Ten Things We Have Learnt in A Year of Motorhome Life

motorhome life parked by the sea in Italy

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Our Year Living in a Motorhome

We have been travelling and living  motorhome life full-time for over a year! We can’t believe how quickly time has passed and how much we have learnt on the motorhome life journey; both actual and metaphorical!

Like most of our decisions, selling our house and quitting our jobs for full-time motorhome life in Europe was made on gut-instinct with a little bit of a thought process thrown in. It wasn’t until we had actually left in said motorhome and were trying to drill down into the ‘why’s’ that we fully understood all of our motivations.

So, was it the right decision? Absolutely.  A big resounding YES.

Did we understand what we were getting into? Absolutely not…a big resounding NO!!

It stands to reasons then, that we must have learnt something along the way. Here it is, warts and all…

  1. We really didn’t need to spend quite as much as we did on a motorhome. When we made the decision to live motorhome life full-time, we were living a consumerist lifestyle, earning loads of wonga and spending it all like there was no tomorrow. We bought our motorhome in that frame of mind, without realising that we would move away from the desire to have the most expensive of everything and actually enjoy life for, well, just that…life. We have learnt that we don’t need shit; getting over the desire to own stuff was actually pretty easy. (Six months after writing this we trading in our motorhome for another at a quarter of the cost!).  
  2. We set off in our motorhome wearing rose-coloured glasses; we would run every day, eat only the healthiest, locally sourced and in season foods, ditch our devices and generally be so much better and worthier people. Oh, and I would have beach blonde hair and wear small denim shorts to show off my pert bottom. REALLY?? This is NOT what happens ….fundamentally, you will be the same people just living in a van rather than a house. And I will never have a pert bottom.
  3. Six months in, we realised that we had started to take our motorhome life for granted. The adventure, the excitement of a new city or country was starting to wane, we’d had enough of the local food, we had become disengaged and we were exhausted; we had travel fatigue. How do you deal with this when your life is travel full-time and your mode of transport is your home? We took a break and visited family for a couple of weeks.  When we got back to our van we felt invigorated and excited by the next leg of our journey; I guess we’d had a holiday! Read more about Travel Fatigue from our good friends The Planet D.
  4. Most people aren’t interested in our motorhome life adventure. When we set off, we thought everyone would be super excited and dying to hear our stories….but no, not everyone was stoked for us. We have learned that travel stories are better shared with friends we have met on the road or via social media with people who are genuinely interested in our journey. If that’s you, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, we’d love to have you along!
  5. Travelling full-time can be boring. There, I said it and I’m sure there will be people reading this thinking I’m nuts, but when it’s pissing down, or you’re tired, or you’re in the arse-end of nowhere, it gets dark at 6pm, there’s no signal, and your wild camping spot is a grotty car-park, then yes, believe me, it can be boring. Purpose is where it’s at people; purpose provides focus and interest, it’s meaningful and satisfying. Of course, travel is one purpose but why not have many? At the start of our journey, we were both so tired and stressed that all we wanted to do was let go and mentally detox; it took longer than we thought but eventually we both felt ready for a new purpose. Mine was The Gap Decaders blog (I’m a travel writer…yay!) and Phil’s was to learn photography; both these purposes complement our motorhome life but also add so much more to it than we thought possible. Find your purpose! See us on Instagram here.
  6. How can I write a piece about learning without talking about relationships? Living together in close proximity and spending so much more time together than we would if we were still on that big ol’ hamster wheel, means we have learnt more about each other in the past year than we did in the previous 17. Motorhome life magnifies all our foibles, eccentricities and annoying characteristics, of which we have many (Phil more than me obvs) but we now talk about what is bugging us and share the love…ok, what I really mean is that we compromise.  After 17 years, we have finally learned to compromise.
  7. You can’t ‘do’ 16 countries in 100 days, unless all you want is to tick them off a list. Countries need time; time to understand the people, the culture and what makes that particular country different from all the others. We practice slowtravel, happy to meander through; tasting, talking, watching and enjoying, absorbing the country and all its complexities.
  8. We love being part of the traveltribe. We have made more friends on the road in the past year than we did in the previous five. Traveltribers are genuine, interested and like minded; eager to share stories, happy to advise and help when needed. We feel included and valued by this real and virtual community.
  9. Disasters will happen, things will break and sometimes you might need a plan B. Flat tyre, change to the spare and find a garage; broken fridge door, Google it and buy a new spring; hideous man cold for a week; get over it……the point is that we have learned to be resilient when things go wrong and know that unless one of you is dead, everything that happens in motorhome life is surmountable.
  10. Probably our biggest curve has been learning to appreciate each and every precious, beautiful, and sometimes crappy, day.  Not all our days are Instagrammable, motorhome life mostly trundles on as normal.  And yet, we know how fortunate we are, how lucky to be able to lead this amazing life which we have fallen in love with.

Bonus learning tip – you don’t need to pay more than €1.99 for a decent bottle of wine!

Update October 2020 – we’ve now been living in our motorhome full time for over two years. What’s changed? Find out here!

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