Here are some things we’ve learned so far, both logistical and otherwise.
First and foremost: We’re finding that travel by motorhome is a wonderful way to see the world. It allows one to immerse in the world far more than other kinds of travel, especially when ‘wild-camping’ out in it; it permits travelling at one’s own pace, with the ability to take a day or two, or a month, off with great ease; and, it’s much cheaper than the alternatives, once you accept that large initial investment!General thoughts:
- Finding wild-camps is, contrary to expectations, often fun and easy: We just pick a random side road, drive down it and see where it takes us. More often than not, we’ve done very well.
- Things that together are a recipe for happiness: A full tank of fuel, water and LPG, empty grey and black water tanks, full leisure battery and full fridge. Freedom baby!
- Hearing rain on the roof is a wonderful, cosy thing, until you realise you have a leak.
- This lifestyle seems to have a tendency to reinforce gender roles. I seem to be spending a lot of time doing stuff with hoses, climbing on the roof, twiddling taps and knobs, connecting cables and Driving The Truck. I’m considering getting some tatts.
- Emptying black water tanks is, apparently, a man’s job. Damn.
- Visits to toilets other than one’s own are to be highly valued: Plumbing, privacy and no need to deal with anything later! Answering nature’s call in a motorhome tends to be an uncomfortably involved conversation.
- Filling up LPG for the first time is scary.
- Filling up LPG at a petrol station on the street that is the Loyalist paramilitary crime syndicate stronghold in Belfast is extra-scary (in retrospect).
- Neighbours are great — when wildcamping, it’s good to see another motorhome or two already in place: Safety in numbers. It’s particularly good to see neighbours more swank than us. Guess who’ll be the first target for evildoers!
- We have developed a new respect for women in developing countries who have to do the laundry by hand. That sh#t is hard!
- Socks can be worn about half a dozen times before they start to smell, in the right conditions.
- Water lasts us two days, probably three if we are seriously frugal. The leisure battery runs our laptops for about five or six hours before the inverter starts complaining. LPG has lasted about three weeks. The black water cassette needs emptying about once every week or so if we use it a fair bit, less if not. I prefer not. So, our grand schemes to wildcamp for days upon days need minor modifications.
- Passing trucks going the other way on narrow roads has a tendency to lead one towards religion.
- After almost crossing a “weak bridge” with a 3 tonne limit (we are 3.5), one tends to look very carefully for such signs in the future.
- Driving behind a slow truck becomes a positive thing in a motorhome – now someone else is responsible for holding up traffic.
- After scoffing at motorhomers’ reviews of various regions which include a discussion of road quality (how petty!), it turns out road quality is actually fairly influential on one’s state of mind. A kitchen full of crockery rattling deafeningly and incessantly behind you can get a little old.
- Keeping drinking water in the water tank is a much, much better idea than putting any old water in there and keeping drinking water separately. Before we cleaned out our tank for the first time, it was an enormous pain to use separate drinking water.
- The water tank can be easily sterilised with Miltons tablets, used for cleaning baby bottles, and available for pennies in the baby section in pharmacies. Fill ‘er up, put in the tablets, then drive to swish it around. Repeat once, then rinse the tank out a few times afterwards, and be prepared to have terrible-tasting water for four or five refills. A Brita water filter is a very useful purchase.
- Water at service stations, at least in the UK and Ireland, is perfectly drinkable, both from the water/air service point and from actual taps. This is a very handy thing!
- Taps and hoses: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. See if you can tell: There are several different tap nozzle types around, and if your hose doesn’t work with it, then you’re reduced to moving on or using a bucket (which sucks, unless you can convince your partner to do it). I bought a hose end with the standard clip-over-the-nozzle affair, with a separate adapter for the two different threaded tap sizes. Different length hoses can be handy too: It’s a pain to deal with a really long hose when you’re right beside a tap. I bought a long hose and cut it into one short and one long length, and bought a hose connector to reunite them when needed. You can get flat-folding hoses, and hoses on reels, but we couldn’t find the former (and they’re very expensive), and didn’t want the bulkiness of the latter.
- Our leisure battery on a full change doesn’t go very far when we’re using our laptops. Maybe 5, 6 hours.
- It takes quite a few hours of driving to recharge the battery.
- A generator would be a good solution, but to get a quiet one, which we’d need, costs many hundreds of pounds. A solar panel, which does much less well than a generator (really just makes the battery drain a bit slower) is about the same amount. Tricky.
- Conventional, non-slow-travel, really burns through money. Better to slow down.
- Our LPG conversion for our domestic gas has been great – very easy to fill up, and LPG stations are relatively easy to come by. Seriously cheap.
- It seems to be more or less acceptable to empty the black water tank at service station bathrooms, although I draw the line at doing so when the bathrooms are only accessible through the shop. Just be clean!
- Speaking of black water tanks: Don’t hold the air-intake button down too far while emptying, or prepare to take a big step back. Yuck.