By Rebecca Drew
THIS BRITISH couple decided to quit their jobs and spend TEN THOUSAND POUNDS renovating a van to travel through Europe – clocking up TWELVE THOUSAND MILES so far.
Safeguarding officer, Sean Troth (35) and process support manager, Rach Wood (30) from Birmingham, UK, first met at work in May 2015 whilst they were editing websites together. They were friends for two years before romance blossomed.
Working busy full time jobs meant that Sean and Rach didn’t get to spend as much time together as they’d like and yearned for something more than just sitting on the sofa every night and being exhausted from working the nine-to-five.
But it wasn’t until March 2018 when the couple were driving to a wedding in Scotland that they decided wanted to live in a van and see what else the world had to offer.
So, 15 months later, they bought a Sprinter minibus, they’ve named Higgins, for £4,000 and set to work over six months to transform it into a functional home on wheels, which has all the essentials like a high ceiling for standing room, a sleeping area come lounge and a fridge for beer. The van and refurbishment cost £10,000 altogether.
Since setting off in June, Sean and Rach have travelled through most of Europe, clocking up over 12,000 miles through France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia, where they are based currently.
“Before, we didn’t get to see each other much as we worked full time and we soon realised that sitting on the sofa in the evening wasn’t going to cut it. We had a nice home but we wanted to have an adventure,” said Rach.
“Being able to spend quality time together while waking up in lots of exciting new destinations definitely appealed to us.
“We got stuck in traffic in a beautiful part of Scotland, on the way to our friends’ wedding, and there was a van in front of us. I turned to Sean and said, ‘Imagine just living in a van and driving around, seeing different places?’ and he said, ‘Well why don’t we?’ and that was it.
“It was a scary decision but not a hard decision. We just thought, what’s stopping us really?”
Sean went onto discuss how the pair went about their conversion.
“So, we went out and bought a minibus, took all the chairs out and ripped the floor out. Then it sat on the drive for a while,” he said.
“We designed the layout, insulated the van then handed it over to a carpenter to do the woodwork, we were working full time so couldn’t handle it ourselves, then Rach’s dad did an amazing job of the electrics and plumbing with us doing as many jobs to help as possible.
“The most important things were having a high ceiling so we could stand up properly, a bed that becomes a lounge as well as swivel seats at the front so we can escape from each other, lots of windows to be able to see the beautiful scenery even when it’s cold, and a fridge for beer.
“The biggest thing we’ve had to face on the road are bad drivers. So many people tailgate us because the van’s so slow but we just have to keep going.”
Norway has been the couple’s favourite place they’ve visited so far.
They initially only planned to spend a year on the road but after falling in love with the van life and sharing their adventures on Instagram under the handle, @getbusgo, they’re planning to extend their trip indefinitely by becoming digital nomads and working in digital marketing remotely.
They’d also love to take the van with them to explore the US in the same way.
“Annoyingly we have to nip back to the UK mid-March to get a new MOT. We’ll be hitting Switzerland and Germany on the way back and then we’ll be spending a while in Italy which we’re so excited for – it’s one of our favourite places in the world,” said Rach.
“We initially planned to live in a van for a year but we’re hoping to extend our trip by doing digital marketing on the road. I would love to send the van to America, we’d go with it – we’re not sure if that’s realistic yet though.
“Having your home with you is brilliant. We’re like snails. you have everything you need at all times but you don’t have to lug it around on your back. Knowing you’ll be sleeping in your own bed every night is lovely too.
“Oh and being able to stay longer or leave earlier if you want to. Ultimate freedom.
“Doing something different every day is amazing and having time to be more creative is too. Sean has a blog and I have a notebook full of business ideas.
“We’ve experienced so many different cities, landscapes, cultures together as a couple. It’s kind of magical.
“When we started researching living in a van, we realised there was a whole community of people on Instagram doing the same thing. It’s also a way of letting our mums know where we are and what we’re up to. Plus, it’s like a digital photo album to look back on.
“Just flipping do it. We could easily let the fact that we had a cat and a house and a PlayStation hold us back but really, we had no commitments. We gave our cat to a friend to look after for a year.
“We’ve even met people on the road travelling with kids. If you really want to do it then don’t let anything stop you. Even a PlayStation!”