How we began travelling Europe in our Campervan!

#HealthyHappyTravel

Hey 🙂 Thanks for checking out our story! Right now my partner Alex and I are ‘living the dream’, travelling around Europe in our Talbot Autoquest Campervan! Sounds amazing? Well we’re both ‘ordinary’ people, living ‘normal’ lives who decided to do something extraordinary!… I want to show you that anything is possible and that you can do this too, if you want to 🙂

So for those of you that don’t know us, or even for those of you that do, here’s a brief bit of history about how we got to where we are today (wherever that may be!)

 

Beginnings…

Alex and I got back together post a ‘finding ourselves’ break both with a drive to travel. We also had laxer ideas on gender – but that’s probably another post :P!

Previously together for 6 years from age 15, he was my first true love and ‘proper boyfriend’. We had both believed then that the most important things in life were to get a house and get married asap. Wanting babies by age 27 (my age now – eek)… You know the conventional route.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, hat, closeup and indoor
Us back in the day, I was 16 here and had barely done any travelling :O

Our time apart, however crazy, taught us that although being settled and ‘comfortable’ is a perfectly fine way to live your life – for us it is not always the most fulfilling at this time. So we were once again drawn back to each another with this joint vision, to live our lives our own way! Reuniting after returning from a backpacking trip around Thailand with my amazing friend and travel buddy Lucy. This woman was (and still is) an inspiration to me! Having set up her own business straight out of uni, she is full of zest, energy and positivity!

So naturally I was feeling a massive travel and life high when I said to Alex all the places I now wanted to go and to see!

 

Home is where you park it…

Alex had been living as a nomad, out of a small Daihatsu van with a mattress in the back of it for the better part of the last year. He had also been to Ireland and France recently with no plans and very little money! So I was pretty sure he would be up for an adventure!

These conversations were also where Alex said he would not live in a conventional house or flat with me right now, as he had no interest in doing so himself. So the compromise was reached (more of a growing and adjustment process for me!) that he would buy a bigger van as our travel tool. And I would move to Brighton, from Poole (Bournemouth).

This is where, 4 months and an engagement later (older and ?wiser now), our van life began, a chance to experience travel around England (and eventually much further) and to save.

So happy that Alex picked this really unusual ring with no input from me at all. He travelled to the Isle of Wight to ask my dad permission then back up to Bournemouth the same day to ask me 😀
I forgot to say that he did this on Halloween, so our engagement photos are not conventional either 😉

 

Travelling: ‘Planning’ Our Big Trip

Alex had always been interested in Russian culture and language – starting learning the language from age 20 for fun (mainly using his beloved Rosetta Stone!) He really wants us to go there and he also really wants to go to Mongolia as it is so remote, with a unique cultural and trekking experience. I would never have thought about going to these places without him suggesting them 🙂

Driving to Mongolia in our own home just sounded so cool to me! I hope I will be a hardened traveler by then and able to negotiate my way through! Alex is a hardy character, I less so. Though I am pretty sure staying in a van and the stigma and tasks associated with it have made me massively stronger physically and mentally! I am very thankful for this and continue to be so.

So, we wanted to go via as many countries as possible with NO REAL PLAN. Before, I would insist on lists upon lists and a colour coded diary. However I have got a little laxer with age and Alex’s influence, which actually, is a blessing.

 

Our First Van…

As well as being a fabulous vessel of journey love and light, I won’t lie, the large Luton van pictured above caused a huge rift in our relationship. It was the cause of 99% of our arguments over that year. I stayed in the van when the past princess me would have called it ‘uninhabitable’. For a long time it only had insulated wooden boards, a mattress and our few belongings. I know I should have been grateful for a roof over my head and thought myself lucky compared to others. I also know it was MY choice. But I kinda guess I romantacised the journey somewhat. When it actually came down to it, it was hard. At least at first.

Alex bought it for £350, as an empty broken shell. So we towed it back to his workplace in Hove (Brighton). He and his dad Marcus worked so very hard (in-between 6 day working weeks) and managed to get it to drive! But it was a long process during which we were staying in a coal yard alot, unable to begin travelling due to various issues.

I did what I could to help, but Alex did the real hard graft!

However, this enabled Alex to gain a lot of new skills about engine management and mechanics. Also a lot of skills in relation to electrics and gas. He got us to the point where we were almost completely self sufficient bar running water! (For those of you wondering… I took a shower at the gym, which was a great motivation to go every morning! When outside become my gym, at friends and family’s!)

You can probably tell it was me that did the painting 😛
Our Current Travelling Quarters…

It’s been a big change for both of us purchasing our new camper. One that Alex was initially unhappy with due to the amount of time and effort we had spent on the previous van. I understood, but wanted something more reliable. And ideally something that could go more than 40 MPH on a motorway… Windows and a shower are also very nice!

As much as we appreciated our old van and the living space, we have grown to love our new one! And are even surer that we do not need too much space, or stuff, to be happy!

So there we have it! We are now ready to get the boat into France and see where we end up! If you want to see where our journey takes us, please carry on reading. I’m aiming to post a variety of pieces about my experiences. I’ll be writing about the past, present and maybe even to my future self! Always very open to any advice, input or feedback, in fact this will be much appreciated 🙂

Love,

Lauren x

Our major travelling trip: begins NOW!
Our major travelling trip: begins NOW!

Author: healthyhappytravel

Goal: To inspire others to travel through the world and through life, healthily and happily!

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