European Tour

A few years ago we bought ourselves a small campervan (Horizons Unlimited Cavarno 2 from Roy Wood Transits) for short breaks only.  However, since getting it we both talked about taking time out and touring Europe!  A bit of a mad idea in a van thats only 4.8m long!  So we made plans, invested wisely, and set a date in the diary – and every day for over a year my Google desktop at work gave a count down….

Then, our pet rabbit died (a dwarf cross at the ripe old age of 10y10m) meaning we were free to go…

Then as luck would have it circumstances meant we could go a few months earlier a lot happier – though annoyingly after a year of counting down I never saw my timer hit zero!

So with lady luck on our side the adventures started! 

Advanced Planning

Financial / Insurance

Financially we’ve had “a plan” in mind for years, so every decision we’ve made has been with this in mind. So if there was a choice of X or Y, if X was better for when we’ve gone – we’d take that. We’ve made some good, and some interesting investments. We’ve not won the lottery nor do we have unlimited cash.

We’ve allocated a budget which we expect will give us 12 months of adventure. Not 5* adventure, but should be enough to ensure we don’t miss out on opportunities. Any earnings/income/investment we get will be added to this pot which means we can extend our adventure further! So now is the time for my venture capital investments to pay out!!!

When the pot is spent, we’ll either call it a day and do something else, or try and get more funds!!

  • Mortgage: Nationwide very kindly (!) agreed to give us a 12 month mortgage holiday which we should be able to extend if necessary. As such we’ll keep our home running and use it as a port of call.
  • House Insurance: Our home insurers seem really friendly! They are happy for us to go away for up to two months with the only change being “garden furniture is not covered”. If you’ve seen our garden you know this isn’t an issue! So this is all arranged and pretty much trouble free
  • House Checks: We’ve arranged with a friend to perform regular house checks for both security and ensuring it doesn’t fall apart, pipes burst etc. This will give us a security piece of mind when we are away.
  • Annual Travel Insurance: Getting a full policy with extended trips and hazardous sports (see tips)
  • Pensions: Knowing we’d never work full time till 65, we have always paid a fortune into our pensions to forward load. Hopefully the sacrifices this has entailed will pay dividends in future years!  That said, October 2008 seemed to wipe out this thought…

Van Modifications

Since we bought the van we’ve had great support from the team at Roy Wood Transits. They have helped with fixing things; making modifications; and providing parts to allow us to make the van more suitable for long trips. Clearly – multiple 6 week stints in a campervan under 5m long is probably pushing it!! (See van details if interested)

We will be carrying our bikes as we enjoy cycling, but we’ve also had a custom back box made to give us loads of storage for bits & bobs; tools; outdoor furniture; wetsuits and loads of other things.

Purchases Made

In the preceding 18 months we made purchases specifically with this trip in mind which we may not otherwise have made…

  • New Bikes: New reasonable quality hybrid bikes. Lightweight; identical to make maintenance easy; and some good security locks
  • Three 3G Broadband Modem: We found one of these as a bargain so we subscribed! Though it won’t work in Europe (well it will but cost would be excessive) it means we can use it in the UK
  • Books: Lots of country guides; maps
  • Digital Camera: We already had a digital camera, but we bought a much better one – Panasonic Lumix TZ3. Fantastic lens and picture quality whist still being reasonably small.
  • Decent MP3 player: A really superb Creative Zen player which works very well. We have our entire music collection on hand.
  • 12v Accessories: We’ve accumulated enough power adapters to charge run everything off the Vans 12v system meaning we can be without mains power but keep our toys working
  • TomTom XL Europe: A pretty unbeatable satnav that covers all of Western Europe. Really clear and easy to use, and also allows POIs to be added for ease of navigation.  The latest 2Gb European maps are worth getting
  • Nationwide Credit Card: Probably the best and cheapest way of buying things when abroad. We also have Nationwide flex account which allows commission free withdrawals when abroad.

Blogging & Scrap Book

Part of our plan when we are away is to both blog what we are up to on a regular and fun basis, and also to document it in a bit more informative style which you can find off the top menu. This is for our scrap book and our memories, as well as giving information back to the community as a whole as we know others do (or wish to do) similar trips. Hopefully our experiences and facts will help them out.

If you have a campervan or motorhome (or indeed are considering one), a useful and knowledgeable bunch can be found at Motorhome Facts forum. We hope to pull their knowledge when planning our trips!

We hope you find it useful and interesting – if not – then tell us about your dreams! 🙂

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