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5 things to do before I am 40…

5 things to do before I am 40…

I turned 34 last week.  I’m no longer wincing as the years go by, I think I’m happy with who I am.  James keeps telling me I’m too young to have grey hair, but then I tell him he’s too young to be going bald Winking smile

But these milestones make you think about things you want to achieve and so here goes with a little bit of a brainstorm of a few things I’d like to do before I am 40:

1. I would like to have visited every continent in the world.  I have been to Europe (obviously!), Africa and Asia.  But I don’t really count Asia as I have only really made it to Israel and although technically counts, doesn’t feel enough.  So.  Um.  Lots to do there.

2. I’d like to be more fluent in a language.  I really enjoy learning Spanish and would love to be able to have proper conversations with locals one day.

3. Go ‘wild swimming’ somewhere.  Not naked.

4. Climb a mountain.  I am unfit though, so this isn’t going to happen easily!

5. Do something crazy.  When I was younger I wanted to bungee jump, skydive, paraglide, you name it, it was on my list!  I went off all those things when my kids were younger, but recently the urge to do daft things has come back.  I wonder what I’ll choose.

Ok, it’s all a bit vague, but I’m beginning to see that planning things to the nth degree is daft, just go with the flow and let the universe guide you to the goals!

Europe in a campervan – our pre trip costs

Europe in a campervan – our pre trip costs

europe in a camper vanWhen we decided that we’d travel around Europe in a campervan for our big trip, we felt it would be quite a budget way of doing it.

Of course, travel budgets are bandied about quite a lot and I’ve said before that we intend this trip to be at the very budget end of the scale.  We’ll try to detail our costs as the trip progresses so anyone else wanting to try to do this kind of trip has some idea of how we did it (edit – we weren’t very good at this, sorry!).  It must be said though that how we do it will probably not be ideal for everyone!

Europe in a campervan

So this post will detail our pre trip costs as when you are in a campervan that is a big part of the budget!  Some costs have been guesstimates as to be honest I’ve been a bit rubbish at keeping track of it all.

Again, what we’re travelling in won’t suit everyone, so if you’d like a spanking new campervan take our figures with a pinch of salt!  But if you’re happy with an older van and are looking to buy in the UK read on…

Campervan £4000

europe in a campervan - our pre trip costsCampervans can be expensive depending on what you want and you can spend way more than what we did.  We really wanted at least a 5 berth camper so both kids could have their own space and we found a 25 year old van that looks kind of tired inside, but which James assures me isn’t too bad mechanically.

Gloria is the name of our van and she was amazing!  She was an old Fiat Dethleffs Globetrotter.  If you want to see more about her and have a nosy inside click here.


Campervan Insurance – £450

we went with Adrian Flux and it includes breakdown assistance.  Not great cover for longer trips as only covers 2 months at a time in europe (although I guess I could increase it for a further premium) but was fine for our needs as we want to explore the UK more too.  Having the breakdown cover was great for peace of mind!


Campervan repairs, MOT, Tax, additions, extras – £640

Solar panels, fabric for curtains, bits and bobs that you *need* for a camper trip all comes here.

MOT was £120 (phew!), car tax for the year was £220.  We probably spent another £300 on extras for the van.


Travel Insurance – £100

I bought multi trip cover for the periods we’re out of the UK (make sure the policy covers your trip length, ours covers up to 90 days out of the country.  You might find that as EU citizens you don’t need it (make sure you have the EHIC though), but we felt like it was important for us.

World Nomads has often been quoted as a good travel insurance for longer term trips so if you’re not an EU citizen it might be worth getting a quote from them.


Clothes and shoes –  £200

I guess we’d buy this stuff anyway, but we spent more on shoes than we would normally I think, so I’ll add that which is about £200


Campervan Guide Books and planning materials, site subscriptions. – £170

We have invested in some books with sites we can park up in while we’re in Europe.  There are many Aires and motorhome parking areas, but knowing where they are is another thing and these books will hopefully save some diesel while we drive round looking for them!  They include the grid references of the stops so really useful   We got a couple, we have the French Aire book and the european CamperStop book.  We also recently have bought the France Passion book which for £25 gives us access to farms in France where we can stay overnight for free – another idea that we’re excited to try out.


There is also a good site we signed up to called WildCamping which has a database of UK sites that are possible to wild camp in.  The UK is not like the rest of mainland europe where campervans and motorhomes are encouraged, so I think this will be a good resource for us.  There’s also a good forum with lots of helpful members too 🙂  £10


Guidebooks (I picked up second hand Lonely Planet guides for a couple of quid each) and maps too – £15

Memberships to housesitting and workaway sites – £60

Overall spent – £170

Tech – £90

We bought a new sat nav for £90 but other than that, the tech is stuff we have already and we’ve not bought anything else specifically for this trip.

Days out memberships – £170

We renewed our English Heritage and National Trust memberships which cost £170.   I think we’ll get our moneys worth here though.


TOTAL – £5820

Not as bad as I was expecting!!  But certainly interesting when you think that you could spend that money on flights to a cheap part of the world to live for a bit.  That may be another adventure for another time though 😉


If you’d like to see more about our family gap year (ok 5 month trip!) travelling around Europe in a campervan then click here for all of the posts.


Pin for later!

europe in a camper van


The day before a different life

The day before a different life

It’s the day before we leave for our big trip.  We’ve been counting down to this for what seems like forever and now we’re finally here.  So are we finally excited?


I’ll be truthful and say that I am full of trepidation, and am a little bit worried that we’re being too ambitious, that we’ll all hate it, that we’ll be back in 2 months penniless but underneath all that is a little bit of bubbling excitement. 

The kids and James are over the moon and constantly jumping up and down, I’m doing my normal pre holiday stress and trying to make sure we’ve done everything.  I’ll go crazy tomorrow Winking smile

So today we said goodbye to my parents, who have hosted us for the last 9 weeks without complaint.  Fab parents, I couldn’t ask for more.  We don’t really do tearful goodbyes, just a wave and ‘have a good time!’ and ‘see you in July!’  Tonight we’re with James’s dad and we’re chilling and planning to enjoy a night in a real bed! Winking smile  Actually, maybe it isn’t a real bed, maybe we’re sleeping on the floor!  I should maybe check…

Tomorrow is the big off and sees a bit of a trek to Dover where we’ll overnight near the port.  Mostly big roads or motorways so nothing difficult, but really, quite a test for little old Gloria.  Then FRANCE!!!! 

Yup, I’m getting excited.  Open-mouthed smile

Inspiration unknown

Inspiration unknown

I thought this period of our journey would be exciting, I thought it would be full of inspiration and I’d spend days with a smile on my face.  I seem to be stressed and spend days with migraines.

I thought I’d spend days writing, getting this blog up to scratch, bringing in the numbers and upping my audience.  But I feel like I have nothing to write about yet and this blog is to be ‘our story’, not just another travel blog with all the same kind of articles.  I could write about our packing lists or what insurance company we’ve used for the van (and I probably will one day!) but it’s all feeling a bit deathly dull right now and samey. 

I thought I’d be bored and we’d spend time going for walks and doing family things.  Instead the days go by with us all doing our own things on computer screens.  I’m missing walking, getting fresh air, and just thinking.  I miss spending quality time with my family.  We’ve also been so bogged down with doing ‘useful stuff’ when we get chance to be together, or when we have a car that we’re not having so much fun anymore.

I thought I’d got over the hardest bits of our planning phase.  Those days scrubbing carpets and selling junk were tough, but I think the hardest part of this whole journey hasn’t been the cleaning, the purging, and the saving.  It’s been the waiting.  Waiting for the next milestone, waiting for it to be closer before you get excited, waiting for the last day at work, waiting for the last Friday before you go.

The waiting can drain the inspiration right out of you if you’re not careful.  .

One week to go. 7 days. 168 hours. Gulp.

One week to go. 7 days. 168 hours. Gulp.

There were so many days in the past that I longed to be so close to our departure date.  I will readily admit that actually I wasn’t sure if we’d make it.  It’s not been pretty at times, but we’ve managed to plough past the many challenges that the universe has set us.  And it’s not been easy, but to be honest, we’ve come too far for it to push us off course now.  It will take a bit more than some snow that’s for sure!

The van is pretty much as ready as it will ever be and is also nearly packed, just a few cupboards to sort and work out what is going where.  I am in denial about how the chemical toilet works, but I should really aim to work that one out before we go 😉

I’ll be rushing around this week tidying the trail of destruction we’ve left at my mums house and rerturning it to a state of normality for them.  I still laugh when I remember saying that we’d only be bringing a couple of boxes of stuff to store here and now looking at what we did bring.  Good job I have some pretty fab parents huh?

We need to fit in a going away dinner as well.  We’d planned to do something, which may have ended up being a cheap dinner like KFC, but then Alex won an £80 voucher for Frankie and Bennie’s restaurant so it seemed rude not to utilise that for something so special as a going away dinner.  Yummity scrummity.  We *never* eat out, so am going to enjoy this!

Keep counting down!