Ecotourism Europe Global Ethics Travel Tips

Pop Up Culinary Campers: A Deliciously Sustainable Way To Earn Money While Traveling

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candy camper
Candy Camper

You don’t have to go far in London to see street-food market culture is alive and bustling. And, in amongst that vibrant culture another ‘trend du jour’ is emerging: the pop-up culinary camper, or moveable feast! A pop-up food business is a great way to make money while traveling. With a bit of ingenuity and preparation, you can travel the entire length of Europe sightseeing while serving up sustainable delicacies made from locally-sourced ingredients to hungry travelers.

License To Sell

Street trading can come in many forms, from pop-up stalls to food delivery vans to licensed pitches. Until recently, street vendors have been able to trade without any special permission; however, local authorities are beginning to crack down on this kind of activity and a license is usually needed.

You can usually apply for temporary and permanent street trading licenses, but this will depend on the particular laws of the places you visit. It is worth mapping out your trip in advance to decide the best places to stop and set down temporary roots, while also topping up your travel money for the journey ahead.

Need some inspiration? Here are the creative ways people in England have made a living from working out of the back of a classic VW bus.

Monkshood Coffee

A creative concept borne from the idea that anyone can get a van and sell coffee in a field. As the name suggests, however, this operation puts some saintly values into the mix, and you get coffee that makes a difference. Monkshood Coffee pride themselves on having a dedication to goodness and purity, and a commitment to buying only the highest, quality coffee, sourced from ethical and sustainable companies.

Monkshood serve their coffee from their classic VWs, at events throughout England.

“We keep close links with the companies we buy from, we source sustainably and believe in fair-trading at a grassroots level,” says Monkhood’s Elliot Wallis.

They offer talks and seminars on the art and importance of being a sustainable coffee merchant, so if you need some tips before embarking on a pop-up coffee business, check in with Monkshood Coffee, as they know how to do pop-up street vendoring in style.

Bob’s Lobsters

Take a trip to Borough Market and you’ll find a big red and white glossy ’57 Splitscreen VW bus, cooking and selling scrumptious lobster rolls served by men in pristine white shirts and black bow ties. Bob’s Lobster’s has become a favorite culinary destination for hungry visitors, who are attracted to the beautifully restored VW bus and the enticing smells coming from inside.

The bus has been fitted with a custom kitchen, and waiters pop out of the hinge-up roof that displays the menu. A shelf was custom made to fit on the van’s side to be used as a serving table.

“The great thing is that from the outside when it’s all shut up it looks like any normal camper,” says owner Steve Layton.

Bob only travels in the summer, moving into his winter home and garage in the colder months. A good tip to remember when traveling in a VW bus is they are prone to rust. Packing the business up and storing it for the winter months will keep your business investment around for longer, and in pristine condition.


Candy Camper

“I have always loved festivals and camping. I thought it would be great fun to have a job that would mean I could just travel around from festival to festival,” explains Denise, owner of Candy Camper.

An avid festival-goer and a lover of VWs and traditional sweets, when Denise stumbled upon Primrose (the van), the idea solidified and she decided to give the dream a go. Converting ‘Primrose the Van’ wasn’t too much of an onerous task, as the vehicle was already fitted to a high standard. All she had to do was install some home-built shelves, put in some hours creating retro signs, and then complete the look with sweet jars tied with yellow ribbon.

Primrose roams the country — and sometimes beyond — selling colorful wares at popular festivals.

“We took her to France for two weeks this summer,” says Denise. “All the camping furniture is removable, so when I have a Candy Camper booking that all comes out, and is replaced by my jars, scales, folding table, shelves and everything I need to set up the sweet shop.”

The Split Screen Ice Cream Company

To most, the musical chimes of an ice cream van evokes fond childhood memories of long summer days spent in a swirl of innocence. Fast forward to today, and the ice-cream van is ubiquitous. Although they whip up fond memories, not all of them can boast organic award-winning ice cream like the type sold from vintage VW Campervan Mimi – who comes complete with her own personality, in true Kombi van style.

The Split Screen Ice Cream Company won the “Best Looking Mobiler in the U.K.” title at the 2012 British Street Food Awards. That’s quite an accolade, considering there’s no shortage of VW buses occupying the British Isles.

The ice cream is delicious and produced in a local farm. Every ingredient is either organic or from a trustworthy source. Additionally, there is nothing artificial in the ice cream, so you know your experience will be authentic and pure.

Fancy Your Own Culinary Camper?

It really does pay to do your research and know what you are getting into when exploring the idea of a pop-up camper food business. The competition is fierce and the food is gastronomically good. Moreover, the vans each have their own story to tell and are part of the reason these businesses do so well.

So, if you want to hit the road and earn a living while you’re at it, do your research, prepare and dream big. A pop-up street food business could very well pave your traveling way.

*Megan McAuliffe is a writer, journalist and blogger writing for sustainable and ethical buisness’ on issues relating to community, culture and lifestyle. She is the author of the above sponsored post. You can find her on Twitter @MeganEditorial.

Jessie Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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  1. While sitting outdoors at a beautiful mountain lakeside spot– we came up with the best idea ever. A pop up Kitchen while camping. My husband had a culinary degree and a real knack for cooking in the great outdoors. We also love being In the great outdoors.

    1. @Kelly: Sounds heavenly!

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