A household&x27s journey round Europe in a caravan – Lonely Planet


Ever considered packing it in, promoting all of your worldly possessions and heading wherever the wind takes you? Nicely that’s what Karen Binedell and her household have finished… it’s more difficult than it sounds, however undoubtedly not with out its rewards.

Residing with an adolescent might be testing at the perfect of occasions. Now think about dwelling with three of them. Then, envision an extra two cats and all the pieces you personal inhabiting an 8-x-2-metre touring caravan.

Scared but? Nicely that’s my actuality and has been since my husband and I satisfied our three children to associate with our plan of promoting (just about) all the pieces that we owned, shifting into the aforementioned caravan and travelling Europe whereas volunteering.

Winter within the caravan at a campsite simply exterior St.Albans © Karen Binedell

What prompted this choice? Nicely, like so many households, our lives had gotten to the purpose the place we have been working 6-day weeks; our salaries went in on the finish of the month and out the subsequent day. We appeared to fall a bit of additional behind each month. The one time we had collectively as a household was every Sunday and two weeks summer time vacation in August. We have been harassed, drained and overworked and had bought to the purpose the place we knew we needed extra for ourselves and our kids.

Though our plan could sound like a comparatively easy endeavor for the extra adventurous amongst you, I can guarantee you it wasn’t only a matter of packing all of it in and setting off on our travels. To begin with, we spent 18 months dwelling in our caravan previous to leaving the UK. That’s 18 months going about our common lives and returning to a campsite every day. A full 18 months of 5 individuals preparing for work and faculty in an space smaller than our earlier bed room. A 12 months and a half of dwelling frugally and placing each spare penny we earned into our financial savings.

In preparation for the journey that lay forward, all 5 of us additionally needed to turn into aware of the each day operating of the caravan in addition to tips on how to assemble and disassemble our awning. We needed to take turns filling the water tanks and emptying the john, and we needed to whittle down our clothes to at least one plastic storage container every. We needed to analysis choices for training – and ultimately determined to enroll the youngsters in a web-based school known as Wolsey Corridor Oxford, which has exceeded our expectations and is giving them a world-class training. We learnt which security checks wanted to be accomplished every time we hitched up, and most significantly, we discovered a solution to comfortably share such a small area.

Kayaking down the Mondego River © Karen Binedell

To begin with, there was a number of squabbling and there have been a lot of occasions the place one, or two, or all three of the youngsters would say one thing to the impact of, “I hate this caravan!”, “Why can’t we simply be regular once more?” or “You’re ruining my life!” We had family and friends who made it very clear that they thought that we have been making an enormous mistake, and there have been many nights the place I lay awake questioning whether or not they have been proper. Nevertheless, regardless of the doubt, the apprehension and the utter concern of taking the highway much less travelled (actually), we adopted by with our plans.

At current we’re seven months into our journey, which has seen us make our approach from St. Albans in Hertfordshire, throughout the Atlantic to Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium and now the Netherlands. Our volunteer initiatives by way of Workaway have given us the chance to study new expertise and discover hidden skills we by no means knew existed. We now have been welcomed with open arms at each cease and we’ve learnt an unbelievable quantity in regards to the tradition, historical past, meals and customs of all of the international locations we’ve visited.

In Portugal, we labored on natural farms the place we learnt tips on how to clear and take care of the land, the significance of bees, and when, the place and tips on how to plant numerous fruits, greens and bushes. We have been taught tips on how to drive a tractor, tips on how to combine cement and plaster partitions and tips on how to take down and change a whole farmhouse roof!

Studying about beekeeping in Portugal © Karen Binedell

In Spain, we found that when issues don’t go based on plan, it’s not the tip of the world – there’s often one thing larger and higher on the horizon. In actuality, this meant us being turned away from a campsite as a result of our caravan was too giant; as an alternative sleeping on the facet of the motorway and arriving at our subsequent volunteer venture solely to seek out that it was by no means what it had been portrayed as. However with out this expertise we’d by no means have occurred upon a really particular household simply 45 minutes away. They knew we would have liked some assist, and fortunately supplied us a spot to park our caravan and name dwelling for a number of weeks.

In France, we pitched up on the abode of an eccentric, fun-loving French- Belgian household who made it their obligation to show us precisely tips on how to throw essentially the most wonderful fortieth party ever! Once we weren’t celebrating or discussing all the probabilities for the longer term, they put us to work of their nursery and schooled us within the rules of permaculture. France additionally noticed us expertise first-hand what it takes to run a profitable campsite once we spent seven weeks volunteering in Chalandray. Belgium taught us you could by no means have an excessive amount of beer or frits.

Biking in Utrecht © Karen Binedell

Right here we stayed with three totally different households and learnt to care for and prepare horses and ponies; tips on how to drive an articulating forklift and to fell bushes within the pouring rain. And as I sort this, I’m sitting within the grand zaal of an attractive B&B within the Netherlands. We now have solely been right here for 5 days however have already fashioned a robust bond with the household. Earlier this afternoon my husband, Warren, the youngsters and I hopped on bicycles and explored the town of Utrecht. We set off on this journey to show our kids that there’s a lot extra to life than Xbox and Instagram.

We needed them to expertise different cultures, study new languages and check out conventional meals. We needed them to grasp new expertise and discover their very own ardour, however greater than that, we hoped volunteering would assist them realise that there’s a lot extra to be gained by merely giving again. Have we succeeded? Indubitably! Over and above the life expertise gained and classes realized we’ve had the chance to go to some really wonderful locations.

Belgian waffles in Brussels © Karen Binedell

We now have been to the highest of the Serra da Estrela mountain vary, kayaked down the Mondego River, learnt to surf in Aljezur and celebrated Father’s Day at a water park in Spain. The previous seven months has seen our household develop and mature in methods we by no means might have imagined and our attitudes in the direction of cash and materials possessions have modified fully. We’re happier, more healthy and virtually totally stress free – I wouldn’t change our nomadic life-style for the world.

And let’s simply say the whining and squabbles appear to have died down too!

You may additionally like: This lady is travelling the world along with her canine in a van she customised for the journey The most effective locations for camper van travelIs a camper van vacation best for you?

Karen and her household are funding their travels with their financial savings and thru writing for native and worldwide publications whereas on the go. Observe their journey at @ourtravellingfamily on Twitter and Instagram.

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