At the risk of sounding like my mother, is anyone else wondering how on EARTH it's the end of the year already??!! I mean seriously- how quickly did 2018 go?! I can't believe it's now been two years since we got our first van and spent that first excited/ terrified night away– ahhh, the ups and downs of vanlife!
So much has happened since then. We've crammed a lot into this year (and last!), and learnt a lot in the process, which I thought I'd share with you so you can learn from our
2018 didn't go as we planned at all! Ok, it went kinda as we planned– I left my job on 01 February and we moved out of our house in March (cue a frantic month of downsizing and packing!!)
We moved onto our boat and the next day left for Germany in the motorhome, which in hindsight was a mistake. We were EXHAUSTED- moving house is hard at the best of times- moving whilst downsizing, dealing with an upset teenager who didn't want to get rid of ANY of her stuff and learning how NOT to spend so much money was… a shock to the system. And shocks to the system take their toll.
Watch our round-up of 2018-
Motorhome Road Trip to Germany
Our trip to Germany started well, with the most gorgeous sunrise whilst we were wild camping in France and a visit to a bizarre ice cave. It went downhill when we realised we'd forgotten to bring gas with us to Europe and you CANT just exchange a UK gas bottle for a European one. Especially over an Easter Bank holiday weekend. Oops. Again- the ups and downs of vanlife! 🙂
We also learnt what to do when you ACCIDENTALLY scrape the bottom of your motorhome on a curb and knock off your fresh water tap- emptying all your fresh water out into the street in the middle of nowhere! 🙁
Still, despite these setbacks, we LOVED Germany. We saw incredible castles and wild camped in the most beautiful locations. We climbed up Zugspitze, the highest mountain (using a train… we're not THAT crazy!) and we experienced a German Toboggan Run– which honestly is one of the most fun things we've EVER done. I highly recommend Germany to everyone looking for an easy road trip from the UK.
Vanlife, Boat parties and Posh teas!
May and June were weird months- the weather was gorgeous, but we weren't able to make the most of it, due to school exams for the daughter and crazy new developments in Mr WB's business. Still, we managed a few days here and there in the Motorhome, enjoying Hampshire, Devon and Dorset. We also had a great party on the boat for my birthday- and a trip to the Ritz in London for Jade and I- how spoilt were we!?!
Norway in the Motorhome
July and August was the BIG ONE- we set off for Norway. This was the trip we had been talking about for years, but couldn't do whilst I was at work. It was the driving force behind us changing our entire life- no pressure then!
The weather was glorious through Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark and for our first couple of nights in Norway- but sadly turned for the worse after that, leaving us with 3 weeks of non-stop rain. Norway is stunning and definitely an incredible place to visit- but the weather can definitely make or break any vanlife holiday as pretty much everything is based on being outdoors. Still, we did manage to get the motorbikes out for one day when we rode Trollstigen, which was DEFINITELY worth the expense of taking them with us. We also walked behind waterfalls, found incredible camping spots and ate the most delicious pizza I have ever tasted. Seriously.
It was in the middle of this trip that we randomly started talking about getting a dog… which led to us ‘just looking' on the internet… and as soon as we saw Mac's little face I was completely smitten. To the point that I didn't want to phone the breeder in case he was no longer available… (I'm really sensible like that!)
We live our lives by trusting our gut feelings- and we just felt like he was our dog, so we drove straight home from Norway and picked him up en-route. We haven't regretted getting him once. (Oh, ok- we've regretted it about once a week… but he's a puppy who likes to chew things/ follow you into the toilet/ bury his phones in the bath!)
End of the year
Since Norway, our Motorhome adventures haven't been nearly as regular as we would like. We've enjoyed a weekend in the New Forest, staying at an awesome campsite which allows campfires and a weekend in Cornwall visiting family- both are great road trip destinations!
We've also been to Paris, which is a perfect weekend trip from the UK, (just avoid the riots please!) We went to Munich for the Christmas Markets (probably too far a drive for a weekend road trip, but definitely worth a visit!) and we learnt how to rent a car and drive around Mexico, seeing some INCREDIBLE places on our travels, like ancient Mayan ruins and swimming in cenotes.
But the biggest change has been the ability to see family more. One of the reasons for leaving my job was to be able to spend more time with my family- and I've definitely been able to do that.
Not all Vanlife is idyllic
It's funny, reading that back it all sounds utterly perfect- but this year has been one of the most stressful we've ever had; which sadly is saying something! Trying to juggle travel, Mr WB's work commitments, Jade's college, University visits, puppy and all our other commitments has been tough this year- and I think we both admit that we got the balance wrong most of the time- it felt like hard work! Even when we were travelling, we spent too much time working, and not enough time enjoying the beauty and fun around us- and that's entirely our fault.
So, in 2019 we're hoping to change that. We're hoping to find more balance and feel more relaxed as we enjoy our adventures- even if it means not travelling so far and enjoying places a little closer to home for a year.
Countries visited: 11- England, France, Germany (three times!), Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Mexico
Miles driven in the Motorhome: 10,000 (ish!)
Favourite vanlife photo:
Tough one! There are far too many to choose from! Here are a few of our favourites. Talking of which, are you following us on Facebook?
Most popular photo on Social Media:
Randomly, this one from our weekend in Paris. If you're not following us on Instagram, now's a good time! 🙂
View this post on Instagram
Biggest Vanlife Mistake:
Turning up without Gas in Europe on an Easter Bank Holiday weekend… oops! There were a couple of hours of frantic Google searching, which scared us even more!! In fact, it was fairly easy to fix- but everything is easy in hindsight!
We have been incredibly lucky to have a lot of highs this year (and some lows, of course) but I think my favourite was the boat party with my family- it was just one of those perfect days. (If you want to see us jumping off the boat and being silly, there's a clip in the video.)
Going down the toboggan run was also hilarious- you can see a video of it HERE
Favourite campsite/ camp spot:
Wild camping in Austria. It was absolutely magical and the stars were breathtaking.
Having said that… this secret campsite by the fjord in Norway was AMAZING!
So, what have we learnt this year?
Many many things, as I'm sure everyone has.
-We learnt that we have a tendency to plan too much driving into our road trips- and not enough time to see things. Normally we plan one ‘no-driving' day to every 2/3 days driving- but in both Norway and Germany we feel that it should have been less- perhaps 1 to 2 or even 1-1.
-We've also learnt that things go smoother if we plan in specific days for Mr WB to work, so that we can plan our activities accordingly.
=We've learnt that long-term travel is tough and that after a few weeks we were both happy to return home. This was interesting, as we always thought we'd love to be away for weeks on end, but certainly whilst we have to work we've set a limit of 4 weeks max. for the next couple of years.
-Personally, I've learnt that puppies are hard work! Whilst Mac is our dog, I'm his main feeder/ trainer/ cuddler- and I'm the one he follows around the house. I love this, and I love him- but it's like having a toddler again. You can almost see him asking ‘Why' every two seconds when I ask him to do something! 🙂
-We also learnt that Jade is now an almost-adult. She flew home from our summer trip early to see her friends- and managed to keep the boat afloat/ not starve/ not burn anything- we were very impressed (and honestly a little shocked!)
“Do you miss work?”
Nope. There has been the odd day when I've missed the adrenaline rush, but we've had our own share of those! Occasionally I've missed the people and being part of a team and I did miss the Christmas build up- but honestly, the freedom of being able to travel whenever we want to and also not have to work night shifts/ holidays has been fantastic. It's not being easy, especially with the reduction in our income, but I don't think either of us would change it.
*I just asked Mr WB if he'd change me leaving work and he said: “absolutely not- you're almost a normal person again…!” So I guess that about covers it!! 🙂
Our New Years tradition
I know this post comes out after New Year, but this is the tradition we do every year- and I've always enjoyed it:
- Write everything you feel bad/ angry/ guilty about from the year down onto a piece of paper. An actual piece of paper- not a note in your phone.
- DO NOT show anyone this paper. At all. Ever. That way you can be completely honest about your feelings and the things you want to write down. (Unless of course you want your husband/ partner/ anyone else to know that you are STILL harbouring a grudge about that ‘jokey' comment they made back in April…)
- Then- and this is the fun part- BURN IT. Seriously, light that sucker on fire and watch all that stuff literally go up in smoke. I LOVE doing this- and for us it really does feel like we can approach the new year with a fresh start.
(I'm sure this doesn't need saying, but just in case… please burn responsibly. Ideally outside and certainly away from all smoke detectors. Ensure you have a water source close by and ideally use a fireproof container to catch ash/ burnt paper.)
Plans for 2019
We're not sure entirely where we're going in 2019- there are so many options! I would love to do Italy, Croatia and Greece. I would also love to do Romania, but we need to be in the UK in June for Jade's exams, August for her results and also in September when she starts Uni! So long trips might be an issue this year.
There's also the looming terror of Brexit to deal with- nobody really knows exactly what to expect, and while I HOPE it won't be too different from now, the fact that the UK is spending so much money on extra freight ferries because they believe the tunnel will be completely backed up is a bit of a concern! So we're keeping our options open.
If you're looking for some Road trip ideas- we put together some of our favourites, suitable for any road trip length. Let me know which ones you'd like to try!- See them HERE
Want to see how this year compared to our first year of vanlife? Here's our 2017 Review
How else can I help you today??
How was your 2018? What do you have planned for 2019? I'd love to hear all about it.