We Went Full Time In Our Van The Month Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

We went from carefree to quarantine in less than a month.

We Went Full Time In Our Van The Month Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

My wife and I are really sensible people. We always do the safe, reasonable thing. We had fun, but we never really had an adventure. We had jobs, a house, a cat and a dog, and we always did the sensible thing. Until one year, everything went wrong. There were several deaths in our families, we were forced out of our house and had to move across the country. So eventually we decided that we should do something fun, maybe take a really nice holiday. Well between work, moving and attending a record number of funerals; that didn’t happen. So we decided to be sensible, as we always are. We decided to keep as much money as we could in the savings. But really quickly that money started disappearing. The dog got sick; the car needed its MOT, and we needed a new bed. And we like food, so a not insignificant portion of the money was going on takeaways and wine. So we were frittering it, it’s an old word but an accurate one. And we didn’t want to spend all our savings on pizza and alcohol. Well, we did, but we knew we shouldn’t. Because that wasn’t, say it with me, sensible. 

And something else that led to our decision, something major was our neighbours. They were garbage people and some of the worst neighbours I have ever had. They constantly screamed at their children and their puppy, and each other. It was endless. They were as rough as a dog’s arse and we just couldn’t take it anymore. I remember where we were when we made the decision. We were in the car, coming home from walking the dog in his favourite spot. His favourite spot was an industrial estate because it had hundreds of rabbits in it. “Why can’t we just run away and live in a van?” I questioned.“Why not??” my wife answered, “there’s nothing keeping us here is there?”

And there wasn’t. We lived close to family, but never saw them. And sometimes there was a good reason for that. So we went for it. I mean, we thought about it constantly for a week, but we went for it. We talked about nothing else, the pros and cons. I mean, we were making a radical decision, but we were still the same sensible souls that we’ve always been. After about 2 weeks we did it. We bought the van from a helpful, stupid man named Lee. The van was old, rickety and needed some serious redecoration, but we loved it. It had a sink, hob, grill, oven and even a bathroom! We were gonna be vanlifers, but we weren’t hardcore.

We packed in our jobs, gave notice on the house, and there was no going back. We had no choice now; it was sink or swim and we had no water wings. So we did it, we went full time, there was nothing holding us back. I don’t know if any of you have heard of coronavirus, but apparently it’s like a huge deal. But the thing is, it wasn’t when we started. It was an issue, don’t get me wrong. People were bringing it here from overseas and causing a bit of a problem. But that’s as far as it went at this point. We left on February 28th (I handed the notice in and forgot it was a leap year, okay?)And by this point, it was simmering; we had ages before it boiled, or so we thought. It turns out we had like 2 weeks. Not even that. It turns out we had about a week before things got real. Before more people started being diagnosed and more morons started panic buying. 

But still, people were just overreacting, right? The British government didn’t seem to be the least bit bothered. So we went places, we saw a few sights, not many, before my wife got ill. She got a really high fever and a cough, shit just got real. The fever didn’t last long, but the cough did. So we rested as much as we could and stayed away from all people and shops. This was one of those times when I was grateful for how boringly sensible we were. We had plenty of food for all of us, and we were two minutes from a water supply. It wasn’t long before my wife got better, but we still weren’t allowed out. We needed to listen to government advice. You know why? Because we weren’t dicks. It turns out only dicks weren’t listening to government advice at this point. Staying the hell away was our only option until we were both officially in the clear which we were. Both tested and negative. 

We had the all clear, so the world was our oyster. But it turned out the oyster was tightly closed. It was holding on to that pearl for all it was fucking worth. If you’ve ever spend any time in the UK, you’ll know that 2 places own everything of historic importance. The National Trust and English Heritage. and they’re not letting you look at these places for free. But we were citizens, we knew this, so we bought memberships to both before we left! Sensible as ever! But wouldn’t you know it, so were they. National Trust and English Heritage did the responsible thing and closed down for the foreseeable. They didn’t want the virus to spread any further, so they closed their doors, shut their gates and pulled up their drawbridges. We weren’t sightseeing, not now. Fair enough., we thought, we can go for a walk. Britain is full of beautiful places to take a stroll. There are beaches, parks, canal paths. Plenty of places to perambulate. But there were new rules in place. Everyone had to stay at least 6 feet away from each other. No problem, I had been saying this my whole life. I hate being too close to people, and as for people touching me, just don’t.

But still, we could walk around towns, go shopping and have a nice meal somewhere. Guess again, non-essential shops were doing the right thing and closing their doors. And food places were limiting themselves to takeaways only. At first through social responsibility and then through government “advice.”So fish and chips by the sea was out of the question. And people were starting to get hostile with travellers. Mainly because remote places were seeing an influx of tourists trying to “escape” coronavirus. All this was doing was putting a strain on their already delicate healthcare systems. We weren’t going anywhere, we had found a place to stay out of the way. It was near a water source and we were being as responsible as we could possibly be. More responsible than the several hundred people we saw on the beach on a daily basis. 

We bought the van to be free, but we ended up with the total opposite. We were anything but free. We were limited to remote dog walks and necessary trips for water, one at a time. The UK isn’t on full lockdown yet, but I’m not totally sure how we’ll cope if that happens. When this is all over, I’ll let you know how it went. 

couples travel
Claire Raymond
Claire Raymond
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Claire Raymond

I have been a writer for 14 years now, I'll figure it out one day.

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