Ruth and Josh Betts had a big, bold dream: they’d quit their nine-to-five jobs, sell their stuff and travel the world.
“We wanted to achieve more out of our lives,” Josh tells YOU.
The couple, both 25, had been married for three years when they decided to shake things up fundamentally. “We wanted to prove it was possible to work from the confinements of wherever you are and still live a fulfilled life,” Josh says.
They were initially going to visit countries around the world and spend at least a month in each location – but of course, the pandemic put paid to these grand plans.
It all started at the end of 2019, back when Covid-19 was barely a blip on the radar. Ruth and Josh, who are high-school sweethearts, set off for Mauritius.
They figured if something didn’t work out, “we were at least just an eight-hour flight away from SA”. Then lockdown struck, and they ended up being stuck in the little jewel in the Indian Ocean for nearly six months until they were repatriated in June last year.
They then stayed with family in Cape Town for four months and when it became apparent that Covid wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry, they realised they’d have to tweak their dreams. So, their next big travel plan became exploring South Africa.
“We thought, well, since we can’t travel the way we wanted to, why not begin at home?” Ruth says. “That’s when we came up with the idea of touring the country in a caravan.”
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The couple then moved into Josh’s parents’ home in KwaZulu-Natal and bought a 1988 Sprite caravan which they named Stan.
“Stan used to belong to someone who lived down the road and it had been parked in one spot for 18 months. He needed a lot of TLC but we managed to get him for R18 000,” Ruth says.
It cost another R15 000 to repair and upgrade Stan to get it roadworthy and habitable. With the help of Ruth's grandfather, it took the Betts 10 weeks to complete Stan’s transformation.
They embarked on their trip in January this year. “We set out to test drive Stan,” Ruth says, “but it was actually our first official trip because we had no other home to go back to. Stan was our new home.”
Using their Mitsubishi Pajero to tow Stan, the couple drove from KZN to the Western Cape.
“Our country is such a beautiful place and holds so much unseen and unexplored beauty.”
So far, the only provinces they’ve visited are the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, “but being able to enjoy the wonders of our country with each other has been fulfilling”.
The couple says that their monthly expenses have decreased dramatically compared to when they were renting an apartment.
“If we decide to book a long-term stay somewhere, we usually spend about R4 500 a month if we’re renting a trailer spot,” Ruth says. “Josh is really good at budgeting, so we ensure that we enjoy the benefits of spending money on the things that we love.”
The Betts estimate their joint expenses are R15 000 per month, which includes about R3 500 for fuel for Stan.
The couple are continuing to work while they travel – Ruth teaches online and Josh works in marketing.
“On weekends we enjoy the great outdoors and exploring our destination through activities such as hiking, kayaking, and visiting nature parks,” Ruth says.
“Stan has taken us to some beautiful locations; places we never dreamed existed in South Africa even though we’ve always lived here. We’ve watched the landscapes change and are always in awe of the beauty.