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Why We Came Home Early From Our 2 Month European Road-Trip

If you’re a reader here, you’ll know that towards the end of last year we went on an epic 2 month trip around Europe with our dog in our converted van, Boris. It was an incredible adventure, undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. If you’re thinking of doing it, I can’t recommend it more!

I’ve written a couple of blog posts on here when I’ve had the time, and I’ve spoken briefly about the ups and downs. Some of you will know that we anticipated going for 3 months but we ended up coming home after 2 months, so here’s the reality… Here’s why we came home early from our road-trip around Europe.

Why We Came Home Early From Our 2 Month European Road-Trip | UK Lifestyle Blog

Working abroad is harder than it looks

There was a divide of opinions when I told people that we were going travelling and working from our laptops abroad. Most people said it was a great idea because we can work from anywhere in the world. Some people expressed their concern and said it wouldn’t be easy, and we’d never work. I’ve got a strong work ethic, I have 0% problems motivating myself and love working on my business. I figured it would be easy to balance travelling and working because I have a genuine passion for what I do.

Turns out working from a laptop in another country is difficult. Mostly because you wake up every morning somewhere new and you’re desperate to go exploring. The days fly by when you’re travelling and before you know it the week is over. Prospective clients often wanted to meet up and I wouldn’t know when we’d be back in the country, it made phone calls slightly tricky, too. We got by for the most part but then it got to the point that I needed and wanted to just focus on my business and our clients.

We ended up barely working and coming home sooner instead of working and travelling longer – this worked for us. BUT it is possible to work abroad, and I’m writing a post with some tips on how you can do it.

There’s a small window where the weather is tolerable

When we first went out to Europe it was the beginning of September. I was a little gutted that we were going so late in the year for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was upset that our trip would be restricted to 3 months because I had another holiday booked to Jordan #firstworldproblem. Secondly, because I thought we’d missed all the sunshine and we’d be travelling when it’s cold. Don’t get me wrong, I love cold countries, in a matter of fact I prefer them but I figured we’d need some warmth when travelling in a van.

Boy, was I wrong! The weather in Europe was BEAUTIFUL and we just missed the school holiday crowds. Despite the van being insulated with blackout curtains, we’d wake up in the morning baking hot. Most mornings we’d rip open the curtains and pour ourselves our the side window. Any hotter and it would have been too uncomfortable for us and our dog, Alfie. Towards the end of our trip, the nights were dropping below freezing and feeling comfortable was getting increasingly difficult.

Why We Came Home Early From Our 2 Month European Road-Trip | UK Lifestyle Blog

Missing home comforts

Our van was small and cute. It had a double bed, a tiny kitchen for whipping up meals and a bit of storage. We had an emergency toilet tucked away in case we needed it, but we weren’t kitted out with a shower or a waste tank, so we had to use public facilities almost exclusively. This made travelling a little tricky but we had an app on our phone that told us where the closest toilet was and we used swimming pools and gyms when we wanted to have a shower. We got used to it pretty quickly but it’s exhausting having to plan when to use the toilet and have a shower, as opposed to just rolling out of bed and having everything you need.

We also didn’t realise how uncomfortable our bed in the van was until we decided to have a cheat night and booked a hotel in the last week of our travels. We decided to opt for a bit of luxury when we returned Chamonix, the place that S proposed in 2016. I had a bath and we slept in a king-size bed – we remembered what we’d been missing and promptly began driving back to England. It’s these little things that you end up sacrificing which is fine in the short-term but then after a while, all you want is a hot shower and a comfy bed.

Drawing a line on spending money

We went away with a rough budget on how much we thought we’d spend whilst travelling. After Boris broke down on the first couple of days and we were left with a €2,000~ bill, our budget went out the window. We tried to keep costs down but it’s hard to do when you’re travelling. We ended up justifying spending money by saying “Well, we’ll probably never come back here, so let’s just do it!”. We ended up cooking less and less and enjoyed eating out at restaurants and in coffee shops.

Why We Came Home Early From Our 2 Month European Road-Trip | UK Lifestyle Blog

It was great and I’m glad we did it because travelling should be enjoyable. What good is it going to all these beautiful countries if you can’t eat their cuisine, visit museums and go up cable cars? We had so much fun, but every time we topped up our travel card with another thousand pounds, we were reminded of how quickly we were spending money. We didn’t total it up but our wallets were feeling a lot lighter and we started to question where do we draw the line and low do we let our bank accounts go before we turn around and return home.

Our return date was never set in stone

Yes, we absolutely wanted to go for the full 3 months, but it was never set in stone. We crossed the channel on a ferry to France without a plan of where we’ll go, we just wanted to go with the flow. I had a work event in Milan at the end of November, so we figured if we finished our trip there we could work that into our itinerary before returning home before Christmas. Whilst the idea was great, we always left with the idea that “if we don’t like it, we can always come home before Milan”.

It wasn’t a case of not enjoying it but it goes back to point #1. Weeks before I was scheduled to present in front of hundreds of people at a conference in Milan, I still hadn’t prepped and I wasn’t in the headspace to do it. I needed to be at home to pull myself together professionally before the talk. I take my job seriously, and I wasn’t about to mess up my reputation for a couple more weeks of travelling. This coupled with everything else, we decided to go home and get a couple of cheap flights to Milan after arriving home.

2019-08-03T22:47:57+00:00 August 5, 2019|Van Life|

FAQ: Traveling Around Europe in a Van with Our Dog!

Last year we went on an epic 2-month road trip around Europe in our converted campervan with our dog, Alfie. It was one heck of an experience! In a nutshell we covered 6,150 kilometres, 920,692~ steps between the 2 of us, 9 countries, 15 cities, 10 towns, 24 areas of natural beauty, 17 lakes, 3 summits, over 48,000ft altitude gain (4,265ft of which was a toboggan run!), 19 bucket list items, 2 roadside assistance breakdowns, 1 gas leak that resulted in the van catching fire.

It was something I wanted to do for a while, and as soon as I could commit the time and money to do it, we got on the road. When we got back from our travels we got asked tons of questions. So I decided to put together a post on some of the things we get asked the most. I’m planning on slowly writing about each location that we visited (eventually!), so stay tuned.

FAQ: Traveling Around Europe in a Van with Our Dog! | UK Lifestyle Blog

What was your favourite stop?

It’s difficult to say because we went to so many different places and they were all so wildly different. But sitting underneath the majestic Toblerone mountain, Matterhorn, in Zermatt, Switzerland was one of the most awe-inspiring views I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. I could have sat there all day marvelling at the view (to which I did…).

What did you learn

We learnt so much, more than I ever thought we would. From learning about Low Emission Zones in cities and driving regulations in Europe through to stuff that really changed my perspective. For example, I learn that if I don’t work every minute of every day, my business doesn’t fail. I also learn that having a work fire extinguisher is essential when you’re travelling in a camper van.

FAQ: Traveling Around Europe in a Van with Our Dog! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Did you guys argue

S and I don’t really argue. Occasionally we bicker about how I have too many clothes or about how S doesn’t clean his desk, overall though we’re pretty relaxed. Living in a tiny van for 2 months was going to be a test for us but we barely argued, other than when we got lost a couple of times. Even in horribly stressful situations we somehow still managed to laugh through it.

What went wrong?

In the beginning, EVERYTHING. The van broke down, we had a gas leak and set our ‘home on wheels’ on fire, S snapped off the door handle, our electric cool-box broke, the wing mirror broke off. But we worked through it and we were rewarded with the trip of a lifetime. Sometimes we felt like going home but I’m so glad we didn’t because the majority of our bad luck passed in the first week and it was 100% worth it.

FAQ: Traveling Around Europe in a Van with Our Dog! | UK Lifestyle Blog

How did you work and travel?

We’re so lucky that we can work from anywhere in the world, as long as we have our laptops. We both had 45GB of data and used personal hotspots to work, and we charged our laptops on the solar panels on the van. It was difficult trying to concentrate when you’re somewhere new and gorgeous every day, so we welcomed rainy days, although we only got about 3!

Would you do it again

Everybody asks us this. 100% we would do it again. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I wish I could do it all over again right now. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and we can’t just travel all the time. We could have carried on but we have other priorities in our life, so we need to juggle that. One day though, we’ll be back on the road when the time is right.

FAQ: Traveling Around Europe in a Van with Our Dog! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Was it difficult travelling with Alfie?

Absolutely not. I thought taking Alfie was going to hinder our trip, but bringing him with us had no negative impact. We had to make a couple of adjustments but everywhere we went in Europe was so dog-friendly. We loved having him with us and he enjoyed being walked 12+ hours a day. He was so well behaved, even when he went on a gondola in Venice!

How much did you spend?

We get asked this a lot, too. We never calculated how much we spent on the van, diesel, food and exploring. It was far from cheap, which is the reason we’ve decided never to work it out. Let’s just say, It would have been cheaper to fly/drive to each destination and stay in a hotel every night for 2 months… But alas! we had an unforgettable adventure, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

FAQ: Traveling Around Europe in a Van with Our Dog! | UK Lifestyle Blog

What would you do differently?

Surprisingly, not much. Everybody said our van was too small to travel around Europe in, and whilst a larger than would have been nice, we didn’t spend a huge amount of time in it so it didn’t matter much. When we do it again, we’ll be doing it with a much newer van. I love that Boris was a retro beauty, but spending a week broken down at a garage in Belgium was pretty stressful.

2019-03-16T01:17:53+00:00 April 1, 2019|Van Life|

10 reasons to go travelling in a campervan

Traveling is the BEST, and we dedicate our energy to seeing new places as much as we possibly can. You’ve probably already read (because I keep writing about it…) but I recently bought a van conversion. We’ve got some big plans which we’re publishing on the blog pretty soon.

So far we’ve only done smaller trips but we’re completely in love with our van and cannot wait to do more. There’s something really special about traveling in a van. Here’s why we love it and we’re so excited…

10 reasons to go travelling in a campervan | UK Lifestyle Blog

1. Work from anywhere in the world

We are so lucky that we run our own company, and we can make money from wherever we are, as long as we have our laptops. This makes life so much easier for us because it means we’re not restricted when we travel or for how long. One of us can be driving, whilst the other is in the back working on our clients websites using our personal hotspots or portable wifi

People often think we’re an exceptions and that nobody else can do this but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In this modern era, there are so many different jobs you can do remotely from a computer, from being a virtual assistant to being a designer. There’s a wealth of information online about how to get started… If you want to read more essays about travel go to this site.

2. Unbounded freedom

During every trip, one of the most important aspects is accommodation. Hotels and hostels always bound you to the place where you are staying, and it becomes impossible to move far away for some sightseeing as you have to return for the night. We all know how much this sucks…

While traveling in a campervan, you can stay for a sleep anywhere and stop off at spot along the way to your destination. You can even park up in front of the sea or overlooking mountains (if parking permits!). The type of views you can get from a van blow hotels out the park. 

3. Value of space

Every vacation requires preparation of things that you are going to take with you. Usually, people bring with them a bunch of unnecessary stuff, and some of them are not even used once! When you’re traveling in a campevan, you’ll soon find out what’s really important to you.

Whether you’re going on a long trip or a short trip in your campervan, you should think twice. Only take only the most important and needed items as space is limited. That helps to reconsider the essential things for you. It really changes your perspective and there’s something liberating about minimal living. 

10 reasons to go travelling in a campervan | UK Lifestyle Blog

4. Revaluation of values

In the campervan, all resources such as food and water are limited, and you have to refill them from time to time. However, when the trip goes far from the civilisation, you start to think about different ways of shortening the consumption. What is the real value of the water and possibility to take a shower several times a day? 

We’ve had to consider this for when we’re traveling in the colder months because an outside shower isn’t so appealing. We’ve read so many inspiring posts, and the verdict is, at the end of such a trip you will look at the world differently. That’s a pretty exciting prospect. 

5. New people, new friends

While traveling in a van, you will ride through big cities to small villages, and you will definitely meet new people that will be very curious, where you are from. There is a chance that you will be invited for dinner.

This is something we’re really excited about, and it was one of my favourite things about traveling in Australia.

6. Nature around us

The magnificence of the Earth cannot be compared to anything else and you can come closer to nature. It is really wonderful to wake up in the morning with leaves rustling and birds singing. Here you will remain far away from the city noises 🍃 What could be better?

I love rolling the van door open in the morning, letting the dog out and feeling the sun rays on my face. Even just one night away in the van and in nature makes me feel so much better. Even if we’re on a slanted field and we’re not in a king size bed, somehow, I sleep better. Would you believe?!

10 reasons to go travelling in a campervan | UK Lifestyle Blog

7. Living is cheap

Traveling is not cheap and there is list of reasons why. When you’re traveling in a campervan, cost is significantly decreased! Everything you need is inside your moving home, and you do not have to book a hotel room, pay for meals out in restaurants, and you won’t need to worry about getting taxis or buses.

When you’re traveling, you’ll find that fuel is the most expensive thing, which is pretty unavoidable. That said, if you’re having a slow month making money, you can always park up and just enjoy whatever country you’re in. The second biggest expenses is food. 

When you go traveling in a van (especially if it’s as old as ours is!), then make sure you have a rainy-day fund for if you breakdown. Our van didn’t meet the requirements for roadside assistance cover, but if yours does, it’s worth every penny for the piece of mind. Take a couple of parts with you for when you’re traveling on the road, like spare bulbs etc that can be picked up cheaply online from websites like www.buycarparts.co.uk, to save you having a huge bill at a garage for something that could have easily been replaced.

8. The project aspect is fun

When I bought the van, the aim was so go traveling and take our dog with us. I didn’t give too much thought about the build of the van, and it kind of stressed me out. We bought a van that (luckily) had most the stuff done, such as electrics, plumbing and gas installation. This meant we didn’t have to fork out for expensive essentials.

BUT we’ve spent every hour of our weekends on making the van our own, you can see our pics on Instagram 📸 From painting the cupboards, through to hooking up fairy lights and putting in new curtains. These little changes make a huge difference, and it feels so good knowing that we did it ourselves (with some help from our family) and it’s all come together.

9. Rest whenever you want

When you’re traveling in a van, there’s no limitations on when you have to leave. This is perfect if you enjoy slow-living because you can take the time out to have a bit more relaxation, without missing out on your trip. I know this is going to work well with our busy schedules, and it’ll take the pressure off us, allowing us to truly enjoy our trip.

These are the main reasons why to go traveling in a campervan is really worth trying. There are always advantages and disadvantages in any kind of trips, and only you can choose the option, which suits you the most.

10 reasons to go travelling in a campervan | UK Lifestyle Blog

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a BIG fan of traveling in a van but I must stress, it isn’t for everybody. It can be really stressful if and when you breakdown, and you’ll miss having access to a clean toilet everyday.

If you want a unique adventure but washing with wet wipes isn’t your thing, then fear not! I’ve recently been swooning over this article: unique places you can rent for your next holiday. From tree-houses in Sweden to underground caves in Turkey, it’s 100% unique but a little bit more luxurious than a home on wheels.

2018-12-14T22:56:00+00:00 December 13, 2018|Van Life|
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