Embracing Freedom: Couple Ditches 9-5 Routine for Van Life Adventures in Nature

A couple has decided to break free from the monotonous 9-5 grind, opting for a nomadic lifestyle and a home on wheels, while encouraging others to do the same. Michael Monk, 25, and Acacia Denison, 22, spent seven months renovating a 2016 Fiat Ducato van, allowing them to explore the world, encounter wildlife, indulge in activities such as kayaking, surfing, and mountain climbing.

Although they had always cherished camping trips together, their busy work schedules had previously prevented them from embarking on longer adventures. Now, they are living the life they have always dreamt of.

“I believe I inherited my parents’ adventurous genes,” Acacia shared with NeedToKnow.co.uk. “They journeyed through Africa on a motorbike and traveled in a red postman van, mostly built with a Swiss army knife. When we purchased our van, it was an empty shell, and neither of us had any experience in woodworking or construction. Nevertheless, we eagerly took on the challenge.”

Originally from South Africa, the couple found their van on Facebook Marketplace in October 2021, securing it at a bargain price of £6,635. They immediately set to work transforming it into a comfortable home on wheels.

The renovations included modern adjustments with provisions for cables and adapters, installation of windows for natural light, and sound-deadening to minimize panel noise. They meticulously planned the electrical wiring, ensuring every plug and light had a designated place. Insulation was added to the walls and roof, while plywood formed the base floor.

Acacia explained, “We further enhanced the interior by using reclaimed wood to decorate the roof and crafted sliding pantry, kitchen cupboards, and a bed using woodworking techniques.” Overall, the renovations cost the couple £1,658.

Transitioning their work into the van was relatively easy, and their monthly expenses only amount to £620 for bills and fuel. Acacia shared, “As owners of a production company, we can work while on the move. We made sure to create a dedicated workstation as we continue to work full-time. Interestingly, our monthly expenses are comparable to those when we lived in our previous flat. The money previously spent on rent now goes towards campsites. Fuel costs remain the same, if not lower, as we don’t drive long distances and follow a one-way route without daily commuting. Overall, our monthly expenses amount to approximately £620 for both of us.”

In May 2022, the couple embarked on their adventurous journey and have never looked back. Acacia acknowledged the challenges of a nomadic lifestyle, such as finding suitable campsites, stocking up on supplies without a fixed address, and managing logistics. However, they have been pleasantly surprised by the welcoming hosts they have encountered along the way, as people show curiosity and offer assistance.

Their extraordinary experiences include sleeping alongside cows and encountering gentle wild elephants. Engaging in activities like kayaking, surfing, and skateboarding has further fueled their passion for adventure, leading them to embrace this lifestyle long-term. Acacia added, “We don’t have elaborate plans for the future. South Africa still holds so much to be explored and experienced. For now, this is where you’ll find us. We have no end date in mind and may consider upgrading to a larger vehicle in the future. Who knows!”

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