Explore and Snore – Michelle O’Neill – Campervan hire
Couple convert old ambulances into campervans to explore Northern Ireland's hidden gems.
Cancelled travel plans during the coronavirus lockdown led to one young couple from Co Antrim making the decision to convert an old van to allow them to travel around Ireland.
Two years on, Éamonn McCaughan and Michelle O'Neill have turned two old ambulances into campervans and set up their own business, Explore and Snore, to allow travellers to experience the beauty on our doorstep.
The couple, who met each other in Dubai while travelling four years ago, have always been big fans of going on holidays abroad. However, their cancelled trip to Italy in the summer of 2020 changed their mindset and soon sparked a love of travelling throughout Ireland they're hoping to pass on to others.
Starting off in an old Transit van they named Shan - after the builder who sold them it - Éamonn and Michelle converted it into a campervan that had a bedroom and kitchen. Saying they barely knew how to use a hammer and drill before taking on the job, the couple quickly began to learn with the help of family and friends, as well as some YouTube tutorials.
After posting a few photos on Instagram of their travels around the south-west of Ireland, they started to receive booking requests. Due to issues with their old van, they didn't rent it out, but when they found an old ambulance for sale, they decided to step things up.
"We bought a builder's van for £900 at that stage and spent another £400 converting it into a little campervan. We bought it off an old man called Shan, and we ended up calling it that. Phonetically, in Irish it means 'old', which suited the van.
When we started to get requests for bookings, we didn't rent out Shan as it was too old. We thought to ourselves, okay let's do this a bit better then potentially rent it out afterwards.”
"We watched a lot of YouTube videos to get the DIY skills. We thought of all the things we really liked from our trip in Shan and added some extras like a movie projector and board games, as you can't always guarantee the weather in Ireland. We also stuck in a diesel heater so it means it can be used all year around. We called the new van Lance. We put one photo up on Instagram and booked out for like a month, it was crazy."
Éamonn added: "After finishing Lance, we headed off on our own trip to see more of Ireland and to test it out. We thought we would try to rent it out for the rest of the summer when we got back.
"At the start of our trip, we put the photo up and we spent our whole holiday inundated with requests. We had the whole summer booked up by the time we got back from our week trip, it was crazy the interest."
In the year since taking their first booking, four couples have been engaged in Lance, and Éamonn and Michelle since bought another old ambulance to convert, which they called Amber.
The couple, who are based near Ballycastle, said they love seeing people off on their journeys and enjoy being able to provide recommendations. They're hoping that through their business, they're able to showcase some of the stunning hidden gems to be found on the island of Ireland.
Éamonn said: "It's about breaking that mindset that you have to go on a plane to travel, you really don't. It took Covid for us to realise that, but now we really enjoy it."
"I think the Antrim Coast is such a hidden gem, and when people come up from down south, they haven't really seen much of Antrim. Travelling around in a van is the best way to see the coast and all the scenery. You can park up anywhere and see the most amazing views out the back window," Michelle added.
Looking forward to the future, they're hoping to convert more vans - although can't guarantee each will be an old ambulance! But they're looking forward to introducing more people to a more peaceful way of travelling.
To contact Explore and Snore:
Address: 33 Strandview Road, Ballycastle BT54 6AJ