“They say the best things in life are free, and it’s so true. I might not have the most expensive trainers anymore, but I have time to hike in the mountains with the man I love.”
These are the words of 26-year-old Rachel Horne, who lives in a van and enjoys the simpler things in life with her husband, 26-year-old Florian Roquais. The lovebirds met two years ago in Spain and hit it off after a mere three days. That’s when Rachel decided to turn her life around, quit her job, and see the world with her new beau.
When they first met, Florian had just finished a six-year stint of living in a tent and traveling around Europe. He was doing a brief season of work in Spain while Rachel was traveling there on a solo trip. In her home country of England, she worked with people in end-of-life care, many of whom had dementia.
“I loved building relationships with so many interesting people with stories to tell, but I was so devastated each time someone passed away,” Rachel told The Sun. “Seeing people in their final moments made me realize how short life is, and I had been really struggling with the emotional drain of working in care.”
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That’s when she met Florian and her life changed for the better!
“He was so free and happy, showering in rivers every day, and waking up to chase new adventures — I was fascinated by his approach to life.”
After just three days together, Rachel was hooked. She traveled back to England, left her job, and told her family the news: She was going to become a nomad and travel the world with a near stranger. Of course, it took Rachel a minute to be certain she was making the right decision.
“I thought about how humiliated I’d feel if I left everything for him just to come home two weeks later with my tail between my legs, but I knew that I had to change something drastically,” she explained. “There’s always going to be a million reasons not to go for things, so I tried to trust my intuition.”
So she did! Luckily for her, her parents had the chance to host Florian in their home for a couple weeks beforehand, where they got to know and love him the way Rachel did.
Knowing how unhappy Rachel had been, they were supportive of this new and exciting change in her life. After those two weeks, they felt secure enough to give Rachel and Florian their blessing and sent them on their way.
The two of them spent their first three months together wild camping in Scotland, where they lived in a tent and encountered eagles, otters, dolphins, and nature at its best.
“We also got rained on for basically the whole three months and ate so much bread and jam that I can’t eat it anymore without feeling sick, but it changed my behavior so much,” Rachel said.
She now lives a completely green lifestyle with her husband, using zero waste and living off the land as much as possible. But despite how much the couple enjoyed their tent living, Rachel was excited to transition to van life.
They used Florian’s life savings to purchase a Peugeot Boxer for around $11,000. Then they converted it into a home for an additional $4,800 thanks to Florian’s do-it-yourself handiwork.
“He started by insulating everything, and then he built the kitchen, which has gas hobs and a sink,” Rachel explained. “Then he installed the air heater, built lots of storage, and created a pullout double bed that goes back into a sofa by sawing up an old bed frame from a charity shop.”
In addition to these features, they have solar-powered electrics, a solar shower, a toilet, a desk, and a water filter. “We only carry 40 liters at a time, but it can last us both a week,” Rachel continued.
Finally, they were ready to set off for a life of travel, but the pandemic hit soon after and put a wrench in their plans.
“As we got to the Alps, COVID hit, and we were forced to stay quarantined in an empty ski resort,” Rachel said. “Since then, we have spent the year in France, so it’s been a year of micro travel.”
Despite the interruption, the two of them have loved every minute of their eco-friendly life together. That’s why they decided to get married in November 2020!
Though Rachel had big dreams of all her family and friends attending her wedding, COVID-19 added difficulties to those plans, and her parents were unable to join in on the wedding festivities.
“But on the day, the sun was shining, and I just felt grateful to be marrying such a wonderful man,” Rachel said. “It was just us and the witnesses in the mayor’s office, then we ate pizza and went for a long walk.”
Through it all, she’s had her husband by her side and a brand new life without the cares and anxieties of her former reality. With all the beauty and fresh air around her, Rachel doesn’t regret leaving her life in England behind for a minute.
“I feel much calmer and better about my body now [that] I’m not constantly exposed to advertising telling me to drink weight loss tea, buy clothes, or wear more makeup,” Rachel said. “Don’t give up on finding the kind of happiness that you deserve, it might be just around the corner.”
Watch a full tour of their home sweet van in the video below, follow along with their journey, and be sure to share this story with a friend.
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