Enjoying the Simple Life

In 2010, an English couple bought a 15-year-old Volkswagen Transporter T4. After a few alterations and lots of adventures, the campervan is now known as The Rolling Home — and is the star of an entire online community of travelers.
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When Lauren Smith and Calum Creasey talk about their Volkswagen Transporter T4 (also known as the VW Eurovan in the US), they don’t focus on engine types and fan belts, or their favorite camping sites and the coastal roads of Portugal. Instead, they contemplate life’s big questions. “When you’re on the road with the campervan, you don’t worry about having a lot of possessions,” says Lauren. “It’s about enjoying the simple life. You have everything that you really need.”

 

 

They thought up the unusual interior design themselves, with its L-shape bed and kitchen at the rear.
Calum and Lauren’s biggest trip was in 2013: four months throughout Europe, covering 7,000 miles from Portugal and Italy to Sweden.

Calum adds, “In a house, you tend to fill all the rooms with stuff, but not in the van. You think about what’s really important. You can be at home anywhere in the world.” Lauren and Calum’s love of traveling is highly contagious. It doesn’t take long before you start feeling the draw of faraway places — the pine forests between France and Spain or the English coast.

Calum and Lauren, both 26, grew up in Newport Pagnell, a small town in the middle of England. They’ve been together for nine years, and run a small creative studio. In the summer of 2010, they bought what became known as The Rolling Home — a 1995 Volkswagen Transporter T4 with nearly 100,000 miles — for nearly $1,300 at an online auction.

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Today, the campervan has a worldwide following. Right from the start, Lauren and Calum blogged about their adventures on the road, and they gradually found themselves at the center of an online community. They network with campervan fans and new friends they’ve met on their journeys. They’ve even produced a book and a magazine. In 2015, they started a social media account that soon attracted a six-digit following. “The best thing about this community is getting photos and stories from people we’ve inspired to go out and travel,” says Calum. “And then to realize how their input has also given us new inspiration.”

The Rolling Home used to be the delivery van for a construction company, and then was used to transport motorcycles. When the couple bought it, the cargo space was “a blank canvas,” as Calum puts it. On the maiden journey to Cornwall, they slept on mattresses, but quickly started thinking about how to fit it out. They spent hours in the back of the van, marking possible layouts with masking tape until deciding where to put the kitchen and an L-shape bed and sofa combination. Calum purchased an inexpensive high roof online in 2013, but it sat untouched in the garage for a month before he gathered the courage to pick up a power saw and cut a hole in the beloved van’s roof.1 Now you can stand fully upright in The Rolling Home.

“We can’t imagine a better form of freedom,” says Lauren. “Just stick the surfboards into the van and take the ferry over to France. It’s so easy, and doesn’t cost very much.” In the summer, they traveled around Europe, deciding on the spur of the moment which route to take. Sooner or later they would arrive at a gorgeous beach or a nice camping site. And wherever they went they would meet equally enthusiastic campervan fans. “The old hippie cliché no longer applies,” says Calum. “The people we meet come from all walks of life. You sit together and barbecue, your hair still wet from surfing, until the sun goes down. And then everyone has their own mobile hotel room. It’s perfect.”

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Lauren and Calum’s greatest dream? Owning a small piece of land in northern Sweden, a cabin, a good Internet connection — and a place to park their campervan.

The Rolling Home has clocked in around 120,000 miles in six years, including one four-month stretch throughout western Europe. Of course, there have also been a few stops here and there due to the odd mishap — like the time Lauren and Calum ran out of money in Norway. But they always managed to keep going. The Rolling Home recently had some rust removed and was given a new paint job. The valiant campervan also got a new engine a few years ago. But one thing is for sure: There are many, many more miles to go. “It’s funny sometimes,” says Calum. “Of course, our van isn’t a living thing, but it’s absorbed all of our adventures and stories — and it’s always telling them back to us.”


Lauren Smith and Calum Creasey received compensation for the use of their images.