Direct4x4 decided to get to know brand ambassadors JK Overland a little bit better recently with a brief Zoom interview. Being in national lockdown, we thought it was a good opportunity to catch up with the adventurous pair before they get the green light to hit the road safely again.
We wanted to get to know the people behind the YouTube and Instagram posts and find out why they love to travel so much. Being nosey I wanted to know what they did before they started their overlanding careers and made such a huge lifestyle change and I was not disappointed! Jack and Kristina are such fun bubbly characters, you can’t help being swept along with the idea of hitting the open road to live simply and enjoy nature.
What did you do before all of this?
Kristina: I am from Latvia and came to the UK in 2009, I worked in various jobs from air hostess, I worked for Jamie Oliver, I worked at Choccywoccydoodah all the way to health care assistant. My love for camping started when I met Jack.
Jack: I had my own garden maintenance business in Brighton, this meant that in January and February I was free to travel but it was never enough. City life is not for us, we want to be off exploring.
K: I used to get 1 month off work, but again it was never enough.
How did you both meet?
J: We met online 8 years ago in Brighton.
K: We went to the pub, really got on. We both had a love for adventure.
When did the travel start? It was not full time to start with, was it?
J: No not full time, it started when I had the winter months off, we planned bigger trips but they were not enough.
K: We were crazy, we just would go to Wales for the weekend, drive 6-7 hours just so we could be out in the countryside and camp. Then a couple of years ago we made the decision to give up work as my job made it difficult to fit around the trips. We started working in social media and got to see that we could work and travel at the same time.
J: We started our own YouTube channel and Instagram posts. I took a lot of inspiration from other amazing people, would watch YouTube and see what they would do living on the road. We got to see that you don't need that much really.
K: No, we just had a regular tent and a small stove, you really don't need lots of gear.
J: We slowly realised that 2 months isn't enough so we decided that we could afford to do it and took the risk. We had no ties with a mortgage or anything so ,why not.
K: It is scary but, what have we got to lose? As Jack said, we have no mortgage, it’s difficult to own property in the UK so we decided to make the change. We are both very calm people and found it easy being on camera which impressed friends. We have amazing memories doing the posts.
So, you support yourself by doing social media for other companies?
J: Yes, we do social media for other businesses around the world, two thirds of our income is that and one third is from our JK Overland YouTube channel with the aim that this will be our main income. And this is growing.
3rd and most important person in your relationship is Molly how did you get her?
J: We will have had her 3 years in September, our previous vehicle was Mitsubishi Shogun. We saw Molly on eBay and it was love at first sight, that 80's retro look.
K: Was a blind buy, we didn’t go and see her before purchasing, we umm’d and arr’d over whether to get her.
J: She could have been in a terrible state, chassis rotten etc. but when we got there, she was great! Imported in 2000 and had been wax sealed so she was in good condition.
Jack, do you have a mechanical background? Is it something you learned on the way?
J: I don’t have any training but I’m into mechanics and cars and I like to see how things work, I would have a go and over the years, you pick things up. I read and watch YouTube videos to see how to keep going when traveling.
K: You love finding out how things work, like your Grandad. You like to read and watch stuff.
What are your favourite places that you have travelled to?
K: For me it must be Wales and Portugal with our own vehicle.
J: We have done bigger trips backpacking in Asia and New Zealand, sleeping in the back of a Subaru Outback. That is where our travel bug really started. We got back and kitted out our previous Mitsubishi called Don. We started making plans.
Are your family supportive?
J: They were unsure at first as we were giving up good jobs and businesses etc. but as the years have gone by they are amazed at how we have done.
K: They want to watch to know what happens. When we come back, they know exactly what we have done. They are also able to come out and visit or we meet up sometimes. Yes, they are very supportive. Occasionally they mention grandchildren. Ha ha!
Questions from the office team: What is your dream 4x4?
J: Tough one.
K: Yes, it is tough as we love Molly. If I had a garage and space for an additional car, the classic Ford Bronco. I don't want to replace Molly, she means home to me. Home is where you get that good feeling and Molly means that to me.
J: Yes, I agree, but I would like an FJ Cruiser but in the original condition.
Any plans to change Molly?
J: We love the classic look so she will basically stay the same.
K: Maybe some engine work, paint respray but keeping the same look.
J: Need to make sure we keep her in good order, so more outer body work, she is over 30 years old so need to make sure to keep her in good condition.
Best place you have camped?
J: Coastal northern Spain, amazing, beautiful cliff tops and private beaches. A lot of that area is unexplored.
K: Same, there is a waterfall that flows into the sea.
J: There are some epic places in Portugal too. When you travel you can find those special places.
Best Greenlaning areas in the UK?
J: Wales, Strata Florida, that is my favourite for its stunning views.
K: Yes, Wales and the Yorkshire Dales are lovely but the Dales are a lot busier than Wales.
J: Lake District too, but it rains a lot there!
Are you a cat or dog person?
J: (without hesitation) Dog.
Any plans to get a dog to go with you on your travels?
J: Not now, it would make travel slightly difficult. We will at some stage.
K: Yes, in the future.
You are with each other 24/7, how do you get on?
K: We get on really well, we respect each other’s space and we make fun, even through COVID we try to have fun.
J: We are similar personalities, we have our ‘me’ time too.
You mentioned COVID, how did 2020 affect you? Weren’t you locked down in Portugal?
J: Yes, we spent the first lockdown in Portugal, stuck in our caravan but we had outdoor space which was good.
K: We were running around, exercising.
J: And eating! Our plans had to be put on hold like everyone else. We stayed longer in Portugal than expected and we couldn’t go to Morocco as planned. We had a longer trip back to the UK; during the summer, restrictions eased and instead of the Baltics we went into Spain. When we got back, we carried on with camping trips in the UK.
K: Until the 2nd lockdown in Autumn.
J: We took so much footage on our trips coming back to the UK and trips in the UK that we had plenty to keep us busy editing.
K: Winter has been hard and for our mental state we need to keep active, go out for walks have ‘me’ time and do plenty of fitness. We also do mindfulness.
J: It is hard, and we miss friends and camping, and it has been difficult as we don’t have a permanent base.
J: To get out in the UK from Mid-April or May when the restrictions ease and it is safe to do so. If we can, we would like to go to Wales and Scotland, but we have got plans to go to Shropshire and Northumberland. Stay local.
K: Yes, until the world settles a little, we will stay here.
So, no plans to go to Europe this year then?
J: Later this year, the plan is to go back into Europe. If its safe to travel after June, we would like to get back to Portugal.
K: Yes, need to chase the cobwebs out of the caravan.
Is that still in Portugal?
K: Yes, with friends looking after it.
J: We would like to go through Italy, Croatia, Albania, Greece and possibly Turkey. That would be a great trip.
So, now some practical bits we wanted to ask you, we love the cook ups so what is your cooking set up?
K: We like to keep it nice and simple, basic, and functional. It works well.
J: We have two of the Direct4x4 modular drawers with the table that slide out and the fridge slide. So, we pull that out and it becomes our work top where we prepare all our stuff. We have a camping gas 2 burner stove, the blue refillable gas, and a fridge at the back.
K: We have chopping boards and knives stored away also.
Do you keep a spices and condiments?
K: They are kept in the drawers. We stock up on fresh food usually about three days’ worth and we are good to go.
J: We have a table with legs we can set up if we need more space when filming etc.
So how do you sleep in Molly?
J: We have the back seats folded flat and with the drawer that do in the back we have a foam mattress cut to size to go on top.
K: I found a foam company online that was able to cut to size and my mum was able to sew cushion covers for it. The mattress folds in half so if we need to put seats up for friends then it folds then seats down and we are good to go. It is wider than beds at home.
J: Yes, we have used it when visiting friends, we take it in with us.
So how do you pack?
K: I have learned a skill that I never thought possible, I travel lightly all my stuff is in one bag. When you do it on a regular basis you realise how much stuff you take with you and how much you do not need. We narrow down depending on the trip, so how many jumpers or warm stuff will I need.
J: You realise the more you have the more uncomfortable you will be, you enjoy getting rid of stuff because it means you have more space. In the drawers we have tools and kitchen stuff.
K: A man cave!
J: Above the bed we have a cargo net for our clothes bags, we can reach and sort through. We have a medium size duffel bag each plus a few other coats etc. but that is it.
So live life simply?
K: Yes, simple. The first trips you think 'it's a warmer climate, I won’t need much' but still you realise you only wear a few items. I took so many tops and dresses but only wore so much. So, you narrow it down thinking 'well, I don’t need it, I just need a couple of everything'. I need to narrow it down again.
What tips and advice would you give to ones planning a trip?
J: Just get out and start, you don’t need much to begin with, just your tent and camping stove. Hit the road and get a feel for it you will soon see what you are missing or what you need.
K: Don’t over think, human nature is to over think, we plant a seed which creates excuses of why NOT to do it. Just don’t over think.
J: You need a lot less stuff than you think you need.
Where would you recommend people go in Europe?
K: France, Spain, Portugal.
J: Camping in France, it is really well set up with campsites. Further south, Northern Spain gets wilder and more adventurous. The Pyrenees is a good start, you are not far off from Portugal you can do northern Portugal which has lovely mountainous areas.
K: You have Corsica and Sardinia, the set up is easy to cruise around the coast.
J: You can get a ferry to Barcelona. Spain and Portugal more options for going off the beaten path.
So finally, what is your favourite 4x4 accessory?
K: Easy, the 270-degree side awning from Direct4x4.
J: Yes, easy, the awning as it transforms a small living space into a large space. We can shelter from the wind and the rain in Wales.
K: And the scorching heat in Portugal. It completes our home. Makes a difference.
J: Because it goes all round the back and sides you can walk round without getting wet or blown away. Makes a huge living space to live out of the vehicle. You can add the walls to give added protection which is really nice.
K: It reminds me of a trip to Scotland years ago and we just had a tarpaulin with 2 random poles, and we faced a storm, I forget the name of the storm, but it kept blowing and I'm trying to cook burgers and got a bucket of water in my face! So, this goes back to the point where you do these trips and then see what you need next. We logged that, yes, we need a side awning!
J: We have the green material side awning.
K: We used to have the sandy coloured one but now we have the green, which should give us more protection from the sun as well.
What can we expect next from you?
J: As soon as we can, we will resume the adventures in and around England, or the UK.
K: Possibly Scotland.
J: It will just be nice to get back out on the road, should be good timing the weather will be cheering up too. Just can’t wait for that time.
K: We are looking forward to it.
If we have a good April like last year it should be good.
J: That would be perfect.
We'd like to thank JK Overland for their time and we wish them well. We look forward to watching what they do next. If you are not following these guys, then check out their social channels and be inspired to get out and follow your dreams. :)