Florry the Lorry (Image: NC)
However, new figures from the DVLA reveal that in the past 12 months they have received more than 21,000 applications for vehicles to be turned into living spaces, a rise of almost two thirds in two years. Living in a van is no longer the last resort of the hard-up and homeless. Today, a new tribe of "digital nomads" are giving up their high-powered 9-to-5 jobs for the freedom of a life on the road. Instagram is full of dreamy interiors under the hashtag "vanlife".
Inspired by the urge to travel sooner rather than later, and increasingly aware that life is short, these couples are buying up old builders' vehicles and kitting them out with bespoke interiors including wooden flooring, luxury kitchens and solar-powered wifi connections.
Built in storage space for mountain bikes or diving equipment is a given, while many also feature woodburning stoves, onboard showers and unique feature windows - in one case a washing machine door given a whole new spin.
Here we talk to three couples who have discovered that home is where you park it...‘We were living our lives to pay a mortgage'
Chris and Catherine Carlton self-built their luxurious home inside Florry, a 7.5 tonne Daf LF45 Euro 5 that cost them £15,000 and is larger than many studio flats, offering them accommodation measuring 32ft x 8ft.
They have transformed this into a gorgeous little apartment with plants, reclaimed wine crates on the walls, and a fully equipped kitchen.
Catherine and Chris enjoy the travelling life thanks to their converted lorry Florry (Image: NC)
The lorry even has an ensuite bathroom with Moroccan tiles, shower and loo. Chris, 50, who worked long hours in IT in the City, and Catherine, 51, who had worked as a lecturer and researcher, have just been in Menorca for a month and left recently for a trip that will take them through Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
"We chose to live this way because we were sick and tired of living our lives working to pay a mortgage so we could live in a home made of bricks and mortar," says Catherine.
"We packed up our family home, sold stuff, gave a lot to charity and rented out our house.This helps fund our two passions, diving and travelling, while always having our home with us.
"So far it's been a wonderful experience and given us the opportunity to do things together without the stresses of work.Technology makes it easier to keep in touch with family and we can travel home whenever we want to."
The couple spent two years building their lorry, gutting a £400 caravan in the process for its windows.
"Now we are living a simple life with a new view and experience every few days. You don't have to be a millionaire to travel, you just need gumption and determination to live your dream."
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Last year Chris and Marianne Fisher gave up their full-time jobs, sold all their belongings and swapped their luxurious six-bedroom house in Telford for a six-metre-long, 15-year-old Fiat Ducato van named Trudy.
Their intention is to set foot in every country in the world and to spend the rest of their lives travelling.
"We rented out our beautiful dream house after selling everything; the MX5 sports car, the BMW motorbike and all the furniture. Our friends thought we were mad," says Marianne, 52, a former hospital