Northern Ireland woman and boyfriend on seven-year trip round world in homemade campervan

A Co Down woman and her partner are in the middle of what could turn out to be a seven-year road trip in a van which they’ve converted into their new home.

Saturday, 28th August 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 28th August 2021, 2:50 pm
Bradley and Cazzy in their homemade campervan named 'Helen'

Being told she shouldn’t travel extensively by doctors spurred on Cazzy Magennis and led to her becoming the author of a successful travel blog along with her boyfriend Bradley Williams whom she met at university in England.

The News Letter caught up with the pair on their biggest adventure to date, as they pulled ‘Helen’ over to the side of the road in Macedonia having found decent 4G signal.

Helen is the name of the Peugeot Boxer van which Cazzy and Bradley turned into their travelling hotel room during lockdown.

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At the Stelvio Pass in Italy

Cazzy, 28, said: “We have a shower, a toilet, an oven, a bed – it’s like a little home. We have everything we need.”

Bradley, 27, added: “Covid had us sitting for a year – a long time for two people who travel full-time. When we did get the chance to travel again, we decided it was going to be a mammoth of an adventure.”

So far Helen has taken them through France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia and into eastern Europe. Macedonia is the 13th country they have visited on the trip.

Cazzy and Bradley started a travel blog five years ago and in the past three years its success has meant they could do it as a full time occupation.

Travel bloggers Bradley Williams and Cazzy Magennis

Bradley said: “It’s a numbers game – we have to get a lot of visitors on the site, then we make money through ad revenue, sometimes affiliate sponsorship – if we recommend a hotel we’ve stayed at and someone else books it we get a commission.”

Cazzy, who grew up in Castlewellan, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 16 and advised against long-term travelling by doctors.

She said: “I’ve always been the type of person who didn’t like when people told me ‘no’. I’m a really determined person, I wasn’t going to let that diagnosis hold me back. I wanted to show other people with diabetes that you don’t have to let it hinder you.”

After leaving school Cazzy went to University of Exeter where she met her boyfriend Bradley from Kent.

Loved up in Paris

On her career, Cazzy said: “It’s super interesting, though I think sometimes our parents wonder what it is we actually do. Some people are confused when you tell them being a blogger is your full time job.

“This is the digital world. There are so many ways to make money online now – this is just one of them.”

On a trip so huge you may expect driving duties to be shared, but for now it’s just Bradley at the wheel.

Cazzy explained: “I have a licence but I haven’t driven in a very long time so Bradley does all the driving. In saying that I am trying to train myself how to drive the van in case of emergencies. Ask me in a year and maybe I’ll be driving.”

Cazzy in residence

The pair said they’ve had plenty of highlights without any high drama: “We’ve never had any major scares or issues when we’ve been travelling. We’ve been really lucky that we haven’t experienced anything horrible.

“We don’t do anything out of the ordinary to annoy anyone, so we shouldn’t have any problems. So far, so good.”

Asked if living in close quarters ever gave rise to arguments, Cazzy said: “It’s a good way to test a relationship. We can’t hold grudges, there’s nowhere to run to. We’re humans, we obviously argue, but they don’t last long.”

Reflecting on the trip, Bradley said: “We’ve been together for seven years and travelled for six of those. Maybe this trip will end up being a farewell to our younger selves. At the end of it we’ll get an ordinary job, an ordinary house, settle down with kids.”

But for now, Helen is their only dependent and when the pair have to cross major oceans she will go on cargo ferry while they follow by plane.

Cazzy said: “That’ll be a new experience for us – saying goodbye to the van for a couple of weeks and worrying will it get to the other side.”

Inside the van

“There really isn’t a finish time, we’re just going to play it by ear,” said Bradley.

“It looks like it will take three or four years but it could end up taking six or seven.”

Cazzy said: “Covid is the real dictator in this, how fast we can go will be about how quickly borders open.

“Bosnia has been the first and only country on this whole trip who asked for anything. Borders have been a lot more open, at least the land borders, than what you might think.

• Follow Cazzy and Bradley’s blog at www.dreambigtravelfarblog.com

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Cazzy in the Italian Dolomites