An adventurous couple have sold their house and bought a truck – now they plan to travel it around the world for the next ten years, 100 countries on their itinerary.
David Stephenson, 61, and his wife Charlotte, 60, have been on their mammoth journey for two years and 30 countries, having just completed a road trip across Africa.
The idea came after spotting an overland truck in Tibet. It was love at first sight, and the couple bought it for £250,000 to film worldwide after retirement.
The chic motorhome is equipped with everything you need on the go, from a bathroom to two televisions.
Over the next eight years they will navigate Asia and Oceania and cruise the Americas.
The couple have so far spent just over two years touring across eastern and southern Africa before making their way back to the western side of the continent.
David and Charlotte’s first trip consisted of “breathtaking scenery” and “challenging” border crossings.
They spent around US$80 (£66) per day during their stay in Africa and expect this average to continue throughout the trip.
David, a retired IT business owner from Doncaster, saw an opportunity to give up work and travel as soon as it became financially viable.
“We looked at the world and decided we should do the hardest part of the journey first, so we went to Africa during Covid,” he said.
After “extensively touring” dozens of African countries, they have now brought the truck back to the UK for some repairs.
Recalling his favorite parts of the trip, David comments: “We really enjoyed a lot of the southern lands and all the wildlife – it almost became a part of your life.
“Mozambique was also stunning for the coast – Maputo was one of the best cities we visited in Africa.”
However, Charlotte, a retired makeup artist from Møn, Denmark, revealed the first leg of her world tour wasn’t without moments – like when she was stopped by a youth gang in Nigeria.
“We had some pepper spray and used it to get away from them,” she said.
“Then there was the flooded road in Congo – we couldn’t see what was below us for about 100 meters on that road.”
But the most challenging journey was the crossing from Cameroon to Nigeria.
“Up in the highlands of Nigeria it was rugged, deep and it took us six days to do 350km,” added Charlotte.
The couple is currently spending some time in Spain while her van undergoes mechanical work in England. A bus struck the rear of the vehicle in Côte d’Ivoire, damaging the hydraulics and requiring repairs.
They want to be on the road again by April, when the Asia leg of the world tour begins.
“The repair may take longer than six weeks, but hopefully we’ll be back on the road in April,” said Charlotte.
“You have to be super flexible on your route in Asia, but along the way you chat with other travelers and end up going to different places.”
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran and then the Central Asian countries are on the agenda for the next adventure.
But border restrictions and visa regulations mean their plans may have to change, and they’ve already had to scrap Mongolia from the agenda as it’s inaccessible unless they transit through Russia.
Essentially, Charlotte said they “need to wing it a bit” and see it on the road.
After crossing Asia, they head to Australia and New Zealand before shipping the van back to South America.
Her plans for this leg of the trip are not yet set in stone as they are so far ahead, although Charlotte says she is looking forward to visiting Ecuador and Colombia.
However, they don’t plan on stopping, claiming that traveling this way gives them the “freedom to see anything”.
“We’ve never driven our own vehicle cross-country,” Charlotte said.
“Travelling in local transport is much slower and that just lets us see everyday life.
“The cultures, tribes and people of Africa were incredibly friendly. We slept in villages, wild camped and people totally welcomed us.
“Seeing everything in between is just as good as the big sights.”
All countries Charlotte and David have visited so far
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Reese Witherspoon and her husband say they are divorcing after nearly 12 years of marriage.
The actress and producer and her husband, Hollywood agent Jim Toth, announced their split in a joint statement on Instagram on Friday. Your wedding day is Sunday.
“We made the difficult decision to divorce with great care and thought,” the post reads. “We have shared so many wonderful years together and we move forward with deep love, kindness and mutual respect for all that we have created together.”
Witherspoon and Toth have a son together and they said he remains their top priority and asked for privacy.
The authenticity of the statement was confirmed by a Witherspoon representative. No record of a divorce petition could be found in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Witherspoon was previously married to actor Ryan Phillippe, with whom she has two children.
Today’s Monkey Island Estate Hotel in Bray-on-Thames has a colorful history – the unusual name possibly dates back hundreds of years when the small island in the middle of the Thames was settled by local monks. However, the Grade I listed buildings you see today are more recent, having been built by the 3rd Duke of Marlborough in 1723 as a fishing retreat (okay for some). He commissioned the Palladian architect Robert Morris to build two buildings: a two-storey fisherman’s temple and an octagonal fisherman’s pavilion for sleeping and dining, both of which still stand today. The property had various uses, attracting royalty, authors, musicians and hosting several famous parties over the decades, but was neglected for years before luxury hotel group YTL bought and renovated the property.
Now a fully operational luxury hotel, Monkey Island Estate has to be one of the most unique places in the country. History aside, the setting is really something special, on this tiny island in the middle of the Thames, which you can access by crossing a small footbridge. For Londoners, getting there has never been easier Elizabeth line now direct from London to Maidenhead. We boarded at Farringdon and were in Maidenhead in an hour; From there it is a 10 minute taxi ride to Monkey Island. Do look for road works though as the line only ran as far as Paddington for our return journey the next day.
Over on the island we checked into our room, the Wedgwood Suite, which is one of the grandest on offer, complete with wood paneling, detailed sculpted ceilings, an original fireplace, and windows on each side of the room that allow for many different views across the island and the river. In this room you can feel the history of the place. However, there are also all modern comforts and conveniences, including a TV, Nespresso machine and USB chargers. There is a more modern marble decked bathroom with heated floors (very welcome on the cold March day we visited) and a huge bath and shower.
Due to the island’s protected status, YTL was unable to construct new buildings, so they found a great solution to offer guests spa services – a floating spa on a boat moored to one side of the island. A quick hop down and you can hop on board for a very relaxing massage whilst floating on the Thames. We told you that this place is unique.
The rest of the grounds are fun to explore, although it only takes a few minutes to circle the island. It may be small but you still feel wonderfully relaxed surrounded by rushing water on all sides as you walk around. At the other end of the island there are some very elegant chickens and beehives, so it’s worth exploring.
While one of the original buildings is dedicated to guest rooms, the other is dedicated to bars and restaurants, all open to both guests and visitors. The Monkey Bar is light and airy and has a great outdoor terrace in summer; The Monkey Room is a cozy parlor with a roaring fireplace and a ceiling covered in 17th-century frescoes with lots of…monkeys; and finally there is the main restaurant, the Monkey Island Brasserie. The Brasserie offers classic dishes like shrimp cocktail, steak tartare, fish and chips and the Monkey Island Brie Burger. Breakfast is served in the brasserie the next morning and there is also a Sunday Roast Menu to see if you are there on a Sunday.
All in all, Monkey Island is a great little escape from London and really super easy to get to on the Elizabeth Line. YTL did a great job of restoring the property to its former glory and breathing new life into it.