Ever considered selling up and living on the road? Maybe you're saving to pay off the mortgage so you can rent out the house and take off for some motorhome living? Here are some tips for you!
One of the things we love most about our unconventional lifestyle is connecting with other people who have equally unconventional lifestyles!!
We love sharing stories and tips with them- every single one of us has had a slightly different path to get to where we are and there's so much we can learn from each other.
Today, we're chatting with a couple who have been out on the road touring Europe in a motorhome for years!
Seriously- these 2 were one of the first couples I discouvered when I was trying to decide if quitting my job to travel was a good idea or not! (They convinced me it was…!)
Meet Jason and Julie Buckley, otherwise known as Our Tour. Since 2011 they're been travelling in their motorhome, mostly full-time, but stopping every now and then to return home to Nottingham to work or visit family.
Their story reminds me of ours in so many ways- except that they found a way to save up so both could retire, (while I'm still making my husband slave away to pay for us… 😉 )
I hope you enjoy hearing about their adventures and experiences of living on the road.
What made you decide to start living on the road?
Summing it up in a few words: boredom, fear, stress and anxiety.
Our ‘traditional life’ with a three- bed detached house, two cars, a campervan, a hot tub, two-week holidays, TV package and a steady stream of Amazon parcels was one of huge luxury, and there’s no way we could complain we were lacking anything material. If anything the opposite was true: we were drowning in stuff.
Our lives changed for the better back in 2011 when, fearing our remaining years might end up being repeats of ones which had already passed, we decided to change our course completely.
While we’d worked hard to get the corporate jobs we had, our days were blurring: get up, rush to work, a continual stream of meetings, presentations and spreadsheets (none of which seemed to have much point!), rush home to the TV, head to bed stressed.
Was this all there was? Would we die without any greater adventure than the excitement of a fire alarm at work? Something had to change. We needed a new plan.
For two years we ploughed everything we had into our mortgage, paying it off and giving ourselves a first adrenaline shot of freedom. A few months later something snapped and with a sense of trepidation we handed our notices in.
Although our intention was only to take a break while we decided what work we’d pursue, an unexpected new life was about to begin!
What vehicle do you travel in and why?
Our ‘escape plan’ was to buy a motorhome as we’d really enjoyed short holidays in our old campervan, but we also knew we needed something bigger with a ready made-up bed. Our eventual ‘drop-out’ from work came at us faster than expected when one of us simply snapped,
struggling with a conflict between our own moral code and that being imposed by politically-driven
managers at work.
Our budget for a vehicle was halved and we picked up an 18-year-old Hymer B544 through eBay, which we named ‘Dave’ after the previous owner’s cat. Inspecting the underside of the classic van after we’d arrived home a degree of panic set in: there was a lot of surface rust!
In the end that van performed magnificently, taking us up and over the Alps (a few times) to the Sahara (twice), across the moon-like roads of Ukraine (once, never again!) and to innumerable beaches, towns and cities in Europe.
Which of you had the ‘crazy’ idea to change your lifestyle and live on the road- and how did the other person take it?
For us the idea formulated over a period of a couple of years. It was probably kick-started with a
TV programme called ‘Pay Off Your Mortgage in Two Years’, and one episode in particular stuck in our minds.
A young family living in Cornwall wanted to be mortgage-free to give them more time and freedom to surf. Their zest for life, focus on the value of time over things and willingness to take on risk struck a chord. By the end of the programme they’d done it, their mortgage was gone, mainly by making and selling modern stoves from recycled materials. We watched this and thought: what could we do if we weren’t having to be at work every weekday at 8:30am?
What did other people in your life think about your plans?
Our initial intention was only to take a year or so break from work, which no-one around us (other
than our bosses) seemed to have any objection too; they were all supportive. We’d no big plan to
change our lifestyle was such, but after living full-time in a motorhome for two years, the idea of a
new lifestyle kind of sunk into us.
When we returned from travelling, our funds depleted, we worked out an aggressive plan to get our finances in order to enable a life where we could travel as much or as little as we wanted, without having to work if we didn’t want to. That plan was hugely helped by the fact we now had a massively reduced interest in nice cars, a large house, and all those Amazon-delivered gadgets.
While travelling we started a travel blog called ourtour.co.uk, and updated it daily. Our parents
were our biggest fans (of course!) and we think this way of documenting our experiences gave
them some insight into the value of this way of life: the people we met, the museums and galleries
we enjoyed, the stunning architecture, delicious food, experience of previously-communist
countries and so on.
Travel was fun and (on the whole) relaxing, but we were learning a lot about the world and about each other, and we think the blog got that across to our friends and families. We’ve never had anyone we know personally openly hostile to our plans.
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How have you chosen to fund your life on the road?
Our chosen lifestyle is relatively inexpensive. We share our current house with tenants, and the
house also has a small shop embedded in the front (with no access to the house) which we rent out. Over the years we’ve ended up owning a small bungalow and one other house, both of
which we lived in for years before renting them out.
These properties are the main ‘engines’ of our income, but we also have various other streams: two roof-mounted solar arrays, income from our blog and motorhome-related books we’ve written, dividend payments from share funds we own and (shock, horror) from time-to-time we also work.
When we hit 55 we’ll also have the option to access occupational pensions we built up over two decades of work, and we’re also still paying national insurance contributions for our state pensions. There’s more information in the ‘Funding Freedom’ eBook (which is free on Amazon).
Shop Jason and Julie's books below:
How did you decide how much money you needed to travel?
Our initial budget was based on the cost of two-week holidays in our campervan to France, which
we found to be too high for long-term travel once we discovered low-cost overnight locations like
aires, France Passion and the ACSI CampingCard scheme.
We’ve been tracking all our costs for over a decade now, and we continued to do that while travelling, so we knew exactly where all the money went (including how much we spent on essential motorhome accessories). The cost tracking isn’t sexy, but has proven to be hugely important to us personally in giving us the confidence our madcap plan will work.
What’s been the best thing (or two) so far about travelling or life on the road?
I think the best thing has also been the most influential thing and that is the people that we have met. Without being on the road I doubt our paths would ever have crossed, but we have met some truly inspirational people who have helped to change our lives.
How long did it take you from the initial crazy idea to setting out on the road?
While it took just over a couple of years to clear our mortgage, the idea of going travelling for a
year probably only hit us about eight months before we set out for Dover.
What was the hardest bit about planning to leave/ change your life?
The fear we were making a huge mistake, I think. Europe was still suffering the effects of the
financial crisis, and there was zero guarantees we’d be able to get jobs when we returned from
travelling. The jobs we had were hard-won: Ju worked her way up from receptionist to marketing
manager and I’d gone from a technical writer to a programme manager.
We’d built up big salaries and, however romantic the idea of quitting work might sound, the reality was harsh: we were giving up hundreds of thousands of pounds, probably a million over our remaining careers. Our parents had grafted hard for decades to get us into the position we were in and cutting ourselves off from it felt selfish (but necessary).
What’s been the hardest thing about life on the road?
We opted to sort of merge a traditional and non-traditional life. While we can travel as much as we want to, we found we missed the community at home and we no longer travel full-time in a motorhome as a result.
That means we’re spending about half of the year with people who are raising families, working
and commuting in the ‘traditional’ sense, and the other half enjoying life on the road with like-minded folks around us, although many of them retired in their 60’s.
Trying to find a balance between ‘fitting in’ and ‘being different’ in the way we want to live life has perhaps been the hardest aspect of this life for us (not exactly that difficult mind you!)
What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about yourself?
That whatever life throws at us, we can cope and get through it. We are stronger than we think we
How do you survive in a small space with your partner?
Try and get the weather right! Small-space living is so much more enjoyable when you can enjoy the outdoors. If you have a motorhome and have the option to be wherever you like, plan to spend winter in the far south of Europe or even North Africa, to get as much sunshine and warmth as you can, avoiding grey skies and weeks of rain further north (unless you’re into skiing of course!).
Any tips for travelling with pets?
Be aware of restrictions for taking your pet on public transport in some countries, Spain in particular. If you like visiting cities and don’t want to leave your beloved pooch of moggie in your
motorhome alone, this can really impact your plans.
What tips do you have for anyone looking to do something similar?
Our top three tips:
- ‘Alternative lifestyles’ are still very much the same as ‘traditional lifestyles’ in many aspects.
Roofs still leak, family disputes happen, loved ones still get ill. Although there are huge advantages to shifting to a simpler, more time-rich life, don’t expect the impossible from such a change.
- By definition, an alternative lifestyle means you’ll be swimming against the tide. Relatively
few people around you will understand what you’re doing or why. Be strong, be persistent,
don’t let go of your dream.
- Enjoy yourself! If you can engineer a life where you can travel long-term, you’re in a tiny,
tiny percentage of the world population who can afford to do it. Don’t spend it thinking about
why you should be at work.
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If you could go back and do it again, what would you change?
Nothing. Everything we got wrong was a lesson we might have wanted to avoid at the time but has proven valuable in retrospect.
What are your plans for the future? Do you think you will stop travelling?
We’re heading south for the winter in our current motorhome (another Hymer B544) to get some winter sun and the opportunity to run and walk the trails in Spain.
After that, we’ll head back to the UK and decide what to do next. Planning long-term has proven to be quite a challenge for us. Weirdly, having all this freedom can easily increase anxiety levels, plus we never know what might happen at home to restrict our travelling, so we try not to worry too much about what we’ll be doing in the coming years.
I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as we did! Aren't they great- so many wonderful nuggets of wisdom.
I hope it inspires you to do something similar- let me know if it does and maybe we can all meet up on the road one day! 🙂