Couple quit jobs and travel the world in a van after chance meeting on Snapchat
Back when she was 16, Hope Peacock got a message out of the blue on Snapchat from someone she didn’t recognise.
James Hunter had sent a selfie to all his contacts as he headed for a night out and somehow Hope was on the list.
The pair struck up a conversation and despite still having no idea how they connected and living at opposite ends of the country, six years on they are a couple and very much in love.
And back in March 2019, they decide to put their relationship to the ultimate test by selling all their possessions, quitting their jobs and travelling the world together in a van.
Explaining that, since setting off in March 2019, he has not looked back, James, now 27, said: ‘Giving up our old life to see the world has been the best decision we’ve ever made.
‘It’s totally transformed us. Before, I was bought up to believe life was about working hard, getting married and having children, and maybe having one or two holidays a year.
‘I thought having a nice house would make me happy – but it definitely didn’t.
‘Now I think, “Why restrict yourself?” Being happy is the most important thing – it’s not about money or materialistic things or just being stuck in one place all your life. There’s so much out there in the world to see.’
And Hope, 22, agrees with James’ sentiments entirely.
She added: ‘Right now, I couldn’t think of anything worse than going back to our old lives.
‘Maybe one day, when we have children, we might, but you never know – there are families out there that travel the world together, so we could even do that.’
Six years ago, Hope was living in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, and James in Richmond, North Yorkshire when their paths first crossed.
He recalled: ‘I sent a selfie round to all my Snapchat friends before I went on a night out.
‘Then, randomly a girl I’d never seen before replied, saying, ‘Hope you have a good one!’.’
Intrigued by the mystery message, James struck up a conversation with Hope the following day.
After six months of messaging, they finally met in person when James was visiting his family in Bristol, and asked Hope if she wanted to hang out.
Then, they became an official couple the month after that – but, living almost 300 miles apart meant that they were long distance for the first year.
After working as a ground worker to save up enough money for his own place, James then moved down to Somerset to be with Hope, who was working as a hairdresser.
Following a short stint in their family home, the pair moved into a flat of their own, before upgrading to a two-bedroom house six months later.
But the pair found that their new situation just wasn’t working for them.
Hope continued: ‘Work just got in the way. James was working long hours and then coming home, having dinner and going to bed, and I was working Saturdays in the hairdressers.
‘It felt like we had less time together than we did when we were living so far apart.’
Hope had always dreamed of going travelling and after taking some time to convince James, they decided to go for it.
With their hearts set on travelling Europe, they began saving up, and sold virtually all their possessions at a car boot sale in July 2018, raising as much as they could to fund their adventure.
Hope said: ‘The only things we kept were a few items of clothing and our television and the unit in case we ever wanted it for the future. It’s stored at my family’s home. We sold pretty much everything we owned.’
Next, the couple bought a campervan they had seen on eBay.
James and Hope’s top moments
‘It had everything – two sofas at the back that turned into a Queen-sized bed, a kitchen with a hob, grill and fridge and a bathroom with a sink and toilet,’ Hope said. ‘It had plenty of storage space too.’
In March 2019, they set off on their adventure.
With no set plan, the young couple “winged it,” spending months camping in the wild.
After journeying through France, they headed to Spain, and then the Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, before venturing on to Switzerland.
After a week in the mountains, Hope and James took off to Spain again, before driving to Italy, and then France.
In July, they decided to treat themselves to a nine-day stay at a resort in Benidorm, Spain, as a welcome break from the constant travelling.
Then, having enjoyed the Algarve so much before, they headed back there for nine weeks – deciding to spend the summer by the sea.
Next, they explored eastern Europe, covering Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands.
Despite having been on the road for more than a year, they rarely miss home.
‘Sometimes, when the weather is a little colder and its dark, I get home sick,’ Hope said.
‘But we FaceTime our families and get it out of our systems.’
The pair came back to the UK for a few months at Christmas and to save up a little more money but then Covid-19 hit and their plans were bought to a sudden halt.
However, they have found a silver lining by using the time to become online entrepreneurs, meaning they can earn money indefinitely whilst on the road, and will not be under any pressure to return before they are ready once they set off again.
Hope explained. ‘We work with brands to market products on social media, and if we sell them, we get a commission.
‘It’s brilliant because now we can work from wherever we are in the world.”
‘We want to get back to travelling Europe as soon as it’s safe and possible.
‘We’ve not made any plans – we’re happy just to go wherever the campervan takes us.’
To find out more visit Instagram: @couple_in_a_camper.
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