Office Worker Quits 9-5 Job To 'Chase Summer' Across Europe In Hi-Tech Van

Sometimes, when you've had a bad week, it's easy to decide you're going to pack it all in, get a one-way flight to somewhere more exotic and have done with it. At which point you realise it's more hassle than it's worth and so resume the drudgery of day-to-day life.

However, taking the plunge is exactly what one bored office worker did when she handed her notice in and sold her belongings to pursue 'the van life' - transforming a nondescript grey van into the ultimate hi-tech home on the road.

Margaret Miller, 26, was sick of 'typical desk jobs' and financial consulting, so she made the ballsy decision to quit in order to live her dream of 'chasing summer' across Europe, financed by working online as she goes.

Along with partner Ladi Jecminek, 32, the duo converted a 2007 Citroen Jumper bought for $4,000 (£3,123) into a Tardis-like tech paradise - or 'ergonomic living capsule'.

While the vehicle still looks like a regular grey van from the outside, inside the couple fitted a kitchen, shower, double bed, 'garage' and huge flat-screen projector for Netflix marathons.

The van has a built in 'garage' to keep bikes. Credit: Kennedy News
The van has a built in 'garage' to keep bikes. Credit: Kennedy News

They even kitted it out with solar panels and extra battery power for their laptops, phone chargers and appliances - with USB ports 'everywhere'.

In total, the project cost just $6,000 (£4,685) - less than six months' worth of the average rent in the UK.

So far they have travelled from the Czech Republic to Croatia and have just crossed into Montenegro as they chase the summer - they plan to reach Greece by March.

Margaret works 20 hours a week teaching English online. Credit: Kennedy News
Margaret works 20 hours a week teaching English online. Credit: Kennedy News

The van has solar panels and extra battery power for their laptops. Credit: Kennedy News
The van has solar panels and extra battery power for their laptops. Credit: Kennedy News

Margaret, from Minnesota, USA, said: "This is the dream. We've been on quite the adventure. Sometimes it's weird to tell people you dream of living in a car, but we feel so free and can spend our time with each other, exploring endlessly - not sitting in a desk chair.

"This morning we travelled from Croatia into Montenegro. It's just incredible."

In 2016, Margaret met her boyfriend Ladi, 32, while hitchhiking in Queenstown, New Zealand, and fell in love. She really is an adventurer, isn't she?

Inspired by Ladi's life on the road, Margaret quit her job a year later to become a tour guide, leading travellers around Africa.

Margaret and Ladi live in the van full time. Credit: Kennedy News
Margaret and Ladi live in the van full time. Credit: Kennedy News

But after two years in a long-distance relationship, Margaret and Ladi sold all their belongings to buy a second-hand van, which they stripped and converted from scratch - doing everything themselves.

Now they spend day after day travelling and working part-time hours online - joined on the road by a pet cat called Millie (oh, and only the best people around call their cats Millie... I'm living proof).

Margaret said: "I first met Ladi when he picked me up in his van in New Zealand while I was hitchhiking in 2016. My first experience of van life was when I was climbing into his home for a quick ride. I didn't crawl back out for two weeks.

Margaret with Ladi when he picked her up in 2016. Credit: Kennedy News
Margaret with Ladi when he picked her up in 2016. Credit: Kennedy News

From the outside, little would you suspect the van contains a kitchen... Credit: Kennedy News
From the outside, little would you suspect the van contains a kitchen... Credit: Kennedy News

"I'd already graduated from university and done the nine-to-five corporate job but I found I was always waiting for Friday and saving for the next trip. It took me a while to figure out that's not how I'm happy.

"Ladi and I did long distance for a while, then I sold everything I owned, threw a goodbye party and moved to Africa where I was leading tourists around 10 different countries.

"We did long distance for a couple of years but after many flights to and fro, then my partner and I decided to take on van life again."

Ladi and Margaret had dedicated 12 hours a day to the project, which saw them in workshops making their own home comforts for the van.

The pair spent 12 hours a day converting the van. Credit: Kennedy News
The pair spent 12 hours a day converting the van. Credit: Kennedy News

As a trained carpenter, Ladi knew how to make fittings and furniture himself and with previous experience working for a motor-home company, he knew about the inner workings of the vehicle.

Margaret said: "We painted the entire van grey, have 100 litres of water underneath, a gas cooking stove and shower. We've put in a flat-screen projector for movie nights and we can watch Game of Thrones as often as we like.

"A huge reason why the van looks so simple outside is because we don't want people to know we live in the camper van." They might know now...

She continued: "A lot of campers make the mistake of bright colours and lots of windows, but we've made ours in a way that attracts no extra attention.

<img src="http://beta.ems.ladbiblegroup.com/s3/content/c068c0e15c6a506ed2b72e66e7cd3875.jpg" data-orig-height="720" data-orig-width="960" alt we've put in a flat-screen projector for movie nights," says margaret. credit: kennedy news">

Ladi in the pair's double bed with their adopted cat, Millie. Credit: Kennedy News
Ladi in the pair's double bed with their adopted cat, Millie. Credit: Kennedy News

"It allows for more freedom [when] camping - people just presume someone's having their plumbing done because it just looks like a work van. When people on the road do find out we live in the van, they're always pretty shocked, especially when they learn it was a DIY job.

"We've got two massive solar panels that are 300 watts each, two batteries that can power our cell phones and laptops. We've got USB ports everywhere and an electric battery so the car can charge at electric car stations.

"We've even got a garage under the bed where we store the bikes. We have plenty of space for two people and the kitten we adopted. She's very smart. She returns to the van whenever I ring a bell - no matter where we are."

Margaret and Ladi in 2017. Credit: Kennedy News
Margaret and Ladi in 2017. Credit: Kennedy News

As they are now finally settled in their home on wheels, Margaret and Ladi are planning to chase summer as it crosses Europe.

They have to be 'strategic' as Margaret is American and has visa restrictions, but so far they don't feel they have missed out on anything.

Margaret said: "We've lived in the van for three months now. It took us about 10 weeks to construct it completely. We found a van in the Czech Republic for about $4,000 and spent around $2,000 on the renovation.

"It was like a full-time job. For around two and a half months we worked 12-hour days trying to make this place our home. We tried to make a very ergonomic living capsule.

"So far we've spent six weeks in Croatia and we were in the Czech Republic for a month before that and now we're in Montenegro, effectively chasing summer. We'll probably head to Greece in March, then we'll probably start looping up from there."

Safe travels, guys.

Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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