1 Year Away Today!!June 27, 2017 in Norway
What a year! At times it seems so long ago that we posted our house keys back through our letterbox and left our bricks and mortar home behind for a life on the road. At other times we can remember the whirlwind of activity, goodbyes, excitement and nerves like it was yesterday.
Since leaving, we've travelled to the most southerly point on Sicily and have nearly reached the most northerly point on the European continent that we can drive to.
Here are some of the stats from the year:
📅 365 days away
🛣 27,585 kms (17,240 miles) driven
🌍 19 countries travelled to
🚩✔ 9 countries explored and on to our 10th
🙋 5 visits from family and friends
😴 242 stopovers in total
⛺ 40 campsites for 96 nights
🚙 💶 34 paying stellplatz for 52 nights
🚙 91 free stellplatz for 124 nights
🌲 76 fly camp spots for 90 nights
👪 1 stopover on family's drive for 2 nights
⌚ Longest Stay: 10 days in Vienna, Austria at Christmas🎄
📆 158 stops were for 1 night only
Because we've never lived long term in a van before we've been keeping notes on all that we've spent and totting it up each month. Having been away nearly a year we looked back and found that on average our monthly outgoings have been about £1,500. Some outgoings have increased such as money spent on diesel and food (without always having access to a budget supermarket, market stalls and not being able to buy in bulk). Money we would have spent on some things such as council tax and water rates etc has instead been spent on campsite fees. However we no longer pay out for a TV and broadband package, a second car, new clothes that we will rarely use etc. The small space within the van is easy to keep warm and by generally moving south in winter we've limited the need for extra heating. Overall, we've been spending about the same as we were when living in a house, but have had more fun with the things we've spent it on living in the van.
Family and friends:
Over the year, some relationships with family and friends have improved because we've had time and been relaxed enough to call and talk. Some people have visited and we've really enjoyed spent quality time with them. However, being away has put a strain on other relationships. Roaming charges meant we restricted ourselves to one or two days each week where we called or messaged people and not seeing people face to face and having shared experiences to talk about has been difficult. One of the things that has most made us question leaving home for so long has been watching our newly arrived grandaughter grow up and have her 1st birthday without being there to share it, although we are very grateful to Will jnr and Lynsday for keeping us up to date with news, photos and videos!
One of the things we love about travelling is finding out about our preconceptions and getting to replace them with views based on our experiences. We've tried to spend at least a month in each of the countries we've explored (except for the micro states: Liechtenstein, San Marino and The Vatican). By doing this we hoped to immerse ourselves in the landcape, language and culture and although we feel we've gained a good impression of what each place is like, we've always left knowing there is more to explore, learn and see. Each country has held wonderful surprises to discover. Countries like Slovenia, that we knew almost nothing about, have been some of the most rewarding. Each country has been very different and has challenged the others for 'top spot' with its own charms. For a long time Germany was Will's favourite because of the brilliant facilities it provided for vans, its beer and rivers. Vicky found it exciting to be able to use her language skills in Italy and we both loved the food and coastline here. Seasons have changed what we've experienced and what we've been able to access but no matter where we have been, we've experienced friendliness and kindness from local people that has often blown us away. As well as the smaller countries, we've explored Germany, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, Sweden and are now in Norway. We are afraid it is impossible to say which our favourite country is, because each is so diverse and has its advantages and disadvantages for our way of living, what we like to do and even the mood we are in at the time! We have liked each country so much that we've left it with the hope of returning someday!
All in all:
There have been some hard times when one, the other or both of us have been pretty low. The realities of two large adults living in a metal box with a very hairy and incontinent 14 year old dog with no place to call our own and limited facilities can be tough. Living in such close confines can grate on your nerves and the effect our bad moods have on each other is intensified. We aren't on a holiday the way we used to be when we came away for the summer and we can't expect every day to be like a holiday. This is our life and there are still many of the responsibilities we had back home. Food shopping and washing up still needs to be done, repairs need to be made and paid for and we have to nearly always be thinking about the next place we can get water, empty the toilet and park. However, in many ways life is simpler and more flexible, with more options than in a house. There may be fewer luxuries but there are fewer bills and we can choose to leave places we don't like and stay longer in places we do. We find that when we can maintain a positive frame of mind and put unpleasant things down to 'part of the experience', we get along better with what we are doing. Along with the lows there have been many, many highs; so much of it has been new and we've met wonderful people, got close to nature, visited amazing cities, experienced such diverse environments and seen some truly fantastic sights. This life isn't for many people and we realise the fact we've been able to choose it, is a privilage and makes a big difference to our outlook. Overall, we are in love with the freedom and are very much looking forward to the next 4 years as well as coming back to the UK to see the people we miss.
Thank you for reading this far and for keeping up to date with where we are and what we are doing. We've said before that this incredible journey wouldn't be quite so incredible without the support of our friends and family!
Vicky, Will & Poppy