I was introduced to Lucy on the beach in Montauk earlier this year, a ray of sunshine with a British accent!
Lucy has more stamps in her passport than almost anyone – and all of the deeply interesting, crazy, unbelievable travel stories to go with them…
She’s a digital content specialist, writer and photographer, and was raised in England, hit the road 8 years ago and never looked back. Since then, she’s traveled to over 30 countries, including a few years living in Australia before landing in New York five years ago. Never one to sit still, Lucy and her boyfriend are still out of town almost every weekend of the year – and a few months ago they decided to buy a vintage van, so they can hit the road anytime they want.
That’s what I love most about Lucy: she puts adventure and experience above luxury. A true explorer.
When I told G about her, we decided we had to talk to Lucy a little more about her nomadic lifestyle, her favorite places to visit in Montauk, and what #vanlife is really like…
You love to travel. Where do you think that passion comes from?
I was recently graduated from university and working as a fashion assistant in London. One winter’s morning I remember thinking clearly, as I schlepped six suitcases of clothes to the studio in the rain, in the dark, there has to be more than this! There’s a whole world out there! So, I decided I would go and see it. I worked three jobs and saved enough to travel, on a shoestring budget, around the world for a year. Needless to say, I was hooked and never quite made it home…
Now you travel regularly in your van. What inspired you to get the van?
We were back from trip to Cuba and facing the prospect of a long hot summer in New York City. So we decided to buy a moving summer share—a 1985 Volkswagen Westfalia. These vans are set up for the road, with sleeping space, a kitchen and lots of room for surfboards (essential!) We named her La Guaguita—or ‘the little bus’ in Cuban Spanish.
What did it look like when you first got it? What are some of the updates you’ve made?
Well the past thirty years haven’t been easy on the old girl! We bought it from a guy who did multiple cross-country trips and had driven all the way through Mexico to Guatemala. I’d imagine she has a few stories to tell. We started with a brand new set of curtains, a new pop-top, lots of Mexican blankets and a Moroccan rug for the floor.
And what else do you still plan to fix up?
The list is endless and includes far too much boring-but-necessary mechanical stuff. But I have Pinterest-inspired dreams of wood-paneled doors, copper details & seats upholstered in Shibori Indigo.
What do you love most about getting around in a van?
You can go be spontaneous, pick up and go anywhere. Waking up to the sunrise, the sound of waves crashing on the shore and not a soul in sight is probably one of my favorite things.
And what do you like the least?
#VanLife isn’t very romantic when it’s bucketing down with rain and the roof begins to leak.
So do you ever just wish you were in a hotel bed instead?
We haven’t given up yet but we’ve been close!
What parts of your van make it feel like home?
We recently managed to squeeze in seven friends and spent the evening up on the headland listening to Marty Robbins and sipping Nicaraguan rum—La Guaguita proved to be 80 square feet of perfect, homely entertaining space. I think we had everyone sold on the van life that evening.
This summer, you’re taking your van out to Montauk every weekend. Why there?
I love that it’s three hours and a world away from New York. Living in the city, my boyfriend and I crave the outdoors—he’s Australian—and Montauk is an adventure playground for surfing, fishing and hiking.
Describe your perfect Montauk weekend…
Friday night, 11.30pm. Arrive late (58mph is the van’s max speed, the going is slowwww) and usually park up on the headland, sit under the stars and drink a bottle of red.
Saturday morning, 6.30am. Surf check and a pot of coffee. Paul usually heads out for a wave or a fish while I’ll take photos if the light is good.
Saturday, 11am. Beach time. We’ll usually head to one of our favorite beaches—either out of town along Old Montauk Highway or Ranch, which you have to walk for about a ½ hour to reach. Both are usually empty.
Saturday afternoon, 2pm. Lunch at The Dock, one of our favorite spots in Montauk. The Fishwich sandwich and Wölffers Estate rosé are perfection.
Saturday night, 6pm. Dinner is prawns and freshly caught fish from Gosman’s Seafood Market, cooked in a cast iron pan over the fire. Our secret spot is on a beach just off Montauk Point, where the sunsets are incredible.
Sunday morning, 9am. Head into town, grab an acai bowl at Happy Bowls. Wander around town; visit the Montauk Community Garden for beautiful flowers and locally grown vegetables. Get a coffee at Left Hand, browse the Air & Speed Surf shop and pop in to the Cynthia Rowley boutique.
Sunday, 12pm. Pick up a bottle of rosé and head to Duryea’s Lobster Deck for lobster and views of the Fort Pond.
Sunday afternoon, 3pm. Walk it off. There are some amazing hiking trails in Montauk: Shadmoor State Park or the Seal Haul trail.
Sunday night, 6pm. Head to Liar’s Saloon for a quick Corona (or their chocolate mudslides if you’re feeling ambitious/insane)
Sunday, 8pm. Hit the road, stopping at Lobster Grille Inn on the way home to New York (food clearly ranks fairly highly on our weekend agenda!).
And, finally, what’s Montauk’s best kept secret?
Montauk’s best kept secret is the miles upon miles of beautiful, deserted sandy beaches–get out of town, away from the madness of the crowds and explore. And the fried fluke sandwich at the Sand Dollar food truck, that’s pretty epic.
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