By Scott Thompson
THIS COUPLE say working FIVE DAYS a week was ‘EXHAUSTING’ and didn’t leave them with enough time to PARTY, so they sold everything to live in a van FULL TIME – but admit family bail them out when things go wrong.
Veterinarian technician, Alice Tessier (24) and environmental technician Jacques-Samuel Moreau (28) from Quebec, Canada, had started to shape their careers and live a steady life until Alice came to the realisation that she didn’t want to do the same thing every day for the rest of her life.
With their weeks fully booked up with work, on weekends the duo over planned their days with parties and meeting friends, until they’d wake up on Monday morning exhausted and having to do it all again.
Desperate to buy more time together the two sold their worldly possessions which they got roughly £1,750 (3,000CAD) for and made the brave choice to live a carefree life on the road in their fully kitted out van.
Within just seven months they have covered an impressive 16,000 miles throughout Canada, and the USA.
“I’d studied to be a veterinarian technician for three years because I love animals, but after just one year of work I thought to myself ‘do I really want to do this day in day out every day for the rest of my life?’,” Alice said.
“I mean, I’d be waking at the same time every morning, doing the same hours to go to the same job and wait for my few short breaks each year. There was a big ‘no’ ringing in my mind. I wanted to explore the world. I wanted to live for myself and I wanted to be excited to wake up every morning.
“My partner started to feel the same way in time. I mean sometimes he would be on work missions during the whole summer and we would miss the best time of the year together what with the beautiful weather.
“We were missing out on time together and time with our friends. To fit everything in we had to overpack our weekends in Quebec to make sure we could see our friends. We went to a lot of parties and the weekend was gone just as quickly as it came… Before we knew it, Monday arrived, and we were exhausted wishing our weekends could be longer.
“All we wanted to have was more time. It’s not too much to ask. We wanted to be able to enjoy being outside spending quality time with our family, we wanted to explore. But we knew we couldn’t do it with our jobs.
“We’d had it. Enough was enough and we spent the following year saving up to buy a van to live on full time. In November 2018 we bought an Econoline E-250 2005 for £6,800 (8,000 CAD) with 56,000 miles on her.
“We sold almost everything we have to pay for the van and renovate it. Everything else we own fits on the van. Renovations cost us about £5,100 (6,000 CAD).
“The van has been just great, and we have already covered 16,000 miles in just seven months. In July 2018 we started our trip on the Canadian east side and drove right across Canada to British Columbia. When things got colder we drove through Washington, Oregon and California. One month ago, we crossed the Mexican borders and now we are in Baja, California. We have loved the West Coast vibe.”
The couple have been travelling with their pet dog and cat who are also really enjoying the wide open roads, but it’s not all plain sailing as their transmission broke down October 2019 which was expensive but was saved by friends’ and family’s donations.
Also without being able to work from home they have had to pick up odd jobs on the road to continue with their lifestyle. The two are determined to travel to wherever the work is every once in a while.
But they say that once you make this choice to live in this way there is no turning back to a normal life.
“We have a pet dog and cat and it was so important for us to be able to bring them with us but also make sure they will have a good quality life too. So far, we feel like they love it. They have a very chilled attitude and they sleep 95 per cent of the time we are driving. We purposefully choose spots to park up where we know they can roam free and enjoy the great outdoors safely,” Alice continued.
“A few months ago our transmission broke down and this is one of the most expensive parts to repair on a van like ours. We are lucky to have a very close circle of friends and family who helped us get through it with fundraising. I can’t thank them enough for doing that for us. It has taught us that mechanical issues can stop our journey at any time but it’s so worth the risk.
“We try and plan our trips based on the amount of money we have and what we made on the road. Right now, we know we have about three or four months in Mexico, or maybe a bit more south. After this we know we will have to come back north to work again for a couple of weeks.
“Our friends and family have supported us a lot. Our parents love to travel too and understand the importance of it. We think they are impressed that we have gone out and done this. It’s hard sometimes saying goodbye to friends and family but we still talk often, and we wait to see them somewhere in North America very soon.
“Living in a van is more than just a choice, it’s a lifestyle. When you do this you will never be able to think about having a ‘normal’ life ever again. You start questioning things because you have time to think and you are free. This kind of life really opens your mind and it’s the best decision we ever made. We aren’t rich, we didn’t have crazy salaries before and yet we made this happen in just a year.
“We know that lots of people dream about this. So many times we hear people say ‘you’re so lucky, I dream of living the way you do’. This was our dream too and we made it possible. We want people to see that we are a normal couple who had average jobs. You don’t need much to make take the leap.
“We encourage all of you out there who are dreaming of a different life to just go for it, because there are no limits to what you can do.”
You can follow their journey on Instagram @Bigtunavan