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.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jen September 12, 2012 at 4:08 am

Hi Rene! We’ve just come across your blog. It’s fantastic and proving to be very helpful. My boyfriend, myself and our dog Mango are from Vancouver, and are in the midst of planning our runaway. Unfortunately neither of us are very good at making a decision, but very good at changing our minds! Europe by RV… Vancouver to Mexico… Mexico to South America.. the possibilities are endless and it is driving us crazy! LOL! I do have a question for you. My partner has some health issues so we don’t want to be without insurance or MSP when we return. We’ve read we can leave the country for 6 months but must be in Canada for 6 months of the year to maintain our MSP. We’ve also read you can ask for permission for a leave of 2 years every 5 years and still maintain MSP coverage. How exactly are you making it work? Thanks and happy travels! Jen

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2 Renee September 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Thanks and good for you, Jen! We change our plans all the time, as does every other long-term traveler we know, so you’re not alone!

Travel insurance is definitely a royal pain. While we were in Europe, we applied for the leave with MSP. So we kept that coverage and added a travel rider through BCAA. We were fully covered, more than we’ve ever been before during our travels. This time we bought a separate travel insurance policy through IMG.

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3 Jen September 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Hi Renee! Good to know we aren’t some crazy indecisive couple! We’ve been told it is quick and easy to be approved for the 2 year leave. Did you find it that way, or would you recommend we get on it asap? What exactly is IMG, and are you still covered by the provincial health Medical Services Plan? Thanks so much for your time! Jen

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4 Sheila November 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

I thought Archie had his own page with pictures… but I can’t find it now. Help. :-)

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5 Renee November 17, 2012 at 9:23 am

Shiela, his photos are woven throughout the blog, though a lot of them are on the ramblecrunch facebook page.

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6 gabi klaf December 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

renee, what a fantastic blog. it’s layout is simple and super inviting, and the content is superb. i should have guessed your work would be this fantastic. duh, right? i love the faq’s. helps understand the big pic perfectly. look forward to reading more and more. oh, and scout is too adorable for words, actually, all of you are precious, even archie.

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7 Renee December 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Gabi, you’re a love. Thank you. If you were here, I’d pour you a glass of red.

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8 AJ January 1, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Nice write-up… I’m searching info about buying a vehicle and traveling probably from Paris to Bulgaria. In your costs you mention the cost of the RV. Did you sell it after and the 12k was the difference between purchase and selling?

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9 Mark January 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Good question. We did exercise the buy back arrangement with B&W Campers in Amsterdam. The amount we received back — based on mileage and length of time — was €5,350 which did help with the overall cost. If one had the flexibility, I believe you could purchase a used RV/campervan from a private individual and resell it afterwards for a more cost-effective deal. However, the convenience of just dropping it off the day before you catch your flight is something to consider. We actually checked out the Dutch version of eBay with the thought of selling the RV to a third party, but it was just too complicated at the time. Another thing to keep in mind, B&W takes care of all the paperwork on the insurance and registration. So it’s a one-stop shop.

The one part of driving across Europe which surprised me was the cost of many campgrounds and the poor internet they offered, if they even offered it at all. We quickly found that free camping is a good option, saves some money, and became some of the most memorable parts of our trip. Don’t hesitate to wild camp. Good luck with your trip. When are you going?

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10 AJ January 3, 2013 at 8:54 am

Thanks Mark! What do you mean “wild camp” Can you just find a spot and park? What should I expect as far as campground fees? Access to the internet will be very important. Without it I wouldn’t have the flexibility to travel due to work commitments.

But I still need a little clarification.

Is it:
€12,000 (for the rig, tax included) – €5,350 (Buy Back) = €6,650
or
€17,350 (for the rig, tax included) – €5,350 (Buy Back) = €12,000

Also did you keep track of fuel costs? While it’s a variable, it would still be great info as a reference to know approx. how many miles you traveled, etc.

Thinking about this summer. I want to travel through eastern Europe as well…
I will not underestimate the convenience factor. But I’m trying to plan far enough ahead that I can look into the “private” option and calculate the advantages both ways.

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11 Mark January 6, 2013 at 11:31 am

Wild camping is parking where ever you feel like stopping (also called “free-camping”). We were reluctant to do so at first, but found that it was more fun and saved money. The first time we free-camped was at Sanssouci Park in Potsdam, Germany. It was such a public place, I think we were taking a bit of a risk. The most memorable and magical free-camping experience was in the mountains above the battlefields of Gallipoli in Turkey. Unforgettable. The most fun was soaking in the hot springs near the Greek battlefield Thermopylae. The place where 300 Spartans held off thousands of Persians while Athens prepared for its defense. Some of the best experiences we had were wild-camping. Be sure to do it once and a while.

To answer your question about the cost of the RV… it was €6,650, plus the cost of registration (€1,398) and insurance (€1,430). We traveled 21,000 km (almost 13,000 miles) and spent about .16 per kilometer. I found petrol costs to be more than expected. Though diesel was MUCH cheaper. Finding reliable internet was a bigger challenge than expected and not to be underestimated on your trip. Unlike many hostels, campgrounds haven’t seem to embrace wifi as much. Unfortunately, research in advance won’t help. They all “promise” good wifi. Good luck with this one.

I hope you are able to put your trip together. We had a blast! It was one of the best things we’ve done. Good luck!

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12 AJ January 18, 2013 at 11:00 am

Thanks Mark…. I hope so too! Sounds like you really had a great time.

13 patricia coffen January 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Hi, thanks for the info. I wanted to know if you saw many double decker motorhomes on your travels through EU? My family were thinking of buying and converting in USA. I still have some kinks to work out (traveling throughout other states). I’m from DC., so I know whats required for DL and driving on highways and city streets. Do you know if some countries from your travels that the DD bus wouldn’t be able to travel? Oh, It would really be awesome to read stories from Scout’s view. I have a 8 yr old boy and would love to talk and read these blogs to him through a child’s experience. He is looking forward to our families travels, but I can sense he worries about making friends.

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14 Renee February 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Patricia, thanks for your comment. We didn’t see any double-decker buses. I think a DD sounds absolutely terrific from a livability standpoint, though you’re going to have trouble getting under low bridges, tree limbs and certainly the camper guards that plague so many European parking lots.

Scout prefers not to contribute to the blog these days, unfortunately. The friends-on-the-road issue is certainly a challenge. A lot of it has to do with the personality of the child, and whether they can speak the local language. Let me send you an email and we can chat offline…

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15 Michelle June 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I’ve been considering moving to Yucatan for awhile and discovered your blog while researching. It has been a great source of information. I have one question, since I see that you drive a Subaru as well :-)… I have a 2010 Subaru and would like to bring it with me to Mexico, but am not sure if there are places that can service it if it needs. Have you been able to get it serviced in Mexico? Or do you bring it back to the US/do your own maintenance? Thanks in advance for any info…

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16 Renee June 21, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Hi, Michelle. I’m glad you found me. There are Subaru dealerships in Mexico, but we’ve just been using a local garage. It’s much cheaper and does a great job.

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