Missing Our Motorhome - Why Motorhoming Is Our Favourite Way To Travel

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Wednesday 8 January 2020

Missing Our Motorhome - Why Motorhoming Is Our Favourite Way To Travel

Originally posted on 14 Sept 2016....
"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone".....lyrics from a Joni Mitchell song you may think, but in fact a succinct expression of how it feels to be motorhomeless after a couple of months living on the road out of a rucksack (Ok, ok, it's also lyrics from Big Yellow Taxi as well). Not that we regret for a moment selling Homer last spring or any of the non-motorhome based adventures we've had since then, far from it. They've been exactly what we needed, especially the challenging parts. Yet as the weeks have passed, as our hiking boot tread has worn down (and as my one packed pair of trousers have seen better days) we have become aware of a growing urge to be back in a motorhome. In this article I want to take a moment to reflect on the lessons we've learnt this summer which remind us and underline just why we are so passionate about motorhome travel.

Selling Homer in spring was a huge decision for us after having her for just shy of 2 years and having visited so many amazing places together. As we wrote at the time, our main reasoning was down to a number of small features that no longer really suited the way we saw ourselves touring and it was our firm intention to get ourselves another motorhome, probably a van conversion, as soon as we could. But then, to cut a long story short, spring rolled into summer, we committed to taking the time to consciously release our old lives and possessions as well as taking the time to help out with family. By the time we were ready to tour again we just felt compelled to be as close to nature as possible and as soon and as simply as we could.....hence a month thru-hiking in the Alps which then flowed into our 2 week Egyptian odyssey.

Which brings us to now, back in Europe, renting an apartment for a week by the Adriatic Sea in Caorle and working out what to do next? Originally we had planned to get back from Egypt and do some more thru-hiking in the Dolomites and maybe even the Pyrenees after that, but I think we both knew that when we landed in Italy we were ready for a change.....and a motorhome was at the forefront of both of our minds.

As is often the case with us it still took us a few days to let go of our half-formed plans to do more hiking, feeling as though we'd be 'missing out' on a previously unvisited wilderness (to us anyway). But it was through and thanks to that uncertainty that we realised it was now time to sit down and work out what we really wanted longer term and exactly what we had learned during our time without a motorhome....

1) Thru-hiking and tent-life is beautiful but it is also physically and emotionally demanding and no matter how committed our intention to self-care, compromise is inevitable. Waking up overlooking glaciers, with only the sound of a nearby waterfall and the call of marmots was invigorating and inspiring. Yet we did sleep less well, eat less well, push our physical limits daily, drift out of our meditation practice and generally pour all of our energy into the business of survival. It was a conscious choice to do so and once we committed to the challenge of thru-hiking we enjoyed it very much, but for us it needed clearly defined boundaries: e.g. how long, how far and where to. I feel sure we will do it again, but setting off as we did this time to just walk 'south' for an ill defined distance or number of days was too unsettling because we didn't know how to pace ourselves. As the compromises in our self-care tired us out we didn't know initially how long they were for so struggled to accept them, which lead to a lot of frustration, especially in the first 10 days.

2) Backpacking, by which I mean living out of a rucksack and touring from place to place on public transport and staying in whatever accommodation is most convenient/affordable is also a lot of fun for us. Plus, after thru-hiking, now living with exactly the same set of stuff (one set of clothes etc.), supplemented with just a few items in Egypt and now in Italy is a wonderful and welcome lesson in how little we need. But again, like with thru-hiking, the open ended nature of our current adventures does make it challenging to really throw ourselves into it.

When we backpacked as students we had a pack full of clothes, a tent and an interrail ticket that allowed us to hop on pretty much any train in Europe. We didn't need much of a plan and we also knew exactly how long we were away for.  Currently, with no fixed end date and our packs still full of mostly thru-hiking gear we have found our travelling bags growing bigger and heavier as we strive not to compromise our long term self care needs by acquiring things up we need along the way (often donated e.g extra clothes, acupressure balls, natural sponge loofah)....but hauling it all through a train station or to a bus stop is hard work. Also, planning our journeys from place to place is time consuming as we juggle buses, trains, boats and plane options with affordable accommodation/campings, which is a major contrast to motorhome life where we could just turn the key and go.

Again, I'm not complaining, we're having a great time and are stumbling on some wonderful places, but realistically as with thru-hiking we don't see ourselves 'backpacking' indefinitely either.....

3) Organised group travel is an entirely different type of adventure. For us the advantages include the fact we can just turn up and not have to do all the micro trip planning, information about places we visit is provided  and its also more cost effective for a given itinerary due to group discounts (even if the tours themselves are expensive you get a lot for your money). The downside is the lack of flexibility. If you want to stay an extra day in a place or even just an extra few hours its unlikely to be possible. It can  also be tiring being on the move so much for group touring. As with backpacking you see a lot of places, but you're always moving in and out of somewhere and usually can't press pause as you don't want to miss out on any excursions. That said it was great for a well defined, fixed time adventure.

4) Which brings me back to motorhoming and perhaps our biggest and most important insight so far.....we definitely want another motorhome back in our lives!

When we set off in Homer in April 2014 we had a pretty good idea that we would enjoy motorhome travels and indeed we did. Plus as we knew it was initially for a fixed period (10 months) we really threw ourselves into it. Now, after travelling in a motorhome for 2 years, then not living in one and now revisiting other travel methods for 6 months, I can honestly say with deep certitude....motorhome travel really is perfect for us at this time in our lives plus we have a much better understanding of why as well (which also helps us to know better what we are looking for in our next one, something I plan to write about soon).

I could wax lyrical about lots of specific things about motorhome travel I love and produce a long list, but I think most of them can be condensed down into a single sentence and reason: That is, a motorhome travel allows us to combine 2 essential and very important factors that we have learned to increasingly value since we set off way back in April 2014 - Namely that  'variety is the spice of life' and that 'stability is the key to our self-care'.

Take variety. We love thru-hiking, we love cycling, we love day hiking, we like visiting places, we like markets, we like reading, we like the coast, we like mountains.....at any given time our tastes change and when we're travelling in a motorhome we have the option to do all of these and more. We can carry our bikes, our boots and our books. Or if we want a break from the van we can check into a hotel for a few nights or rent a house (like we did last winter) and use the motorhome as a vehicle. Not to mention, if we were settled somewhere as when we were back home in Durham, it can be used for weekends away. A motorhome is just so versatile and that is something we've realised we really love in our lives.

Then there is self-care. I've written before about how we've learned that to thrive we can't afford to compromise good sleep, rest, nutrition, meditation, social interactions etc. for too long and a motorhome provides the stability to support each of these while travelling. We get a comfortable bed, a kitchen, power, a haven from the elements etc. Travel can be exhausting but in a motorhome there is always somewhere homely to go back to at the end of a busy day or the end of a week long hike. Everything can also be organised in its own place making everything easy to find, compared to living out of a bag with daily packing/unpacking, freeing up time and energy to focus on the joy of travel. Most of the motorhomes we have met and spoken to agree that having your own space, bed and creature comforts is very valuable and keeps your energy levels and enthusiasm for travel high.

Related to this and slightly personal to us (although applicable to many other people) is that when travelling with a health condition a motorhome is very enabling. For example, my incontinence management while thru hiking presented a lot of challenges that were very draining over and above living outside in the first place. Likewise on a planned package tour fitting my incontinence management routine around an inflexible but varying daily group travel schedule presented it's own major challenges. In comparison travelling in a motorhome with the reassurance of having my own personal space was far more supportive, allowing me to fully enjoy travel activities.

It also happens to be very cost-effective since after the outlay of the motorhome life on the road is comparatively inexpensive, at least that's what we're finding compared to backpacking certainly with public transport and accommodation costs as we go along. Not knowing where we are going to be in advance and having to pay last minute/walk in rates alongside often limited choice because we can't get off the beaten track easily is expensive. Our food bill is also much higher without a motorhome kitchen and fridge we are limited.....

For us, motorhoming is the ultimate in flexible, personalisable and sustainably healthful travel. As they say, 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'....and it appears this is just as true for motorhome adventurers between motorhomes.


  1. Chris and Peter (Belgian Beauty, our moho, not us;-))15 September 2016 at 07:11

    Wow, that's a courageous post. All honest thinking and writing. I fully understand. We once backpacked for a year (on a shoestring!) and know exactly what you mean and we have no health matter which makes things much easier for us, of course.
    And your conclusion sounds very logical: the moho gives you so much freedom and offers a lot of possibilities!
    Only we find it extremely hard to 'let go', selling the house and its contents .... Brrrrrr, not yet... So our motorhoming is reduced to weekends and June and now hopefully October!
    All the best!

  2. You two are so amazing!I am so grateful your travels brought you to Egypt so that I could meet you. You always have a bed and warm meals if you ever make your way to Lake County California. Love you two and your whole furry family! XOXO


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