Full-time motorhome life, whether static or travelling, is a hugely appealing lifestyle for many. For every life on the road con there are a hundred pros; for us is is about freedom to go and be wherever we choose, whenever we choose. The open road offers opportunity and the fulfilment of long held dreams. The journey as important as the destination. It’s not all a bed of roses though. Starting life in a motorhome full-time is not for the faint hearted and, for most, will mean sacrifices and choices have to be made. These will come down to what is important to and for you during your full-time motorhome life.
Ultimate Guide to Full-Time Motorhome Life
This ultimate guide to full-time motorhome life is huge, we’ve so much information to share that you might want to pin this post and save for later. Alternatively, pin the posts in each link if it’s information you are particularly interested in.
Top Tips for Making the Move to Full-Time Motorhome Life
Successful motorhome life on the road is mostly about preparation and the dirty word; compromise! If you are thinking about making the move to full-time motorhome life, follow our top tips;
- spend some serious time away in your motorhome; does it offer what you need? Could you live in it permanently? How would you manage if one of you got ill? What about the winter months when it gets dark early? Or worse, when it rains for a week solid? These are such simple things to manage when you live in a house, but life in a motorhome is different, you feel the changes in the seasons and elements way more. We have assumed that you already have a motorhome if you’re considering living in a motorhome full-time, so haven’t included any information in this post about choosing and buying a motorhome. If you’re intending to go cold turkey and buy a motorhome specifically to live in, then head on back to the Motorhome Advice page where you will find loads of info.
- can you live with your other half in a confined space full-time or manage alone if you are a solo traveller? Click on our guide below to relationships on the road to get an idea of what it’s like travelling as a couple.
- you have to give up a lot to achieve your dream; we sold our house and almost all of our possessions. A good question to ask is whether you think you can do without all the trappings of your previous life? Unless you’re willing to fork out huge sums of money (and OMG it is expensive!) on storing your stuff, then you will probably be looking at selling most of it.
- really dig deep and ask yourself and each other whether you are running away from work, family issues, money problems or whatever else is going on in your life? Living in a motorhome is unlikely to solve any of those issues and may magnify some of them.
- what do you want to achieve from full-timing? You could tour Europe in your motorhome without a plan but will get so much more from your experience if you understand the why.
- how will you finance your trip? It will always cost more than you think! See below for a link to more information.
- are you happy to be away from family and friends in the UK?Can you accept that they may not all be delighted for you (a sad reality of following your dreams)? We talk about this more in our post ‘Ten Things We Have Learnt in a Year of Motorhome Life’.
- can you live with paying €1.29 for a good bottle of wine? Oh…wrong post…….
If you’re cool with all that, then this guide will help you understand the finer details of full-timing and not only how to survive it, but how to have the best time of your life doing it!
Starting Life in a Motorhome Full-Time
Living on the road, travelling of any sort, unless you are filthy rich, will result in a process of elimination; what do you want and what do you really, really need. Whether your ‘suitcase’ is a rucksack or a motorhome, something is probably going to have to give.
How much you take will of course depend on the size and GVW (gross vehicle weight) of your van and what is important to you. If you are intending to write a cookbook on your travels, then food storage will be a priority. If, like us, you want an inflatable kayak, two inflatable paddle boards, kite-surfing gear and two bicycles, its fair to assume that some difficult decisions about shoes might need to be taken. If you’re not familiar with motorhome weights, read more about it in the link below.
At the end of our first year of motorhome full-timing, we were having the van serviced and there was a weighbridge right next door. Out of curiosity, we ambled over and got weighed…oops! We were half a tonne over our GVW of 4,500kg. So, we had a massive sort out and were a bit stunned to realised we had been carrying around half a tonne of stuff that we never used! Our rule now is that if it isn’t used in a month, it doesn’t stay!
Clever storage will give you more bang for your buck, if you can be organised about where things are this will also help; this will evolve as you are on the road. What’s important on day one will have changed by day 60! We bought all of our storage boxes from Ikea, from hard plastic stacking boxes for the garage and under the bed, to soft felt boxes for the overhead bins; they are innovative and cheap…happy days!
You also need to consider how you will get about on a day to day basis. If you mostly wild camp, then you will probably be moving on regularly but if you are intending to visit cities (many of which you won’t want to drive into and will need an emissions vignette to do so) and stay on sites, you will need some form of transportation other than your motorhome. This could be a tow-car, a scooter or motorbike, e-bikes or good old-fashioned pedal cycles. Weight, space and costs will be massive factors here but it is an important aspect of your full-time motorhome life. Being stuck on a site without means to get to the nearest village for a pint of milk is a real bummer! There is information about the right type of bike for your full-time motorhome life in the ‘Essential Motorhome Kit List’ post below.
There are other (perhaps not so exciting) things to think about. What address will you use if you’re selling up or renting? You will need a UK address for your driving licence and V5 document, a PO Box is not allowed. This address will need to also be where you insure the vehicle, so think carefully as some parts of the country will increase your premium exponentially due to high risk factors.
And what about insurance? This is a complicated and often mis-quoted and mis-understood area. Read our guide for the facts about full-time motorhome insurance. You will also need medical insurance to supplement your EHIC card (get one if you don’t have one). Backpacker insurance tends to be the best as it will cover you for up to 24 months. Most companies won’t let you take this out once you’ve started travelling, so plan ahead. We use World Nomads.
Living the Dream!
So you’re actually doing it! You’re on the road, living in your van full-time. For some people it’s an easy transition, less so for others.
We spent the first two weeks euphoric, the third week wondering what the hell we had done and the following six months loving every moment. Most people who live in their motorhome full-time tell us they went through a similar process. After about six months, we took a nose-dive; the weather and clocks changed and with it we became a little desponded and struggled to adapt. We were also a little travel fatigued (yep, it’s a thing) after seeing so many new places and having so many new experiences. But we bounced back and accept that not every day will be perfect, life is life after all…we’re just living it a bit differently.
We have found purpose by setting up and running this blog but there are lots of other ways you can find purpose. Try house-sitting or volunteering with WorkAway. If you’re a keen photographer, sell your images through Pexels or Unsplash and earn a bit of dosh. Perhaps learn a language or take up a new sport; Phil has learnt to kite-surf on our journey!
Connectivity is also really important; we thought we would do away with mobiles and become virtuous hippies but the reality is we use our devices and the internet to research, map, stay in touch and blog. How did we ever think we would manage without. Read the guide below to understand how to stay connected when you’re travelling.
It would be easy to sink into a life of slobbery (and you may want to, that’s fine) but for us it just wouldn’t work. We spent the first six months revelling in not having to get up for work but eventually our body-clocks kicked in and now we are up at around 8am. We try to eat well and have managed to cook all sorts on our Cadac, including bread, which we would never have had time to make before we lived in a motorhome full-time!
We hike a lot and have completed some incredible hikes across Europe, often also wild camping nearby to maximise the experience of the place.
But mostly we live this life to explore, to see, to absorb and to expand our minds. Along with all the ups and downs of this slightly crazy choice of life, that is and will always be our why.