By Scott Thompson
MEET THE van life couple who got married in VEGAS by ELVIS to secure a VISA – after meeting each other whilst travelling.
Content creators, Lidia Rico (28) from Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Philip Miller (33) from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, USA both met each other when travelling in San Diego in December 2014.
Back home in Spain, Lidia worked as a personal trainer and a nice seafront home, but she was missing out on travel and wanted to learn English so she decided to become an au pair in the USA.
Meanwhile in Florida, Philip was working as a mechanic six days a week and wanted more time to enjoy life. So, he decided to buy an RV and live a nomadic lifestyle and travelled across the USA to California coast to coast.
Lidia was solo travelling when she met Philip for the first time and the pair fell head over heels for one another and started dating. But, sadly seven months later Lidia’s work visa expired, and she had to return home to Spain.
The two love birds missed each other but continued a long-distance relationship for a few months. In September 2015 Philip surprised Lidia with a visit to Spain and he proposed to her, they both returned to the USA where they got married on December 3, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada, before exploring the rest of the USA and Canada in Philip’s comfy RV.
In 2018, they bought a smaller van to live in for £3,000 (3,900USD) and have been on the road for over five years.
“My life was perfect back in Spain. I had a good job as a personal trainer and also worked as a bar tender. I had a nice apartment on the beach, lots of friends and my family was always close by. I can say that I had a very comfortable and easy life back then,” Lidia said.
“But, one day I started feeling curious about learning a new language. I really wanted to learn English and I also felt very interested in travelling to a foreign country by myself. I looked up some options and the best one for me was moving to the USA.
“After months of research and a lot of paperwork I moved there with a work visa as an au pair and an opportunity of going to school to learn the language.
“I met Philip when he was in San Diego in December 2014 and we dated for seven wonderful months, but sadly my work visa then expired and I had to go back home to Spain.
“It was very difficult to separate from Philip, but we continued a long-distance relationship for a few months. Then, to my surprise, in September 2015 Philip flew to Spain and he proposed to me.
“Well of course, I came back to The States and we started a massive road trip, but first we got married in Las Vegas by Elvis in a pink Cadillac in December 2015. We then travelled cross country to Florida, then to Canada and back to California.
“After living on the road for three and a half years we upgraded our old RV for a smaller van. Now we have been living on the road for over five years.”
Philip added: “I was working as a full-time mechanic, and I was completely sick of it. I was working six days a week and covered in grease and sweat just to pay bills and be broke.
“Routines aren’t for me, I was fed up with doing the same thing every day, going to the same places, seeing the same faces, most of which I wasn’t too fond of. I was always moving into different homes and changing shops/jobs out of boredom.
“In the end I decided to buy an RV and live a nomadic life and I travelled cross country to California as I could feel it was calling me.”
The pair have spent roughly £15,500 (20,000USD) on their current van but they estimate it to be worth around £77,300 (100,000USD).
Philip and Lidia did the renovation work themselves which saved them £11,600 (15,000USD) in labour costs, the duo have covered more than 20,000 miles together.
“We bought our current van in 2018. It’s a 2006 Ford E350 6.0 Power Stroke Diesel 4X4. We paid £3,000 (3,900USD) for it and renovation work cost about £12,350 (16,000USD) which I installed and saved us about £11,600 (15,000USD),” said Philip.
“This was all done slowly over a year putting in time and money here and there, so it wasn’t too bad. We are very happy about owning our van outright and not having to deal with loans/payments.
“We see so many people making payments every month on their overpriced Sprinter Vans, and that’s something we would never do. Also, in the long run it’s become a good investment as it’s now worth potentially £77,300 (100,000USD) give or take.
“Here is a breakdown of our expenses right now, take into account these prices reflect being in Southern California at the moment, so prices are higher than other places. Our food is our biggest expense and we spend around £1,500 (2,000USD) a month on high quality, fresh and organic foods. Our gas is between £116 (150USD) and £618 (800USD) depending how much we travel that month.
“Car insurance is £39 (50USD) a month, recreation is between £77 (100USD) and £232 (300USD) if there’s an absolute must-see attraction and finally our vehicle maintenance is zero to £93 (120USD) to change the oil once a year. We always have about £772 (1,000USD) saved on the side in case of a random emergency repair.”
Finally Lidia shared her top words of advice.
“In our opinion we afford this lifestyle because we never pay campsites or RV parks and we never have to pay to visit a mechanic thanks to Philip,” she said.
“Our families’ first reaction was like, ‘Are you ok? You must be crazy!’ but we feel like our families have always supported our decisions and respected our pursuits for happiness. We have felt a lot of love from both sides of our families and we are always in touch with them through WhatsApp or Instagram almost daily.
“We are now saving up and preparing the van for our next big adventure as we set out to explore Mexico and beyond. We don’t want to push ourselves into any kind of danger, but the goal is to travel south now.
“We really want to explore remote areas of these countries with our overlanding vehicle and dig out the best off road trails and secret beaches out there so stay tuned and follow us on Instagram @_gypsytribe_
“If you consider yourself to be adventurous and confident and will do anything to find happiness and you can handle living in a small space, then we totally recommend you to try this lifestyle.
“It allows you to get to do more of the things you love, and you’ll save thousands of dollars every month. If something has sparked your interest, stop thinking and just start doing. The only way to know if you will like it is by trying.
“Life is too short so don’t wait until you ‘retire’ and you’re too old to enjoy yourself. Figure out what you truly want in life and what gives you the most meaning, then go after it. In the end we don’t do this just to save money or travel. Every day we discover more about ourselves and the world in such an intimate way.”
You can follow their incredible journey on Youtube