We are one month into full time travel in our motorhome around Europe. It has certainly been the best decision for us, but it’s not always how it seems on social media! Here are a few things we’ve already found out…
Travelling is tiring! In our first month we drove about 2000 miles, that was way too much. We were so excited to actually be travelling, after so much planning, saving & working extra hours to get here that we got a bit carried away! The world is full of great things to see and fab people to meet but it’s easy to forget that you have unlimited time as a full time traveller, so why rush things?
Factor in rest days. Along with actually driving & navigating different roads in new countries and finding somewhere to stay each night, seeing all these incredible sites usually means lots of walking (or for us, cycling) in and around places. It has taken us a full month to recognise that what we are doing is not just a holiday- this is our life & we need to take care of ourselves. Knowing when to stay in and rest up is important, as it’s no fun to be ill on the road!
Know your rig. Whether you have a converted van, caravan or motorhome, it is SO important that you know what everything is, what is does and how to use it. We lived in our second hand motorhome for a month before we left to travel Europe. We learned lots in that time and thankfully were able to go back to the previous owner with any queries – but we are still learning every day! We’d never used our awning at home, we kind of knew how to use our gas, the heating, how to empty the water & waste and hook up the electricity but it wasn’t a necessity. It’s becoming habit now that we set up and pack down every couple of days, to move to a new place, but it has certainly taken time & lots of mistakes.
Make the most of the weather. We kind of have a schedule of where to be and when but we have enough flexibility to change plans. For about 3 weeks of our first month we had rain, either all day or during the night. Make the most of the sunny days, get the photos of those beautiful sunsets there and then, rest & snuggle up on rainy days or find things to do inside. Look ahead on weather forecasts & make a vague plan of which direction you want to head in. We have driven straight through a rainy place several times to find sunshine just an hour away. Those places have given us some of our best memories.
Get to know your travel partner well. If you’re travelling with someone else you will be spending A LOT of time together. You will be living in a small space with very little room to yourself. Try to figure out your limits, your roles and your dynamic early on. Be open and honest with each other about everything. There’s no room for secrets living in a vehicle! If we’re being annoying or getting annoyed we’ll tell each other there and then. There’s not really much point in sulking or storming off in van life. On the other hand, fresh air and a walk is always good too 😉
Your van won’t be photo ready most of the time. Forget what you see on Instagram! Our van is tidiest when we are getting ready to move to the next place. Everything has to go back in the cupboards & storage so we can drive the van BUT when we are stopped it is our home; dishes & pans are used & get dirty, swimming clothes & towels need to be hung up to dry, we are using the bed so it’s not made most of the time, our windscreen is full of bugs from driving all day, the outside of the van is splattered in mud from wild camping somewhere awesome- it’s real life but none of that goes up on social media!
We’re only a month in so far but we’ve already learned to try not to stress over the small stuff. Things WILL go wrong; stuff breaks, places are closed, weather changes, turns are missed, roads are being dug up, we all get tired, irritable & ill. Life is not all it seems on social media. Get the great photos, see the awesome things but remember that travelling is so much more than those photo perfect moments.