In the begining there was......
04.08.2012 - 01.09.2012 12 °C
....an idea thrown out while having a lovely night in with our good friends Clare and Rob. We were all talking about freedom and being able to just go. Alcohol may have been consumed at some point; I'll neither confirm nor deny its role in our thought process.
However the idea of chucking kids, dog and gear in the van and just going really stuck with us and so we thought why not? Well as anyone with kids, dog and gear know it is not a case of just chucking it in the van and going. In reality this journey started months ago, we thought we had loads of time but already we are down to 47 days to go.
It started as a question. As a family would we like two weeks in a good hotel via a package deal or four weeks travelling eking our money out round Europe? No brainer we all agreed. Four weeks it was to be then. Kids promptly told anyone who would listen what was happening and it snowballed from there. No way I'm going back to them and trying to explain why we might be able to longer afford the risk (Dan being a contractor may not have a job to return to) and cost of the trip. As understanding as our children can be I don't think they would of accepted losing this trip over the fact that no sooner had we booked the ferry tickets etc that the boiler gave up on its 38 years of good service to our home.
We have been amazed at how much we have had to really think about. My last trip involved me, a good friend, two tickets to Oz and our backpacks stowed in a very trust worthy estate car. No plans needed it just evolved. I was hoping to capture some of that feeling to share with my family of the freedom of letting the trip unfold before us.
We are hoping to cover a fair amount of ground, France, Spain, Portugal and possible Italy and Switzerland. Given our ideas at the stat we quickly came to the realisation that setting up and striking our tent every day would be too much. Although four weeks seems like a long time we didn't want to waste too much time and energy on sorting out sleeping arrangements. Hotels and B&B's would be problematic with a dog. A moterhome would be great but we can't afford one that would accommodate us and not breakdown every other day. So we moved our ideas to trailer tents.
After much looking around and investigation we opted for a trailer that has a full kitchen and toilet. The bed areas can remain made up and if you’re not putting up an awning you can have it all set up and a kettle going within 15 mins. We found a lovely Conway Crusader made in the same year we were married! Must be fate so we went for it. Then came all the fun. The trailer needed a new floor which has been sorted now, so fingers crossed we made the right choice in choosing a self sticking vinyl floor.
Plus this is all new to us, water, gas, eclectics, toilet etc. We have had a trial run just to make sure we know what we are doing. Lots of reading up on watts, amps, reverse polarity.....Learning about pink and blue and the pros and cons of Butane or Propane. The joys.
On checking a few things we found out that Dan was not covered to tow the trailer if we drive our Van. Slight spanner in the works then. As he took his test after Jan97 he had to take a test to get his B+E. We really didn't think it would cost as much as it has or how hard it would be to pass. He has had to have lessons and we have been practising every chance we can. We could have changed and taken a car but the van provides us with more space and an enclosed area for Bodhi to relax in his crate. So given our time constraints, Dan's license would have to be sent away and return to us by the start of August, we put him on a waiting list to jump in when a slot came available as they were very heavily booked up. So after much stressing he managed to get into a test today and unfortunately I know have to share the driving. Yippee. It wouldn't have stopped the trip but with two of us driving we will have more choices available to us.
Insurance. Never a favourite topic of mine and I can't say that sorting this trip out has improved my ideas on the subject. We needed insurance for the trailer, for travelling etc. We then had confirm that all our insurance's we already had would cover us while away as well, van, dog, belongings etc. Road side assistance, health cards, passports. WOW. It was like watching a line of dominos falling...... one led to another to another. We hope we've covered the basics but it does make you a bit panicky. What if we missed something? Will this company cover us like we hope? In the end we came to the conclusion that you can only prepare so much and then you just have to let it go. Jump each hurdle as it comes and hope you never have to call them.
Bodhi has had his own share of preparation. He has needed a Rabies shot which we choose to have tested to confirm it has taken via a blood test. He is one jab into a set of three, and needs tablets before we go to protect him from sand flies and ticks in southern Europe which carry some pretty nasty viruses. He will have his own passport as well. This has all cost around £400. I know it's a lot but it wouldn't be the same without him with us and this trip is all about us having some time together as a family and he's a part of it. Good news is that if we go again he will not cost anywhere near as much.
So insurances, travel, and sleeping arrangements all starting to come together we can now start to think about packing. We have been slowly gathering bits and pieces to kit out the trailer, basics like cutlery, plates, cleaning equipment but we can really start thinking about how we think we will be able organise our day to day way of life while travelling.
Sooooo excited now.