Parents quit their jobs to travel round Europe in camper van on two year 'familymoon'

·5-min read

Watch: Couple quit their jobs and head off for a two year ‘familymoon’ in a camper van.

Many of us may fantasise about quitting the rat race and setting off on a round-the-world adventure, but some might assume becoming parents would put an end to those dreams. 

That wasn't the case, however, for Ross and Sarah Barrett. 

After their wedding in May 2019, the couple decided to on an epic two year 'familymoon', taking their son and dog along for the ride. 

Renting out their cottage in Devon to tenants for £800 a month, the newlyweds, their son Riley, five, and their black Labrador, Maui, took off in their camper van in July 2019.

"It was a big decision because obviously I had a secure job with a secure income and to stop that when you have outgoings as well is quite a big step," said Ross.

Since then the family have been all across Europe, including being locked down in Spain when the pandemic hit.

Read more: Woman transforms old van into glam motorhome to travel Europe

The family have spent two years travelling the world. (SWNS)
The family have spent two years travelling the world. (SWNS)

Now back home in England, the family have realised they enjoyed their adventure so much they plan to ditch their old lifestyle altogether and embrace van life permanently. 

Ross, who previously worked as a Royal Marine Commando, said: "Every day was an adventure, it really was.

"Every time you opened the door of the van, you're in somewhere different, you don't know what is going to happen.

"We decided we wanted to go on a big adventure and we also wanted to spend some quality time together as a family, that's what inspired it all.

Ross and Sarah Barrett travel the world with their son Riley, five, and their black labrador Maui. (SWNS)
Ross and Sarah Barrett travel the world with their son Riley, five, and their black labrador Maui. (SWNS)

"Our slogan became 'every day is a Saturday' because we got married, quit work and rented out our cottage to spend quality time as a family by enjoying every day like it's a Saturday," Ross continued.

The couple say friends and family did initially question their decision to quit their everyday lives. 

"Everyone thought that we were mad and that we wouldn't last more than a few weeks," Ross explains. "Their doubts did worry me a bit, it made me question if we were doing the right thing, but then every time I looked at our figures, I thought it's going to work.

"And two years later, everyone can see the benefits and we've absolutely loved every minute of it. It's the best decision we could have ever made."

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The family decorate their van for Christmas. (SWNS)
The family decorate their van for Christmas. (SWNS)

The family were able to afford their adventure by renting out their cottage to tenants for £800, which covers all of their outgoings, including their phone bill, van insurance, vehicle tax, fuel for the van, food, ice cream, beer, wine, washing and the occasional AirBnB.

They had already purchased the camper van back in 2014, paying £6,000 for the vehicle.

Watch: Couple sell their home and possessions to head off on a round the world trip in a camper van.

Packing their lives into the camper van, the Barrett family set off on the adventure of a lifetime in July 2019, starting in Saint Malo in France before moving onto the Pyranees then Spain, then on to Portugal, Gibraltar and then Spain again where the pandemic hit, forcing them to endure lockdown for three months staying with Sarah's friends.

Ross and Sarah Barrett have spend much of the pandemic travelling the world.  (SWNS)
Ross and Sarah Barrett have spend much of the pandemic travelling the world. (SWNS)

In a stark contrast to other Brits experiencing lockdown, they enjoyed empty beaches and exploring sea caves on their giant paddle board that can fit the entire family on, including their dog.

"Turkey was the best country we went to," Sarah says of their adventure. "It was unspoilt and amazing.

"I had no idea there were wild tortoises in Turkey. We were randomly walking down a beautiful path to a beach and there were suddenly beautiful tortoises just cruising along."

Ross adds: "One of my favourite things was swimming with dolphins in Turkey. It was my birthday and Riley and Sarah were by the side with the dolphin guide.

"Riley was throwing balls to the dolphins, they were dancing with him and giving him kisses. They even sang happy birthday to me with Riley and Sarah, it was incredible!"

Read more: Couple who live in a van save over £1,000 a month on bills

The family plan to continue their new nomad lifestyle. (SWNS)
The family plan to continue their new nomad lifestyle. (SWNS)

After two months in Turkey, the family went to Bulgaria followed by Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and finally France, where Ross and Sarah celebrated their wedding anniversary at Lake Annecy.

"Riley gained a lot from this adventure, both educationally and in experience being around different cultures," Ross explains. "He was learning by doing, seeing, touching, rather than in a classroom.

"His geography is amazing, he knows all the countries. His grandma and granddad bought him a European puzzle map that he puts together and points out all of the countries he's been to.

"He knows how to say hello and thank you in every language from every country we went to. For an experience, it's really been second to none."

The couple say Riley has learnt a lot on the family's adventure. (SWNS)
The couple say Riley has learnt a lot on the family's adventure. (SWNS)

The family returned to England in June 2021 to wait out the summer months again and will be heading off on year three of their adventure in September.

Sarah's sister Jules, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, has also bought a camper van and will be joining the family on their adventure with her partner Will and their dog Taffy.

With no plans to return to their old lives, Ross and Sarah have fully embraced the nomad lifestyle and can't imagine the adventure ending.

"We love our new lifestyle," Ross explains. 

"It was a big decision to quit my job, but in hindsight it was the best thing we could have ever done. Adventures before dentures!"

Additional reporting SWNS.

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