Lucy and Ben are two photographers from Cornwall who have been living and travelling in a self-converted camper van for the best part of four years. The life is not always easy, but it certainly is unique, offering them the freedom to explore the world at their own pace.
The couple’s adventures began after they graduated from university with a clear idea of what they wanted to do; travel. They bought a rusted, leaky van for £1000 that was covered in spray paint, but instantly fell in love with it. It took approximately 10 months to convert it from a minibus into a cosy home on wheels. As money was tight, they used a lot of reclaimed and upcycled materials such as pallets, coffee sacks and scraps of wood. The kitchen worktop was made of old scaffolding boards that they charred to give it a unique finish, while the shelves are made from driftwood and distressed planks.
“The conversion wasn’t easy as we knew basically nothing about DIY, so every process was a learning curve. We’ve been tweaking and adding to it ever since to suit our needs,” Lucy and Ben told Lonely Planet. Most of the soft furnishings are various items the couple has picked up along the way, such as Indian sheets from Ben’s backpacking trip, a handwoven rug from a Greek salesman, and a Mexican blanket on their bed. They have everything they need to be self-sufficient, with a gas oven and cooker, heating and hot water, a shower, a fridge and a toilet. They have a solar panel on the roof, leisure batteries and big water tanks so that they can live completely off the grid and travel to ever more remote places.
So far, Ben and Lucy have been to 25 countries all over Europe. They are currently on their third seven-month-long road trip, travelling through the Balkans for the second time, beginning in the French Alps and venturing as far East as Turkey, visiting 13 countries in between.
“We’ve travelled all across Europe documenting our encounters with the people we meet, as well as our own travels and adventures. We embrace the ethos of slow travel and minimal living, generally spending between two and eight weeks in each country, getting to know each culture, cuisine and people as though we were locals ourselves, as well as hiking, wild swimming and camping as we go,” Ben and Lucy told Lonely Planet.
When it comes to offering advice to other would-be travellers, Lucy and Ben say that at the end of the day, confidence is key. “Just go for it! If you want to do something enough, you won’t let anything hold you back. Don’t postpone, just do what your heart is telling you you need to be doing. On a more practical level, do your research first. We bought a rusty tin can with a huge hole in the roof and leaks in every corner, but we still managed to turn it around. If you’re building your home inside a vehicle, then make sure you’ve got a solid base. Learn some basic mechanics, it’ll help you to no end down the line. For us, challenge is what makes life worth living, a chance to push ourselves further and build character, and although we don’t always appreciate it when a situation goes wrong we always come out the other side stronger and wiser.”
You can follow Lucy and Ben’s adventures on their Instagram page, From Rust to Roadtrip.