By Mahima Kaur
THIS couple from London bucked the trend by quitting their jobs to living and travelling in their van across 8.6K miles on a cost of living-busting budget of just £1000 a month just when all their friends were buying houses and settling down.
Former leisure manager Ryan Sibley (28) and ex-primary school teacher Laura Rigby (27), both left their full time jobs in August 2022 to travel and live around Europe in their self-converted 2010 Citroen Relay L3H2 van.
The former mobile mechanics van cost them £3,300 in June 2018 and they spent another £12,000 on it to make it their beloved abode.
The couple were smart enough to experience travelling in their camper for short trips before taking a full-fledged plunge of making it their home.
They left the UK on August 10, 2022 and have been in their van since. They have covered over 8,600 miles and visited ten countries in this time span including France, Italy, Vatican City, Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Croatia and now Montenegro.
The two of them are smart savers who have budgeted their savings and expenditure to make this experience fulfilling and easy on the pocket at the same time.
“We are able to save money on not paying for hotels or accommodation when travelling somewhere and therefore we have more money in our budget for excursions, food and drinks,” they said.
“We budget £500 each a month to live off and we are trying to stick to this as much as we can.
“This £500 includes diesel, food, excursions, toll roads and stays at any campsites.
“If we would have been working and living in London like we did before, we would have had to rent or buy somewhere there.
“Living and travelling in our van still works out cheaper than having a home in London and since we had both been saving for a flat or house from the time we began working, we decided to use some of these savings to fund this trip.”
However, things are not always easy when one chooses to live unconventionally. Ryan and Laura’s travels are not entirely free of problems and obstacles.
“With the van being both our home and our vehicle, we rely on the van to mechanically work well so when we recently had issues, we lost not only our vehicle but also our home while it was in the garage for repairs,” they said.
“We also have to think carefully about where we can park the van overnight in places that aren’t intrusive to others or cause any disturbance.
“We make sure that we are mindful about our water usage and waste and we have to incorporate filling up water and disposing of our waste regularly into our travel plans.
“Travelling around Europe post-Brexit, we have had to navigate around the Schengen agreement and ensure that we do not spend longer than 90 days within the Schengen countries in any 180 day rolling period.
“This means that we have had to adapt our travel plans and move to non-Schengen countries for the winter.
But Ryan and Laura’s passion and drive to make the most of their van life and the support that they get from their family and friends keep them going.
“Our friends and family have all been really supportive of our choice to travel and to do so in our own van,” they said.
“We have also been fortunate enough to meet many other lovely and supportive people both through social media and whilst travelling.
“A van gives us the freedom to travel and see new places, which we both wanted to do before we settled down somewhere.
“We are at an age where many of our friends are settling down and buying houses, but we felt that we wanted to see more of the world before we did that.
“It has been great to see so many countries, many that we had never been to before.
“We get to meet many different people, who are also travelling or living in motorhomes or in the places that we are visiting from many different cultures, countries and walks of life.
“As we are travelling in our van full time, we can travel at a slower pace and spend longer in areas that we are enjoying. We have the freedom to explore places that we have always wanted to go to but haven’t had the time around our jobs.
“We get to bring everything that we need along with us and don’t have to worry about having to leave certain items behind if it can’t fit in our suitcase.
“We experience the comfort of being at home in the van regardless of where we are in the world.
Their expense of £1000 is divided between them as £500 each and spent on things like diesel, food, excursions, toll roads and stays at any campsites.
You can follow Ryan and Laura’s journey on their instagram, https://instagram.