An American man and a Spanish woman both had wanderlust in common when they met five years ago — and soon got hitched in Las Vegas so they could travel around the US together in an van.
Lidia Rico, 28, from Palma de Mallorca, Spain was working as an au pair in the US when she met Philip Miller, 33, from Jacksonville Beach, Florida in San Diego in December 2014, and the two quickly feel for each other.
After Lidia’s visa expired, she had to head back home — but it wasn’t long after that that Philip flew to Europe to pop the question, bringing her back to the US to say ‘I do’ so they could cruise around the US and Canada in Philip’s RV.
Wanderlust: Lidia Rico, 28, and Philip Miller, 33, quit their jobs, got hitched, and now travel around together in a van
Downsized: They started out in an RV but traded it in for a tiny van
Lidia was working as a personal trainer and had a seafront home in Spain when she decided she wanted to travel more and learn English.
‘My life was perfect back in Spain. I had a good job as a personal trainer and also worked as a bartender,’ she said.
‘I had a nice apartment on the beach and lots of friends, and my family was always close by. I can say that I had a very comfortable and easy life back then.
‘But one day I started feeling curious about learning a new language. I really wanted to learn English and I also felt very interested in traveling to a foreign country by myself. I looked up some options and the best one for me was moving to the USA.
‘After months of research and a lot of paperwork I moved there with a work visa as an au pair and an opportunity of going to school to learn the language.’
Meanwhile, in Florida, Philip was working as a mechanic and wanted more time to enjoy life.
‘I was completely sick of it. I was working six days a week and covered in grease and sweat just to pay bills and be broke,’ Philip said.
On the road: Lidia, who is from Spain, was in the US working as an au pair, while Philip had quit his job in Florida to travel
Moving fast: About a year after they met, they got married in Las Vegas
Hitting the road: The couple hit the road in Philip’s RV, driving to Florida, then Canada, then back to California
Breaking free: ‘Routines aren’t for me, I was fed up with doing the same thing every day,’ Philip said of his decision to quit his job
‘Routines aren’t for me, I was fed up with doing the same thing every day, going to the same places, seeing the same faces, most of which I wasn’t too fond of. I was always moving into different homes and changing shops/jobs out of boredom.’
He decided to buy an RV and live a nomadic lifestyle, traveling across the US to California.
Lidia was taking a solo trip to San Diego in December of 2014 at the same time that Philip was in the southern California city, and the pair fell head over heels for one another and started dating.
‘We dated for seven wonderful months, but sadly my work visa then expired and I had to go back home to Spain,’ Lidia said.
‘It was very difficult to separate from Philip, but we continued a long-distance relationship for a few months. Then, to my surprise, in September 2015 Philip flew to Spain and he proposed to me.’
They both returned to the US, and on December 3, 2015, they tied the knot in Las Vegas, Nevada with an Elvis impersonator serving as the officiant.
DIY: They bought a 2006 Ford E350 6.0 Power Stroke Diesel 4X4 van for $3,900 and renovated it themselves
Frugal: They’ve saved a lot of money doing their own work on the vehicle
Nice digs: The pair have spent roughly $20,000 on their current van, but they estimate it to be worth around $100,000
They then hit the road in Philip’s RV, driving to Florida, then Canada, then back to California.
In 2018, after three and a half years on the road, they upgraded their old RV for a 2006 Ford E350 6.0 Power Stroke Diesel 4X4 van for $3,900.
‘Now we have been living on the road for over five years,’ said Lidia, adding that they’ve covered more than 20,000 miles together.
The pair have spent roughly $20,000 on their current van, but they estimate it to be worth around $100,000.
Philip and Lidia did the renovation work themselves, which saved them $15,000 in labor costs.
As for expenses, Philip said food costs them about $2,000 a month, since they’re buying ‘high quality, fresh and organic foods.’
Gas is between $150 and $800, depending on how much they’ve traveled in a given month.
Healthy: As for expenses, Philip said food costs them about $2,000 a month, since they’re buying ‘high quality, fresh and organic foods’
‘We afford this lifestyle because we never pay campsites or RV parks and we never have to pay to visit a mechanic thanks to Philip,’ Lidia explained
Car insurance cost $50 per month, recreation is between $100 and $300, and car maintenance is $0 to $120. They also always have about $1,000 saved for emergencies.
‘We afford this lifestyle because we never pay campsites or RV parks and we never have to pay to visit a mechanic thanks to Philip,’ Lidia explained.
Still, their parents were skeptical when they made the commitment to live in a van.
‘Our families’ first reaction was like, “Are you ok? You must be crazy!” but we feel like our families have always supported our decisions and respected our pursuits for happiness,’ Lidia added.
‘We have felt a lot of love from both sides of our families and we are always in touch with them through WhatsApp or Instagram almost daily.’
Right now, they’re saving up to explore Mexico, and also want to ‘explore remote areas’ of the countries they visit, finding ‘the best off road trails and secret beaches out there.’
Do you: Their parents were skeptical when they made the commitment to live in a van, but they’re still supportive
Next up: Right now, they’re saving up to explore Mexico, and also want to ‘explore remote areas’ of the countries they visit
They document their adventures on social media, and encourage others to follow their lead if they consider themselves to be adventurous.
‘It allows you to get to do more of the things you love, and you’ll save thousands of dollars every month,’ Lidia said.
‘If something has sparked your interest, stop thinking and just start doing. The only way to know if you will like it is by trying.
‘Life is too short so don’t wait until you “retire” and you’re too old to enjoy yourself. Figure out what you truly want in life and what gives you the most meaning, then go after it.
‘In the end we don’t do this just to save money or travel. Every day we discover more about ourselves and the world in such an intimate way.’