What You Want to Know
These are the trip questions we field most frequently. This list is just a start, but I’ll add to it over the next few days and regularly after that. 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 simply decided that travel was more important to us than home ownership and a steady paycheck. We sold a tiny Vancouver condo (two bedrooms overlooking an alley) at a small profit and had no consumer debt to begin with. So we’re spending about half our condo money on this trip and have invested the other half. When the trip is over, Mark and I hope to design a different kind of lifestyle, hopefully one that is more flexible with regard to travel. (This is the second time in our lives that we’ve left jobs and sold everything to go traveling, and it’s too exhausting to do again. A more balanced life is what we’re after.)
What made you decide to RV through Europe?
This was a tough decision.
We picked Europe over SE Asia or South America because Mark had never been to Europe, and Scout wanted to see some of the civilizations she’s studied (Rome, Greece). Besides Mark and I wanted her to have a familiarity with European history and geography beyond what books can provide. (We believe that world schooling is the best possible education.) It wasn’t an easy choice though, because despite our low-budget approach, we could have traveled in SE Asia or South America for a third of the cost of traveling in Europe.
One day I was surfing around Amazon for travel ideas and I came across (and bought) Europe by Van and Motorhome by David Shore and Patty Campbell. David and Patty have been RVing through Europe on and off for 30 years, and their book is a real how-to guide. Very insightful and helpful. After reading it, I realized this kind of trip would be a good fit for us.
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.
So far it’s working out fine. Flying him over was easier than I expected. 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’m writing a post detailing that process which will be up soon.) 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. Drats!
What about school for your daughter?
Irrelevant because we were already homeschooling. (Though Scout misses the wonderful writers’ workshops she attended regularly at the Lyceum in Vancouver.)
What sort of homeschooling do you do on the road?
It’s pretty relaxed. We’re not unschoolers, but these days it feels darn close. Scout does math through an online program, and we brought language arts books with us. History and geography she learns as we go. We’re supposedly using Rosetta Stone for Spanish, but it’s been hard to get to it while were dealing with other languages every day. 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 were pleasantly surprised to discover we could maintain 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.