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A view of ‘Life in the Van’ from LifeinourVan after 525 days on our European Roadtrip!

Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what we (Catherine, Richard, Lottie & Libby) have done since September 2015. Ok, so we’re a practical, adventurous family who love getting active outdoors. So we’ve enjoyed Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne. As for us, well Libby is the most active, whilst Lottie is the bravest… and as for us the parents, well we just tag along for the ride!

Our experiences have included 30+ countries and over 50,000 miles across Europe whilst living in a motorhome. We’ve written over 550 travel articles, blogs and reviews providing advice, tips and experiences for other families from our experiences across Europe. We have been very fortunate to have visited so many amazing places, but our favourites are Korčula in Croatia, Flåm in Norway and Andalucía, in Spain

SO WHY A ROADSCHOOLING ADVENTURE WITH OUR KIDS?

We’d ask you to picture this scene….

“All your belongings safely stowed in the back. Imagine sitting in the drivers seat, with the kids in the back, ready and raring to go for yet another family adventure in your trusty motorhome….Our road trip really has become that ‘adventure’ in every sense of the word, with every day full of surprises as we move from one location to another.”

But in truth, we just wanted to ‘live’ not simply ‘exist’… Plus modern day life is just so busy… so now we enjoy Homeschooling our children each week through new travel/education or adventure opportunities. Everyday bringing a new outdoor classroom / playground / family adventure for us to discover together as a family. So I guess that’s why we started this adventure and we just want to make every minute count!

SO WHAT’S IT LIKE TO LIVE IN A MOTORHOME FOR OVER 500 DAYS?

Living in just one room has given us ability to travel to so many varied places whilst keeping the costs down through cheap camping costs and being able to cater for ourselves rather than relying on expensive meals out. We also enjoy traveling with all our things, knowing wherever you are and whatever you have been doing we will be going back to our own home and our own beds! And with two growing girls, we opted for the chance to purchase a motorhome that could give them a bedroom away from home, something to return back to each day and feel safe/secure. To make their own!
HERE’S OUR FULLER REVIEW OF OUR ADRIA MOTORHOME http://www.lifeinourvan.com/long-term—adria-matrix-670-sl-review.html

​Motor-homing /Roadtripping doesn’t have to be basic. This has been reinforced by the people who regularly pop their heads in to offer positive comments as we have toured across Europe.. They’ve liked the airy sitting room, the touchscreen panel for heating/water/electricity etc, the fully lined garage (invaluable!), the ambient lighting, the double floor for insulation and the 5th seat option for travel…

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT ON OUR ADVENTURE?

As it was something we’d been thinking about doing for about 5 years before we left, we suddenly realised that either we went now or we would have missed our chance as our eldest daughter was 2 years away from starting secondary school. 

We wanted to teach our girls about the world by experiencing it first hand, whether it’s a geographical feature (for example we have slept in a volcano crater in Italy, then climbed Mt Etna), a historical event (e.g. we have taken amazing tours of the  Ypres and Somme WW1 battlefields) or religious understanding (we have visited various cathedrals, synagogues and mosques). But our favourite part is helping them become aware of the importance of language and understanding other cultures. It’s a big world and we want them to embrace new opportunities without worrying about whether they might fit in.

​All families will know that travelling with the children can be a little bit tricky, especially if you choose to spend over 500+  days across Europe. But if you get it right, it’s the journey of a lifetime. So our home also has to be our classroom and our mode of transport! We’re not even sure what a home really is anymore… all we know is that we miss our friends yet love finding new opportunities to experience… So i guess we’ll have to wait to answer that one… for us, our home is the space our family lives in (even if it has 4 wheels and a steering wheel at the moment!)

WHAT ADVICE WOULD WE GIVE OTHERS CONSIDERING DOING THE SAME TRIP?

If you’re considering it, we’d say go for it!! We have had the most amazing experience so far. Our girls have learnt so much from what they have seen and experienced. We will always be grateful for having been able to spend this time living and learning together as a family. It is not always easy, each day can bring new challenges that need to be overcome, but it is worth it for all the fun and memories along the way.
We’ve found that by deciding to pick a country and see how broad we could make the learning experience has helped our girls understand the culture of other countries. Which has certainly broadened our girl’s horizons.’ But education has certainly not been abandoned. Two or three mornings a week  we have classroom-style lessons as well as using education apps to help them with Maths, English and Languages. But they’ve found their own interests with Libby already studying geometry and Lottie has won a camera and Lonely Planet award for her photographic skills.
LOOKING FOR TIPS ON WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A VAN. HERE’S LIFEINOURVAN TOP 10:-

1. Get a decent Heating System (ambient heating air flow really works!)
2. Find a van with a Comfortable, Light & Airy Colour Scheme (interior/exterior)
3. Make sure you can get around so space for Bikes & try to keep the weight under 3500kg Payload (maybe a garage like ours with space for 4 bikes)
4. Make evenings relaxed with Ambient Lighting (perfect for relaxing after a busy day with the kids!)
5. Try to get a Bathroom that can fit all your needs (separate shower/toilet becomes one room)
6. Create a space in the van for the kids to call ‘home like our Back Bedroom(spacious+full blackout blinds which are not be underestimated)  
7. Carefully consider Storage Space  ( make sure it’s well located storage in/under living space)
8. If you want to keep the van small enough to really explore Europe, consider the Drop Down bed option (perfectly usable for 2 adults long term and all under 7.5m)
9. Don’t compromise on Drivability & Visibility (our girls can fully enjoy the journey through the side windows, small things matter on big trips)
9. Does your chosen motorhome have good Ergonomic Design ( ours just seems to work for us, we’re never cramped… thats crucial)
10. Make sure you get one that feels well screwed together from start to finish with limited travel rattles… it matters! (Thankfully we struck lucky with the Adria Matrix.)
It just works for our family! The girls have their own space in their bedroom, whilst we can comfortably  gather as a family in the living area for board games or meals. Everyday brings a new view, so what’s not to like! It really has become our home from home!

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About The Author

Richard

Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what my family has done since September 2015. Visiting 35 European countries, travelling over 54,000 miles and grabbing over 450 family experiences on the way… enjoying Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne.

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