As we approach our one year anniversary of living fulltime in our motorhome I thought it would be good to reflect on how we feel now, what we have learnt and our experience of living in a motorhome. In the last 12 months we have visited 10 countries and covered 12,000 miles. Along our journey we have seen many fantastic places and loved every minute. It’s a life experience that I think more people should try and do when they reach a certain age, but I realise it might not be for everybody.
How it was 12 months ago
Things were so much different a year ago. We owned a nice house in suburbia, I was a teacher in Further Education, Anne had been working in the NHS for 41 years, we owned 2 cars and owned a lot of possessions. Like most people we worked to pay the bills and replace our possessions that we thought needed replacing. Now, we get our pleasure from seeing new places, experiencing different culture and talking to people we meet on our journey. Are we having an extended holiday or is this a way of life? It’s probably a mixture of the two but what I can say is that visiting different places in a motorhome is mega fun!
Downsizing was liberating but emotional
Once we had made the huge decision to sell our house rather than rent it out things moved quickly. Our house sold to the first viewer before the for sale sign went up and suddenly we were faced with deciding what possessions to keep and what to put into storage. Personally, the hardest part for me was moving out of the house I had lived in for over 50 years but change is good for you and I soon realised that what I have now is far better. I wrote several blog articles about minimalism that you can read here.
Where have we been in our motorhome?
Having picked up our motorhome from the dealer in Kendal and staying a night nearby in case of teething problems we had decided to drive the popular North Coast 500 in Scotland. With reports of many roads being single track, and difficult for motorhomes, we found the route stunning and easily completed in a 7 metre motorhome. You can read my blog articles about the North Coast 500 here.
In late September 2017 we used Eurotunnel to travel in our motorhome to France. The weather was beginning to change in northern France so we headed south and also used our first free French Aire. We spent about 10 days exploring The Loire Valley and visiting several stunning Chateaux. You can read my blog articles about our motorhome experience of The Loire Valley here.
In late October of 2017 we headed further south to Spain. Working our way down the Mediterranean coast we soon found ourselves into a mild Spanish winter and weeks and weeks of blue sky with virtually no rain. Days were warm and nights a little chilly but we were managing to live in our motorhome without a problem and I even managed to have a BBQ in late November and Anne swam in the sea too.
Christmas was spent inland on a cold and windy campsite in the mountains but in early January 2018 we returned to the coast where the temperatures were much better. Following the Spanish coast we eventually reached the south coast and also visited Granada, Cordoba, Ronda and Seville before reaching Gibraltar. The Spanish cities of Merida and Caseres were also visited and are now firm favourites with us and I would recommend a visit to these Roman and Medieval towns. You can read about our motorhome visits to Spain in more detail here.
After a brief visit to Portugal, and a vow to return to spend more time in the country (blog articles about our motorhome in Portugal here), we eventually returned to the UK in early April on the Bilbao to Portsmouth ferry.
Our motorhome adventure to Denmark, Sweden and Norway
It was a bit of a gamble, as far as the weather is concerned, to set off in late April on our 8 weeks motorhome tour of Scandinavia, but any worries we had about the weather being cold and wet were soon dispelled when we were lucky enough to arrive at the start of a very warm and dry spell of weather that Scandinavia experienced from May 2018. Visits to Copenhagen, Malmo and Stockholm were excellent and we arrived in Norway on 10 May which is where we spent the next 6 weeks.
Visiting Norway in a motorhome was a joy and also a scenic assault on the senses. Norway and the fjords is a fantastic place to tour in a motorhome. The expensive food is the only downside but we took 2 months supply of food and we only needed to buy fresh stuff. The high cost of food in Norway was also offset by the number of free motorhome stops that were possible. 25% of our motorhome stops in Norway were free and this figure could easily have been higher if we had tried harder, although many campsites are in superb locations like this one at the Briksdal Glacier.
I wrote a guide about our motorhome tour of Norway that you can read here.
Back to motorhome heaven in France
Returning from Norway in early July we left the UK again 10 days later on the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen for another motorhome adventure in France. France is an amazing place to tour in a motorhome. The country has thousands of Aires, many of which are free. They are quite often near to towns, villages and places of interest. It’s possible (if you felt the need) to tour France in a motorhome without spending anything on campsites or overnight stops. The French love their motorhomes and mostly welcome them due to the boost they bring to the economy.
What’s it like living in a motorhome for 12 months?
Generally, it’s been very easy living in our motorhome for 12 months. It’s helped that the weather has been good in Spain over the winter. Although a motorhome is a small space we have everything we need to be self sufficient. Solar panels to generate electricity, two 11kg cylinders of refillable gas, a good shower and toilet, a comfortable bed and, of course, cooking facilities. We have eaten simply on the whole, without space it’s difficult to prepare elaborate food. We buy the fresh local produce of whatever country we are in and apart from the odd lapse of a bar of chocolate we eat a healthy diet.
Walking is also something we have done a lot of, especially in Spain and France. In the last 12 months I have worn out 2 pairs of shoes and our average daily step count is high. Cycling is also very safe in Spain and France as they have a huge number of dedicated cycle tracks.
One of the pleasures of touring in a motorhome is the friendly people you meet on your journey and we have bumped into some amazing people, all having the same motorhome touring addiction as we now do. Stopping to talk to fellow motorhomers on a remote mountain pass or meeting the same German couple we met in Spain underneath a Norwegian glacier everyone has the same passion for exploring.
As the saying goes – Small home large garden! Waking, in winter, when it gets light is a luxury!
How much has it cost to live in a motorhome fulltime?
We had a budget of £60 per day and we have spent £63 per day over the course of the last year. We are happy with the cost of living fulltime in our motorhome bearing in mind that we have also stayed in hotels/cottages and paid for return flights to the UK as well as car rental. The cost of our 2 months in expensive Scandinavia also contributed to us exceeding our budget. Many of these expenses could be said to be not the norm for people thinking of doing the same but were personal to us. £3,133 was spent on eating out (this included 2 Michelin guide recommended meals) and £5,000 on campsites that again could have been reduced by better planning.
We haven’t watched TV for a year
Could you live without television for one year? We have and it’s easy. We do have a TV in our motorhome but we don’t have an aerial or satellite dish. We took with us a selection of DVDs and we have watched 3 movies in 12 months. We use the Internet for news and that’s it. In the evening we read and plan our next motorhome destination.
The Home on Wheels motorhome tour blog
In the last 12 months I have written 58 blog articles, including this one, about our motorhome tour of Europe and about living in our motorhome. My motorhome blog has been fun to write and intended to be a personal diary mainly, although I also hope it’s an inspiration for others to do a similar motorhome tour.
So far, our motorhome blog has reached over 9,000 people and the articles read over 17,000 times so it seems like the motorhome lifestyle appeals to many people.
Life is about experiences and we can now certainly say we have had a few, although a blog can only give you a very brief insight into what it’s like to live fulltime in a motorhome for a year!
Here are some of our best images from the last 12 months touring Europe in our motorhome