Highlands.
The “van life” community is a fast-growing segment in the travel industry. The culture is about traveling the globe, with some people working remotely or others just doing it for the experience. Van-lifers will often park their van in public or private campgrounds or in free campsites on public lands.
Compared to the large Class A and Class C RVs that come with full residential amenities, campervan culture is more about the freedom that small living has to offer. The limited storage in campervans ensure that the focus of the experience is on travel. The highly curated aesthetic of #Vanlife is a bit sexier, a bit more wild and free then what you typical think of your traditional fanny-pack and bucket hat RVer.
The best part about campervans like the one Annabel Croft is remodeling is it provides mobile flexibility in a small, compact space. Unlike larger classes of RVs, campervans drive like your typical car and are easier to fit into tight spaces. Campervans are also the easiest model of RV to convert – which explains why many DIY’ers like Croft are diving in head first.
Following Her Own Path
While the #Vanlife trend continues to grow, the glamorous Croft isn’t your typical adventure-seeking twenty-something with little money and even less responsibility. She is an established television host, owner of her own tennis academy and is married to a former investment banker. It’s fair to say that downsizing to a campervan isn’t something you would see expect from someone with her high profile.
Yet, for those who have followed Croft’s story, the decision to temporarily downsize to a campervan should not come as a surprise.
A rising star in the women’s tennis world who won her first professional tournament at age 19, Croft shocked the tennis community when she suddenly left the sport at the age of 21. Some people labeled her a quitter, another casualty of the cruel world of professional sports – but the reality was Croft made the brave decision to step away from a lifestyle that was not conducive to her mental or emotional health.
“It’s combat, basically. Every day it’s an antagonistic situation, then you get ready for another one tomorrow,” Croft told The Scotsman in 2017 of her tennis playing days. When her head and heart were no longer in the game, she took on new challenges which included starring in a number of high-profile television shows and eventually becoming one of Great Britain’s most recognizable television presenters.
Ready to Launch
Croft still has work commitments this summer, including covering Wimbledon for BBC, but she is excited to take off on this new journey. She admits this may be her version of a mid-life crisis, but just like she approaches everything in life she is embracing this new experience with her signature passion and energy.
Her fans will get to follow her every step of the way as she puts the final touches on Vannabel over the next few months. We have a feeling this next adventure will be a smashing success.