April 13, 2024

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This couple have been ‘travelling the world non-stop’ for 15 years. Here they reveal why they love the US, hate Egypt, the places that surprised them – and how they’ve done it without using the bank of mum and dad

9 min read

Meet the couple who have been travelling non-stop for 15 years, visiting a total of 85 countries to date – and find out how they’ve financed their adventures without using the bank of mum and dad.

Lauren Winslow-Llewellyn, 34, and Craig Hubbard, 41, have shared their non-stop travel approach to life – valuing time over material things.

So far, their highlights include horse riding in Kyrgyzstan, winter in Arctic Norway, a black bear leaning on their van in Canada and a wild orangutan following them up a river in Indonesia.

How do they do it?

The couple, from Sussex, choose one corner of the world to explore by road, while living in a van for six to 12 months. When they are ready to move on, they sell it to go backpacking and work in hospitality to fund their next adventure.

Lauren Winslow-Llewellyn and Craig Hubbard, pictured here in the Lake District, share their unique approach to life - one of non-stop travel - valuing time over material things

Lauren Winslow-Llewellyn and Craig Hubbard, pictured here in the Lake District, share their unique approach to life – one of non-stop travel – valuing time over material things

Lauren wild swimming in one of Taiwan's clear pools

Craig pictured riding a train past the tea plantations in Ella, Sri Lanka

LEFT: Lauren wild swimming in one of Taiwan’s clear pools. RIGHT: Craig pictured riding a train past the tea plantations in Ella, Sri Lanka

‘We don’t work in high-paid jobs. We usually work for minimum wage, in restaurants or housekeeping,’ Lauren said in a TikTok video. ‘Even still, we do a great job of saving up as much as possible and living a frugal life so we can spend our money on experiences instead of things.’

Lauren and Craig were inspired to start travelling after graduating from university, with Craig ‘not ready to start a career’ and Lauren prompted by ‘a simple conversation with a friend’ who was about to embark on a gap year to travel.

I had no idea what that meant and it intrigued me enough to sign up immediately and work full time to save up,’ she told MailOnline Travel.

The couple, who met while waiting tables together at Pizza Express, spent the next year working full time at the restaurant and saved around £5,000 each to travel to Australia on a working holiday visa in 2008.

Realising that their money wouldn’t last long if they stayed in hostels, they moved into their first home on wheels later that year and their non-stop travelling lifestyle was born.

‘We bought a station wagon car a few days later and lived in the back of it for nine months,’ Lauren said.

Lauren and Craig choose one corner of the world to explore by road, while living in a van for six to 12 months. Then they sell their van to go backpacking and work to fund their next adventure. Pictured: Lauren taking in the view at Blyde River Canyon, South Africa

Lauren and Craig choose one corner of the world to explore by road, while living in a van for six to 12 months. Then they sell their van to go backpacking and work to fund their next adventure. Pictured: Lauren taking in the view at Blyde River Canyon, South Africa

The couple on a gorge hike in Catalonia, Spain

Lauren exploring a beach in Krabi, Thailand

LEFT: The couple on a gorge hike in Catalonia, Spain. RIGHT: Lauren exploring a beach in Krabi, Thailand

‘It wasn’t an ideal home. It leaked really badly in heavy rains but somehow we loved the lifestyle and the freedom it gave us, which led us to living in more vans around the world… never a small station wagon again though.’

Since then, the pair have bought and sold seven vans in which they have explored 32 countries around the world.

When they are not travelling, they work mostly as waiters as well as coffee baristas, bartenders and hotel housekeepers to top up their travel fund. They also document their travels via their blog, nonstoptravelling.com.

The couple have bought and sold seven vans in which they have explored 32 countries

The couple have bought and sold seven vans in which they have explored 32 countries

Lauren taking in the views on an Annapurna Base Camp trek in Nepal

The couple hiking along the Caminito del Rey path in Spain

LEFT: Lauren taking in the views on an Annapurna Base Camp trek in Nepal. RIGHT: The couple hiking along the Caminito del Rey path in Spain

Lauren, pictured here swimming with a sperm whale in Mauritius, said they have ventured to more adventurous destinations in recent years

Lauren, pictured here swimming with a sperm whale in Mauritius, said they have ventured to more adventurous destinations in recent years

Other standout travel moments for the couple are seeing a pride of lions in South Africa, swimming in crystal clear lakes and exploring Cappadocia with a stray dog for company.

Also among their highlights is witnessing ‘wild orcas in Shetland’ and ‘swimming in the bluest, coldest water we’ve ever seen in Albania’, they added. 

MailOnline first spoke to Lauren and Craig eight years into their travels, during which time they had lived in five different vans.

Starting in Australia, they kept their costs down with cheap day trips to beaches and free sight-seeing activities.

Then on a U.S road trip from Alaska to Florida, they braved howling wolves, cold showers and smashed windscreens while living in a van measuring just 60 sq ft (5.6 sq m) inside.

Among Lauren's travel highlights is 'swimming in crystal clear lakes'. Here, she is pictured taking a dip at Kravika waterfall in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Among Lauren’s travel highlights is ‘swimming in crystal clear lakes’. Here, she is pictured taking a dip at Kravika waterfall in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since then, the pair have continued the same lifestyle and ventured to more adventurous destinations.

‘We’ve spent a few winter seasons in the Norwegian Arctic, hiked to yurt camps in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, explored some stunning areas of Myanmar on an E-bike and hitchhiked our way through Armenia,’ Lauren said.

Their latest chapter of travelling has also seen them return more frequently to work in the UK, instead of abroad, since they have ‘used up all the working holiday visas available to us and our age bracket’. 

But the couple’s favourite thing, when it comes to a life of travel, remains unchanged from when we first spoke to them.

In their latest travel chapter, Lauren and Craig have returned to the UK more frequently to work. Here, Craig is pictured hiking in the Lake District, UK, taking in the view of Hartsop Dodd fell

In their latest travel chapter, Lauren and Craig have returned to the UK more frequently to work. Here, Craig is pictured hiking in the Lake District, UK, taking in the view of Hartsop Dodd fell

LAUREN AND CRAIG’S RECENT NON-STOP TRAVELS

2017

Travels: Morocco and Greece

Worked for six months in Zizzi, UK

2018

Travels: Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Thailand , Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Germany

Worked the winter season in the Norwegian Arctic

2019

Travels: Bought a campervan in Canada for a six-month road trip in the U.S and Canada

Backpacked Patagonia in Chile and Argentina. Then Malta, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt

2020

Lockdown in Sussex, UK

Bought 1989 retro campervan Helga

2021

A one-year road trip in Helga through England, Wales and Scotland including Shetland and Orkney islands. Then onto Ireland

2022

Road trip to Spain. Sold Helga

Backpacked the Balkans, Georgia, Armenia, Mauritius, Southern Africa, Nepal, Thailand and Taiwan

2023

Winter in Norway

Worked in a five-star B&B in the Lake District, UK

2024

Currently backpacking in Oman. Then a budget trip to the Maldives’ local islands, China and Pakistan

‘The best part is the freedom to park up in the wilderness with a jaw-dropping view and be in the best place to witness sunrise or sunset from your doorstep,’ Lauren said.

‘It’s also very rewarding just living a simple life down by the river.’

And the challenges?

‘The biggest are mechanical problems, which cause a lot of stress as it’s not just your car but also your home,’ Lauren said.

‘Some places are more tricky to camp than others with rules banning campervans, and finding simple things like water or a bin can be a struggle.’

And the process of buying and selling a van is ‘usually quite stressful’ as it involves ‘trying to find a trustworthy vehicle that won’t cause too many problems’, she says, adding: ‘But the feeling of finally getting the van, doing a quick renovation job and hitting the road is unbeatable.’

Lauren and Craig were inspired to start travelling after graduating from university, with Craig 'not ready to start a career' and Lauren prompted by 'a simple conversation with a friend' who was about to embark on a gap year to travel. Here, they are pictured in Lofoten, Norway

Lauren and Craig were inspired to start travelling after graduating from university, with Craig ‘not ready to start a career’ and Lauren prompted by ‘a simple conversation with a friend’ who was about to embark on a gap year to travel. Here, they are pictured in Lofoten, Norway

Lauren pictured hiking in the UK's Lake District

Lauren explores the rugged coastline of County Mayo, Ireland

LEFT: Lauren pictured hiking in the UK’s Lake District. RIGHT: Here, she is pictured exploring the rugged coastline of County Mayo, Ireland

In all their years of travelling, the couple have only had to move out of their van on one occasion, on a trip to the U.S when temperatures dropped to -20C. 

‘So we slept in a motel for the night,’ Lauren said.

And they have encountered some safety issues living and travelling in the van, from a stranger trying to get in to people threatening to slash their tyres.

Spain is among the countries to have surprised the couple the most. 'From family beach holidays as a kid, I thought that was all Spain really had to offer,' Lauren said. 'But it¿s such a huge country with varied landscapes and really impressive mountains.' Pictured: Craig at a dam wall in Valencia, Spain

Spain is among the countries to have surprised the couple the most. ‘From family beach holidays as a kid, I thought that was all Spain really had to offer,’ Lauren said. ‘But it’s such a huge country with varied landscapes and really impressive mountains.’ Pictured: Craig at a dam wall in Valencia, Spain

When it comes to their relationship, the couple said they have been ‘pretty inseparable’ since they started dating in 2007, which meant that ‘transitioning into life in a small van was very easy’.

‘We’ve both got our own roles,’ they added.

‘Craig’s the driver while Lauren is the navigator – we usually don’t have a satnav and just use a paper map or a free offline map app. Craig’s the chef and Lauren is the washer-upper.

‘Lauren’s the cleaner while Craig’s the maintenance man. Lauren also does all of the travel planning and takes the photos and videos.’

When it comes to their favourite countries, the U.S is high on the couple’s list for its ‘variety of landscapes, wildlife and friendly people’, they said.

This picture shows the couple kayaking under the midnight sun in Lofoten, Arctic Norway - where the couple have spent several winter seasons

This picture shows the couple kayaking under the midnight sun in Lofoten, Arctic Norway – where the couple have spent several winter seasons

The couple said they have been 'pretty inseparable' since they started dating in 2007, which meant that transitioning into life in a small van like the one pictured here in Sligo County, Ireland, was 'very easy'

Pictured: Craig exploring a cave in the Lake District

The couple said they have been ‘pretty inseparable’ since they started dating in 2007, which meant that transitioning into life in a small van like the one pictured on the left in Sligo County, Ireland, was ‘very easy’. RIGHT: Craig exploring a cave in the Lake District

They also praised Norway ‘for its dramatic mountains rising out of the sea and for the Northern Lights’.

Among their least favourite places are Lithuania, where they felt ‘a rather unfriendly vibe’, and Egypt, which they said was ‘too intense with people constantly trying to get money from us’.

The countries that most surprised them were Spain and South Africa.

‘From family beach holidays as a kid, I thought that was all Spain really had to offer,’ Lauren said.

‘But it’s such a huge country with varied landscapes and really impressive mountains.’

She added that Cape Town in South Africa was also better than anticipated due to its proximity to nature and lively waterfront area with ‘musicians, food markets and a backdrop of Table Mountain’.

Lauren and Craig were attracted to a life of non-stop travel by the prospect of seeing wildlife and experiencing different cultures. Pictured: An old mine in Andalucia, Spain

Lauren and Craig were attracted to a life of non-stop travel by the prospect of seeing wildlife and experiencing different cultures. Pictured: An old mine in Andalucia, Spain

When asked what’s next, it’s no surprise that they revealed they plan to spend the next year backpacking around the world.

They recently arrived at their first stop, Oman, and will head to local islands in the Maldives for a budget trip followed by China and ‘hopefully’ Pakistan, they said.

‘Our plans go a little vague after the first six months so we’ll see where we end up,’ they added.

When asked about their lifestyle preferences, the couple said: ‘We love variety and find we get bored in one place, doing the same thing over and over. Working in one place for six months is usually our limit and then we start to get itchy feet.’

What attracts them to a life of non-stop travel? Seeing new places every day, hiking different routes, wildlife and experiencing different cultures.

The couple said they grow bored when staying in one place and doing the same thing. 'Working in one place for six months is usually our limit and then we start to get itchy feet,' they added. Pictured: A tropical storm in Alif Alif Atoll, Maldives

The couple said they grow bored when staying in one place and doing the same thing. ‘Working in one place for six months is usually our limit and then we start to get itchy feet,’ they added. Pictured: A tropical storm in Alif Alif Atoll, Maldives

We always try to mix up our travels so we don’t become complacent,’ they added.

‘If we keep visiting beaches, they become a bit same-same so by going to a mountainous country next, we can have a whole change of scenery and appreciation.’

Reflecting on the past 15 years and how travel has changed, the couple said it is becoming ‘more challenging as the years go on’ and hinted at the possibility of one day settling down.

They added: ‘It seemed a lot easier when we were younger, without iPhones and we just found our way around each country with a Lonely Planet book.

‘I think also as places become more populated it’s taking more research to find hidden gems.

‘So the idea of having a little patch of land to call home one day and maybe travel a few months a year instead of a full year is sounding more appealing.’

For more from Lauren and Craig visit nonstoptravelling.com and nonstoptravelling.com/blogs. You can find them on TikTok here – www.tiktok.com – and Instagram here www.instagram.com/nonstoptravelling.


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