By Mark McConville
THIS ADVENTURE-addicted couple quit the 9-5 grind and rented their home to travel 38k miles from Canada in the north to Patagonia on the southern tip of the Americas in a converted £9.5K school bus.
Electrician Patrick Maillé (35) and product development buyer Catherine L’Italien (29), from Magog, Québec, Canada, hated their constant routine of ‘work, pay bills, work some more’.
Wishing to explore more of the world they bought a 2006 GMC Savana school bus for around £3,800, spending a further £5,700 to convert it into a travelling home in six-months.
“Living in your van is like backpacking 2.0,” said Catherine.
“We seriously don’t know how we will be able to go back to backpacking or normal travelling after that. Imagine having your home on wheels with you wherever you go. This is an amazing feeling and it gives you the ultimate freedom to go and do whatever you want whenever you want.
“No need to book shuttle, wait for buses or reserve ahead of time. You go with the flow and park your van where you like every day. It allows you to save a lot of money on food, accommodation, restaurant and transport as well as give you a home away from home feeling all the time.
“To be able to cook your favourite meals on the road, after six months away from home is the most comforting thing ever. Lots of people write me how we manage to live in such a small environment but to be honest our bus is big enough and we have everything we need in there.
“We even did a big clean up lately and gave away cooking pans, bags, containers and many other things that we hadn’t used in 10 months. The key here is to design your van wisely beforehand to avoid being under equipped and suffer from it.”
The couple rented their home to cover their mortgage costs. They have so far clocked up around 19000 miles as they travelled through Canada, down the West Coast of USA, through California and into Mexico.
They then moved into Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and are currently in Costa Rica. The couple plan to continue travelling and double their current mileage, but may switch to a sailboat.
“We think we will cross from Central America (Panama) to South America (Colombia) around the month of January 2019,” added Catherine.
“We think we might take a year or two to visit the entire South America but this all depends on if our house is still rented or not.
“At first we wanted to travel the world on a sailboat so be bought one and tried it out for a summer. Both of us had previous sailing experience so we quickly realized it wasn’t has simple as we thought. We then decided to put the sailboat project on hold and find an easier alternative for us.
“After the bus trip, we are also thinking of bringing back the initial idea of sailing across the globe. We are looking for some opportunities in order to learn how to sail and eventually exchange or bus for a sail boat and leave for a totally different adventure. Maybe this time it would be a family trip since we are thinking about having kids and bringing them on board.”
The pair love the freedom their mobile home grants them and are proud they no longer have a daily routine. They had a message for anyone wishing to follow in their tyre tracks.
“Everything is possible if you setup a goal and make all the efforts to achieve it,” said Catherine.
“Many people write to us all the time asking how we can afford this lifestyle and what do we do to fund this project. My answer is we worked. We worked a lot in order to be able to do this and we had many compromises to do.
“It is not easy to work two jobs full time for six to eight months but enough money to leave for a full year but it is totally worth it. The best advice I could give is to clear up all the debts that you have beforehand because you won’t be able to sustain this lifestyle if you have payments to do back home.
“We had to pay everything off and rent our house in order to have no payments and be able to leave like that for a year. You can do it, we did it and many people do it so if you work hard and focus on your dream you can also do it.
For more information see https://www.instagram.com/d_bus_life/?hl=en