‘We quit our jobs to travel Europe in a campervan – with these tips you can too’

A young British couple decided to quite their jobs and travel the world in a campervan – they’re making their way across Europe in a converted mini-bus.

Jess Lockwood, from Newbury, and Ed Priest, from Croydon, both 26, always dreamed of travelling, but felt they couldn’t afford the enormous costs.

But, having decided they could drive across Europe instead of flying they invested in sleeper van and saved up for the trip of a lifetime.

Jess told the Daily Star: “I’ve always wanted to travel, but never had the money to do so whilst at school and university. So we saved up for three years in full time work, quit our jobs and headed on to the road!

“Campervan travel has always appealed – it’s instant, you don’t have to wait around for trains and planes, and affordable too. Europe has plenty of free spots where campervan parking is encouraged.”

Jess Lockwood, from Newbury, and Ed Priest, from Croydon, with their van Brigitte
Jess Lockwood, from Newbury, and Ed Priest, from Croydon, with their van Brigitte

Ed added: “After spending so much time stuck in the same place over the last couple of years, my need for a bit of change and excitement got the better of me.

“So, why not completely change it up and spend the next few months discovering parts of the world I’ve never been to before?

“The campervan is especially good for this as it allows us to explore all those great places off the beaten track, and ones we’d probably never get the chance to see otherwise.”

The duo had a “small budget” so scoured eBay and Facebook Marketplace and bought a 2006 Peugeot Boxer van converted from a school bus into a camper van.

Jess said: “It had low mileage for its age which is something we were looking for.

“We also loved the layout of the conversion – a full sized double bed, kitchen area with fridge and a small chemical toilet in a closet, which has proved essential to stay on the free sites which don’t have facilities!”

The duo recommend long-term travel to anyone
The duo recommend long-term travel to anyone

Ed noted: “There’s always going to be an element of risk, and with a campervan the stakes are pretty high – breaking down in an unfamiliar country can be pretty stressful!

“All you can do is as much research as you can, ask lots of questions and ultimately go with your gut.”

The couple are currently making their way around Europe.

Ed told the Travel team: “We have just completed the coasts of France, and we are currently on the west coast of Italy, near Rome.

“We hope to follow the coast of Italy, and then head to Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium before we head back to the UK. This should take us between three and four months.”

And, the two already have plenty of memories banked from their journey.

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Jess said: “My favourite place so far was probably a small vineyard we stayed on in Bordeaux. It was a few Euros to stay per night, which included a tour of the vines and wine tasting.

“We could then get the tram straight into Bordeaux which was amazing!”

While Ed added: “All the small towns along the Loire Valley were unexpectedly beautiful, and exactly the kind of places I probably would never even had heard of before this trip.

“For least favourite I’d probably have to (controversially) say the fancy places along the Côte d’Azur like Saint Tropez – fun to visit for a few hours, but super expensive.”

Ed and Jess claim they never want to stop travelling and will keep on going for as long as they can afford it.

They noted: “The rise of remote working has made it possible for people to have a career and travel simultaneously.”

Campervan travel is growing in popularity
Campervan travel is growing in popularity

If you’re looking to try some campervan travelling, Ed and Jess have worked with Vanzone to offer their advice on how to stay safe when travelling in a van or car.

Check out their top tips below…

Understand your area

The beauty of van life is that you’re able to go to bed and wake up in many different places, meaning where you lay your head each night can vary dramatically. With this in mind, it’s really important to get your bearings before settling down.

Though it’s highly likely where you’re going will be totally safe, you can’t take it for granted. Research, get advice from locals, survey your immediate surroundings for anything that could prove dangerous and use common sense to make judgements on the safest options.

Don’t get complacent

It’s perfectly understandable to get caught up in the excitement or relaxing nature of being on holiday. What you can’t forget is that with a holiday on the road, your van is your apartment or hotel room, kitchen, bathroom, storage facility and mode of transport all in one.

For that reason, you can’t afford to get complacent with any of the above. Leaving your van open or things lying around while you nip into a nearby village or take a dip in the sea is a sure-fire way to risk belongings breaking or getting stolen. Always play the percentage game and don’t take unnecessary risks when leaving things unattended.

We’ve done the leg work for you and searched out some of the best holiday deals for 2022 – check out our top picks below.

  • TUI has summer holidays from £172pp including Greece and Turkey – book here.
  • Jet2 has last minute deals with £60pp deposits – book here.
  • Thomas Cook has a dedicated guide to its best holiday deals from £243pp – book here.
  • On the Beach has all-inclusive breaks with £30pp deposits – book here.
  • LoveHolidays has getaways from £83pp including Portugal and the Balearics – book here.

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Hidden compartments

This is a doubling down tactic that we could not recommend enough, especially when visiting places that are perhaps more dangerous or populated than others. Some vans will come with integrated secret compartments, while others won’t, a bit of creativity may be in order.

The newer the can, the more likely it is to have some sort of secret storage, but if your van is on the older side, scope out any opportunity to stash valuables. The floor, steering wheel and inside paneling are all places we’ve used in the past to great success.

Roof storage

In many cases, roof storage boxes can be a safer place to store large amounts of stuff rather than having it loose in the van itself. Many of them are made from reinforced materials, are secured by multiple strong locks and can’t be taken off the roof unless a specific process is followed that no thief would have the time to follow.

Not only are they super secure, a storage box on the roof allows you take a little extra equipment with you and also results in a great deal more space in the living areas of your van, a rare commodity on the road.

Campervans can be converted mini-buses or RVs
Campervans can be converted mini-buses or RVs

Access to the driving seat

Should you find yourself in the unfortunate, and frankly very rare situation where you are inside your van but someone or something is trying to get in, you need to be able to get out of there without leaving the van. This has never happened to us, but we always make sure nothing too immovable is blocking our way the front seats.

Make sure you can access your keys and the cabin of your van with relative ease so that if on the off chance you need to drive away promptly, you don’t need to get out of the van and face whatever threat you’re trying to evade.