Many years ago, my wife and I had enjoyed our small caravan, because we loved the freedom and comfort it offered. But it didn’t suit our style of touring; we needed to have the spontaneity of overnighting somewhere for a night or two. So we sold it.
The idea of buying a campervan appealed to us, but we wanted to try one out first, as well as to go touring in a completely new place. So a plan was hatched to hire a motorhome in Canada for a trip of a lifetime driving through the Rocky Mountains.
We booked our Canadian campervan hire online: a one-way hire for 12 days in August 2004. First of all we flew from the UK to Calgary and spent the first night in a hotel. The hire company collected us the next day and delivered us to our campervan (an 'RV' to the Canadians). We didn’t want anything too big, but this one came with a massive 5.2-litre, 318hp engine. Fortunately, the hire arrangement included all the necessary camping accessories and essential kit for our first motorhome adventure: bedding, catering and service equipment. After stocking up with food and fuel we set off.
We had a loose westward itinerary. We'd head towards Banff, then the Icefields Parkway and the Glacier National Park, until we reached the coast at Vancouver. Our desire was to stop wherever and for as long as we wanted. The motorhome we'd hired turned out to be ideal: it was manoeuvrable, light and responsive to drive. We had to keep an eye on the fuel, though, because there were only a few filling stations where we could get diesel en route.
The 12,000ft peaks of the Rockies towered above us. We travelled via the Columbia Icefield, which is the watershed between the Pacific and the Atlantic, and we drove past majestic glaciers and through vast forests.
We woke one morning to see an entire herd of moose roaming through our campsite, but we had no encounters with bears. A forest ranger explained that bears shy away from humans.
Camping locations and stopovers that we used included natural forest sites with basic facilities, where we could park up for the night. There were many spots where we could pull off the road and simply go for a walk.
We were sold. Hiring a motorhome gave us so much flexibility and freedom; we visited wild places that we could never have explored without it. At the end of our 997-mile adventure, we reluctantly parted with the hire van in Vancouver and returned home. The seed had been sown.
Whether you're dreaming about booking a fly-drive holiday so that you can go motorcaravanning in Canada, America or Australia, the chances are that the tour will change your life, too.