Six Lessons From A 'Van Life' Couple After Years Of Road-Tripping Around The World

"Worth it."

Global Staff Writer
Cazzy Magennis and Bradley Williams by their van. Right: Cazzy Magennis and Bradley Williams posing in front of ruins.

Cazzy Magennis and Bradley Williams by their van. Right: Cazzy Magennis and Bradley Williams posing in front of ruins.

What if we just packed our lives into a van and travelled the world?

U.K. couple Cazzy Magennis and Bradley Williams actually said yes to that idea, and after two years of living their van life on wheels, they say it's been an absolutely incredible experience — although there are a few things they wish they'd known ahead of time.

They're one of many couples who have embraced the #VanLife lifestyle during the pandemic, and with two years of experience under their belts, they've got plenty of tips on how to make it.

The couple recently opened up to Narcity about what to expect when planning an epic road trip this summer, as they made their own way across Canada in their retrofitted live-in van.

Here are the most important lessons they learned after deciding to hit the road for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Choose the right van

When deciding which van to buy, the couple looked at size but also comfort. They didn't want something too tall or bulky, so they settled on a Peugeot Boxer LWB. The van itself cost them about US$8,500, while the renovations cost an additional $17,500.

In other words, you can expect to spend at least $26,000 if you're planning to follow their lead.

"We wanted a van we could stand up in," Williams told Narcity. "Some people go for a DW, but we're not exactly crazy tall - we're like five-foot-seven or five-foot-eight. But having that ability to stand up makes such a big difference."

Be ready to put in the work

According to the duo, the toughest part of the van life is actually turning a van into a home.

"I had never even picked up a tool in my life before we did this," Magennis told Narcity.

Magennis and Williams decided to uproot their lives for a three-year journey beginning in 2020, and they say YouTube was the single best resource for helping them find and outfit a van for their travels.

The pair had only ever lived in houses in the U.K., but they went for it and spent three months building the van of their road-tripping dreams.

"It kind of consumed our lives for three and a half months," she said. "We didn't think of anything else. But it turned out really well. I don't think I'd do it again, but it was worth it."

Think ahead

Living in a van means saying goodbye to utility bills and having to do everything yourself in order to survive.

Magennis and Williams' parents collect their correspondence on their behalf, but in terms of their daily needs, they figure it out themselves.

"Because you don't have a constant supply of water and stuff like that, you constantly have to think about where you're getting your water from. You've got to think ahead," said Magennis.

"We have to use gas, electricity, so we have solar panels on the roof, and we have a designated charger, so that's all of our electric side," said Williams. "We just find water as we go to fill up."

Live simply

Living in a van has also taught the couple that minimalism is more doable than they thought. After all, you're sharing a vehicle with another person and there's only so much room for your clothes.

"We didn't actually need as much stuff as you think you do," said Magennis.

"I still have clothes in there that I haven't worn. So I already have more than I need in the van."

Keep the relationship strong

Many couples have found themselves living and working together from home during the pandemic, so you can only imagine how much tougher it would be to sit beside one another in a van all day.

In order to coexist peacefully, Williams and Magennis say they work really hard to keep their communication going as a couple.

"You kind of have to adapt to the small space, so you got to make sure you're communicating with each other. Some people would not survive it," she added.

Dream big

With a fully-outfitted camper van now available to them, Magennis and Williams have been aiming to make the most of their mobile life. Not only have they road-tripped across the U.K., but they've also shipped their van to Europe, Asia and North America in order to truly travel the world together.

However, COVID did create a few speed bumps for them along the way, and they had to settle down in the U.K. for a bit when lockdowns became intense across Asia.

But they used that downtime to plan their next big adventure and now they're on it: a road trip through North America.

They plan to slowly make their way south until they reach Argentina over the next few months, and you can follow all of their journeys on their blog.

"It is a scary decision, and people can be hesitant, but it's definitely worth trying," said Magennis.

"You really regret what you don't try, and you can always sell it and go back, but just give it a go and see."

Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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