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Yes, you read that correctly! Let me explain… This is something we’ve been thinking about for a little while but I never imagined it would become a reality. Travel is hugely important to us, and it’s one of the reasons we decided to go freelance a couple of years ago. We’re getting married next year, and we’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about our honeymoon and writing a list of all the places we want to visit. We wanted to tour South East Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos) for a ton of reasons, but one of the reasons was we’d be able to stay out there longer than just a few weeks because it’s so cheap.
We started thinking… if our business is going so well, what’s tying us to coming back? Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking about leaving our little seaside town forever. We have a house we love and a close network of friends and family we couldn’t live without. But we want to be able to lock up our home and hit the road with a few essentials (a laptop, a camera, and our dog), without worrying about when we’ll come back.
If you follow @susicruzz on Instagram, you’ll see why I’ve fallen in love with the idea of #vanlife
Of course, we can do this in South East Asia, which is going to make for an epic honeymoon. That said, we started thinking, why should we be working from home when we have the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world? That’s when we decided that converting a van means we can travel with our dog, run the business on the road, and maintain our slow/easy lifestyle – all whilst seeing the world! The ‘project’ aspect was really appealing, too. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about how awesome our campervan conversion is going to be.
We began looking at vans just to get an idea of pricing. We didn’t anticipate buying anything for a while, after all, we didn’t intend to plan a big trip until after we got married. We did a lot of research but there were a few vans that kept catching our attention, these were Transits, VW’s and Renaults. Assuming this is because they’re popular and within our price range, we did research into these vans mostly.
Late nights and plenty of tea later, we’d read hundreds of forum posts and soon decided these options weren’t going to work for us. After browsing some T5s we decided this wasn’t for us either because we wanted something more unique (we live in Cornwall, everybody has one here!). Instead of paying for a badge, we wanted a project that we could really make our own. Ultimately, there was one major issue with all of these vans. RUST! I’m not talking about a little bit of rust either, I’m talking about ‘heading to the scrap yard’ type of rust. We were looking at spending a lot of money and it just got to the point where I though it was going to just remain a pipe dream.
We found a van that *SEEMED* perfect, but didn’t buy it but I couldn’t write this post without giving it a mention 👇 If you don’t want to read about it, just skip this! If you’re interested then you can toggle the content and read more about what we nearly ended up with.
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Finding ‘the one’
I’d already told my Mother-in-Law (to be!) about our grand ideas, and next thing I know she’s sent me a Facebook listing for a mini-bus that was for sale in my hometown. Space certainly wasn’t an issue, this thing was absolutely HUGE. Although it looked like it’d been used as a shed, it was partly converted already, making it the perfect base for us to begin our project. Best of all, it was at the lower end of our budget. It had done half the miles of any other van we looked at, and the MOT history was the best we’d seen so far. Just a couple of hours later, we found ourselves going for a bus and closing a deal the very same day.
One week later we were due to pick up our giant LDV Convoy, when suddenly we received weird texts from the seller at 11pm the night before we were meant to be buying it. Long story short, the seller pulled out and said he might be selling the van in the future but for the meantime he needed to go up country. We were absolutely heartbroken, and S even questioned if we should be doing this because he lost all motivation.
Dodging a bullet
S still swooned over the old LDV whenever we drove past it. Two weeks later we get a text from a friend saying they’re pretty sure they just saw said-van crashed into a lamp post at the bottom of a hill on the grass. It’s a pretty unique looking van so the chances are, it was the van we were going to buy.
It just so happens it was at the bottom of the hill where S’s mum lives. She ran down the street to see if it was the same LDV we were going to buy, and sure enough, it was! Obviously the brakes went when he was going down the hill, and to avoid going into the roundabout he crashed into the lamp post. We drove past later that day and he was still there, leaning against his crumpled van. Safe to say, everything happens for a reason.
We’d looked at what felt like 1,000,000 different vans across the country, and we’d done so much research but I was coming to terms with the fact we might have to forgo the #vanlife dream. I wasn’t going to let the deflating feeling of window shopping ruin our dream of traveling the world. I jumped onto Gumtree and upped our budget, and that’s when I found the little gem that now sits on our driveway, Boris.
Picking up Boris
S didn’t even want to go and view Boris and said it was far too small to go traveling in. In March, I dragged him along anyway and I remember looking around the van and feeling so excited. I fell in love with the van instantly but I kept my thoughts to myself because I knew S wasn’t keen on the idea and I didn’t want to seem pushy. I was so relieved when S turned to me and whispered “It’s good, Sammy!”.
Whilst he cost a little bit more, he’s packed with character and a lot of the hard work was already done, saving us money in the long-run. He hasn’t done many miles, the engine had just been rebuilt and it had a 12 month MOT. It was also amazing that it came with a built-in kitchen, a foldout double bed and a large solar panel on the roof with full electrics. I’m quietly glad that I don’t have to do TOO much DIY, and I can just decorate.
Mini van tour
The guy we bought Boris off clearly loved this van. Before we agreed to buy it, we spent at least an hour talking about it, going for a test drive etc. He told us stories about places he’s been abroad in it with his bike, and about how much of a hit Boris was at festivals. There’s not much we need to go because he’s done a lot of the hard work, however, we want to make a few changes to make it our own.
As it stands, this is what Boris looks like right now (stay tuned for our DIY van posts though!)
We’ve already taken Boris out and about locally in Cornwall, then we plan to head to Wales for a long weekend very soon. These shorter trips will hopefully help us work out the bugs – so that we don’t suddenly realise we’ve got a problem when we’re in a mountain range in Germany. We’ll also have an idea of how cold it’ll get in the van and if we need more heating. At the moment, it’s safe to say we’re very toasty!
We’ll be posting our trips on Instagram and updating the blog over the next couple of weeks. We’re also in the process of planning our big trip to Europe but this is going to take some time. We need to be in Milan, Italy by the end of November though, so it kind of gives us a push! 😂