Go off-grid.’ ‘Opt out.’ ‘Leave the rat race.’ ‘Live the dream.’ These are all terms my husband, Vic, and I had heard.
We often spoke about mooching into the sunset in a motorhome, once retired, to explore the UK, perhaps even the Continent.
Then, I learned that my retirement age had risen to 68, which seemed impossibly far off, and Vic was tired of dealing with ever-younger managers in his job. Retirement could not come soon enough for us!
After a year of research on buying a motorhome, travelling abroad, health care in Europe and driving rules here and abroad, as well as looking up good potential destinations, we were ready. We sold our house in July 2013, gave away all our belongings, and picked up our new home – a beautiful Bürstner Elegance i821.
It was my 53rd birthday. What an awesome prezzie!
How we learned about the 'van
We initially toured Devon and Cornwall, North Wales and South Wales for three months before leaving for Europe. This allowed us to get used to the huge change in lifestyle and every aspect of living in and operating the ’van. We stayed on cheap-and-cheerful CLs and campsites as we gained confidence.
Once we crossed to France in September 2013, All the Aires became our bible. The 'motorhome parking' or stopover places in France were so easy to use compared to costly campsites.
We only spent three weeks travelling through France on our first journey abroad, because we were hit by a horrendous Atlantic storm – we lost the rear skylight in 60mph winds. After that, we felt we could cope with anything. There are helpful people everywhere, if you look for them.
After that we set our sights on Spain and Portugal. We have spent the past two Christmases with my sister and family in Los Alcázares, Spain. Over New Year 2014, we wild-camped in a dry river bed in L’Azohia, Spain, had a barbecue on the beach and watched fireworks across the bay in Mazarrón.
Portugal, and the Algarve especially, is my favourite; motorcaravanning there is unbelievably easy. The people are warm and welcoming, and we provide winter trade.
After two years we have not become motorcaravan experts, ready to offer motorhome advice. We are not yet of pensionable age either so, with no regular income, we live as frugally as possible from the proceeds of our house sale. We spend six months of each year in the UK, catching up with all our family and friends, and work as marshals at motorhome shows, where we can camp for a week and earn pocket money. Between October and March, we chase the sun down through France, and tour in Spain and Portugal.
Living in a tin can full-time with a partner and our dog can prove marginally testing at times. But you can’t beat life on the open road. We hope to see you along the way.