Marcus Leach and his family are embarking on a motorhome tour of Europe, with the plan being to visit 25 countries across three continents. In the latest instalment, Marcus fills us in on the practicalities of adapting to life on the road.
If I have one fault (I’m sure others will tell you I have more) it’s that I am a romanticist, I always look for and see the positives in life, it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. The same was true as we began planning and preparing for the Big European Odyssey.
As we sat looking at potential routes, places to visit and all manner of brilliant campsites I couldn’t help but be filled with excitement. Life on the road was going to be one big adventure, full of happiness and never ending fun. It’s not that I was naive enough to think that there wouldn’t be challenges along the way, rather I chose not to focus on them.
And then we started travelling and I had no choice but to focus on the realities of living full-time in a motorhome. Because whichever way you look at it being on the road with two small children is not all sunshine, mountains, ice-creams and laughter. Just as is the case as living at home there are challenges to face, problems to solve and sacrifices to be made, only they are very different to what we’ve been used to in the past. If it’s something that you could be interested in, be sure to check out our guide to the best motorhomes for full-time living.
However, before I continue I will say that the pay off for facing these problems is, without doubt, worth every literal and metaphorical bump in the road. The ability to live life on our terms, to be free to go where we want (within reason and adhering to the 90 in 180 day rule that is), to educate our children in a classroom without walls and to immerse ourselves in an array of different landscapes and cultures. We know it’s not for everyone, but it’s a life we love and are therefore happy to contend with its challenges.
The biggest problem we’ve encountered is space, not so much in terms of where everything goes in the motorhome, we are pretty well versed on that front now, but rather personal space, or rather the lack of it. There is, as we have found out over the past six weeks, a big difference in going away for a fortnight on holiday and actually living full-time in your motorhome.
As humans we all need space and as great as motorhomes are at condensing every aspect of a house into what is in essence a box on wheels, they don’t allow for much personal space, a case highlighted when, as is inevitable, there are disagreements or difference of opinions. This is further highlighted when those disagreements are between a three and six year old when all they want to do is play with each other’s toys, or are simply in on of those ‘annoy the other person’ moods.
As parents we have had to remain as calm as possible in such situations, continually taking the time to patiently explain things to them both, even if at times we ourselves have wanted to scream and shout, or at the very least escape to another room that doesn’t exist. We’ve found that when we are out of the motorhome for the majority of the day, where there is unlimited space to run free, there are few issues, but that’s not always possible, especially on rainy days.
The other problem we’ve encountered is there’s little privacy, either from within or outside the motorhome. Living in such confined space means virtually everything you do is in the presence of at least one other member of the family. For us, travelling with two small children, this is magnified by the fact we almost always have one child each at shower time on sites. As such it’s rare to have time to yourself, or as a couple.
Often the only time Kim and I get to chat as grown ups is when we are driving and both Harrison and Dorothy are asleep, and even then there are times when they don’t drift off on driving days. We’ve both come to enjoy walking around sites and bumping into other adults we can stop and chat to, these fleeting conversations a pleasant escape from a more child centric existence.
We’ve also found that by living at a variety of campsites and aires, your life is on display pretty much all of the time, apart from when the door is closed and all the blinds are down later in the evening. Even wild camping, where we’ve opted for fairly remote places, there are inevitably people walking past, always taking a curious glance in as they do so, even stopping to start a conversation at times, often when it’s least welcome and all we want is some peace.
As with every other aspect of being full-time in the motorhome we are slowly adapting to our new existence, one that is immensely fulfilling and liberating. Now that we’ve found a new rhythm of life, one that suits all of our needs, we feel in tune with living full-time on the road, that sense we are on holiday gone. I’m sure there will be more challenges in the months to come, but for now I’m happy to focus on the positives.
You can follow our adventures in the latest issue of Practical Motorhome, or alternatively, over on Instagram (@marcusleachglobal and @our.roaming.odyssey) and Twitter (@marcusgleach) where we will be sharing daily updates from our life on the road.
Missed the previous instalments of The Big European Odyssey? You can catch up here – in the first part, we found out about planning for a European tour, while in part two, Marcus filled us in on the essential preparation for a motorhome tour of Europe. In part three, we also found out about the essential items to take on a European tour.
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