Wales

Travel: Family to sell their home to live on the road in Europe

Jennifer and Ollie Mansfield Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Jennifer and Ollie Mansfield will "throw their clothes in a van" and see what happens

"Around 12 months ago we were sitting on the sofa, we'd missed the mortgage payment and I just said to my husband, 'don't you sometimes wish you could just get in a van and drive off?'"

And thus the seed was planted, said Jennifer Mansfield, 33, for a potential new life on the move.

Next summer, Jennifer, originally from Mold, Flintshire, her husband Ollie and their 19-month-old son Charlie will throw their clothes into a van and travel across Europe.

Their plan is to sell their home and buy a van, visiting Scandinavia in the first instance. Italy and Greece are also on the wish-list.

Apart from that, they have no concrete plans, no timetable and no idea when or if they might return home.

Home is currently the East Sussex town of Hastings, having previously lived in London.

"We wanted to live life at a slower pace. London is a bubble. It's brilliant. I lived there for eight years. But it's a proper hamster wheel," said Jennifer.

"We wanted to slow down and we've done that. Hastings is lovely. But it's time for another adventure.

"There's so much pressure with stuff like paying the mortgage and the bills. And I just decided that we didn't want to put up any more with our life and our circumstances - we wanted to take back control.

"We felt that we were perpetually living our lives for other people, making money to pay everyone else and there was nothing left over for us."

Image copyright Llun teulu
Image caption Jennifer is confident that her son, Charlie will enjoy travelling as "he loves meeting people"

Jennifer used to work as a personal trainer but at 28 she suffered a nervous breakdown. She had experienced depression and anxiety since her teens.

"Unfortunately, the NHS couldn't help me, so I had to find another way to recover. They basically said, 'You're depressed, you're going to have it your whole life, you're going to have to learn to cope with it'.

"That wasn't good enough for me. I couldn't see the point of living if I had to learn to live like this."

She found a way forward after attending a course which encouraged her to change her thinking, learn from past experiences and tackle potential obstacles.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ollie and Jennifer will write a blog so that friends and family can follow their travels

Since then she's helped others face a range of difficulties in their lives and is now a life coach.

She feels many people live unhappy lives, working only to pay the bills and spending their money on material things.

"People are very lonely," she said.

"Thirty, 40 years ago, everyone knew their neighbours and we visited each other's homes.

"It's easy to avoid speaking to people all day in some jobs. You're on your computer or whatever. We've lost that connection with each other."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The family could be spending next Christmas abroad, and Italy is one of the countries on their wish list

Since the move to Hastings, the couple have struggled financially - Jennifer earned considerably more when she was in London, but motherhood affected the budget and Ollie's earnings as a musician fluctuate.

"We've cut back on everything. The worst thing was having to find a new home for our cats because we couldn't afford to keep them."

But she's confident that life on the road is achievable, for a while at least.

She will continue to offer online coaching and Ollie has started supporting musicians whose crippling anxiety affects their ability to perform.

But what do her family make of their decision?

"They are delighted. They think it's really cool and have said that when we return we can live in their houses and they'll take our van for a while!"

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