What You Want to Know
These are the trip questions we field most frequently. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please leave it in the comment section or shoot me an email
Where did you purchase the rig?
We bought it online through B&W Campers in Amsterdam. We perused photos on their website, spoke with the owner over the phone, put down a deposit on the rig we liked (aka the cheapest one) a couple months before traveling, and then paid the balance via bank transfer a few days before arriving in Amsterdam. B&W offers buybacks on their vehicles, though we’re free to sell ours to someone else if we like. The rig is also registered through them, because you can’t register a vehicle in Europe unless you’re a permanent resident.
It’s also possible for North Americans to ship their own rigs to Europe.
What kind of motorhome are you driving?
A Class C 1999 Ford Rimor with (at time of purchase) 241,500 km.
What about registration and insurance?
Only EU residents can register vehicles in Europe, so we registered and insured the vehicle through B&W. (Part of the reason we chose them was that they are the only dealer in the Netherlands authorized to do this, as far as I know.) I think you can also buy your camper elsewhere but still register through B&W, though you wouldn’t be eligible for their buyback program.
How much did it cost?
€12,000 (for the rig, tax included)
€1,430 (for 12 mos of liability insurance. This gives us our insurance “green card,” which is required by law.)
€1,398 (for 12 mos of Dutch registration)
TOTAL COST: €14,828.
Why did you decide to take such a long-term trip?
It was always a dream and goal to do long-term travel with our daughter. For the first seven years of her life we didn’t feel financially ready, and then for the past two or three years, we were grounded while we wound our way through the Canadian citizenship process. Once we finally became citizens (in December of 2010—yay!), we immediately started the ball rolling. Our daughter was nine, and if we didn’t pull the trigger now, we’d never do it.
I think what ultimately pushed us to act was fear. The fear of sounding like hypocrites (we’d always talked to Scout about doing a trip like this), the fear of missing our window with her, the fear of having regrets later in life.
At some point you have to stop being scared and just do stuff.
You don’t need to work? Are you rich?
Ha. I wish. No, we decided that travel was more important to us than home ownership and a steady paycheck. We sold our tiny Vancouver condo (two bedrooms overlooking an alley) and had no consumer debt to begin with. Mark left his job and as Digital and Print Production Director for the Georgia Straight and we started an online eBook Design & Conversion business, eBook DesignWorks. Mark’s been in digital media production for 25 years, and I spent eons as a magazine editor and ad executive, so we were able to hit the ground running.
What made you decide to RV through Europe?
RVing made sense because we wanted to bring our dog, Archie, a Jack Russell Terrier. Also Scout’s a bit of a homebody, and I didn’t think she’d be comfortable living out of a suitcase for such a long time. Same goes for Archie.
You brought your dog? Are you insane?
Yes, we brought the dog. No, we’re not insane. We love him, he loves us, and giving him up would have been heartbreaking for all concerned, not to mention cruel.
Traveling with a dog isn’t without challenges, but so far it’s working out well. It took a lot of time and research to figure out how to fly a dog to Europe, but in the end I figured everything out and Archie made it safely to Amsterdam. At first we brought him out with us when we went to explore cities, but he’s a sensitive little dandy and it became pretty stressful for him (after a 9-hour day in Amsterdam he slept for a day and a half straight), so now we usually leave him to guard the rig. Barking hasn’t been too much of a problem, but Archie does love to chase cats, so in Turkey we need to make sure he’s on leash.
Unfortunately Archie has become a bit fearful of children, so we need to stop them from trying to pet him, which is difficult because he looks like an adorable little cartoon character.
Did you have to quarantine your dog?
No. Dogs from Canada or the U.S. just need a Health Certificate to visit the EU. I’ve explained it all in teh book. We did spend a ton of money ($300) on a blood test to qualify him for entry to Ireland, though now it looks like we won’t even be going there. Typical.
What about school for your daughter?
We were already homeschooling, so there’s not a huge change. Learning history and culture naturally on the road has been incredible.
What sort of homeschooling do you do on the road?
It’s pretty relaxed. Scout uses textbooks for math, and we brought language arts books with us. History and geography she learns as we go. Some days Scout does a lot of writing or bookwork, other days not at all. It depends what else is going on.
What company do you use for your travel medical insurance?
We’ve maintained our MSP (BC health care) coverage while traveling abroad. Through BCAA (the BC auto club) we bought a travel rider to go along with our provincial policy, so for the first time we’re traveling with really comprehensive insurance. Before we became Canadians, we used to use high-deductible travel policies intended for catastrophic injury. With our current plan we can pop by a doctor anytime, anywhere for no charge. Fortunately we haven’t had any medical problems, but it’s comforting to know that we’re covered for anything.