Vagabond life on four wheels: Tim Wilhelm on freedom, friendship and vanlife

Tim Wilhelm - singer of Münchener Freiheit and composer, musical performer and actor, entertainer and TV presenter ... and a self-confessed vanlifer! Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Tim in person is quickly infected by his zest for life and enthusiasm. In order to juggle all his appointments last year, Tim travelled with an Astella camper van for his musical engagement at the Festspielhaus in Füssen and with a Coral camper van for the numerous Europe-wide concerts of Münchener Freiheit.

Dear Tim, please introduce yourself and your four-legged travelling companion Seppi ...

We are two sprightly travellers and tirelessly strive to LIVE DREAMS - to be on the road for FRiEDEN, FREiHEiT, FREUNDSCHAFT and for the love of ENTERTAINMENT, in short: The journey is and remains our goal, which is why I also call myself a vagabond with a dog (e.g. on Instagram under @freiheitstim).

 Vanlife is your lifestyle. Did you choose it consciously or did it come about by chance?

God's beautiful earth deserves to be protected, of course, but also to be discovered - and often the good really is so close, to use the poet's words, although the sense of distance is of course relative, like (almost) everything in life - the two of us have also travelled by van to destinations in Ibiza and Mallorca and crossed over by ferry. For us, such distances still fall under the umbrella term "local destination", haha, which is certainly also due to the fact that we always have our bed or the mobile dog kennel with us.

What role did the freedom to travel anywhere play in your decision to live in a motorhome?

As I spend a lot of time travelling, I consider it a special privilege to be able to make the journey my destination.  Of course, you have to want to... In my eyes, it is definitely a gift to be able to work in regions where others go on holiday, but also to be able to discover more unknown places along the way. I have to admit that sometimes you can't avoid stressful periods - for example, when I played Count ZEPPELIN at the Füssen Festival Theatre in the evening and then performed with MÜNCHENER FREIHEIT at the Kalkbergbühne in Bad Segeberg the next day, there was no chance of getting much sleep. But: Hey, on the one hand, an hour in a comfortable camper bed is a lot more relaxing than a nap huddled on the back seat or a train bench, and on the other hand, unique experiences make up for it. And there is always a time for rest. 

How do you juggle all the musical dates and concerts?

Where there's a will, there's a way - as the saying goes. As long as you are given the gift of health, remain a little humble, grateful and naturally curious, apparent barriers quickly disappear, that is my experience and conviction. Of course, it also helps if you have a pleasant companion :-) 

Last year you had a permanent home with the Astella and a mobile home with the Coral ...

As much as I love the vagabond life "on the road", it's nice to experience what it's like to come home from time to time - when the ASTELLA welcomes me brightly and the next morning I enjoy the impressive view of the royal castles of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein with a freshly brewed coffee - which of course the ASTELLA's fantastic panoramic windows invite you to do. A unique ensemble!

6 Do you have a special routine before the musical performances in the caravan?

... the "Gute-Laune-Geldermann-Schlückchen", haha, first of all for my circulation, of course - just for health reasons. But seriously: I don't really have any special performance rituals. Or is a walk with Mr Dog one of them? Because of course the two of us do that before every gig and everywhere.

7 Can you tell us about any special moments on the lakeside pitch?

Thanks to the ASTELLA's exceptionally large panoramic doors, you felt like you were in the middle of nature! You could watch the sunrise and sunset from your bed or from the sofa. From my really exclusive spot, I could also see the water flowing back into the Forggensee - and through the roof windows, which are also really big, I was able to admire the string of pearls of the Starlink satellites lying on their backs one night. These are magical moments that are hard to come by in most caravan models, and certainly not in most city apartments. Lucky to be an ASTELLA camper.

8 Were there any bizarre encounters at the ASTELLA site by the lake?

My unexpected nocturnal guests were foxes, for example - they were shy and adorable. Less shy were some tourist groups who probably thought my "camp" was some kind of "reality zoo"... ;-) But as I'm a lover of people and especially of animals, everything worked out fine for me in the end.

9  Did the Astella location have any advantages for team communication?

As I lived just a few minutes' walk from the stage, I was able to invite the team in a very relaxed way. While other team-building activities have to be carefully planned and built up in meetings, we met spontaneously and often to analyse the day's events together in a camping atmosphere!

'Teammeating' am ASTELLA Wohnwagen

What was the difference between the caravan as a "cosy oasis" by the lake and the active touring life in the motorhome?

The coffee tin and the Bialetti, the toothpaste, Carlos I and other loose bottles didn't have to be constantly stowed away or fastened, I could be a bit messier, haha. In addition, the amount of space and the view through the panoramic windows in the ASTELLA was pure luxury, although the CORAL, for example, also has impressive skylights. But for a predominantly stationary use, the ASTELLA has its advantages, of course.

How does living in a van affect your creativity, especially in terms of songwriting?

It seems obvious that experiences are absorbed and processed. But driving and travelling definitely gives me a lot of space and inspiration for creativity - through many impressive experiences on the one hand, but also through the peace and quiet I often feel when driving through the countryside.

What genres of music or artists have you particularly enjoyed when travelling by motorhome?

It's all in the mix! When I've had to cover a lot of miles at night, hard rock sounds have helped me, while I usually enjoy the quieter sounds during relaxed drives on country roads - from Spanish guitar instrumentals to classical sounds to old BENjAMiN Blümchen or similar radio plays in nostalgic moments... So there was a really colourful bouquet of flowers on board.

What was the longest distance you travelled with Coral?

The 1077 km from our MÜNCHEN FREIHEIT show in Esbjerg (Denmark) to the "Ein bisschen Frieden - Summer of Love" show in Füssen was not a short trip, haha, and probably the longest stage, but still nice in CORAL.

Is there anything you miss in your motorhome that you would have at home but don't have in your motorhome?

Not really - although I do like to soak my tired bones in a bath from time to time. You could say I'm crazy, but I've now bought myself a mobile bath. Will I use it in the awning or outdoors? We'll see, haha!

If the motorhome had a soundtrack, which three songs would you choose to describe the atmosphere?

Only three? You want me to do that, haha? All right, I'll try... The "GUNNERS" should definitely not be missing - but which song should I choose? ...yes, on "Patience", although I prefer to listen to their up-tempo songs while driving, but "Patience" just fits wonderfully into vanlife evenings. "Rückenwind" by THOMAS D. is also a top song for vagabonds - and of course "Deutschland Autobahn" by Dave Dudley. The first encore would probably be "Was ist Freiheit" by us, but I can count to three, haha, even if maths isn't my strong point. 

Have you ever organised your own "Concert on Wheels" for spontaneous listeners in a camper van?

Actually, I once spontaneously FaceTimed into a press conference from a motorway service area, where I also played music. That was fun! And: private guitar evenings are part of the vagabond life - aren't they?

Were there moments when you particularly enjoyed the freedom of the motorhome?

I was able to relive the classic "picture book" moments of motorhoming - for example, staying overnight by the sea and lakes, the proverbial camper camaraderie and sharing moments with people you've met at the campsite around the campfire in the evenings... But also the freedom of not necessarily having to check out of the hotels in the morning after the gigs and jump on the tour bus, but being able to spontaneously stay longer in the regions where you've played, if the tour schedule allows it - these situations existed and I really appreciate them.

Abendstimmung am Campingplatz

 What unexpected challenges have you faced when living in a motorhome that you weren't prepared for?

Even though I'm blonde, haha, in this case I knew what I was getting into - and I'd do it again any time. I'm happy to confirm that mountain passes in Switzerland can be 'steep' - the CORAL overcame all challenges!

What strange things have you taken with you in the motorhome that you never expected?

A real barbecued pig's head! As I see animal transports on my travels and think a lot about the suffering of the animals, I hardly eat meat anymore. But above all, it is important to me not to throw anything that has lived into the rubbish... After a gala performance I noticed that the pig on the spit had not been completely eaten, so I asked if I could have the leftovers for Mr Dog - and got, among other things, the complete head, which then travelled with me for a while...

Can you tell us about a special concert moment that is directly related to the motorhome?

Oh, there were some special moments - the CORAL backstage often became a meeting point for everyone involved, e.g. at festival gigs, then other bands came to visit, the technical crew anyway... I was often allowed to park the CORAL right next to the stage, which made for a lot of conversation. 

Tim Wilhelm und Roberto Blanco: Treffen im 'Backstage-Bereich' - dem CORAL Wohnmobil

What tips do you have for people who are thinking of trying a similar lifestyle in a motorhome?

I would recommend thinking carefully about when (including what time of year), where, how and why you want to travel - is it to visit new places frequently? Or is it mainly about getting to a holiday destination and having the most luxurious holiday possible? Is it about being able to take a lot of luggage and equipment with you? In short, what are your main requirements - flexibility and manoeuvrability, comfort and space? I can say with a clear conscience that the CORAL offers a very balanced mix. And thanks to its large garage, you can even use it for transport purposes - neither the payload of a full-size motorcycle nor that of instruments was a problem.

Have you ever tried to conjure up a multi-course gastronomic menu at Astella or Coral, and if so, how did it go?

As I'm never one to try and dress up, it would be presumptuous to say that I've ever done it myself, haha. But it has happened with guests - I camped right next to the Füssen Festival Theatre for several months, "my camp" became a kind of "OpenPlace", to quote our dear theatre director BENjAMiN Sahler, a meeting place for the cast. And we were delighted to find great food at both ASTELLA and CORAL. From vegetarian gyros and all kinds of egg dishes to stuffed peppers and classic camping barbecues, everything was on offer.

Finally, the question of questions: motorhome vs caravan:

Which did Seppi prefer?

Mr Dog was very comfortable in both, even though he is a former street dog and therefore a mongrel and not a poodle. But if he had to choose, his favourite place would definitely be the passenger seat of the CORAL - with the window slightly open and the wind in his face.

Your choice?

I'm like my four-legged friend - it was really nice in both vehicles, I'm incredibly grateful that we were allowed to use them; if I had to choose, the vagabond in me would have tipped the scales, so the motorhome is my favourite. I'm just a simple country cowboy, haha, and I like to travel spontaneously, so when in doubt, I'm on "team camper".

Tim, thank you very much for the interview and the exciting insight into your vagabond life! We wish you & Seppi many more wonderful travels, fantastic musical performances and Munich Freedom concerts!

For an insight into Tim's vagabond life, his current engagement at the Festspielhaus Füssen and updates on Münchener Freiheit tour dates, follow Tim & Seppi on Instragram (@freiheitstim)!

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