No, this is not the legendary rock band Van Halen, but perhaps just as hardcore. If you’ve ever dreamed of trading your dreary job for pursuing your passion full time, this gung-ho couple tells you how.
Meet the 24 Hour Travellers Sam and Rene, who took the leap to travel around Malaysia in their self-converted camper van, aptly named VanHalen.
Sam, a Malaysian photographer, and Rene, a Singaporean musician, share that they ran the hamster wheel for 20 years. As they built their careers, they came to the realisation that while functional, it wasn’t quite the life they wanted.
“We were doing what we had to do, which is going through the motions of work for more money, to buy more stuff, and keep on working to maintain the stuff we had bought.”
The Tipping Point
The decision to downsize their lives and pursue something more than a “normal life” came about in April 2017.
When thinking deeply about what they truly wanted, the pair came to the conclusion that they would much rather pack up their bags and see the world.
Hindering them from this was quite simply – everything that had piled up from over the years. As small business owners, Sam and Rene had achieved all the typical milestones – cars, property, office, studio and more.
But unknowingly, all these had started to weigh them down along the way.
“As we built our lives we began accumulating so much stuff! We would be off to work in the morning and back from work in the evening, vacation trips in between many months of hard work… you know – the normal life we all go through.”
“I wasn’t happy and I think as I look back now, nor was Rene.”
The 24 Hour Travellers
Certain that they would not wait for retirement in order to travel full time, Sam and Rene started to minimise their lifestyle. They diluted their companies, created a YouTube channel and built a website to house their new adventures.
“We named ourselves the 24 Hour Travellers because that was the goal we set, we were going to be full-time travellers.”
To fund the #vanlife, they started to sell everything they owned, including one of their cars to buy a pre-loved Toyota Liteace for RM$10,000. With the help of YouTube tutorials and lots of DIY, VanHalen was born.
Sam and Rene decided to travel around Malaysia to get used to #vanlife, working towards their goal of driving overland from Malaysia to the UK.
Travelling together with their dogs Roxy and Bo, the couple document their journey through their YouTube channel, featuring useful tips like their top ten must-haves, DIY modifications, and like-minded travellers they meet on the road.
The journey has not been without hiccups – tyre punctures, getting stuck in soft beach sand, and a leaky rooftop tent are all part of the new normal.
But then again, so is having the comfort of a home on wheels, waking up to a new view every day, and enjoying a cuppa against the backdrop of crashing waves.
#vanlife has brought Sam and Rene throughout Malaysia, and in their ongoing journey, the couple learnt more about what best suits their travel needs. VanHalen has also undergone a rebuild to better utilise its space.
The travellers are intending to begin their overland journey from Malaysia to the UK via China in May 2018. If you wish to live vicariously through Sam and Rene, follow them here –