[tl:gallery index=0 size=103×155]Our Gentleman Jack Bancroft is an irredeemable motorcaravaning enthusiast. His family have been camping, caravanning and motorcaravanning since 1928. Jack and his wife Flora are now on their tenth motorhome, a 2003 Auto-Sleeper Pollensa on a Ford Transit base. They have toured extensively at home and abroad, including a period of full-timing. Here, Jack answers your motorcaravanning queries:
Q: My husband and I have been motorcarvanning for 30 years and intend to sell our home in 2011 and go full-timing. My problem is that as the date gets closer, I’m getting that ‘butterflies’ feeling. Do you have any advice for us?
Gwen Daley, Nottingham
A: Yes, and although it’s a bit prosaic, it is very important! We speak from experience, having full-timed as a family, and are also currently in regular contact with six units that are full-timing both here and on the Continent. We also know of loads of people (hundreds probably) who have full-timed for a while (up to 10 years).
Our answer to the frequently-asked question, ‘Should we go
full-timing?’ is always and emphatically, ‘Yes, go for it’. However, like everything in life, there are pros and cons and you need to be aware of some of them.
Everybody who wants to experience full-timing should do so. That said, for the first year or two, we suggest that instead of pre-judging it to be a permanent change in lifestyle, look on it as an experiment which you may or may not decide to carry on with.
Many people finance their change of lifestyle by selling their home. We did that, too, but we chose not to leave the housing market altogether. Instead, we bought a small property in a different part of the country, where housing was much cheaper , and funded our trip with the money realised by the difference in prices.
Our reasoning behind the decision to buy another cheaper property was clear. First, we would have somewhere to come back to, if we tired of the nomadic lifestyle, plus a UK residential address for insurance purposes; and second, we had kept a foot on the property ladder (house price inflation was steep then, and I reckon it will be again). Third, we let our new house on a shorthold tenancy while we were away, which gave us a very tidy income. Finally, if we decided to settle in any of the countries we visited, we would have something to sell in Britain which would pay for another property or at least go some way towards doing so. We even managed to get a small mortgage on it (around 40 per cent of the value) despite the fact that both of us had resigned from our jobs and were working our three-month notice period!
The most important thing that you have to pay attention to on any motorcaravanning trip longer than two months is your relationship with each other, not the choice of motorcaravan, equipment or itinerary. You will effectively be living in one room and spending more time in close proximity to each other than you have ever done in the past.
We used to spend at least one day a week exploring solo and a few hours every two or three days pursuing our own interests without the other(s) tagging along. I suggest you do the same.
Incidentally, the pivotal time when many full-timers give up is between 18 months and two years.
Finally, for those wanting detailed information on the nitty gritty of full-timing, I recommend that you purchase and carefully read Go Motorhoming (Europe) by Chris Doree and Meli George. They have spent long periods away full-timing in a variety of motorhomes and their book is published by Vicarious Books (www.vicariousbooks.co.uk), ISBN 0-9552808-0-X.
You’ll have a fantastic time full-timing. We did, but just be aware that you might not want to do it for the rest of your life!