Back On The Road.....In A New Motorhome!

Main Posts Background Image

Main Posts Background Image

Thursday 3 August 2017

Back On The Road.....In A New Motorhome!

When Esther suggested changing our motorhome, just two weeks before we were due to leave our house-sitting base in the south of France, I thought she was mad. How, I questioned, could we possibly find, test, negotiate and collect a new motorhome from the UK while also trying to sell our old just two weeks....from over a thousand kilometres away. The fact we were on UK plates made simply driving into a French dealership and seeking an on the spot part exchange seem a non-starter, plus the fact we probably couldn't get insurance on a French plated van if we tried. No, the whole thing seemed like a mad idea. Strange then that I'm writing this from the table in our new motorhome!

The justification for changing our motorhome was fairly sound from the outset. Last year I wrote a blog post weighing up the pros and cons of smaller motorhomes vs. larger ones. Cars you could sleep in vs. homes that moved. For us, after some deliberation and since we wanted to get out and about so much, hiking, cycling and visiting remote places we ended up going for a smaller one. Not a tiny motorhome by any stretch, but by getting a 6 metre Globecar van conversion we expected we'd be more mobile than in our previous Autocruise coachbuilt. What we didn't write about at the time, however, was that even just a few weeks later we both felt we might have made a mistake. We couldn't avoid the fact that compared to our coachbuilt we felt very cramped in our Globecar when we were both inside it. It had everything we possibly needed and was probably great for a few weeks holiday, but we couldn't see ourselves managing anything longer than that.

In the end, however, our reservations about the Globecar ended up being pushed onto the back burner. Our adoption of a pregnant dog and subsequent decision to try raising a small pack meant that we stayed in rented accommodation far longer than we had planned to after winter was over and that having a van conversion parked outside was perfect for the necessary day-to-day use we needed it for. So far so good. Then when we got the chance to housesit in the south of France for 10 weeks after leaving San Jose the situation with the Globecar continued as before. We only had to spend a single night in the Globecar with 2 humans and 5 small dogs to break up the 14 hour drive to reach our new temporary home and after that we had the perfect vehicle for our larger family.

Still, we always knew the day would come that we'd have to leave this new temporary home. Various options came and went, including forking out a large chunk of savings on a high season, pet friendly rental which we were seriously considering. We could have done so and enjoyed it. Yet there was (and is) still a large part of us that wanted to go touring again. We didn't want to feel grounded because we currently have 5 little ones running around. We are finding it so rewarding and fun to have the pups around and, since Esther has been doing such an incredible job with training them, we didn't see why we couldn't go touring with them either. We've met people travelling with Great Danes in their motorhomes, half a dozen cats, 3 big labradors. Why not 5 small pups? The problem was the Globecar.

Our early reservations about feeling cramped were really hammered home every time we took a day trip to one of the many beautiful villages and parks near where we were staying. 2 humans plus 5 small dogs consumed pretty much all the available floor space. Hence a change of motorhome back to a larger one was a logical choice. But with just two weeks left before we had to move on I just couldn't see it coming together in time. "Shouldn't we just try the Globecar?" I said, knowing it would likely be a frustrating and failed experiment.

As with so many of the grand life changes we've made during our years together it was Esther who paved the way for change. With no internet until just 10 days before we left the house, she found what looked to be the perfect motorhome at a dealerhip in the UK (4Front Car Sales in Sussex). It had everything we'd always wanted and intended to have fitted at some point, plus a bunch of other stuff we liked the sound of. It was a Chausson Welcome 64 on 2011 plates. Refillable (Gaslow) gas system, solar panel, reversing camera, it was left hand drive, had an upgraded 3.0 lite engine to help up hill, a large fridge/freezer, it was still under 3.5 tonne (necessary for our post-1997 driving licenses) and had a full main dealer service history with just over 20000 miles on the clock.



Anyway, to cut a long story short, although in the past we have waxed lyrical about the importance of 'getting a good deal' to insure against the risk of things going wrong or changing our minds later on, this time we knew we'd found something special. It was being sold at a fair price, not low but not extortionate, based on other dealer available vans and although we knew we could have tried holding out for an equivalent 'private sale' van at maybe up to a few thousand less and/or trying to sell our Globecar for a couple of thousand more than we could get part exchange, this time we made a different choice. This wasn't about saving money (even though the total difference was not insignificant) or insuring against something changing in the future, it was about quality of life in the here and now. We reminded ourselves that we were in the very fortunate position to make the change if we wanted to and so, after some brief negotiation, just went for it. We agreed a deal from over 1000 kilometres away after just one night sleeping on it! We never would have done that before the previous three years of travelling. Even the low points over the past three years have ended up yielding positive outcomes or lessons. In the past the chances are we would have been cynical and talked ourselves out of it. Not this time.

All that remained was a 26 hour round trip to the UK to complete in a little over 48 hours, which I did while Esther looked after the pups, returning just 4 days before we had to move out of the house and packing our few possessions (and the pups apparently many possessions) into our new motorhome while simultaneously deep cleaning a 16th century French farmhouse (no easy task I can tell you).

So here we are and life has changed again.

We moved in a few weeks ago now and have found getting used to motorhome life to be really quite natural. On paper the space isn't that much larger, but it feels like vast compared to the Globecar. We've even made a few dog modifications which I'll mention in another post.

Since moving in we've been down to the Pyrenees for a few days and cycled up some Tour de France climbs, visited some summer festivals in mountain villages, lived in a friends garden while we had the puppies all neutered/spayed and then driven up to Holland where we currently are visiting family after Esther grandma broke her it's been a busy few weeks.

The plan is to set off touring again in another week or so. Probably to Switzerland, but we haven't decided for certain yet.


  1. Ooh exciting times being back on the road again and with all the pups too! We had three big dogs in our panel van which was fine for holidays but would have been a bit much if we'd been living in the van then. Congratulations on just 'going for it' on the change of van. Not an easy decision especially logistically but when you spend so much time in the van it is important that it is comfortable and much has changed with the arrival of Leela. I enjoy reading your blog and I'll look forward to following where you go next. Jane

    1. Hi folks. Thank you for your encouragement. We are in no doubt we've made the right decision for now. It may change in the future, but we can't worry about that right now. The new van is performing really well and actually feels like a home, unlike the panel van did.

      I've just been reading your Alpaca post. What a wonderful experience. Also, reading your story sounds so similar to our own. I'll be following your journey with interest from now as well.

      Really, thank you again for getting in touch,

      Dan and Esther x


Error 404

The page you were looking for, could not be found. You may have typed the address incorrectly or you may have used an outdated link.

Go to Homepage