Surfer couple travelling around Ireland in a Toyota Hiace with roof garden.

We are Jonny 26 and Megan 23. We both are coming from a small town in the north of Ireland. We both have a passion for the ocean and being outdoors. We love exploring our little country and fully appreciate just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful country. Although it is tiny, it has surprises and jaw-dropping scenery around every corner. We had talked about van life for quite a while and were following lots of van life pages on social media. One day we just made the decision to give it a go. We began the journey of finding a van. We looked at many different vans and were quite impressed with the Volkswagen T4, although we were conscious of how common they are for people like us wanting to build a van, and because of this, they are quite expensive/overpriced. A Toyota Hiace drove past me one day, and I instantly thought, “that’s it.” It’s almost identical in size to the VW T4 except with a bit more length and head height, and with them not being very popular here for campers, it’s quite nice having something different than the standard VW’s.

We enjoyed the design process of the van, from the start we had a pretty good idea of what layout we wanted and what would give us the most amount of functional space. Although we did change a few minor things along the way, such as putting the bed frame on hinges, so that the storage could be accessed by lifting the bed up instead of having to pull our drawers, maximising the floor space, we opted for carpeting the ceiling over using wood and think it turned out well, also adding some extra insulation. Our clothing storage is accessible from inside the van under the bed, and the sports/outdoor storage is accessible from the back doors. This is where we keep the SUP, surfboard fins & wetsuits, etc..


The whole process took about four months, although we weren’t able to work on the van every day, so sometimes we would only get a day or so each week, and some weeks we even took a break to go on adventures. We tried to use recycled materials where possible and used eco-friendly materials for the rest. We think the mixture of old & new looks really good and creates a nice contrast. This is most noticeable with the new tiles against the reclaimed wood on the kitchen units.
We cook on a double gas burner fed by a 5L refillable canister. Our water is fed through a hand-pump tap and comes from a food-safe 20L water container. The greywater drains straight down into a wastewater container. We have an electric cool-box that keeps its cool temperature for 12 hours even after being switched off. It’s great being able to take things like milk, yoghurt, and juice with us and have it nice and cool.


I would say our favourite part of the van, and the bit that makes it unique is our roof garden. We get a lot of people complimenting the idea and asking how we went about the process. It turned out even better than we had pictured and have already had many cups of tea on top while watching the sunset. We’re both proud of the idea, and it’s cool having something completely unique.


The best thing about living in a van is the amount of freedom it provides. Travelling anywhere we want and having our bedroom/kitchen/garden with us is amazing. It’s also cool seeing the response and the sense of community you feel from others living the van life. Eather that be a simple nod as we drive past or the curiosity of others wanting to compare ideas and just talk to like-minded people. It’s fun to meet new people and see their van builds.


Our advice to anyone thinking about starting the van life: Just do it! Enjoy the process of building a van. You will not regret it!


Our short term plans are to enjoy exploring Ireland, we both enjoy surfing, so we like to follow the surf forecasts and swell charts and try to find new places to surf. Long term, who knows, maybe we’ll take it to Europe.


We currently have an Instagram page, advantureireland. We try to post daily and respond to all the comments and messages that we receive. We really appreciate all of the positive comments and feedback we have gotten for the van so far.


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