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Planning Page

The Big Trip to UK and Europe

This has been in the back of our minds for over 10 years: 12months travelling around UK and Europe in a motorhome we purchase and sell at the end of the 12 months. With that in mind we have spent previous holidays in many places but tried to avoid those countries we would see during the "Big Trip". This is what we did...

Schengen Limitations

  • We set up a spreadsheet with a 'moving' 180 day period in which to count Schengen versus Non-Schengen days in country to ensure we spent no more than 90 days in any 180 day period.
  • We worked out which were the coldest countries we wanted to visit so we could plan to be there in summer and tried to be near the Mediterranean areas during the colder months. We came to accept that we can NOT be in all the countries at the perfect time of year for that country!
  • We created an itinerary, working on an average of 200km per day travel to see what was possible after leaving UK (non schengen) eg part 1 was basically around the coast through France > Spain > Portugal > Spain > France and return to UK (59 days Schengen used up), part 2 was UK Wales > Ireland > Scotland before crossing to Schengen Countries again ie Netherlands > Denmark > Norway > Sweden > Finland. We wanted to go as far east as Russia before going back to UK again without hitting the 90 days in Schengen countries rule. Remember, some of the schengen days from part 1 'drop off' the counter as the 180 day period moves along with you. IT IS COMPLICATED! Use the Schengen calculator once you have a basic idea of the countries you will travel to and keep interspersing them with visits to non-schengen countries.
  • Once we worked out it was possible to keep within the Schengen rules and still see 36 countries in 12 months we moved onto the next problem!

Buying the Motorhome

  • We had friends in the UK and this makes it much easier to purchase a motorhome while still residing in Australia. You need an address for most online enquiries so hopefully your friends will let you use theirs. Thanks Jo & Jamie!!!
  • Starting our trip, visiting UK friends first, allows you to 'get your bearings', pick up your motorhome and set it up for the trip while you still have a roof over your head.
  • We talked to a lot of people about what they bought - left hand drive or right hand drive - and there were fors and againsts for both options.
  • Make our first decision to buy and sell in the UK, made this choice easier - right hand drive - as the majority of motorhomes for sale are RHD in the UK.
  • Researching what is available 10 months before and deciding on mandatory criteria for your Motorhome makes it much easier when you start looking seriously 2 months out from the start of the trip. We wanted diesel, 2 berth, bed length that suited someone 6"2', toilet & shower, less than 10 years old, vehicle less than 6m length (tolls, ferries etc all charge more if > 6m and narrow roads are harder to negotiate).
  • We found a great site to narrow down the search. We also tried to find one within an hour's drive of our friends' house so that they could have a final look once we had decided on a motorhome. You can ask all of your questions and get extra photos online before making your decision.
  • If you purchase before you arrive then you also have to have somewhere to store it. The sellers had it in a secure yard and were happy to keep it for a short time and then our friends were able to pick it up and keep it near their home.
  • Make sure you get all the paperwork. You need a receipt with car make and model, car registration and VIN, car mileage at time of sale, a written statement that the seller has accepted the agreed cash sum for the vehicle and acknowledge receipt of the money (signed and dated by the purchaser and seller). You also want a copy of MOT certificates, the V5C registration document (log book) with car's service history. The seller will send in the registration document for you if you supply the details.
  • OK so you have bought the Motorhome but it turns out that was the easy bit!!! Onto the next problem!

Insuring the Motorhome

  • See Tips and Tricks for more on this
  • Basically you need to start investigating insurance options early. Very few insurance companies will insure someone who is a non resident and does not have a UK Licence.

NOTE If you are interested in PURCHASING our 2 berth MOTORHOME then please contact us. NOTE

The Big Trip Around Australia - Selling or Renting the House

The three kids were in their final year at Uni or working during the 6 months we were away on 'The Big Trip' in 2006. It was time to think about downsizing, and this holiday provided the opportunity to start moving in that direction. The house was too large for the three kids on their own especially with the added responsibility of looking after the 2100 sq m of yard, gardens and pool so they moved out with friends. We rented the house while away on the trip and sold it upon our return. Now we are trying unit living - a big change.

I think we are the only people living in a unit with a caravan in one of their garage spaces!

Planning - road trip buddies, vehicles and vans, where and when

If you have checked out the Do's and Don'ts for 4WD-ing on the 4WD page, then you will know that it is best not to 4WD on your own. A couple of our friends are keen to go on this trip too. Gary hopes to have wound up his current business by then and Karen will be ready for a job change so 6 months off works out well for them too. We have both recently purchased 4WDs and caravans - Jayco calls them camper trailers - the ones that popup from half way. Check out the 4WD page and Camper Trailer page for a run down on our choice of vehicles and vans.

Starting from Brisbane the best direction of travel is anti-clockwise leaving 11th April 2006 and returning mid October 2006. This way you travel through the hottest parts of Australia in the coolest months. You also avoid the busy Christmas holidays so bookings are not essential in most places.

We know that we will be visiting the more common tourist destinations en-route BUT also some of the more out-of-the-way and sometimes more impressive places that we have heard about. The best thing is not to have a strict itinerary because once you are on the road you run into people who have been to amazing places that you probably didn't know about before you left. You need to be flexible enough to fit these destinations into the trip. A good thing to keep track of is the School Holiday Dates as they will effect the accomodation available. Check out this site for the latest holiday dates in all states of Australia.

Where did we go? Show us on a Map - 2006 Great Aussie Road Trip

For great maps all around Australia with marked camping areas ranging from Free Camps to reasonably priced Caravan Parks and National Parks it is worth buying a copy of this book. Camps Australia - The ultimate guide for the budget conscious traveller. We referred to our copy every day of our round Australia trip in 2006.

Planning the itinerary

We traced a large map of Australia and pinned it to a board and each time we saw a place we like on 'Getaway' or 'The Great Outdoors' (and similar TV programs), we marked it on the map. By the time we were ready to go it was as easy as joining the dots! In fact the more we thought about it the more it seemed that 6 months was not going to be long enough to see it all.

Check out all the photos and stories from the Round Australia 2006 Trip.

Other plans?

Apart from knowing who was going (Cath & Pete, Karen & Gary), where we were going (anticlockwise around Australia starting in Brisbane), when we were going (Easter 06 - Oct 06), how we were going (4WD towing popup caravan) and why we were going (we love travelling & the freedom of a camping road trip), apart from all that, we didn't planning much more. Most of the initial action was on the 4WD and Camper Trailer/Caravan pages. During the trip there were updates on the Trips & Photos and Travel Map pages as we went to each different destination.

Food planning was no more than you would for a 2 week trip as we knew we would be in range of a shop quite regularly. We carried a few long life tinned and packet items that were kept for those unexpected times when shopping was not possible.

Clothes planning consisted of trying to cut back then cut back again! We only took things that didn't need ironing, didn't show the dirt much and that mixed and matched with other items of clothing. One winter outfit good enough to wear to a restaurant and one good summer outfit. Remember that nobody sees that you are wearing the same thing...again... when you are constantly on the move. Most places are pretty casual anyway. Even though we tried to keep it to a minimum we still took more than we needed.

Two sets of towels and sheets etc was enough. Take less than you think you will need as you can always buy if you have to.

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This page was last updated on 27-Feb-2017

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