A week ago Jim and I said goodbye to the house we’ve lived in for nearly ten years. We then moved our family – two adults, two kids and a dog – into our new home for the next 12 months, a 7×3 metre campervan*.
Why the hell would you want to do that? …is the obvious legitimate question.
Rewind a couple of years. We’d both been off for a few days over the summer holidays, spending time with the kids, switching off from work and our usual routines. One evening, when I think we’d had too much sun (and possibly red wine?), we ended up having a pretty typical conversation about how we wished we could travel more as a family. How we were always waiting for the weekend or the next holiday. How when we did get quality time together it always felt rushed and we were usually too tired to enjoy it.
Were we living the life we really wanted, or one that was expected of us? We’d always had this dream to take the kids travelling while they were still young. Would it be possible to just step out for a while, to slow down and focus on doing the things we love as a family?
From the outside everything seemed great, but something was missing and we both felt it. My lovely dad, who always lived his life to the fullest, used to tell me – do what makes you happy, and if you’re not, do something to change it.
We started to make a plan. We thought about the practicalities of taking a year out to travel. We’re usually good at finding cheap flights and accomodation, but costs could easily rack up over a year. This would defeat the object when the motivation was to have more freedom, both literally and financially. So we looked at other ways to make it work.
A few years ago we had a Volkswagen T4 and it was amazing to take off whenever and wherever we wanted. One of our favourite memories was wild camping around Scotland.
A few years later we were on holiday in Croatia and were so envious of the families in campervans who had freedom to explore and move on to the next stunning beach. We’ve always been drawn to the idea of van life. I guess we’re just a couple of hippies at heart!
Then there are friends of ours who stay in the Alps during winter in their motorhome. Perhaps the right van would give us the opportunity to do more snowboarding, which is our absolute favourite thing to do as a family. This pretty much confirmed it for Jim! The idea of travelling around Europe in a campervan was born.
But, what about our jobs, mortgage, school, family and all the other stuff that ties us into everyday life? Could we leave all of those things? Was it even possible?
I’d be lying if I said it had been straightforward. At times it’s been a struggle. I could write more about the obstacles we’ve had to overcome, but for now let’s just say modern society doesn’t make it that easy to step out for a while.
However, I’m writing this post from our campervan, parked in the French Alps, surrounded by arguably some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. So I can confirm that it is definitely possible.
We know that it won’t all be plain sailing. One week in and there have already been a few tense moments. But we’re sure it will all be worth it to experience a year of amazing adventures – exploring new places, living more simply and embracing a different way of life.
We are doing this.
*otherwise known as a motorhome, which sounds less cool and more Saga.