A couple driving in their van, with the man leaning over and smiling at the camera
Megan Higman giving Rob Freeman a break from all the driving, Image credits: Megan Higman

From renovations to road trips, one couple share how they found the ultimate intimacy living the van life.

Megan Higman and her boyfriend Robert Freeman share a passion for travelling the world. Exploring from the UK to Costa Rica to Vietnam to Australia over their five years together, the highlight of their travels came from the smallest of places, inside of their van.  

In 2021, Megan found herself in need of a new car for getting around day to day. On an impulse, she bought a small van for around £2,000 after her social media was overloaded by the van life hashtag. Megan, 24, says, “If I get an idea in my head, I want to do it straight away and it was the best decision I have made.”   

‘I fell in love with van life’

Before their travels, Megan and Rob’s relationship was long distance: Megan in Derby and Rob, 25, in Lancashire. But, spending a few months together during Covid lockdowns, Rob didn’t take much convincing to know that the small space and freedom of van life was exactly what they needed.  

After just four weeks of DIY insulation, painting and decorating, that cost just under £500, Megan and Rob planned their first trip to Glenridding in the Lake District.

She recalls, “It was gorgeous. We have such amazing places here in the UK that people tend to overlook and that’s when I fell in love with van life.” adding, “We had a lovely spot where nobody was around for miles, and we weren’t going to leave a trace.”  

A couple relaxing in the back of their van, from the perspective of one of them with just their socks hanging out the van
Rob and Megan enjoying a moment of peace and quiet together, image credit: Megan Higman

Since then, Megan and Rob have travelled across the UK but loved to visit Tenby, South Wales and the Lake District the most. She says, “It has been a great bonding experience for us. There’s nobody that I would rather wake up to, on the beach or overlooking a stunning lake, than him.” 

Megan says that the best part of van life is not knowing what each day will bring, “Getting up when we wanted, driving for however long we wanted and seeing where we ended up was what made it so different. It’s best to have an idea, not a plan.”  

An example of this is when Megan and Rob were journeying through Wales in 2022. After a long day of driving, they needed to find somewhere to pull over and found a beautiful spot overlooking a lake.

There wasn’t a designated camping sign so the pair popped into the nearby pub and asked if they could park up overnight if they bought a meal. She recalls, “There’s always going to be somewhere to stay. Just be spontaneous and not afraid to ask for help.” 

‘It has been a great bonding experience for us’

However, the couple’s spontaneous nature was put to the test in their most recent trip to Australia, where they hired a van to travel the East Coast for a month.

Megan says, “Exploring Australia was something we had both wanted to do for a long time.” adding that it took a lot of research and months of planning to find the best deals. She says that the van life scene is so popular in Australia that there are many free and cheap places to stay.  

From Brisbane to Airlie and back down to Melbourne, Megan recalled, “We did thousands and thousands of miles in that van through really hot temperatures, but for the time spent together and stunning destinations we visited, I would recommend it to anyone.” 

A van parked up in a rural area by the sign of an Australian kangaroo
The pair travelled thousands of miles across the East Coast of Australia, Image credit: Megan Higman

“We made a deal, he drives, and I’ll do most of the cooking and washing.” Megan reminisces about the Australia trip, “I loved that the van in Australia had a fridge and sink. That fridge was a lifesaver!”  

“With spending that amount of time together, you are going to clash eventually.” Megan recalls, adding that there were times when they had small arguments when the situation got stressful such as when they struggled to find somewhere to park up.

She says, “It’s important to have your own little thing to get you through that. Whether it’s going for a walk or reading a book.” However, she emphasises, “We really love spending time together though and having your own space is an important part in any relationship.” 

A girl enjoying a drink of water from the back of her van on her own, the van doors are open and she is sat on a converted bed
Moments alone are just as important as moments together, image credit: Megan Higman

Back in the UK and during a girl’s trip to a lodge in Derbyshire, the van broke down. “We got about three quarters of the way there and something didn’t feel right.” Megan says.

She added that she had always been a nervous driver after having a three-year gap from passing her test in 2018 to purchasing the van, “I pulled over, got out of the car and realised the tyre had blown up!”

Not wanting to part with the van life, Megan paid for the repairs yet kept on having more and more issues. Their journey came to a halt when Rob, a delivery driver at the time, was on the job and the front of the van started smoking.

Megan says, “It was sad because I had loved that little van and learned so much from it but to have all those memories of just the two of us is something I will always treasure.”  

‘We have many more travels planned for the future

When Megan first got her van so many people told her they would love to do something like that. Her advice is, “then do it.”  

Megan and Rob are now saving for a new van to travel across America in and have since been exploring the world without the van visiting Vietnam, Columbia, Costa Rica. She says, “I would love to get a proper van that’s done out really well.” adding, “The van life isn’t over for us yet and we have many more travels planned for the future.” 

A photo from inside of a van with a plat for food on the converted bed, and a man sat on the edge of the van with his back to the camera
This is just the start of their van life adventures, Image credit: Megan Higman